Hit the Beach, Watch Lucha Libre, and More Things to Do in Chicago This Memorial Day Weekend

These are all your local must-hit music and food festivals, events, movies, markets, deals, and concerts to help you make the most of your weekend.

There are benefits to procrastination. And it’s time for the planning-challenged to reap the rewards of their… let’s call it flexibility. While the rest of the city packs onto the highways for a lakeside getaway, those deciding to stick in the city will find a friendly array of festivals, parades, beaches, and BBQs beckoning them to stay put—plus a little Italian beef and Star Wars burlesque to help sweeten the deal. Here’s everything fun you can do in Chicago this weekend.

Opens Thursday, May 25
Emily Hotel
Rooftop Cinema Club Chicago opens for the season in Fulton Market on the lovely fifth-floor terrace of the Emily Hotel with a weekend slate of summertime date/family-friendly flicks including Friday, The Sandlot, Pulp Fiction, Dirty Dancing, and Pretty Woman.
Cost: $12.50 - $27.50 per film

Opens Friday, May 26
Various locations
The Chicago Park District once again opens its beaches for the season on Friday, which means you can now swim in the lake if you so desire. Or if you so desire to kick back in the sand or belly up to the bar, you can do that too. It’s called multitasking.
Cost: Free

Friday, May 26 - Sunday, May 28
18th & Blue Island
Hit a festive open-air mercado in Pilsen with local food and drink vendors, crafters, and artisans celebrating Mexican cuisine and Latino culture by way of live music, lucha libre wrestling, cultural performances and, of course, the annual mole cook-off contest.
Cost: $5 - $10 suggested donation

Saturday, May 27
Daley Plaza & State Street from Lake to Van Buren
Join Grand Marshal Major General Rodney Boyd, the highest-ranking African-American officer in the Illinois National Guard’s 300-year history, as he leads the Memorial Day parade down State Street following the Wreath Laying Ceremony in Daley Plaza honoring fallen heroes and Gold Star families.
Cost: Free

Saturday, May 27
Chicago Food Stop
Al’s Beef is giving away 500 Italian beef sandwiches in honor of the iconic Chicago food staple while local businesses offer sampling and product demos, authors Monica Eng and David Hammond discuss Chicago cuisine, and local comics perform a special “Where’s the Beef” comedy showcase.
Cost: Free

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Saturday, May 27 - Sunday, May 28
Grant Park
The follow-up to last Memorial Weekend’s debut of this wildly successful Latin music festival takes over Grant Park for another two days of live performances by 20+ Latin and Reggaeton artists with a Ferris wheel, food/drink, art installations, merch booths and afterparties around the city.
Cost: $199 - $1,499

Saturday, May 27 - Sunday, May 28
Belmont & Sheffield
It’s the 38th edition of this annual Lakeview street festival featuring tunes from bands like Freddy Jones Band and Dancing Queen: An ABBA Salute, with all the food, booze, and local vendors you’ve come to love and expect from any self-respecting Chicago street fest.
Cost: $10 suggested donation

Saturday, May 27 - Sunday, May 28
Ravenswood & Belle Plaine Avenue
Begyle Brewing and Dovetail Brewery once again welcome summer to the brew-friendly Ravenswood Corridor with this neighborhood affair featuring beer (obvi), food trucks, pop ups, and live music with donations to help feed the needy.
Cost: $5 donation to The Friendship Center

Sunday, May 28
Central Park Bar
This string of absurdly nice weather should continue through the weekend, so hit the patio at Central Park Bar for this vintage market showcasing cool wares from local vendors to pair with a cocktail.
Cost: No cover

Now through Sunday, August 13
Logan Square Auditorium
It’s opening weekend for this fabled Star Wars burlesque parody as it makes its way to Logan Square Auditorium for a summer run of fun featuring all your favorite characters scantily clad and ready to get down to business.
Cost: $39

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Jay Gentile is an award-winning freelance journalist specializing in travel, food & drink, culture, events and entertainment stories. In addition to Thrillist, you can find his work in The Washington Post, The Guardian, CNN Travel, Chicago Tribune, Lonely Planet, VICE, Outside Magazine and more. Follow @thejaygentile.