Maudits Sonnants
photo: Les Vieilles Charrues

Low Overhead

It’s Quebec versus France in a battle royale of weekend whimsy: While Canada’s Cirque du Soleil continues to camp out in the parking lot of the United Center, Paris’s Compagnie Transe Express stakes out some prime lakefront airspace. In the latter’s free spectacle, Maudits Sonnants: Celestial Carillon, performers suspend themselves 200 feet over Gateway Park on Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.), ringing bells, beating drums, and swinging on trapezes. Who will win the head-to-head? Let’s just say the power of “free” translates in any language. Maudits Sonnants begins at dusk Friday the 11th and Saturday the 12th. No tickets required. For more information, call Chicago Shakespeare Theater at 312-595-5600.

Best Bets for Things to Do This Week

Something’s up: Yet another aerial import hovers over Chicago when Australia’s Strange Fruit presents Swoon!, a love story set on 14-foot bendable poles that flex and sway with the performers’ every move. The free show runs 1, 3, and 5 p.m. Friday the 11th and Sunday the 13th; 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday the 12th; and 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Monday the 14th on the Chase Promenade in Millennium Park (Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street; 312-742-1168).

This one’s located squarely on the ground, but the views are just as memorable. See Chicago as non-nightowls rarely do, in the smallest of hours, on the annual L.A.T.E. Ride, a 25-mile cycle that starts and ends at Buckingham Fountain (500 S. Columbus Dr.; 773-918-7433). Festivities kick off at 11 p.m. Saturday the 12th, and the ride begins at 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Registration is $40 and is available onsite and at

Sunday’s Mark Knopfler concert at the Chicago Theatre is sold out, but fans of Americana can still score tickets to the alfresco jam session that is the Chicago Folk & Roots Festival. The Old Town School of Folk Music’s annual hoedown runs noon to 10 p.m. Saturday the 12th and Sunday the 13th in Welles Park (2333 W. Sunnyside Ave.; 773-728-6000), with acts including Slavic Soul Party (6:30 p.m. Saturday) and Dobet Gnahoré (6:30 p.m. Sunday). Admission is $3 to $7.

See summer’s golden boys- and girls-to-be (fingers crossed) when the Beijing-bound Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh, and Phil Dalhausser dig their heels in the sand for the local stop of the AVP pro beach volleyball tour. Matches run Friday the 11th through Sunday the 13th at Oak Street Beach (1001 N. Lake Shore Dr.). Tickets, $20 to $100, are available at

We’re all for an Irish celebration that doesn’t take place in March, but those blessed with the Gaelic complexion may want to apply sunscreen. The 23rd annual Irish American Heritage Festival runs Friday the 11th through Sunday the 13th in and around the Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N. Knox Ave.; 773-282-7035). Highlights include a mashed potato–eating contest (8:30 p.m. Friday) and live music by the likes of The Tossers (9 p.m. Friday). Admission is $7 to $12.