Shedd Aquarium Free to Illinois Residents in September

New extended hours and evening programs designed to encourage all to look nature in the eye this fall.

Beginning Sept. 4, Illinoisans can access Shedd Aquarium free of charge throughout the entire month of September with proof of state residency. Presented by Ford Motor Company Fund, Shedd’s Illinois Resident Free Days provides general admission to all aquarium exhibits and experiences, including the multi-species aquatic presentation, the bold and diverse animals within Shedd’s new special exhibit, Underwater Beauty, daily dive presentations, animal chats and more. In addition, the aquarium has launched extended hours until 9 p.m. with new themed programming and music three days a week.

“As students head back to school and focuses turn to learning, these September free days make it easier than ever for families to support academic or in school learning by visiting Shedd, where we encourage curiosity around science,” said Jo-Elle Mogerman, VP of learning and communities at Shedd Aquarium. “We encourage people across the state – adults, friends and families – to take advantage of this new, expanded access and come eye-to-eye with nature here at the aquarium.”

New in 2018, Shedd will extend hours until 9 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with After Hours programming featuring themed music and custom food and drink menus for purchase:

Mondays (Sept. 10, 17, 24) – Shedd After Hours: Caribbean Flavors and Flair

  • Featuring a special menu of Caribbean-inspired cuisine for guests as they explore the aquarium, including habitats like the iconic Caribbean Reef exhibit in Shedd’s main galleries

Wednesdays (Sept. 5, 12, 19, 26 and Oct. 3, 10) – Jazzin’ at the Shedd: Live Latin Rhythms

  • The traditional Wednesday night Jazzin’s, which feature lively music and tasty treats both inside the aquarium and along the lakeside terrace, will take a new, Latin spin with live Latin jazz performers and equally inspired food and cocktails. A list of performers can be found here. Wednesday Jazzin’ will extend into October, with two additional free days/nights through Oct. 10.

Thursdays (Sept. 6, 20, 27) – Shedd After Hours: House Party

  • Inspired by a style of music created right here in Chicago, Thursday nights at Shedd in September will feature house music DJs and tasty bites and beverages to buy as guests take in the Chicago skyline. Local DJs include DJ Jesse Saunders, DJ Terry Hunter and Farley Jackmaster Funk.
  • Please note: Thursday, Sept. 13, Shedd WILL NOT be open late, due to a private event. The aquarium will make up this date by staying open late with special programming on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Due to the overwhelming popularity of Illinois Resident Free Days, Shedd reminds guests that attendance is limited to building capacity. Tickets may be reserved online in advance ($3 transaction fee) or purchased at the door. General admission is not inclusive of the 4-D movie experience available for $4.95 per person.

Additional access programs are offered year-round through a variety of other offerings include free admission to eligible low-income families every day presenting an EBT card via the Museums For All program, and to Chicago Park District youth groups and staffs, Illinois school teachers and K-12 groups, first responders, and families with children using Kids Museum Passports available at Chicago Public Library branches. To learn more about these offerings, click here.


Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Contact Us

See contact info for our PR team.

Multimedia Requests

Shedd Aquarium has an extensive library of photos and videos for media use. Learn more and submit a request.

Filming and Access

Find details about media requests and press visits to Shedd.

Calendar of Events

Find out about Shedd Aquarium's upcoming events.

Press Distribution List

Sign up here to receive press releases and other information distributed by Shedd Aquarium’s public relations team.

Follow Us

Stay up-to-date with Shedd news

Sign up for Shedd's email newsletter to be the first to know what's happening at the aquarium, including unique events, behind-the-scenes updates, and exclusive offers.