July 2015 events calendar for Chicago

Plan out your July in Chicago with our calendar of the best events and things to do, including fireworks, theater, art and music

Photograph: Martha Williams
People flock to the Taste of Chicago in Grant Park.

The smell of barbecue is in the air, the beaches are packed, and festivals have taken over the streets and parks. Yes, summer is in full swing in Chicago and we're trying to enjoy everything that our fine city has to offer. The month kicks off with a Grateful Dead reunion and some explosive Fourth of July fireworks, leading into the city's annual culinary celebration at Taste of Chicago. If you're looking for some musical fun in the sun, you'll want to head out to Pitchfork Music Festival, Wicker Park Fest or the Tayor Swift show at Soldier Field. Start enjoying summer with the help of our July events calendar for Chicago. 

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2015

Featured events in July 2015

The Grateful Dead

Critics' pick

They're going to need a new Ben & Jerry's flavor. But, seriously, this is a big deal. The Grateful Dead reunite with Trey Anastasio in Jerry's place. Who better? Joining the Phish man and original Dead guys Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir are pianist Bruce Hornsby and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti. The show comes nearly 20 years to the day after the Dead's final shows with Garcia at the Bears stadium, July 8, 9, 1995. The ticket prices are steep, but most of the audience is collecting retirement, so no big deal.

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Soldier Field Friday July 3 2015 - Sunday July 5 2015

Fourth of July Fireworks

Critics' pick

The city of Chicago ditched its official fireworks show a few years back, but Navy Pier picks up the slack with its explosive Independence Day celebration. Revelers can head down to the pier or Millennium Park for an up-close view, but if you're not a fan of crowds you'll want to hit the lakefront or find a friend with a rooftop by the shore.

Read more
Navy Pier Saturday July 4 2015 Free

Taste of Chicago

Critics' pick

Since 1980, Grant Park has been hosting what has become the granddaddy of food festivals. You know the drill: Trade tickets for a taste of Chicago's street fare. Hopefully what you gain in weight, you'll lose from your wallet. As always, there will be music at Petrillo for you to listen to while you devour your turkey leg, rainbow cone or deep dish pizza.

Read more
Grant Park Wednesday July 8 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015 Free

Square Roots Festival

Critics' pick

The Square Roots festival returns to Lincoln Square for a weekend of brews, food and music presented by the Old Town School of Folk Music and the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce. More than 30 regional craft breweries will be tapping kegs so that you can wash down food from various local eateries. Once you're full, go see some folk, jazz and world music groups play on one of the festival's various outdoor stages.

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Lincoln Square Friday July 10 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015

Tour de Fat

Critics' pick

Ft. Collins’ New Belgium Brewery brings its signature celebration of bikes and beer to Palmer Square for another year of freaky fun. The day begins with a bike parade and continues with vaudeville acts, circus performers and live music in Palmer Park. The environmentally conscious festival raises funds for local non-profits and culminates with one lucky attendee trading his or her car in for a brand new bicycle.

Read more
Palmer Square Park Saturday July 11 2015 Free

Bristol Renaissance Faire

Critics' pick

Have a jolly olde time and butcher your favorite European accent as you engage in live-action fantasy play, enjoy interactive riddles, cheer on your favorite jousting knight or revel in period performances from 1574. The festival takes place Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day in July, August and early September.

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Bristol Renaissance Faire Saturday July 11 2015 - Monday September 7 2015

West Fest

Critics' pick

Befitting its location on the hip Chicago Avenue corridor, West Fest can be counted on for a great sleeper of a summer street fest bill. Empty Bottle books the main stage, bringing its typical blend of garage and art rock, while local house folks spin on the DJ stage. If you can stomach yet another summer street festival, it's the perfect lead-in to the Pitchfork Music Festival the following weekend.

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Chicago Ave between Wood St and Damen Ave Saturday July 11 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015

Burgers and Beer 5K

Sure you could go for a jog around the block and buy yourself a burger and a beer, but wouldn't it feel better to earn that reward? That's the justification for this 5K race, which awards each participant with a juicy burger and a cold beer when they cross the finish line at Soldier Field. Victory has never tasted this good.

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Soldier Field Monday July 13 2015

Pitchfork Music Festival

Critics' pick

The hub for indie music snobs celebrates its tenth anniversary in Chicago. Be prepared for another year of vintage clothing, dusty baseball diamonds and ironic mustaches as the most relevant™ musical acts rock out for a bunch of twentysomethings and nostalgic record collectors. This year, Wilco will reel in the cool dads (and moms) on Friday, reunited riot grrrls Sleater Kinney top the bill on Saturday and Chance the Rapper closes out the fest.

Read more
Union Park Friday July 17 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

Wicker Park Fest

Critics' pick

The Crotch hosts this hipster-friendly fest that features three stages of Pitchfork-quality tunes on the cheap. This year's larger fest blocks off more streets for additional arts, crafts, food and family fun.

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Milwaukee Ave and North Ave Saturday July 25 2015 - Sunday July 26 2015

Concerts in July 2015

Fall Out Boy + Wiz Khalifa

Critics' pick

Fall Out Boy went from emo and pop-punk latecomers to something like the new REO Speedwagon (hey, same state), though they're aiming for Queen. The foursome's sound is big, brash and built for sports arenas. Still, for all the kooky samples of Mötley Crüe, Suzanne Vega and The Munsters, they're a dopey charm now that they're not taking themselves seriously—a fatal flaw of emo. Which is why they're being paired on this "Boys of Zummer" tour with walking herb grinder Wiz Khalifa. Hoodie Allen opens.

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First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre Saturday July 11 2015

Taylor Swift

Critics' pick

You'll have to make a choice: Taylor Swift or Pitchfork Fest? Oddly, that's no joke in today's pop climate. America's brightest young star has somehow managed to maintain credibility with music writers despite ditching her shallow country roots for banal mall jingles. There is a cult of people out there who will want to witness both the multimillion-dollar Soldier Field aww-shucks spectacle of T-Swift and whatever art-rock act headlines P4K. More power to 'em.

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Soldier Field Saturday July 18 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires

Critics' pick

As other retro-soul acts have tried to modernize (we're looking at you, Alabama Shakes), lifer Charles Bradley keeps mining that raw gold ore from R&B's classic era. At age 66, he still keep its 100, tearing his heart and throat up every night for your entertainment. Hot damn.

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Subterranean Thursday July 23 2015

Shania Twain

Critics' pick

Mark Twain's great-great-granddaughter (we totally just made that up) is making a comeback with her first major tour in 11 years. The country-pop megastar plans on dropping a new album when she hits 50, which is later this year. Until then, you'll have to have your face twang-rocked off by the 12 hit singles (Choke on that, Katy Perry!) from her monster Come On Over album. Gavin DeGraw opens.

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Allstate Arena Wednesday July 29 2015

Festivals in July 2015

Eyes to the Skies Festival

Critics' pick

In Lisle, the Fourth of July features plenty of airborne eye candy, including fireworks and hot air balloons. On July 2-4, balloons launch daily at 5:30am and 6:30pm, filling the sky with colorful inflatables of all shapes and sizes. In the evening, the balloons come down and the fireworks begin. Attendees can also check out the festival's carnival, kids area, live music and craft fair.

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Lisle Community Park Wednesday July 1 2015 - Sunday July 5 2015

Naperville Ribfest

Critics' pick

For more than two decades, this pork party has been serving up grilled grub along with rock- and country-flavored tunes. On July 4th, the evening concludes with a firework display at 9:30pm—just show up after 7:30pm to enter free of charge.

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Knoch Park Thursday July 2 2015 - Sunday July 5 2015

African Caribbean International Festival of Life

Critics' pick

Get together and feel all right at the 23rd annual African Caribbean International Festival of Life in Union Park. The festivities promote cultural awareness with a weekend full of reggae, dancing, soccer, art and delicious Afro-Caribbean food.

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Union Park Friday July 3 2015 - Sunday July 5 2015

Windy City Ribfest

Critics' pick

Flew your jaw muscles and stretch that waistline at this seventh annual 'cue fest in Uptown during Fourth of July weekend. Expect plenty of ribs and some live music, including national acts and regional cover bands.

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Lawrence Ave at Broadway Friday July 3 2015 - Sunday July 5 2015

Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic

Chicago is known for the blues music that used to fill South Side clubs, but its also the birthplace of modern house music. Each July, a group of house DJs that formed in the late '70s called the Chosen Few reunite to spin some records at this annual music festival. The party goes down in Jackson Park, where you'll be able to pack a picnic lunch and get your groove on with 40,000 other fans.

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63rd St and Hayes Saturday July 4 2015

Fourth of July Fireworks

Critics' pick

The city of Chicago ditched its official fireworks show a few years back, but Navy Pier picks up the slack with its explosive Independence Day celebration. Revelers can head down to the pier or Millennium Park for an up-close view, but if you're not a fan of crowds you'll want to hit the lakefront or find a friend with a rooftop by the shore.

Read more
Navy Pier Saturday July 4 2015 Free

Glen Ellyn's Fourth of July Fireworks

Critics' pick

Looking to escape to the suburbs to celebrate the nation's independence? Glen Ellyn's Fourth of July festivities are an all-day event, including a four-mile run, a picnic and a parade at noon. The festivities culminate with a fireworks display in Lake Ellyn Park that rivals Navy Pier's explosive show, beginning at dusk.

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Lake Ellyn Park Saturday July 4 2015 Free

Taste of Chicago

Critics' pick

Since 1980, Grant Park has been hosting what has become the granddaddy of food festivals. You know the drill: Trade tickets for a taste of Chicago's street fare. Hopefully what you gain in weight, you'll lose from your wallet. As always, there will be music at Petrillo for you to listen to while you devour your turkey leg, rainbow cone or deep dish pizza.

Read more
Grant Park Wednesday July 8 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015 Free

RuidoFest

Critics' pick

Another three-day summer music festival in Chicago, you say? We'll take it! This one fills an empty void—Latin American rock en español, pop and electro. The party goes down in Pilsen, and promotors Metronome, Riot Fest, Rock Sin Anestesia and Star Events have lured some huge acts. Café Tacuba, the sort of Radiohead of Mexico, headlines alongside fellow Mexican alternative-rock juggernaut Zoé, who do a bigger arena Britrock sound. Bringing the boogie are the funky Kinky and booming Nortec Collective. The deep bill also brings Molotov, Ozomatli, Argentina's Los Estelares, Chile's very cool Astro and so many more. It's very rare to get all these acts together this far north and a very big deal.

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Addams/Medill Park Friday July 10 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015

Square Roots Festival

Critics' pick

The Square Roots festival returns to Lincoln Square for a weekend of brews, food and music presented by the Old Town School of Folk Music and the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce. More than 30 regional craft breweries will be tapping kegs so that you can wash down food from various local eateries. Once you're full, go see some folk, jazz and world music groups play on one of the festival's various outdoor stages.

Read more
Lincoln Square Friday July 10 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015

Irish American Heritage Festival

Didn't get your fill of Irish-themed activities during St. Patrick's Day? The Irish American Heritage Center will fill the shamrock-shaped void in your life with its Irish American Heritage Festival, featuring three days of Irish and American music, dance and family activities.

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Irish American Heritage Center Friday July 10 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015

Windy City Smokeout

Critics' pick

The annual celebration of grilled meats and country music returns to River North with ample amounts of pork, beer and tunes from the likes of Pat Green, Chris Young and Lee Brice. Attendees will be able to sample smokey culinary creations from various local barbecue restaurants while licking sauce from their fingers.

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Grand Ave and Chicago River Friday July 10 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015

Barrington Brew Fest

The 12th annual Barrington Brew Fest brings beer lovers to this northern suburb for some celebratory sampling. Each attendee will receive 20 three ounce samples from brewers like Southern Tier, Lakefront and Boulevard. Burgers, brats and barbecue will be available for anyone with an empty belly accompanied by musical entertainment.

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Barrington Metra Station Saturday July 11 2015

Mamby on the Beach

Critics' pick

React Presents, the fine folks behind Spring Awakening, deliver another killer festival—on a beach! The South Side sand show brings in some impressive acts in its inaugural year. Passion Pit and Empire of the Sun headline the two days, while Phantogram, Röyksopp, James Murphy, Cut Copy, Matthew Dear, Classixx, Tanlines and tons fill out the very dance-able bill.

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Oakwood Beach Saturday July 11 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015

West Fest

Critics' pick

Befitting its location on the hip Chicago Avenue corridor, West Fest can be counted on for a great sleeper of a summer street fest bill. Empty Bottle books the main stage, bringing its typical blend of garage and art rock, while local house folks spin on the DJ stage. If you can stomach yet another summer street festival, it's the perfect lead-in to the Pitchfork Music Festival the following weekend.

Read more
Chicago Ave between Wood St and Damen Ave Saturday July 11 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015

Roscoe Village Burger Fest

Critics' pick

It's no secret that we unabashedly love burgers, so you can imagine how much we're anticipating Roscoe Village's annual celebration of succulent, beef patty cuisine. Loosen your belt and prepare to taste grilled creations from local restaurants while enjoying live music and ample libations.

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Belmont and Damen Aves Saturday July 11 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015

Taste of Lakeview

Formerly known as Rock Around the Block, this Lakeview festival combines live music with mouth-watering cuisine from local restaurants and vendors. From deep dish pizza to gelato, the whole family can find something to eat at this summer event which benefits the West Lakeview Neighbors organization.

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Lincoln Ave at Belmont Ave Saturday July 11 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015

Tour de Fat

Critics' pick

Ft. Collins’ New Belgium Brewery brings its signature celebration of bikes and beer to Palmer Square for another year of freaky fun. The day begins with a bike parade and continues with vaudeville acts, circus performers and live music in Palmer Park. The environmentally conscious festival raises funds for local non-profits and culminates with one lucky attendee trading his or her car in for a brand new bicycle.

Read more
Palmer Square Park Saturday July 11 2015 Free

Bristol Renaissance Faire

Critics' pick

Have a jolly olde time and butcher your favorite European accent as you engage in live-action fantasy play, enjoy interactive riddles, cheer on your favorite jousting knight or revel in period performances from 1574. The festival takes place Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day in July, August and early September.

Read more
Bristol Renaissance Faire Saturday July 11 2015 - Monday September 7 2015

Taste of River North

This riverfront bash offers samples of dishes from trendy area restaurants like Farmhouse, Taco Joint and Blackfinn Ameripub in addition to great view of the skyline. The shindig also includes a family fun area and live music from Waters, Sixteen Candles, Santah and more.

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Ward Park at N. Kingsbury and W. Erie Friday July 17 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

Pitchfork Music Festival

Critics' pick

The hub for indie music snobs celebrates its tenth anniversary in Chicago. Be prepared for another year of vintage clothing, dusty baseball diamonds and ironic mustaches as the most relevant™ musical acts rock out for a bunch of twentysomethings and nostalgic record collectors. This year, Wilco will reel in the cool dads (and moms) on Friday, reunited riot grrrls Sleater Kinney top the bill on Saturday and Chance the Rapper closes out the fest.

Read more
Union Park Friday July 17 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

BenFest

If you're really lucky, you'll walk away from BenFest with $10,000 in your pocket. Even if you don't win the cash raffle, there's still plenty to see and do at this annual benefit for the St. Benedict Parish in North Center, including live music and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament for the kids.

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St. Benedict's Parish Friday July 17 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

The Great Bull Run

Critics' pick

Are you prepared to run for your life? Sign a waver, lace up your running shoes and head to Hawthorne Race Course for Chicago's Great Bull Run, where participants will weave through a quarter-mile course pursued by eighteen 1,500-pound bulls. There's a beer waiting for you at the end of the run, in addition to a festival featuring food and mechanical bulls.

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Hawthorne Race Course Saturday July 18 2015

Naperville Ale Fest

Ever wondered what it might be like to quaff ale in a historical village? Pack up your tankard and head to Naperville Ale Fest, where the beer is fresh and the buildings are old. The historic Naper Settlement will play host to brewers like Central Waters, Deschutes and Great Lakes.

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Naper Settlement Saturday July 18 2015

Southport Art Festival

The Southport Corridor hosts its annual two-day art festival, bringing together a variety of artists and local vendors near neighborhood landmarks like the Music Box Theatre. Guests can peruse pieces, shop at Southport Avenue stores or get up early and enjoy the annual Gospel Brunch on Sunday morning.

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Southport and Waveland Avenues Saturday July 18 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

Celebrate Clark Street

Residents of Rogers Park and visitors from around town hit the streets to celebrate diversity at this multi-cultural event, celebrating its 10th year. Featuring two stages of live world music, delicious ethnic food and carnival games for the kids, this street festival aims to please just about everyone.

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Clark Street between Morse and Touhy Aves Saturday July 18 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

Chicago Craft Beer Festival

Critics' pick

Foamy, flat macrobrewed suds in a plastic cup not exactly your idea of a good time? Unleash your inner sophisticate at this Lincoln Park fest, which serves up more than 100 local, regional and national craft beers. Purchase tickets before making your way to the tasting session each day from 11:30pm-4:30pm—each ticket is good for one 3-oz sample of beer.

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Sheffield Ave. between Webster & Fullerton Saturday July 18 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

Chinatown Summer Fair

Critics' pick

Celebrate Chinese culture at this annual Chinatown event, featuring food, art and music from the Far East. Experience the Lion Dance Procession, take in a classical Chinese dance performance or sit in on a martial arts demonstration. Men can take part in a "hot legs" contest while young attendees can participate in the "cutest baby" competition.

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Wentworth Ave and Cermak Rd Sunday July 19 2015 Free
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