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The best summer events in Chicago

Start making plans through Labor Day with our guide to the best festivals, art exhibits, concerts and more great summer events in Chicago

Montrose Beach, we cannot wait to hang out on you.

The only remedy to another horrible Chicago winter is making this the best summer ever. Do not spend a minute inside if you can help it. Only eat at outdoor restaurants and drink at rooftop bars. Go to every summer music festival. And when you need a break from the sun's rays, head to some of the best museum exhibits. Summer is coming—we promise—so start filling out your to-do list with the help of our guide to the best summer events.

RECOMMENDED: Best things to do in the summer in Chicago

Best summer events


Second Annual 26th Annual Comedy Festival

Critics' pick

The confusingly named comedy festival organized by The Onion and The A.V. Club returns for a second year, bringing John Mulaney, Vanessa Bayer, Ellie Kemper and more funny people to town. This year's lineup introduces a couple of cult classic film screenings to the mix, including Cabin Boy and UHF. You're guaranteed to laugh at something.

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Lincoln Hall Tuesday May 26 2015 - Saturday May 30 2015


Critics' pick

After killing the mixtape with his latest release, If You're Reading This It's Too Late, the 28 year old is arguably the biggest rapper in the game (well, the biggest rapper that people still like as a person). Instead of a headlining spot at a festival, we get the MC on his own at the United Center. Future opens.

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United Center Friday May 29 2015

Lana Del Rey + Grimes

Critics' pick

The backlash to the backlash came quickly for Lana Del Rey. After a rather disasterous debut performance on SNL and subsequent LOLs, the Jessica Rabbit–like crooner responded by selling over 5 million copies of Born to Die. Now, she returns for her second lap of promoting Ultraviolence, the even more David Lynchian record recorded with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. To sweeten the pot, seapunk pop urchin Grimes is opening up.

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First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre Saturday May 30 2015

The Second City's Break Out Comedy Festival

The Second City teams with NBCUniversal to present a new comedy festival spotlighting some of the country's best emerging talent in sketch, improv and stand-up. Daily Show correspondent Al Madrigal hosts on Friday, while Undateable cast member Ron Funches holds down the stage on Saturday, introducing a slew of rising talent from Chicago and beyond.

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UP Comedy Club Friday June 5 2015 - Saturday June 6 2015

Lagunitas Beer Circus

Critics' pick

After a successful first year, Lagunitas is bringing its Beer Circus back to its gigantic Douglas Park brewing facility. The event will assemble circus performers, live music, food trucks, carnival rides and plenty of beer for an afternoon of drunken fun that could make you reconsider your irrational fear of clowns.

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Lagunitas Brewing Company Saturday June 6 2015

The 606 opening weekend

Critics' pick

After a slight delay, the 606 is finally opening, bringing foot and bike traffic to a formerly abandoned stretch of elevated rail in Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Bucktown and Wicker Park. The celebration begins with ribbon cuttings (8am), processions on the trail and a street festival on Humboldt Blvd (10am–9pm) on Saturday and concludes with a pancake breakfast at the West Trailhead on Sunday morning.

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Humboldt Blvd and Cortland St Saturday June 6 2015 - Sunday June 7 2015 Free

The Birds

Irish playwright Conor McPherson's 2009 work is inspired by the same Daphne DuMaurier story of winged attackers as Alfred Hitchcock's film, though like Hitchcock, McPherson uses DuMaurier as a jumping off point for a tale that departs from the original, with three strangers coming together to hide from the birds in an abandoned seaside house. Kevin Kingston directs the Chicago premiere for Griffin Theatre.

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Theater Wit Saturday June 6 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

Mumford & Sons

Dylan did it, but we should be banned from covering music for making the comparison. Mumford & Sons have gone electric. Fender guitars have replaced banjos, leather jackets have replaced overalls. It's a complete makeover, and though the resulting arena rock is fine in a Temper Trap meets Kings of Leon way, the whole Mr. Potato Head identity swap smells more like a put on than sincerity. This summer, the band will hit the beach instead of headlining a festival.

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Montrose Beach Wednesday June 17 2015

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Christopher Durang's Tony Award–winning comic riff on Chekhov gets an overdue Chicago premiere. Steve Scott directs a stellar cast, including Janet Ulrich Brooks, Mary Beth Fisher, Ross Lehman, E. Faye Butler, Jordan Brown and Rebecca Buller.

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Goodman Theatre Saturday June 20 2015 - Sunday July 26 2015


Critics' pick

A few months removed from the overanalyzed and overdramatized release of Songs of Innocence, U2 are getting back to the arena grind. You'll forget any qualms you may of had about the band "hijacking" your iPhone once you hear Bono and the gang belting out the classics.

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United Center Wednesday June 24 2015 - Thursday June 25 2015
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David H
David H

This article contains an error. The Morrissey show is on Friday, June 13th, not Monday, June 16th.