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July 2020 events calendar for Chicago

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

pitchfork 2018
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Summer in Chicago is in full swing, which means that Chicago beaches are packed and there are more summer festivals every weekend than one person could conceivably have time to attend. Kick off the month with fireworks on the Fourth of July, then sample local street food at Taste of Chicago before seeing your new favorite bands at Pitchfork Music Festival. Plus, July brings a giant house music party to Jackson Park, the return of 29Rooms (at a new event space inside the Chicago Board of Trade) and an entire festival devoted to mind-blowing chalk art in Rogers Park. Find all of the best things to do in Chicago this month with our July 2019 events calendar.

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2020

Featured events in July 2020

Photograph: Courtesy DCASE
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago SummerDance

icon-location-pin Multiple venues

All ages and skill levels are welcome at this annual event series that allows you to practice your jives, twirls and jumps. The dancing breaks out Thursday through Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons in the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park, where a professional instructor gives dance lessons (with genres ranging from Swing to Argentine Tango) for the first hour before allowing participants to cut a rug with the accompaniment of a live band. You'll also find SummerDance lessons at Buckingham Fountain during Taste of Chicago and one-off events in parks throughout the city. The series culminates with a day of dancing and performances in Millennium Park on August 24. See the complete details of the SummerDance series here.

Fantastic Bug Encounters!
Photograph: © Te Papa 2016
Museums, Natural history

“Fantastic Bug Encounters!”

icon-location-pin The Field Museum | Chicago, IL, Museum Campus

There are far more bugs that humans on the planet, and the Field Museum's latest exhibition give you an opportunity to learn more about the tiny, multi-legged creatures that largely go unnoticed in our day-to-day live. “Fantastic Bug Encounters!” features arger-than-life models created by Weta Workshops (the folks behind the Lord of the Rings movies) that allow guests to see insects like bees and praying mantises in extreme detail. Interactive stations let you test your reflexes against those of a mantis, send origami butterflies into a wind tunnel and perform bug brain surgery. There's even a bug zoo where you'll be able to get your hands on a dozen live bug species.

Hideout Picnics on the Porch
Photograph: Courtesy Hideout
Music, Folk, country and blues

Picnics on the Porch

icon-location-pin Hideout, River West/West Town

Hideout's annual summer concert series brings the bands out of the back room and onto the venue's front porch for intimate performances under the setting sun. As usual, the Picnics on the Porch series features sets from a selection of folk and country acts, including Big Sadie, Joan Shelley and Freakwater. Ukranian Village eatery All Together Now will be offering a menu of picnic meals and snacks to accompany the music, including "Lunchables for Grownups," brats and roasted beet sandwiches. If you're craving dinner and show, this summer tradition is one of the best ways to spend a warm Chicago evening. This month, you can see Devil in a Woodpile (July 5), Joan Shelley (July 12), Jay Bolotin with Girls of the Golden West (July 19) and Itasca with Glyders (July 26).

Photograph: Zach Weiss
Things to do, Festivals

Bristol Renaissance Faire

icon-location-pin Bristol Renaissance Faire,

Game of Thrones is over, but you can fill the medieval void in your life with a trip to the Bristol Renaissance Faire, which recreates a 16th-century port city (call is King's Landing, if you like). You'll find knights in shining armor, jousting archery, Cornish pasties and dubious English accents throughout the grounds. Plus, for an additional fee you can join in on immersive RenQuest theatrical gaming experience, interacting with characters to complete quests and solve mysteries.

Photograph: Courtesy ACTIVATE
Things to do, Quirky events

ACTIVATE: Green Room

icon-location-pin Multiple venues

Chicago Loop Alliance's pop-up party series returns to alleys and other unexpected downtown locations this summer, giving you a good reason to hang out downtown after work. The second of four events will be hosted in an alley adjacent to Symphony Center, and guests can enter at 225 S Wabash Avenue. You'll be able to witness local drag queens like Lucy Stoole, Kat Sass and Aunty Chan performing Broadway tunes, take in a collection of inflatable sculpture and listen to sets from DJs Ariel Zetina and Miss Twink USA.

Photograph: Joel Maisonet
Theater, Public and national theaters

Millennium Park Theatre Series

icon-location-pin Millennium Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park

The Year of Chicago Theatre is currently treading the boards and Millennium Park is joining the celebration by hosting a series of free shows that feature some of the city's leading theater companies. The site-specific shows performances will take place at venues throughout the park, integrating the park's architecture and public art into the narratives that each work explores. Like most of Millennium Park's summer programming, admission is free—you can use the money you save to support another local theater production.

Photograph: Courtesy Melissa Ann Pinney and the Museum of Contemporary Photography
Art, Photography

“Go Down Moses”

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Photography, Loop

Former The New York Times Magazine photography critic Teju Cole curates a collection of images that draws parallels between the past and present challenges faced by black Americans. For his first major curatorial project, Cole selects images from the Museum of Contemporary Photography's permanent collection, including works by Myra Greene, Melissa Ann Pinney and Roy DeCarava.

Festivals in July 2020

Argyle Night Market
Photograph: Dave Suarez
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Argyle Night Market

icon-location-pin Argyle St and Sheridan Rd, Uptown

Each Thursday during the latter half of the summer, Argyle Street turns into a market featuring regional farmers, dishes from local restaurants and live performers. The fun takes place on the Argyle Streetscape between Kenmore and Sheridan, welcoming visitors to enjoy an evening of food, shopping and entertainment.