Chicago Air & Water Show 2023: Parking, transit, full lineup, allowed and prohibited items, and more

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Sunday, August 20, 2023
What to expect on final day of Chicago Air and Water Show
Here's what to expect on the final day of the Chicago Air and Water Show.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Air and Water Show returns to the city this weekend.

The event began in 1959 and is one of the largest free events of its kind, with over a million spectators coming to watch the show ever year.

WATCH: ABC7 Flywitness News

ABC7 flying with the performers at the Chicago Air & Water Show through the years.

Herb Hunter, the "Voice of the Air and Water Show" for 36 years, will narrate the aerial choreography all weekend long.

"It displays the heart and soul of the wonderful city of Chicago," he said of the event. "What I see as my job is to pass along what's going on up there, who's there, why are they there? What's different about their airplane and I love teaching the crowd what's going on up there."

Here's what you need to know before you go.


WHEN: The Chicago Air and Water Show will be held along the lakefront from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.


HOW TO WATCH: The show can be viewed along the lakefront from Fullerton to Oak Street, with North Avenue Beach as the focal point.

ACCESSIBILITY: Audio description for people who are low vision or blind is available both days through a dial-in Zoom number. The description will be available from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. both days. To join the Zoom meeting follow this link and enter meeting ID 825 9811 3869. More information is available from the City of Chicago here.

PARKING: There is no public parking at the beach over the Chicago Air and Water Show weekend. Millennium Park Garages offers discounted pre-purchase parking and a free shuttle from the garage to inner DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

HOW TO GET THERE: The city encourages using CTA to attend the air and water show. You can use the CTA Trip Planner to get your best route. The CTA 72 bus that normally stops at North Avenue beach will be rerouted and only go as far as North and Clark.

Supplemental bus service will be provided on the 72 North Avenue and 151 Sheridan bus routes. Buses on the 145 Wilson/Michigan Express, 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express and 147 Outer Drive routes also have stops near the activities. You can also take the 22 Clark or 36 Broadway buses to North and Clark, within walking distance of North Avenue beach.

If you are driving or using rideshare, pickup and drop off is at the North Avenue northbound entrance to DuSable Lake Shore Drive. Use of North LaSalle will be limited to emergency management's discretion. All drop off and pick up also may be cut off due to crowds. If you are using rideshare or driving, the city recommends being dropped off away from the event and walking over.

The city encourages attendees to arrive early and stay through the end of the event if you need pick up and drop off.

CAN I WATCH ON THE WATER? Boaters can watch the show from Lake Michigan, in the "Playpen" or out on the lake as long as the avoid the show's restricted zone. That zone will be delineated by orange "Do Not Enter" buoys and patrolled by the Coast Guard, CPD and CFD.


The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights will headline this year's show.

"We train year-round on piloting our parachutes to try to hit this target over and over again from our certification down in Florida for our entire show year. And it's hard to identify at first," said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Orozco of the Golden Knights.

Featured military performers include the U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper Demo Team, the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight Demo Team (P-51 Mustang), the U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III Demo Team, the U.S. Air Force/Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt III (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 and Rescue Demo.

Featured civilian performers include Susan Dacy, Bill Stein, Kevin Coleman, Rob Holland, the Triple Time Team, the Chicago Fire Department Air/Sea rescue and the Chicago Police Department helicopter.

Dacy, a retired American Airlines pilot from Harvard, Illinois, is one of the only female civilian pilots performing in air shows today.

"I am honored to actually just to be amongst my other pilots and to be doing this. It's an honor for me to be here," she said.


FOOD AND DRINK: Food vendors are located up and down the lakefront. Options north of the pedestrian bridge include El Campeon, Nab Tiki Hut, Chill Italian Ice, Sandbox Café, Morelos Concessions and more. Vendors on North Avenue Beach include Big Chug's Corn Hub and Stefani's. Venders south of the boathouse include Little Squeeze, Shore Club, Freddie's and Robinson's Ribs.

Attendees are welcome to bring personal coolers with water and ice, as well as their own food and drink. Bags and coolers will be subject to search.

AMENITIES: Restroom facilities are available in the North Avenue Beach House. There will also be port-a-pottys throughout the beach area.

A first aid tent will be located in the parking lot west of the North Avenue Beach House. A lost child tent will be located in the center of the LaSalle Street turnaround.

Free cooling stations will be set up at the entrance to North Avenue Beach.

OTHER: Portable radios/listening devices, hats, binoculars, chairs, sunscreen and earplugs are all allowed and encouraged. Parents are especially encouraged to bring sunscreen and earplugs for children.


Normal beach security rules apply during the Chicago Air and Water Show. As such the following items are prohibited:

  • BBQ grills (open flames)
  • Drones (personal or commercial)
  • Alcohol
  • Fireworks or explosives
  • Illegal substances
  • Weapons
  • Pop up tents or canopies
  • All flying objects such as helium balloons or kites
  • Flag poles
  • All pets, excluding service animals