Free Kid-Friendly Events in Chicagoland

Are you on a budget, but still want to take your family to do something fun? Find free things to do in the city and suburbs.

There are plenty of budget-friendly activities to do in Chicago and the suburbs, but you just have to find it. Luckily, we’re done that for you. Each activity listed here won’t cost you a dime to attend. You might have to splurge on parking or something you want to purchase at the event, but that’s it! Check back here regularly because we’re always updating events we find. Also, be sure to check our calendar for more family fun.

Free events in Chicago

Fall Fest

Sept. 30-Oct. 30, 2022

This family-friendly harvest celebration features Ferris wheel rides, pumpkin picking, super-sized slide, musical entertainment, harvest maze, pirate ship ride and more.

Pier Pumpkin Lights

Oct. 1-31, 2022

From jack o’lantern towers to light displays, Chicago’s iconic lakefront destination will be decked out for fall. Navy Pier will once again transform into an experiential fall spectacle with nearly 1,000 pumpkins for the month of October. Pumpkins are best experienced after dusk. 

Día de Muertos, Memories & Offerings

Oct. 14-Nov. 20, 2022

Head to the main gallery to see the museum’s 36th Day of the Dead exhibition to remember the individuals who died from COVID and other tragedies in the last year.

Spooktacular on Lincoln 2022

Oct. 22, 2022

  • Address: Lincoln Avenue from Wrightwood to Webster, Chicago

Celebrate Halloween and collect delicious treats while exploring the neighborhood at Spooktacular on Lincoln. Lincoln Avenue businesses will embrace the spooky season and transform into trick-or-treat stops.

Spooky Zoo

Oct. 22, 2022

Spooky Zoo offers a free, safe alternative to trick-or-treating as well as a variety of family-friendly entertainment. Dress up in costume and come to the Lincoln Park Zoo ready for a day full of Halloween fun.

Upside Down Parade 

Oct. 22, 2022

This event is a “reverse” parade that consists of musical groups, dance performances, circus acrobats, sports mascots and more. Makes sure to wear your costume and pick up your goody bag at the end.

Spooktacular on Clark 2022

Oct. 23, 2022

  • Address: Clark Street from Diversey to Armitage, and Diversey, from Orchard to Lakeview, Chicago

Celebrate Halloween and collect delicious treats while exploring the neighborhood at Spooktacular on Clark. Clark Street businesses will embrace the spooky season and transform into trick-or-treat stops.

Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade

Oct. 29, 2022

  • Address: State St. moving south from Lake to Van Buren, Chicago

This annual Halloween parade returns to State St. for its 8th year. See unique floats and creative performances along the way.

Day of the Dead Celebration

Oct. 29, 2022

Enjoy a family-friendly event at Burnham (Daniel) Park to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. There will be dancing, face painting, making native seed balls and more.

Day of the Dead Xicágo

Oct. 29, 2022

Celebrate the remembrance of your loved ones at the Museum and surrounding area this year. On this special day, guests can enjoy ofrendas created by community members, live musical performances, art activities and a large illuminated ofrenda projected outside of the museum.

Dia de los Muertos Halloween Party

Oct. 29, 2022

This Halloween party is Dia de Los Muertos themed. Make sure to wear your costume because there will be a costume contest. Also, a live band, palm readings, DJ, stilt walkers and more.

Halloween Party 

Oct. 29, 2022

Stop by this Halloween Party at Commercial Club Playground of Chicago to enjoy arts and crafts, games and spooky stories. There will also be a trick or treat parade and other family-friendly fun. The event is co-sponsored by the Commercial Park Advisory Council. For ages 6 and up.

No Tricks, All Treats Halloween Pop-Up

Oct. 30, 2022

Enjoy family-friendly activities as well as seasonal goods and treats at the Ainslie Arts Plaza. Shop seasonal goods and treats and have fun with activities like Halloween-themed squeegee painting, face painting and henna. Costumes are encouraged. 

Dia de los Muertos Printmaking Workshop

Oct. 31, 2022

Enjoy a family workshop with artist, William Estrada to use printmaking to explore themes of Dia de los Muertos to honor loved ones. Return to Marquette (Jacques) Park for the celebration on Nov. 4, 2022.

Dia de los Muertos Celebration

Nov. 4, 2022

Enjoy a family-friendly Day of the Dead celebration honoring the lives of loved ones that have passed away. There will be music, games and more.

Dia De Los Muertos Celebration!

Nov. 4, 2022

Families and friends are invited to join the Chicago Center for Arts & Technology for a Dia De los Muertos celebration with food, art and festivities. Registration required.

Service Dogs for Veterans: Learn How Canine Companions Serve Veterans

Nov. 10, 2022

Join the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, the Pets for Vets Chicagoland chapter and the American Veteran Service Dog Academy to learn how canine companions serve veterans and hear directly from these organizations about the impacts of service dogs on their lives. Advanced registration recommended.

Veterans Day Commemoration Ceremony

Nov. 11, 2022

Honor veterans who served in wars and times of peace. Doors open at 10 a.m., ceremony at 11 a.m.

Ballet 5:8 Presents Ver la Música, Oír la Danza

Nov. 12, 2022

Ballet 5:8 presents Ver la Música, Oír la Danza at the National Museum of Mexican Art on to continue celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month and give back to the community. Ver la Música, Oír la Danza is available one day only with free performances to the public.

The Wintrust Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

Nov. 19, 2022

  • Address: Michigan Avenue, Chicago

The annual festival happens a week before Thanksgiving. Grand Marshals Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse from Walt Disney World illuminate more than one million lights on over 200 trees along the route. You can enjoy numerous free family-friendly activities.

Rollin’ With Frosty!

Dec. 16, 2022

Families can enjoy a fun holiday roller skating event with Frosty to Snowman. Limited number of skates to borrow.

Free events in North/Northwest Suburbs

Our World of Dumplings: Author Open House with Francie Dekker

Oct. 29, 2022

Come out to The Book Stall to see children’s author Francie Dekkerto. She will be in the store to meet fans and sign copies of her new book, Our World of Dumplings. The story celebrates the many different types of dumplings and how food brings people and cultures together.

In-Person: Dia De los Muertos for Teens

Nov. 1, 2022

Grades 7-12 can come to Niles-Maine District Library to make a Dia de los Muertos offrenda. Limited supply. Registration required.

Día de los Muertos Celebration

Nov. 5, 2022

Come to the Preserve of Highland Park to celebrate the Day of the Dead with music, art projects, face painting, listeria, dancing and more. Bring a picture to the event.

Veterans Day Ceremony

Nov. 11, 2022

All are welcome to see the ceremony put together by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #3579. 

Veterans Day Observance

Nov. 11, 2022

Join the New Trier VFW Post #4831 to honor United States war veterans at Community House Winnetka.

Clayson’s Kids Days

Nov. 13, Dec. 11, 2022

Join Clayson House on the second Sunday of every month for a fun event for children. There will be a drop-in craft and you’ll be able to visit with their mascot, Clayson, the Family Dog. All children must be accompanied by an adult. For ages 4-12.

Free events in South Suburbs

Trunk or Treat

Oct. 22, 2022

Children can wear their costumes and browse through the decorated vehicles picking up candy along the way.

Día de los Muertos – Day of the Dead

Oct. 27, 2022

Head to Blu Island Public Library for a Day of the Dead celebration featuring special guest, Rita Arias-Jirasek. Make a craft to take home. Registration required.

IPO Presents: Milo Imagines the World

Oct. 27, 2022

Come out to Homewood Public Library to see Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra’s musical storytime of Milo Imagines the World. For Grades PreK-5.

Veterans Day Parade 2022

Nov. 5, 2022

Come out to the Village of Richton Park for their annual Veterans Day Parade. Immediately following the parade, there will be a commemorative ceremony in the Metra Commuter Lot.

Veterans Day Event

Nov. 11, 2022

Veterans, family members and patrons are invited to Palos Heights Public Library for their annual reception. Meet local veterans afterwards at City Hall. Light refreshments will be served.

Free events in Western Suburbs

Sugar Skull City

Oct. 15-Nov. 6, 2022

Aurora Downtown is honoring Day of the Dead, the beloved Mexican cultural tradition, with Dia de los Muertos art, activities, specials, videos, shopping and more.

Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos, Celebration & Parade

Oct. 25, 2022

Celebrate Dia de Los Muertos at Woodridge Public Library with dancing, a children’s parade and traditional Mexican music. Children of all ages are welcome. Registration required.

BatFest

Oct. 29, 2022

The annual Halloween-themed family event features trick-or-treating, Mothers’ Club Parade, pumpkin bowl, contests, stories and games.

FREE Halloween Movie: Addams Family 2

Oct. 29, 2022

Come out to Classic Cinemas for a screening of the movie, The Addams Family 2. Pre-registration is required. Seating is limited and registration does not guarantee a seat unless tickets are picked up in advance.

Halloween Ghost Hunt

Oct. 29, 2022

Find 20 ghosts hidden throughout the mall. Turn in your completed clue sheet to the Customer Service Center and get a Halloween treat bag.

Special Spaces Trunk or Treat

Oct. 30, 2022

Come out to their first Annual Trunk or Treat and enjoy a music party, costume contest, jumpy houses and face painting. Costumes are encouraged. 

Dia De Los Muertos Community Offrenda

Oct. 31, 2022

Stop by the Indian Prairie Public Library to leave a picture or momento of a loved one at their offrenda, located on the second floor.

Spooktacular Fun Night

Oct. 31, 2022

Ages 2-10 and their families can enjoy a safe, Halloween night trick or treating through the Community Center. There will be crafts, games, photos and silly fun and games from Wacky Drag.

Trick-or-Treat

Oct. 31, 2022

Join North Riverside Park Mall for a mall-wide Trick or Treat event. Also, kid’s costume contest and costume parade.

Veterans Day Observance

Nov. 4, 2022

Commemorate Veterans Day with a ceremony attended by community members, friends, employees, local schools, churches and war heroes.

Day of the Dead Celebration

Nov. 5, 2022

Participants will take part in a procession around the museum campus accompanied by mariachi musicians and learn about the Day of the Dead altar. Families can participate in a craft activity in the Education Center and explore the exhibits in the museum. No registration required.

Veterans Day Parade

Nov. 5, 2022

The parade begins at the St. Domitilla Church parking lot and proceeding south on Hillside Ave. to Butterfield Road. East on Butterfield Rd to Wolf Rd. North on Wolf Rd. to Washington Street and west on Washington Street past the Hillside Veteran Memorial.

Aurora Veterans Day Parade and Ceremony

Nov. 11, 2022

  • Address: Corner of Benton and Broadway, Aurora

The parade steps-off at the corner of Benton and Broadway and ends at the G.A.R. Memorial Hall, where the “Serving Our County and Community” ceremony takes place. The ceremony includes a military rifle salute by veteran organizations at 11 a.m.

Naper Lights

Nov. 24-Dec. 31, 2022

Put on a pair of 3D glasses and enjoy a magical holiday lights celebration, presented by Rotary Club of Naperville Sunrise. On Friday and Saturday evenings, Santa will be available to take pictures. Bach to Rock will be providing music on Dec. 17-18.

Tree Lighting

Dec. 1, 2022

Kids can visit with Santa while enjoying games, photo opps, holiday music, food trucks and more at this holiday season event.

Santa’s Workshop

Dec. 3, 2022

Bring your children to Wilder Mansion to their gift shop where kids can purchase inexpensive gifts for mom, dad, teacher, friends and more. Items are kid-priced and kid-friendly.

This post is updated regularly.

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