600 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago Illinois 60611United States
Midwest Living Recommends
An affordably priced and wildly entertaining show of acrobatics and contortions awaits summertime visitors at Navy Pier.
We've seen our fair share of Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas, and came to the covered, outdoor Pepsi Skyline stage at Navy Pier thinking we were in for an evening like that. It was in way, and it wasn't in a way, and that turned out to be perfect for this setting and price-point. "The Year of the Dragon" show we saw in summer 2012 isn't as sophisticated or spot-on as the big-money shows in Vegas (a juggler sometimes drop an item, a balancing act sometimes needed a second try to get the positioning just right). But it more than makes up for those rare missteps with lots of heart. These young Chinese acrobats and contortionists approach their performances with true showmanship, eager to not just wow the crowd but to make them laugh, cheer and show they're having a good time. You'll see women who can bend their legs entirely backward at the knee; men who can run on a double-mounted rotating hamster wheel, blindfolded; a dozen women stack themselves on a single moving bicycle; five motorcycle riders zip around inside a spherical mesh metal cage without crashing into each other; plus lots of tumbling and juggling and even an audience-volunteer segment. The show lasts about 75 minutes, and the jaw-dropping acts change every 5-10 minutes, so the pace easily keeps the attention spans of squirrelly kids and jaded adults. Tickets start at $15.50 per person and definitely are reasonably priced for the entertainment. Shows run three times a day on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; Navy Pier's website lists show times and prices. You can buy the tickets in advance from Ticketmaster, but you also can walk up and buy them from the window right outside the stage. Though the theme of the show changes every year, Cirque Shanghai performs every summer at Navy Pier from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.