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Outdoor movies continue to offer weekly diversions as summer winds down

Movie lovers can enjoy outdoor films in the Chicago Park District, Millennium Park, or the Lincoln Park Zoo
Movie lovers can enjoy outdoor films in the Chicago Park District, Millennium Park, or the Lincoln Park Zoo
Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The summer festivals are tapering off, Lollapalooza is over, and Taste of Chicago is merely a memory. As August transitions into September and summer draws to a close, Chicago still has plenty of outdoor entertainment to offer in the form of Movies in the Park.

The Chicago Park District boasts that it will offer over 250 movies throughout the city this summer, continuing well into September for those who don’t want to admit that summer is ending. Busy Chicagoans with overly full schedules are likely to find some amusing solace in the summer Movies in the Park schedule, as patrons would be hard pressed not to find a movie playing somewhere on virtually any night of the week.

This week is no exception. Between Wednesday, August 20th and Friday, August 29th, the Chicago Park District’s Family Movie Night Series will screen five different movies in five different Chicago parks, from Addison Street to Oak Park. Kids and their families can enjoy The Lego Movie, Hairspray, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Brave, along with crafts and games.

The fourteenth year of the Chicago summertime staple has expanded its reach this year. The Chicago Parks District now offers movies in the park in even more locations than usual, and on any night of the week, patrons can usually choose from two or three different movies in two or three different parks across the city. For example, tomorrow, August 19th, movie lovers can watch Instructions Not Included at Blackhawks Park, Fast and Furious 6 at Fulton River Park, or The Nut Job at Paschen Park. This pattern will continue until Saturday, August 30th. The full schedule can be found at http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/assets/1/23/Chicago_Park_District_2014_Movies_Schedule.pdf.

As if the Chicago Parks District didn’t offer enough in the way of Tinseltown magic, Millennium Park offers its own program of summer movies. On Tuesdays, August 19th and 26th, as well as Wednesday, August 27th and Thursday, September 4th, guests can travel to either the Jay Pritzker Pavilion or the Great Lawn at 6:30pm to enjoy outdoor movies on a state-of-the-art, 40-foot LED screen. Film offerings include Dreamgirls, featuring Chicago’s own Jennifer Hudson, The Wizard of Oz, Avatar, and Strictly Ballroom. All of the details can be found at http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/millennium_park7.html.

Finally, if these options aren’t appealing, movie lovers can participate in this year’s Zoovies at the Lincoln Park Zoo on Thursday, August 21st (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone), Friday, September 5th (Best in Show), and Friday, October 3rd (a double feature of Ghostbusters and The Shining). Starting at dusk, these movies premier on the zoo’s scenic South Lawn at dusk. Admission is free, but guests can purchase a VIP upgrade through Groupon, which grants those VIPs one drink (alcoholic or not), a slice of pizza, a box of candy, unlimited popcorn, and exclusive animal house access with an educational front-of-house tour and private bathrooms for a mere $19. For $29, super-VIPs receive all of these benefits plus a parking pass for the zoo’s lot. When one considers the usual cost of dinner and a movie in Chicago, the Zoovies VIP Groupon offer is an extremely economical and unique alternative to the traditional date-night option. Guests can view the Zoovies schedule and purchase a VIP upgrade at http://www.lpzoo.org/events/calendar/zoovies.

Summer may be coming to an end, but outdoor entertainment doesn’t have to wane as well. There’s certainly no business like show business, and the various Chicago al fresco film series honor this maxim to perfection.