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Blue Angels over Chicago skyline
Chicago Air & Water Show
Fast Facts

Where: North Avenue Beach from Fullerton to Oak Street.

When: August 19 - 20, 2023 10AM - 2PM

Free Admission

Getting there: CTA bus lines 151, 156, 22, or 36 to Oak St and North Ave. beaches.

Subway: Chicago Transit


The thrill of the Chicago Air & Water Show returns to the Lake Michigan lakefront this year beginning at 9AM on Saturday, August 19 and on Sunday, August 20, 2023.

Also watch for the highly-anticpated appearance of the US Air Force Thunderbirds along with appearances by the U.S. Army parachute team, the Golden Knights.

Joining them will be the usual popular flying demos, antique flying machines, and demonstrations by Chicago's own fire department air/sea rescue and ... lots more!

All about the Chicago Air & Water Show

The Chicago Air & Water Show is traditionally scheduled in mid-August along the lakefront from Fullerton to Oak Street, ( best viewing: 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? Complete coverage of the Chicago Air & Water Show traditionally airs on WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9FM with live streaming video on their website.

Audiences can usually anticipate a lineup that includes performances alternately featuring either the US Navy Blue Angels or the US Air Force Thunderbirds.

Also watch for the US Army Golden Knights parachute teams, as well as other crowd-pleasing stunts by the aerobatic teams and a performance by the Chicago Fire Department Air/Sea Rescue team.

Blue Angels perform at the Chicago Air & Water Show
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.

also see in Travel ->     2023 Kansas City Air Show

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.

Have fun!

DID YOU KNOW? Chicago Air & Water Show trivia & fun facts

golden knights parachuting
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.

also see in Chicago Travel->     Chicago Marathon    |     Lollapalooza

More about the Chicago Air & Water Show around the Web:

2023 Chicago Air & Water Show - Check out the official site for this year's schedule, photos, maps & directions, parking information, FAQ, and image gallery.

Chicago Air & Water Show - Wikipedia - Here's a good overview of what's happening over Chicago including background info, related resources and a photo gallery.

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