Summer is just around the corner, which means it’s time to make your bucket list. Some of the biggest, coolest happenings require advance planning — and many are ticketed and will sell out. Don’t miss the boat! Read our roundup of the great events that are on our radar so far and save the dates.

cirque-shanghai

photo: courtesy of Cirque Shanghai

Circus Spectacular: Cirque Shanghai: Warriors
Show-stopping excitement. Oohs. Aahs. You’ll find it at this show, sure to impress daredevils of all ages with thrilling acts including The Kinetic Poles, the Water Meteor and the Pageant of Arms. If that’s not enough to get your blood pumping, returning from last year is the fate-tempting Wheel of Destiny and the steel-globe motorcycle troupe Imperial Thunder, so there’s something for all types of adrenaline junkies.

Navy Pier
600 E. Grand Ave.
Streeterville
Online: navypier.com
773-327-3778
Dates: May 21-September 1
Times: May 21, 22 & 29 at 10:30 a.m. Beginning May 24 the regular performance schedule is Wednesdays at 2, 6 & 8 p.m.; Thursdays at 2 & 8 p.m.; Fridays at 2, 7 & 9 p.m.; Saturdays at 2, 6 & 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 & 4 p.m.
Cost: Tickets go on sale May 2, at which time prices will be announced. Go to ticketmaster.com for details.

Museum Overnight: Dozin’ With the Dinos
You might think you’ve had wild slumber parties, but they’re nothing compared to this one. Pack up your jammies and flashlights and snuggle up with Sue the T. Rex, the African savannah and ancient Egyptian culture for an overnight adventure at The Field Museum. Families sleep in one of the museum’s amazing exhibit halls after spending the evening exploring, playing games and listening to bedtime stories. Available for families and groups with children ages 6-12.

The Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Museum Campus
Online: fieldmuseum.org
312-665-7525
Date: May 30, 5:45 p.m.
Cost: Tickets start at $63 or $55 for museum members.

eyes-to-skies

photo: courtesy of Eyes to the Skies Festival

Suburban Festival: Eyes to the Skies Festival in Lisle
Some cities celebrate the 4th of July once, but Lisle likes to live it up for five days. Head to this bash to enjoy kid-friendly activities like face painting, magic shows, and arts and crafts, as well as amazing hot air balloon launches (happening early morning and early evening), live concerts and fireworks shows on July 3, 4 and 5.

Lisle Community Park
1825 Short St.
Lisle
Online: eyestotheskies.org
Date: July 2-6
Cost: $7 adults; free for children 7 and under; free on July 4 for Lisle residents until 3 p.m. with photo ID; free July 4 for military members with photo ID

Kindie Rock Concert: Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players
After a long, long, long (ok, you get it) winter, get outside to rock out to the Grammy-nominated kids’ band. And what better place to get your groove on than Ravinia Festival? After all, anyplace where you feed the fam and jam out is a total win-win. Rather not lug around a heavy load? Ravinia has a food pavilion with tot-friendly options, so all you need to bring is a picnic blanket.

Ravinia Festival
418 Sheridan Rd.
Highland Park
847-266-5000
Online: ravinia.org
Date: Saturday, July 5, at 11 a.m. (gates open at 10 a.m.)
Cost: $10 Martin Theatre seats; $5 lawn seats

bristol-renaissance

 photo: courtesy of Bristol Renaissance Faire 

Blast From The Past: Bristol Renaissance Faire
Calling all lords and ladies: If you love to party like it’s the 1500s, this is your thing. With complimentary children’s rides for kids of all ages, plus games and stages upon stages of live entertainment (we’re talking mud wrestling, jugglers and acrobats), the Bristol Renaissance Faire is a Ye Must! You’ve probably heard about the food, too, especially those huge turkey legs that you eat sans silverware. These days, there are plenty of vegan/wheat-free/vegetarian options, too. Finally, a place where you can let your kids wear costumes out of the house and actually blend in with the crowd.

12550 120th Ave.
Kenosha, Wisconsin
847-395-7773
Online: renfair.com
Date: July 5-Sept 1 every Saturday, Sunday & Labor Day from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Cost: $23.95 adult; $11.50 child 5-12; free for children 4 & younger; $125 for a season pass

Theater Blockbuster: Charlotte’s Web
The mismatched duo, pig Wilbur and spider Charlotte, and the rest of their farm friends are coming to the big city this summer. Ernie Nolan is bringing E.B. White’s childhood classic tale (piggy tale, that is), Charlotte’s Web, to life. Your little ones can watch as Wilbur evolves from the runt of the litter into the farmhouse hero with a little help from his arachnid friend.

Broadway Playhouse
175 E. Chestnut St.
Streeterville
773-529-2690
Dates: July 9-August 17 at 10 a.m.
Cost: Tickets will go on sale soon; check emeraldcitytheatre.com

kaleidoscope

photo: courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago

Museum Family Fest: AIC Kaleidoscope Family Festival
Looking for an all-ages, arty-party for the whole family? Stop by the Art Institute of Chicago for the Bank of America Family Festival 19th Annual Kaleidoscope. This free day of discovery and family fun allows kids to take part in art-making and activity stations throughout the museum led by family programs staff and cultural arts partners from some of the finest arts organizations in Chicago. No need to register — just show up!

Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave.
The Loop
Online: artic.edu
312-857-7161
Date: July 19, 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: Free

Day Trip Destination: Illinois State Fair
State fairs usually have carnival rides, farm animals, contests, sweet treats, concerts, shows, kids’ activities and races. Not to brag, but the Illinois State Fair has all of the above and much, much more! It also hosts Family Day on Sunday, August 17, when along with a chili cook-off, draft horse pull and dead-lift competition, admission will only be $3 per person to encourage more families to attend the last day of the fair.

801 E. Sangamon Ave.
Springfield
217-782-6661
Online: agr.state.il.us
Date: Thursday, August 7-Sunday, August 17 from 7 a.m.-midnight
Cost: $7 adults 13-59; $3 children 5-12; free for children under 5; $3 senior citizens 60 & older; see website for passes or special pricing.

Day out with Thomas

photo: courtesy of Day Out With Thomas

Train Lovers’ Dream: Day Out With Thomas
If you go to sleep wishing you lived in Sodor, you’re going to want to get your tickets to the Day Out With Thomas at the Illinois Railway Museum soon. The event includes a 20-minute ride with Thomas the Tank Engine, a meet and greet with Sir Topham Hatt, a puppet show, magic show, music, story time, videos, coloring and more.

Illinois Railway Museum
7000 Olson Rd.
Union
815-923-4000
Online: irm.org
Date: August 16, 17, 23 & 24
Cost: $19 per person

Mega Fest: Chicago Air and Water Show
While you might know it as the loudest show ever, it’s actually the largest free show of its kind in the U.S. — and it’s right on the Chicago lakefront, spanning Fullerton Avenue to Oak Street, with North Avenue Beach as the main focal point. Daredevil pilots perform aerial stunts over the lake and downtown Chicago, so bring your airplane and boat junkies (and noise-cancelling headphones) down to the shore because the action is literally nonstop!

North Avenue Beach
Gold Coast
Online: cityofchicago.org
Date: August 16 & 17, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: Free

What big event are you planning to attend this summer? Let us know in the Comments!

— Jo Aaron