2022 Chicago Air and Water Show: Event Guide for Boaters
Summer fun means being outdoors and you can hardly ask for more excitement than watching planes and boats at their best. The Chicago Air and Water Show , the Windy City’s second most popular festival, is coming up fast.
Here’s all you need to know in preparation for the 2022 Chicago Air and Water Show:
- When: August 20 & 21, 2022 (10am to 2pm)
- Where: North Avenue Beach (Lake Michigan)
- Cost: FREE admission
- Best Viewing Locations: On a boat!
Read for additional event information, and a few Boatsetter Pro Tips for planning a great Air and Water Show experience.
Book Your Boat Rental for the Ultimate View of the Chicago Air and Water Show
How to watch on the water and on land
One of the best viewing venues is right under the airplanes and on the water—from the deck of a boat. Hop onboard and get out on Lake Michigan. Don’t have a boat? That’s where we come in. You can find a long list of available boats for rent right here on Boatsetter—rent for a few hours or a full day.
There are many unique boats in Chicago to choose from. Find small and large powerboats and sailboats that are offered with or without a captain. There’s no better summer outing than being on the water, and you can’t beat the front row seats.
Other shoreside spots for great viewing of the Chicago Air and Water Show include:
- Navy Pier
- Theater on the Lake
- 360 Chicago
- Skydeck Chicago
- Waterfront destinations include the Shore Club and Castaways.
History of the show
The Chicago Air and Water Show made its debut in the summer of 1959. This show started as a family day celebration for kids and initially featured mostly Coast Guard Air Sea rescue demonstrations, water skiing, and diving shows. The US Air Force Thunderbirds and the Golden Knight parachute team joined a year later. Today this show is considered a tradition to Chicagoans and boaters alike.
Can’t-Miss show highlights
This year, look for demonstrations near North Avenue Beach that run the gamut of entertainment including synchronized flying by fighter jets and small aerobatic planes, parachute teams, and on-water shows by sea rescue craft.
There’s a lot going on—both on the water and in the air! Watch for the US Coast Guard cutter and a US Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter that will drop and recover a rescue swimmer.
Also, watch out for the Air/Sea Rescue Unit of the Chicago Fire Department that patrols nearly 40 miles of the city’s lakefront and river systems. Above the water you’ll see, the Air Force Thunderbirds, the Navy Blue Angels, a C-130 Hercules, and dozens of other military and private aircraft teams.
As promised, here are some Boatsetter Pro Tips to keep in mind for the show:
- To avoid the crowds, be sure to arrive a couple of hours early
- Beat the traffic (on land) by taking public transport (like the CTA bus lines or Chicago Transit subway)
- Find parking early at the Millennium garages or Lincoln Park Zoo
- For extra action, attend the practice session on Friday, August 19th from 10am to 2pm
Finally, to make the most of your experience at Chicago’s infamous Air and Water Show, be sure to book your boat rentals and charters early—the sooner the better. Due to this being an immensely popular event, availability is limited. If you want to enjoy the view from the water on a party boat, beat the rush by booking ASAP.
This is one event that the festivities go on all day and into the night, so grab a boat, your friends, food and drinks and make a whole weekend of it. We can’t wait to see you there!
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Zuzana Prochazka is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer with regular contributions to more than a dozen sailing and powerboating magazines and online publications including Southern Boating, SEA, Latitudes & Attitudes and SAIL. She is SAIL magazines Charter Editor and the Executive Director of Boating Writers International. Zuzana serves as judge for SAIL’s Best Boats awards and for Europe’s Best of Boats in Berlin.
A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana founded and manages a flotilla charter organization called Zescapes that takes guests adventure sailing at destinations worldwide.
Zuzana has lived in Europe, Africa and the United States and has traveled extensively in South America, the islands of the South Pacific and Mexico.