The Air and Water Show Takes Off in Chicago This August

As the U.S. Navy Blue Angels take off over Navy Pier and spiral through the sky in flamboyant gestures of their air-bending talents, everyone on North Avenue Beach will watch the Chicago Air and Water Show with jaws open and eyes wide. These soaring Angels are immensely skilled in the art of airborne navigation and will showcase their precision and attention to detail in every flight across the lake. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will do their jobs damn well as they scare everyone half to death with their risky, but calculated maneuvers.

From August 17 – 18 between 10 am and 3 pm, the Chicago Air and Water Show will take to the skies and overcome the waves across Lake Michigan for the whole city to see. Complimenting the work of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels will be the U.S. Army Parachute Team of Golden Knights and the U.S. Navy Parachute Team of Leap Frogs, who will both freefall 12,500 feet to North Avenue Beach, demonstrating their skills mid-air. 

Air and Water Show
Photo Credit: Chicago Air and Water Show

One of the best things about this annual mark to the end of the summer is that it’s completely free to the public, and there’s honestly no way you’ll have any kind of obstructed view as long as you find standing room at North Avenue Beach. But there are plenty of other places along the waterfront to get a great spot for the show. If you purchase tickets for a private cabana at Castaways, you’ll have one of the best seats in the house for this outdoor performance. For just $180, the breakfast and lunch buffet, as well as open bar, is open for the taking. Limited tickets remain, but you can score yours by emailing Andrea Frankos.

If you want to drink during the Chicago Air and Water Show, as any sane person would, you should note that alcohol is prohibited along the entire beachfront, except at Castaways, the Shore Club, which also has cabanas available for rental that weekend at the Oasis, and the pop-up Sand Bar Beer Garden. Located near the Northeast corner of Castaways all weekend long from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the pop-up Sand Bar lets patrons enjoy $6 cheeseburgers, $5 hot dogs, $4 bottled water, $1 bags of chips, and $8 beers at the only spot along the beach where alcohol is permitted. 

If North Ave is a little too crowded for your taste, try Oak Street Beach instead, where you can lay out on a less busy beach, make a reservation at Caffe Oliva, or rent a cabana of upwards of $1,000 for ultimate, premium treatment. Make sure to get your parking spot ahead of time!

Air Show
Photo Credit: Chicago Air and Water Show

Navy Pier is another great place to find a comfortable spot and watch the skies, particularly at The Miller Lite Beer Garden for their Air and Water Show viewing party. This walk-up counter serves all the beer your heart desires, as well as brats, burgers, and pizza. And they even have live entertainment lined up for both days to keep the party going:

Saturday, August 17

2:00PM – 3:00PM & 3:30PM – 4:30PM | Nicholas Barron Electric Band
5:30PM – 6:30 PM & 7:00PM – 8:00PM | Bassel & The Supernaturals
9:10PM – 10:00PM & 10:25PM -11:30PM | Wedding Banned

Sunday, August 18

2:00PM – 3:00PM & 3:30PM – 4:30PM | Kwame Binea Shakedown
4:30PM – 5:30 PM & 6:30PM – 7:00PM | DJ Papa G
5:30PM – 6:30PM & 7:00PM -8:00PM | Hurricane Reggae Band

chicago air and water show
Photo Credit: Chicago Air and Water Show

Navy Pier’s latest attraction, Offshore, the World’s Largest Rooftop Bar, is another great spot to watch the Chicago Air and Water Show, offering special viewing packages throughout the weekend. You’ll get a front-row seat to hear the roar of the jets while enjoying a picturesque view of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. All ticket information is listed below and includes access to Offshore’s open bar, brunch and grilling stations, and live music.

Friday, August 16
*The Chicago Air and Water Show begins on Saturday, August 17, so this is just a bonus entry into the Offshore party. 

General Admission: 11 AM – 3 PM: $125 per guest
VIP Marina Table (For groups of 14): $2,000
VIP Lounge, South or North View: (For groups of 15): $3,000, and $3,500, respectively

Saturday, August 17

General Admission: 10 AM – 3 PM: $150 per guest
VIP Marina Tables (for groups of 14): $2,500

Sunday, August 18

General Admission: 10 AM – 3 PM: $150 per guest
Marina Table (for groups of 14): $2,500
VIP Lounge, South or North View: (For groups of 15): $3,000, and $3,500, respectively

Photo Credit: Chicago Air and Water Show

Of course, there’s always the watching from the air or the water, both of which provide you with the ultimate Air and Water Show experience. Dining cruises are always available via Mystic Blue, Odyssey, or Spirit of Chicago, and it’s easy to score tickets on any of the following boat tours: Wendella Boats, Shoreline Sightseeing Company, Seadog Ventures, Chicago’s First Lady, and Chicago Line Cruises.

Catching the air show at eye level is an experience that will send chills down your spine. The best places to get this view include 360 Chicago, Bar 94, and The Signature Room at the 95th.

After the show, head to River North’s supreme hangout spot Parlay, where you and 4-6 of your friends can grab a super-sized, sky-colored “Cool Your Jets” Shareable Cocktail for just $64.


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Featured Image Credit: Chicago Air and Water Show Facebook


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