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Chicago Summer Dancing Events and Festivals 2018: What to Do and Where to Go

Updated on January 16, 2018
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Anya Brodech is from Chicago and has been ballroom dancing for 10 years. Check out her website for more information!

Dancing in Chicago During the Summer

I love summertime in Chicago, especially when the weather is good and it makes the bad weather we put up the rest of the year totally worth it. My two favorite outdoor dancing events in the Chicagoland area are SummerDance (yes, that's spelled as one word for reasons I don't understand) which takes place in Grant Park several times a week all summer long; and the Chicago Botanic Garden located out in the Northwest suburb of Glencoe by Skokie/Gleview/Northbrook.

There are plenty of other events going on, but these are perenial classics that have been going on every year for the last 20+ years and always draw a great crowd of people so you'll always have a good time.

I've included a bunch of links and descriptions down below to help you get organize and going to these events, feel free to contact me if you have any other questions, happy dancing!

Do you live in Chicago or are you visiting from out of town?

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Chicago Summer Dance

Chicago Summer Dance outside at Grant Park
Chicago Summer Dance outside at Grant Park

Chicago Summer Dance

Summer is a special time of year that is fun and full of exciting events, especially in Chicago. As I mentioned earlier, one of my favorites is Summer Dance in Grant Park downtown. It's great if you're spending the day in the city hanging out with your friends and want a special way to spend your afternoon or evening.

Did you know that Chicago's SummerDance is one of the largest outdoor dancing events in the entire country?

No matter what your dancing level is, you will find dancers of all types, ranging from first-time beginners to professionals. It is a great way to get outside and either learn how to dance or show off your moves. There are different bands that play all types of music every week, ranging from salsa to waltz to swing; all of which are listed on the Chicago Summer Dance website.

The event is free and all ages are welcome, so you can bring anyone you want. I recommend getting there early and bringing some blankets and folding chairs so you can stake out an area and have a place to sit down and relax when you’re not dancing. If you are not in the mood dance, it is still fun to watch people dance, especially the advanced dancers.

Parking downtown can be difficult, unless you're friends with someone who can validate your parking for free, so consider taking Uber/Lyft or public transportation like the CTA or Metra if you are coming from the suburbs. Also, remember that it can get chilly by the lake, especially at night, so bring something warm to wear with you just in case.

If you plan to stay late, there is a there is a firework show at Navy Pier which can be seen from the lake every Saturday night at 10:15, which is a perfect way to end your evening.

In any case, Chicago Summer Dance is sure to be a fun and memorable experience that you will want to add to your list of summer traditions!

Map of Grant Park

A markerGrant Park, chicago, IL -
Grant Park, Chicago, IL, USA
get directions

View of Fireworks at Navy Pier

Live Music and Dancing at the Chicago Botanic Garden

As always, the Chicago Botanic Garden is hosting its Summer Evenings events, filled with live music and dancing, as an easy way to relax and have fun in a friendly atmosphere and beautiful surroundings with your family and friends.

There are different types of music every evening that cover many genres, such as American blues and swing, Spanish guitar music and Tango, Jazz, and many more. The variety of events ensures that you will find something that interests you; a complete listing with detailed information can be found on the Garden’s website.

One of my favorite events is “Music on the Esplanade” Tuesday nights which features a live band playing on the Esplanade with a beautiful lake-view of the fountain. There is a lot of room to spread out, especially if you get there early, and the area is wheelchair accessible.

“Hot Summer Nights” on Thursdays is another favorite of mine because there is an instructor that teaches you different types of dances and later you get to practice your moves when the live band starts playing.

Even if you don’t like to dance, you can still enjoy listening to the music, exploring the rest of the Garden, visiting the gift shop, or getting something to eat at the Garden Grille. You can also use it as a fun opportunity to bring your own food, drinks and snacks and have yourself a little picnic. Just remember to bring your own chairs and blankets to sit on, because although they do provide some chairs and benches to sit, they usually get taken pretty fast so it's better to bring your own. Normally, picnicking is not allowed at the Chicago Botanic Garden, but they make a special exception for their musical/dance nights in the area where the event is being held.

Also, if you are feeling romantic, you can bring your special someone and enjoy a nice walk around the Garden, then come back to your car and bring back your bottle of wine and some refreshments so you can set up your picnic before the music starts. You can also duck out early and enjoy taking a sunset walk, which is always beautiful.

Regardless if you go with a date, your friends, or your family, you will be sure to have fun and want to come back for more!

Sunset at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Map of Chicago Botanic Garden

A markerChicago Botanic Garden -
Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022, USA
get directions

Dancing outside in the summertime with your family and friends is a great way to get out and have a fun summer evening!
Dancing outside in the summertime with your family and friends is a great way to get out and have a fun summer evening!


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