The Chicago Air and Water Show presented by the City of Chicago returns in less than a month, taking place Saturday & Sunday, August 19 & 20, 2023 on North Ave. Beach and along the Lakefront, between 10:30am-3pm on both days. This is the largest FREE show of its kind in the United States. The show can be viewed along the lakefront from Fullerton to Oak Street, with North Avenue Beach as the focal point.
The main free event of the season
If you finished cruising the best ice cream shops in Chicago, you saw a movie or more on the rooftop cinema in Fulton Market and you are looking for a cool way to spend a day outside with family or friends, be sure to not miss the main free event of the summer. The City of Chicago and Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) proudly presents the 2023 Chicago Air and Water Show, August 19 and 20 along the lakefront from Fullerton to Oak Street, with North Avenue Beach serving as show center from 10:30am to 3pm daily, according to a press release issued July 24th.
A bit of history of the event, for those who have never seen it before
Established in 1959 and one of the largest free admission events of its kind, headliners of the 2023 show include the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights. This will be the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds’ first appearance in Chicago since 2018.
Last year, military performances included a range of jaw-dropping demonstrations, including USN F-35C Lightening II, USAF F-22 Raptor, USAF C-17 Globemaster III, ANG A-10 Thunderbolt II (“Warthog”), ANG KC-135 Stratotanker, USMC V-22 Osprey Tiltrotor, and the USCG Search and Rescue Helicopter team.
The U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight and U.S. Navy Legacy Flights were presented in the same Air and Water Show for the first time.
What to expect this year
The U.S. Air Force demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, are celebrating their 70th year in 2023, flying since 1953. Today’s Thunderbirds will thrill crowds with aerobatic formation and solo flying in their F-16C Fighting Falcons. The brave men and women of the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights will inspire spectators as they jump out of an aircraft 12,000 feet above the earth’s surface to a perfect target landing on North Avenue Beach.
The popular lakefront event features a wide variety of military and civilian performers and aerial demonstration teams with world-class pilots performing their aerobatic maneuvers along Chicago’s lakefront. Featured military performers for the 2023 event include: US Air Force F-16 Viper Demo Team, US Air Force Heritage Flight Demo Team (P-51 Mustang), US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III Demo Team, US Air Force/Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt II (x4), US Air Force/Air National Guard KC-135E Stratotanker, US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet “Rhino” Demo Team, US Navy Legacy Flight Demo Team (A-4B Skyhawk & FG-1D Corsair), US Coast Guard MH-65D Dolphin Search & Rescue Demo.
Herb Hunter, the voice of the Air and Water Show, returns
Show announcer Herb Hunter, the “Voice of the Air and Water Show” for more than 35 years, returns to narrate and guide the spectators through each performer’s aerial choreography. The show is really inclusive, organizers striving to make it available for everyone. Audio description will be available for those who are blind/low vision both days of the event; register at this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82598113869.
A summer highlight for over $1M people, Chicagoans and guests
Civilian performers at the 2023 show include Susan Dacy, Bill Stein, Kevin Coleman, Edward Hamill, Rob Holland, Triple Time Team, The Chicago Fire Department Air/Sea Rescue, and the Chicago Police Department helicopter.
“The Chicago Air and Water show is a summer highlight for the more than one million spectators who view the show every year,” said DCASE Commissioner Erin Harkey. “Audiences can expect to see incredible performances from world-class military and civilian teams gracing the Chicago sky over an exciting two days.”
The Chicago Air and Water Show is presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. The Chicago Air & Water Show is supported by The Boeing Company, ABC 7 Chicago, WBBM Newsradio, Chicago Transit Authority and Millennium Garages.
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) supports artists and cultural organizations, invests in the creative economy, and expands access and participation in the arts throughout Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. As a collaborative cultural presenter, arts funder, and advocate for creative workers, our programs and events serve Chicagoans and visitors of all ages and backgrounds, downtown and in diverse communities across our city — to strengthen and celebrate Chicago. DCASE produces some of the city’s most iconic festivals, markets, events, and exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park, and in communities across the city — serving a local and global audience of 25 million people. The Department offers cultural grants and resources, manages public art, supports TV and film production and other creative industries, and permits special events throughout Chicago.