Navy Pier

Everything You Need to Know About This Weekend's Chicago Air & Water Show

Experiencing the Chicago Air & Water show is more than just looking up into the sky. 

There are plenty of ways to take in the heart-stopping performances in the largest free show of its kind. 

The iconic event returns on Aug. 18 and 19 to North Avenue Beach with headliners including the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights and U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs. 

With the highly-anticipated performances just days away, here is everything you need to know before the weekend festivities begin.

Where to Watch:

Chicago Beaches: Viewers can watch the performers along the lakefront of Fullerton to Oak Street from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day along with several other spots that will offer views of the planes taking flight.

Navy Pier: Navy Pier cruises will be available to allow viewers to watch the show from the water. Options include the Odyssey Cruises, Mystic Blue and Spirit Cruises, which run from $59.90 and up. 

Best Sightlines: North Avenue Beach, the lakefront from Oak Street Beach to Fullerton and Ohio Street Beach.

Where to Park:

Air & Water parking is available at Millennium Garages with free shuttle to and from North Ave. Beach. 

How to Get There:

Metra will run extra service for the weekend to accomodate travelers heading to the Air & Water show. The $10 Weekend Pass gives unlimited rides Saturday and Sunday.

The Chicago Transit Authority is also offering additional service for spectators. Longer trains will operate along the Blue, Brown, Green and Orange lines both Saturday and Sunday. Extra service will also be provided on the No. 72 North Avenue and No. 151 Sheridan routes. 


Military Teams

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds

U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights

U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs

C-130 HerculesC-130 Hercules

KC-135 StratotankerKC-135 Stratotanker

P-51 MustangP-51 Mustang

T-38 TalonT-38 Talon

U. S. Navy F-18U. S. Navy F-18

U.S. Coast Guard MH-Dolphin Helicopter

U.S. Coast Guard CutterU.S. Coast Guard Cutter

F-35 Heritage FlightF-35 Heritage Flight

Civilian Teams

AeroShell Aerobatic Team

Team Aerostars

Sean D. Tucker & Team Oracle

Bill SteinBill Stein Aerosport

American Airlines 787-8

The Firebirds Delta TeamThe Firebirds Delta Team

Matt Chapman Airshows

Rob Holland

Susan DacySusan Dacy in the Super Stearman Model 70

A-4 Skyhawk JetWarbird Heritage Museum Foundation

Chicago Fire Department Air/Sea Resue

Chicago Police Department Helicopter 

What you can and cannot bring:

Prohibited items include:

  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • BBQ Grills (Open Flames)
  • Drones (Personal and Commercial)
  • Fireworks or Explosives
  • Illegal Substances & Weapons
  • Pop-up Tents/Canopies
  • Balloons
  • Kites
  • Flag Poles
  • All Pets (except Service Animals)
Experiencing the air and water show is more than just looking up in the sky. 
The Chicago Air & Water show returns on August 20 & 21 to North Avenue Beach. Viewers can watch the performers along the lakefront of Fullerton to Oak Street from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. 
Headliners for this year’s performance include the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights and U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs. Events will be voiced by Herb Hunter, the reoccurring announcer throughout the years. 
Viewers can watch the planes take flight at locations such as Miller Lite Beer Garden on Navy Pier for the entire weekend with entertainment all-day. Starting August 19 to August 21, there will be a pop up Sand Bar Beer open from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The complimentary admission will have $1 to $7 food and drink specials for purchase. 
Parking locations include Millennium Park Garage, Millennium Lakeside Garage (5 S. Columbus Drive), Grant Park South Garage (325 S. Michigan Ave.) and Grant Park North Garage (25 N. Michigan Ave). All-day packages are available for $35 and include shuttle service to North Avenue Beach. 
Metra is adjusting its schedule for the weekend’s festivities with more trains and larger amounts of passengers on rides. The $8 Weekend Pass gives unlimited rides and kids under 11 can ride free with an adult until Labor Day. 
Divvy Bikes are also available at four locations: Theater on the Lake; Clark & North; Michigan & Oak; and Streeter & Illinois. 
The original show debuted as a one-day event in 1959 under Chicago Park District Supervisor Al Benedict as a “Family Day” in Lakeshore Park. The purpose was to celebrate children in the city’s day camp, according to the City of Chicago sit
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