Best time to go to Chicago

Chicago Air and Water Show 2024

The oldest and largest show of this kind in the United States

Dates: August 10–11, 2024

Chicago Air and Water Show
Chicago Air and Water Show
Chicago Air and Water Show

The Chicago Air and Water Show, presented by the City of Chicago, is the largest and oldest free-of-charge show of its kind in the United States. The two-day Chicago Air and Water Show attracts a massive audience of over two million people to the city's beautiful beachfront, where they witness military and civilian pilots perform breathtaking aerial stunts over Lake Michigan.

Lineup and Schedule of the Airshow

The air show features skilled pilots, parachute jumps, and jets flying in formation. There are also water-skiing and boat-jumping performances. The participants include military pilots and civilians, like Red Bull teams. The major highlights are the U.S. Army Golden Knights performance, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Other performers include the Royal Air Force Red Arrows, U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Demo, USMC Osprey Demo, USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II, KC-135 Stratotanker, and C-130 HerculesT-38 Talon, U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter, and others. The Airshow takes place from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm.


At the Chicago Air and Water Show, you'll find plenty of food vendors spread throughout the lakefront area, including locations north of the pedestrian bridge, at North Avenue Beach, and south of the boathouse. Herb Hunter, the event's official announcer, will return to provide commentary from Oak Street Beach to Fullerton Beach. You can also tune in to live broadcasts of the show on WBBM Newsradio 780/105.9. And to cap off the weekend, there's a grand finale planned with massive fireworks.

Viewing Location & Parking

The best spot to catch the Chicago Air and Water Show is along the lakefront from Oak Street to Fullerton Avenue, especially at the focal point of North Avenue Beach. Public access to the lakefront starts at 6 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Several tour boat companies provide special cruises offering incredible Air and Water Show views. Prices for these cruises typically start at $115. There's no parking at the beach, but limited parking is available at Lincoln Park Zoo. Alternatively, you can park at Millennium Park Garage, which offers pre-purchase discounts and free shuttles to North Avenue Beach.

History of Chicago Air and Water Show

It has been held every year since 1959 and is Chicago's second most popular public festival. The Chicago Air and Water Show was first held as a low-budget event in the 1950s. It consisted of the Coast Guard Air Sea Rescue demonstration, water skiers, and water ballet. The event became popular when the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and Golden Knights Parachute Team started participating. Every year, it attracts about 2 million spectators.

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Authors: Sophia Andrus