Navy Pier, Chicago’s iconic cultural destination,will host Chicago LIVE Again!—a free, two-day outdoor festival to celebrate Chicago’s arts and entertainment industry as it makes its triumphant return to live stages across the city since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first-of-its-kind event, held on Friday, September 24th, and Saturday, September 25th, will include live performances from Broadway in Chicago, Chicago Children’s Choir, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Joffrey Ballet, Black Ensemble Theatre, Lyric Opera's Ryan Opera Center and other esteemed cultural institutions and artists.
Performances will run continuously on two main stages, the Lake Stage in Polk Bros Park and the East End Stage, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and from noon to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday. The festival is standing room only, but guests are welcome to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets and grab food on the go from a variety of sit-down and/or carry-out restaurants at the Pier. To top off the momentous weekend, Navy Pier will also host a special fireworks display on September 25th at 9:45 p.m., courtesy of an anonymous donor, as a tribute to the return of theater in Chicago.
As part of the celebration, ABC7 Chicago will air a 30-minute television special, hosted by Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini, featuring performance highlights from Chicago LIVE Again!. The special will also showcase stories on the participating artists and industry tradespeople to offer insights into how Chicago’s entertainment industry navigated the unprecedented challenges related to the ongoing pandemic.
“Navy Pier is incredibly proud to become the stage for the return of live performances to Chicago. There could be no better place than the People’s Pier to reunite audiences and artists as an industry that was hit so hard by the pandemic finally returns to work,” said Navy Pier President and CEO Marilynn Gardner. “Many nonprofit cultural organizations, Navy Pier among them, faced existential crises over the past 16 months. Though we have not completely vanquished the virus, it has not vanquished us. Our community is resilient, and our will is strong—as evidenced by the level of work and spirit of cooperation it takes to make an event of this scale happen. Never before have so many of Chicago’s greatest institutions shared the stage.”
Chicago LIVE Again! was made possible through a generous grant from the Pritzker Foundation. “Navy Pier is a vital leader in the arts and cultural landscape of Chicago and beyond,” said Penny Pritzker, trustee of the Pritzker Foundation. “We are proud to serve as a partner to the Pier, as it is a platform for so many unique and beloved cultural programs and institutions. This event will allow our arts and culture organizations to deliver a message of resiliency and inspiration together. This is not only a celebration of the city’s reopening, but a meaningful tribute to the immense diversity and vibrancy of our region. We know this event will have a deep impact in uniting and uplifting our community and we are proud to support it.”
Chicago LIVE Again! is the recipient of a $562,500 grant from the Illinois Office of Tourism, a part of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). This funding was made possible through Governor Pritzker’s Tourism Attractions & Festivals Grant Program, which leverages federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to support new attractions and festivals that will lend to the return of tourism and foot traffic across Illinois communities. This program is one of several underway by the State of Illinois to put Illinois communities and key industries on a path to economic recovery from COVID-19.
“The State of Illinois is proud to support the Chicago LIVE Again! festival at Navy Pier, leveraging one of Illinois’ iconic cultural attractions to host new exciting performances from our premier cultural institutions,” said DCEO Acting Director Sylvia Garcia. “Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership and in partnership with local leaders we are continuing to bring tourism back safely. We encourage communities across the state to apply for funds from our Tourism Attractions and Festivals Grant program. This program is designed to help bring back community festivals and cultural experiences that generate economic activity and improve quality of life while investing in the hard-hit tourism industry.”
"Our arts and entertainment industry is a vital part of our thriving cultural scene, which has long attracted visitors from across the country and served as a major economic engine for Chicago and Illinois as a whole," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "Chicago LIVE Again! at Navy Pier will thus serve as another reminder to the world that our city is safely open for work and play and brings thousands of jobs for our residents to take advantage of."
“Chicago LIVE Again! is the manifestation of what can happen when we all come together. Cultural investment is part of the heartbeat of this city and despite all that we have been through in the last 16 months, our heartbeat is still very strong,” said State Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago). “This collaboration between the pillars of Chicago’s cultural and arts community, organized labor, government, and others will highlight our resilience and the continuation of the vibrancy of our people as we work to find ways to bring us all together in the face of adversity.”
“Like so many Chicagoans, I’ve visited Navy Pier since childhood to watch the fireworks and watch extraordinary musical and theatrical productions time and time again,” said Illinois State Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago). “From the 13th District’s Oak Street Beach to the Indiana Border, arts organizations have struggled to survive the pandemic, yet continued to do amazing work. By providing the inspiration that only live performances can offer, Chicago LIVE Again! generates new hope, creates jobs and positively impacts the arts community in my district and beyond.”
“On behalf of thousands of Chicago area stagehands, carpenters, electricians, tradespeople and other union workers, who help create everything from the simplest acoustic concerts to the grandest theatrical spectacles, we are grateful to be honored by this two-day festival dedicated to our return to work after our venues were shuttered and dark for 16 months,” said Craig Carlson, IATSE Local 2 Business Manager and International Vice President. “It’s work we love, and the standard of excellence in our trade is when the audience enjoys a spectacular event and does not even know we are there, making the event happen. But today, we’re glad to be seen, and we thank Navy Pier and the many companies and artists who are bringing live performance back in such a big way this fall. We’re proud to stand with you.”
The full list of Chicago LIVE Again! performers is available on the Navy Pier website and will be updated as more performances are finalized leading up to the event. Guests will be required to show COVID vaccination card or proof of a negative test within the past 48 hours to access the designated performance areas. Alternatively, free rapid testing will be available on site for all guests age 2 and over. To help guests prepare for the fall arts season, vaccinations also will be available during the two-day event. Click here to view Navy Pier’s COVID-19 operations and updates.
Navy Pier is operating in accordance with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on matters related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Chicago requires that all individuals must wear a face mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status. Masks may be removed while dining. Click here to view Navy Pier’s COVID-19 operations and updates.
For more information, visit www.navypier.org.