2018 Chicago Air & Water Show

Posted: August 14, 2018

This weekend, August 18-19, is the 60th annual Chicago Air & Water Show, featuring headliners like the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as well as the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights and the U.S. Navy Leapfrogs.  We've updated our annual guide to provide you with the inside scoop on enjoying the show!

Get all the important details you need below, from transportation to parking, and you can get more information and full details at the official web site.


When: Saturday and Sunday August 18 and 19, 10 am - 3 pm

Where: Lakefront at North Avenue Beach

Admission: FREE


The epicenter of the event is right at North Avenue Beach, but you can still get a great spot almost anywhere up and down the lakefront. Best viewing spots include:

  • North Ave Beach
  • From North Ave Beach south to Oak Street Beach and Navy Pier
  • From North Ave Beach north to Fullerton or up to Diversey


Public transportation will absolutely be your best bet, as parking will be hard to find. The North Avenue Bus will bring you directly to the show from any points due west, and there are many other options depending on where you're coming from. Visit www.transitchicago.com for more details.


Park at Millennium Garages and avoid the hassle of finding parking near the beach! Garage locations are Millennium Park Garage and Millennium Lakeside Garage at 5 S. Columbus Drive, Grant Park North Garage at 25 N. Michigan Ave. and Grant Park South Garage at 325 S. Michigan Ave.
Packages: $35 all-day parking plus FREE shuttle service from Millennium Park Garage to North Avenue Beach.
Visit www.millenniumgarages.com for more information.


  • Plan ahead - map out your parking/travel ahead of time so you can get right to the show.
  • Stake out your spot early. You can bring a blanket and cooler and claim your space before it gets too crowded.
  • Bring water! There will be places where you can purchase water, but it's easiest (and less expensive) to bring your own. Make sure you have snacks too - hunger in the heat can be dangerous too!
  • Pack your sunscreen. Protect your family's skin, and don't forget to re-apply! Also consider bringing sunhats and sunglasses for all family members.
  • Bring hearing protection for kids who might not like - or might be scared of - the noise.
  • Come prepared... you can't count on a diaper changing area!
  • Know that you'll likely end up taking kids to a port-o-let if they've got to go.
  • Pick a meeting spot for your family in case you get separated.
  • Think about bringing some portable activities for your really little ones in case they get a little bored between acts.
  • Considering attending the practice run on Friday - it's the full show, without the crowds!
  • Don't forget the camera!

This year's headliners include:

  • U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
    The Thunderbirds continue to represent all Airmen across the globe. The Team is made up of over 120 personnel. For more information on the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, visit afthunderbirds.com.

  • U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights
    Jumping out of an aircraft 12,500 feet above the earth's surface, racing to North Avenue Beach at speeds exceeding 120 mph and landing with smiles, ready to do it all again; all in a days work for the Golden Knights.

  • U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs
    A typical Leap Frogs performance consists of fourteen jumpers leaping out of an aircraft at an altitude of 12,500 feet. During free fall, jumpers reach speeds of 120 mph and can accelerate up to 180 mph.

  • C-130 Hercules
    The workhorse of the Air Force combat airlift fleet, the C-130 Hercules has been in service for more than half a century. Designed specifically to transport troops and equipment in the combat zone via airdrop or short runways, the Hercules operates throughout the U.S. Air Force.

  • KC-135 Stratotanker
    The mainstay of the U.S. Air Force’s strategic aerial refueling fleet, the KC-135 Stratotanker is a military version of the 1950s-era 707 commercial passenger jet. The Air Force inventory of 732 aircraft are more than 50 years old and have been retrofitted several times with new engines, avionics and structural upgrades.

  • P-51 Mustang
    P-51 Mustang The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang is an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and other conflicts. The Mustang was designed in 1940 by North American Aviation (NAA) in response to a requirement of the British Purchasing Commission for license-built Curtiss P-40 fighters.

  • U. S. Navy F-18
    U. S. Navy F-18 A twin-engine supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole combat jet, designed as both a fighter and attack aircraft.

  • And more! Visit for a full listing of performers.
For more information on the show, including a full schedule of performers, FAQs and more, visit www.chicagoairandwatershow.us