Time once again for the annual Chicago Air & Water Show -- celebrating its 61st anniversary in 2019 -- 'wowing' Chicagoans and summer visitors alike with watercraft stunts and aerial acrobatics on Lake Michigan in the largest free exhibition of its kind in the USA!
This year, the Chicago Air & Water Show is scheduled from Saturday, August 17 to Sunday, August 18, 2019. As usual, it will take place along the lakefront from Fullerton to Oak Street, with best viewing at North Avenue Beach.
The best way to get there? Public transportation, of course. The city of Chicago usually gears up with longer trains, extra buses, and extended routes to accommodate the expected 2 million annual visitors -- a number equal only to Chicago's other big summer event, Taste of Chicago.
If you are driving, it's highly suggested that you get there early to score a parking spot near the Lincoln Park Zoo. Or, park at Millennium Park garages, and from there take advantage of the free Air & Water Show shuttle to and from North Ave. Beach.
Can't get to the show this year? Complete coverage of the Chicago Air & Water Show will air on WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9FM with live streaming video on their website.
Chicago Air & Water Show 2019
Audiences can anticipate this year's lineup to include performances by traditional aerial stunt performers. Watch for the official announcement over the summer for a full schedule of performances that alternately feature either the US Navy Blue Angels or the US AirforceThunderbirds.
Regular performances can also be expected by the US Army Golden Knights parachute teams, the U.S. Navy Leap Frogs parachute team, as well as other crowd-pleasing stunts by the AeroShell Aerobatic Team, and a performance by the Chicago Fire Department Air/Sea Rescue team.
With the city skyline as a backdrop, the US Navy Blue Angels thrilled crowds during
a memorable performance at the Chicago Air & Water Show in 2006.
For a sneak preview before the big event, major headliners usually practice their stunts over the city on Friday. The weekend then bring scores of food vendors to the shoreline to hawk everything from nachos to hot dogs for audiences who usually come for the duration of the official show (HINT: if you want to beat the lines, bring plenty of snacks and a bottle of water along.)
Also don't forget the camera, binoculars, sunscreen and, if you're hearing sensitive -- EARPLUGS. Those low-flying supersonic stunt planes are LOUD.
DID YOU KNOW? Chicago Air & Water Show trivia & fun facts
Golden Knights: Part of the CAWS since 1960.
• The Chicago Air & Water Show began in 1959 as a "Family Day" celebration for kids in the Chicago Park District's day camp program.
• The original event was budgeted at a whopping $88, and consisted mainly of a Coast Guard Air Sea Rescue demonstration, water skiing, and diving competitions.
• In 1960, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and Golden Knights Parachute Team performed to a huge crowd and the event became a Chicago summer tradition.
• Today, the Chicago Air & Water Show has grown so big that it employs its own air traffic controller who oversees the downtown air space during show hours.
• Planes take off and land at the Gary/Chicago International Airport in Gary, Indiana. All stunts are performed over the water, but planes often buzz the Chicago skyline in the path back to the show area or the airport.