There’s no time like summertime Chi! With sunny blue skies, the greatest downtown in the world and a vast body of water to enjoy, Chicago gives some of the best summertime vibes you can find. That’s why Black people from all over the world are traveling to Chicago this summer for two big boating events. 

Taking over Lake Michigan with some of the largest Black boater meetups in the country, the 4th annual Chicago Black Yacht Weekend is happening on June 14-16, and separately Blvck Scene is throwing their 9th annual Blvck Scene Weekend on July 19-21.

Both weekends will consist of a fun-loving, sunbathing and luxury itinerary that include partying in the Playpen on Lake Michigan with the backdrop of the city’s skyline. Each event will give Black Chicagoans, as well as tourists, a chance to experience the city in a way most never have. 

The TRiiBE spoke with the founders of both weekends. In a phone conversation on May 13, Black Yacht Weekend co-founder Shaniqua Davis — who goes by Shaniqua D. — talked about how combining Black Yacht Weekend with Juneteenth has grown the lake gathering.

“I wanted to do it [that] weekend, kind of because it’s leading into Juneteenth, as a way to just take a moment to recognize it, celebrate it, and potentially, if all goes well, we’ll make it [into] an annual thing where this is a Juneteenth celebration,” she said. 

For Black Yacht Weekend, there will be a happy-hour party on Friday, June 14, and a day party with an after party on Sunday, June 16. The time and locations of these events will be announced later. 

The actual boat party on Lake Michigan will take place on Saturday, June 15. Tickets for Black Yacht Weekend can be found on their website. 

“We just want to create this space where everybody’s invited, and everybody’s included, to have a day of fun,” Davis said.

Photo provided by Black Yacht Weekend.

For Blvck Scene Weekend, the boat party on Lake Michigan will be the finale, taking place on Sunday, July 21 at 2:00 p.m. The rest of the weekend will consist of a happy-hour party on Friday, July 19 at 6:00 p.m., and a day party on Saturday, July 20 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets for Blvck Scene Weekend can be found on their website, as well as charters for the weekend. 

For the founders of Blvck Scene, the event started out as a “half birthday” celebration for a friend. Over the course of the last nine years, the friendly gathering has grown into a cultural phenomenon, becoming one of the largest black boater meetups in the country. 

In a phone interview with The TRiiBE on May 15, Blvck Scene founder Aubrey Gibson said this year will be the biggest Chicago has seen in boater attendance.

“Last year, we had 200 boats out there, so we’re super excited about the size,” he said. “Every year, we’ve gotten bigger, and I think we’re projecting around 240 this year so far.”

When asked about what makes the event so appealing, Gibson answered, “how often are Black folks on boats, right? This is not something that people do regularly,” he said. 

Gibson also believes the event’s reach has attracted more visitors, and gives tourists a chance to experience Chicago in a unique way. 

“I would easily argue maybe 75% to 80% of people that participate are from out of town,” he said. “To see that there’s something happening like this, in a city like Chicago, and you always kind of hear about summertime Chi, it’s just an opportunity for them to do it,” Gibson explained.

In order to participate in the boat parties on the lake, attendees have to either ask to join someone’s boat or have their own boat. For those who don’t own a yacht, you must rent a boat and a captain to operate it. While pricing for charters vary, most vessels for these events average around 600$ an hour. Average price to book a captain ranges from 100$ to 300$ an hour. Blvck Scene conveniently has booking for charters and captains on their web page. These yachts usually carry around 12 to 13 people. 

Blvck Scene has a GroupMe, where attendees can connect and meet. They also are hosting happy hours around the country in cities like Washington D.C., Atlanta and Charlotte, so travelers coming to Chicago can meet prior to the event. 

Black Yacht Weekend has started a Facebook page so folks can communicate and find boatmates to split costs for the festivities.

is a culture correspondent with The TRiiBE.