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Chicago summer music festivals

Chicago is home to dozens of annual summer music festivals. Check out lineups, dates and photos and more.

Photo: Hallie Duesenberg
Soak up sounds and sun at one of Chicago's many summer music festivals.

With a major event every weekend, Chicago is the capital of summer music festivals. From Lollapalooza down to neighborhood street festivals, hundreds of acts eschew Chicago rock venues and grace our outdoor stages instead. You can splurge on a VIP experience or take in a free block party and still catch some of your favorite bands. Stock up on sunblock, pack some earplugs and hit the pavement, parks and Chicago beaches.

Chicago summer music festivals

Do Division Street Fest

Critics' pick

Do Division kicks off the summer festival season during the first weekend of June. Spanning 10 city blocks, the annual celebration brings a selection of local vendors and restaurants to Division Street. The main attraction is always the diverse musical lineup—we don't know who will be playing this year (yet), but 2015's bill featured Temples, Tobacco and Nick Waterhouse.

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Division St between Damen Ave and Wood St , Ukrainian Village Friday June 3 2016 - Sunday June 5 2016

Chicago Blues Festival

Critics' pick

The largest free blues festival in the world brings living legends and local 12-bar regulars to Grant Park for three days of music. Those expecting Blues Brothers cover bands should steer clear (though you're likely to hear a few renditions of "Sweet Home Chicago"). Past Chicago Blues Festivals have brought Buddy Guy, Shemekia Copeland and Syl Johnson to the stage. While 2016's lineup has yet to be announced, we're expecting something special.

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Grant Park , Loop Friday June 10 2016 - Sunday June 12 2016

Spring Awakening Music Festival

The city's biggest EDM summer music festival usually brings massive crowds and loads of neon clothing to Soldier Field. This year, the event is likely moving to Jackson Park (the Copa America Centenario soccer tournament is taking over Soldier Field in June). The festival goes down June 10–12, featuring more than 100 performers, eight stages and a bunch of carnival rides.

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By: Zach Long

LakeShake Festival

Critics' pick

After a successful first year, the LakeShake Festival returns to Northerly Island for three days of country music. This year, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw and Brooks & Dunn headline a Nashville-rich bill. The lakefront hoedown also features Martina McBride, Travis Tritt and Thomas Rhett—so dust off your cowboy hat and polish those boots. (Note: There are no single-day tickets available for this festival.)

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FirstMerit Bank Pavilion , Downtown Friday June 17 2016 - Sunday June 19 2016

Logan Square Arts Festival

Critics' pick

Last year, the Logan Square Arts Festival (formerly the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival) moved back to the Illinois Centennial Monument square for three days of local art, food, cocktails and music (including Bongripper, Helado Negro, Sam Prekop). Expect a similar mix of gallery shows, tasty dishes and eclectic Chicago band bookings at the 2016 edition of this fest.

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Logan Square Monument , Humboldt Park Friday June 24 2016 - Sunday June 26 2016

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. The event also hosts a solid lineup of bands—past performers include Weezer, Janelle Monáe and Robin Thicke. Expect a similarly strong lineup in 2016.

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Grant Park , Loop Wednesday July 6 2016 - Sunday July 10 2016

Ruido Fest

Critics' pick

Last year's inaugural Ruido Fest filled an empty void—Latin American rock en español, pop and electro. In 2015, acts like Café Tacuba, Zoé, Molotov and Ozomatli headlined three days of music in Pilsen's Addams/Medill Park. You can expect a similar mix of genres (and Spanish-speaking countries) to be represented by the artists playing at this year's edition.

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Addams/Medill Park , Pilsen Friday July 8 2016 - Sunday July 10 2016

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, 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 Damen Ave and Wood St Friday July 8 2016 - Sunday July 10 2016

Pitchfork Music Festival

Pitchfork Music Festival returns to Chicago for its 11th year in 2016. As in years past, you can see buzzy new acts, some indie rock legends and at least a day's worth of hip-hop. It's also one of the bext summer events for people-watching in the shade. No lineup yet, but it's coming... soon.

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By: Zach Long

Chicago Open Air

Chicago has EDM, jazz, blues and psych-rock festivals, but until now, the city has never hosted an event that exclusively showcases modern rock and metal artists. That will change when Chicago Open Air debuts at Toyota Park in July (during the same weekend usually occupied by Pitchfork Music Festival), an event being organized by the same folks who book Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio and Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, California. The fest will also feature craft beer and something called "gourmet man food."

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Toyota Park , Bridgeview Friday July 15 2016 - Sunday July 17 2016

Wicker Park Fest

Critics' pick

The Crotch hosts this hipster-friendly fest that features three stages of Pitchfork-quality tunes on the cheap. While you're not shopping at record stores and vintage shops, drinking beer or eating doughnuts, you can catch concerts on three stages. In 2015, Charles Bradley, Blonde Redhead and Deafheaven headlined—2016's slate of performers should be just as varied.

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Milwaukee Ave and North Ave , Wicker Park Saturday July 23 2016 - Sunday July 24 2016

Lollapalooza

Critics' pick

Lollapalooza is pulling out all of the stops this year to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Attendees will be treated to four days of music, sun and gigantic crowds. No word on headliners yet, but you can bet that organizers are going to come up with something special. Start stretching your legs and stocking up on sunscreen.

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Grant Park , Loop Thursday July 28 2016 - Sunday July 31 2016

Chicago Jazz Festival

Chicago is known for its blues musicians, but these days it's more of a jazz city. The annual Chicago Jazz Festival celebrates contemporary improvisors and legendary players with four days of concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park. Last year Muhal Richard Abrams, José James and Dee Dee Bridgewater were featured performers, so you can look forward to a similar caliber of talent in 2016.

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Chicago Cultural Center , Loop Thursday September 1 2016 - Sunday September 4 2016

North Coast Music Festival

The arrival of Labor Day means that Chicago's top hip-hop, jam, EDM and indie rock festival has also arrived. North Coast Music Festival hits Union Park from September 2–4, attracting an eclectic crowd with a lineup that bounces between genres. Last year, D'Angelo and Macy Gray stole the show, so 2016 has a lot to live up to.

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By: Zach Long

Riot Fest

After a successful first year in Douglas Park, Riot Fest will return to the West Side on September 16–18. As usual, the 2016 edition of the festival will feature carnival rides and an exciting lineup of performers, including legendary rockers, punk bands and some hip-hop acts. Plus, it's the best event for mohawk sightings.

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By: Zach Long

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