July 2018 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: Jaclyn Rivas

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 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. Start enjoying summer with the help of our July events calendar for Chicago. 

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2018

Featured events in July 2018

Fourth of July Fireworks

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.

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Navy Pier, Gateway Park , Streeterville Wednesday July 4 2018

Radiohead

After Radiohead headlined Lollapalooza in 2016, we didn't expect to see the band in Chicago again anytime soon—at least not until it got around to recording another album. Thankfully, Thom Yorke and company are full of surprises, the latest of which is another North American tour in support of A Moon Shaped Pool that kicks off at the United Center. Radiohead's larger-than-life experimental rock is fit for an arena, but we're just as excited about the mind-blowing light show.

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United Center | Chicago, IL , United Center Friday July 6 2018 - Saturday July 7 2018
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Chosen Few DJs Music Festival

In 1990, a group of Chicago house DJs and a small group of friends gathered in Jackson Park for an impromptu concert. Today, the Chosen Few DJs spin tracks for thousands of fans each summer, joined by a selection of guests, including production collective Basement Boys, remix artist Ralphi Rosario and local singer Sheree Hicks. Attendees can bring a picnic basket, set up a tent or hit the dance floor to groove along to a day of slick house beats.

Buy tickets Read more
Jackson Park , Woodlawn Saturday July 7 2018

Taste of Chicago

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, Eli's Cheesecake or deep dish pizza.

Read more
Grant Park | Chicago, IL , Millennium Park Wednesday July 11 2018 - Sunday July 15 2018
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Square Roots Festival

Alt-country, folk and Americana music take the spotlight at Square Roots, a street festival that takes over the main drag of Lincoln Square. Alt-country pioneers the Jayhawks, Americana explorer Pokey LaFarge, and Appalachian folk duo the Handsome Family are among the headlining acts on the diverse music lineup. The event also features multiple craft beer gardens, food from local restaurants and a market stocked with goods from area businesses.

Read more
Lincoln Square , Lincoln Square Friday July 13 2018 - Sunday July 15 2018

Windy City Smokeout

Spend a weekend eating barbecue and listening to country music at the Windy City Smokeout, which fills a parking lot with some of the country's best pitmasters and musicians. Sample smoked meats cooked by BBQ masters from Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennesee while you listen to twangy tunes from the likes of Brett Eldredge, Brothers Osborne, Ashley McBryde and Aaron Lewis. Dust off your cowboy hat, tie a bib around your neck and dig into this weekend of delicious meat and music.

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560 W Grand St , River West/West Town Friday July 13 2018 - Sunday July 15 2018
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The Flaming Lips + La Butcherettes + Half Gringa

Oklahoma weirdos the Flaming Lips have been mining various strains of psychedelia for the past 35 years, but the group's confetti-covered live performances backed by costumed dancers are where it has always shined brightest. Touring behind a new collection of the band's greatest hits, Wayne Coyne and his band will bring their falsetto philosophizing and outrageous (not always family-friendly) stage show to the Taste of Chicago. Mexican garage rockers Le Butcherettes and local singer-songwriter Half Gringa support.

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Grant Park, Petrillo Music Shell , Grant Park Saturday July 14 2018

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic + BJ the Chicago Kid + The Boy Illinois

George Clinton (a.k.a. the Godfather of Funk) recently announced that he'll hang up his hat and retire from touring with Parliament Funkadelic in 2019. Before that happens, you'll get at least one more chance to see him fronting the modern incarnation of P-Funk, which incorporates hip-hop arrangements and dancing contortionists amid renditions of classic tracks like "One Nation Under a Groove" and "Give Up the Funk." Local singer-songwriters BJ the Chicago Kid and the Boy Illinois open the show.

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Grant Park, Petrillo Music Shell , Grant Park Sunday July 15 2018
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Pitchfork Music Festival

If you're searching for a fest that showcases rising bands, underground legends and mainstream performers with strong independent roots, look no further than the Pitchfork Music Festival. This Union Park fest is best described as a laid-back weekend of musical discovery. Headlining acts include Aussie psych outfit Tame Impala, folk-rockers Fleet Foxes and R&B singer Ms. Lauryn Hill (performing her 1998 debut The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill). You'll want to show up early to catch sets from funk legend Chaka Khan, electronic duo Mount Kimbie, experimental collective This is Not This Heat and host of other compelling performers.

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Union Park , West Loop Friday July 20 2018 - Sunday July 22 2018

Chicago Craft Beer Festival

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 70 local, regional and national craft beers from 35 brewers. Purchase tickets before making your way to the tasting session each day from 11:30am–4pm—each ticket is good for one 3 ounce sample of beer. Once you've got a buzz going, admire some lawns or catch a band at the nearby Sheffield Music Festival and Garden Walk.

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Webster St and Sheffield Ave , Lincoln Park Saturday July 21 2018 - Sunday July 22 2018
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Foo Fighters

Dave Grohl saw his very first punk rock show at the Cubby Bear in 1983, so the Foo Fighters’ return to Wrigleyville is a homecoming of sorts. During the band’s last visit to Wrigley Field (in 2015) Grohl had a giant cast on his leg and had to play the show from atop an ornate throne, adorned with guitar necks. This time around, he’ll have the run of the Friendly Confines—we’re imaging a rendition of “Best of You” performed while rounding the bases or a version of “Learn to Fly” sung from atop the Wrigley scoreboard.

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Wrigley Field | Chicago, IL , Wrigleyville Sunday July 29 2018 - Monday July 30 2018

Festivals in July 2018

Eyes to the Skies Festival

In Lisle, the Fourth of July features plenty of airborne eye candy, including fireworks and hot air balloons. Balloons launch daily, 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 , Suburbs Thursday June 28 2018 - Sunday July 1 2018
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West Fest

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. Occuring the weekend before Pitchfork Music Festival, it's a great way to ease into the summer festival mindset without having to purchase a pricey wristband. 

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Chicago Ave between Wood St and Damen Ave , Evanston Friday July 6 2018 - Sunday July 8 2018

Chosen Few DJs Music Festival

In 1990, a group of Chicago house DJs and a small group of friends gathered in Jackson Park for an impromptu concert. Today, the Chosen Few DJs spin tracks for thousands of fans each summer, joined by a selection of guests, including production collective Basement Boys, remix artist Ralphi Rosario and local singer Sheree Hicks. Attendees can bring a picnic basket, set up a tent or hit the dance floor to groove along to a day of slick house beats.

Buy tickets Read more
Jackson Park , Woodlawn Saturday July 7 2018
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Live in Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park hosts a music festival devoted to jam bands, reggae and roots rock at this new event, which should provide a fitting comedown from Fourth of July celebrations. Reggae act Michael Franti and Spearhead headline the fest on Saturday night and Phish bassist Mike Gordon closes out the weekend on Sunday evening. Live in Lincoln Park also features sets from the Original Wailers, Collie Buddz, Cory Wong, Pimps of Joytime and more great acts.

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Stockton Dr and LaSalle Dr , Loop Saturday July 7 2018 - Sunday July 8 2018

Bristol Renaissance Faire

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 7 2018 - Monday September 3 2018
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Taste of Chicago

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 (the Flaming Lips, George Clinton and more) for you to listen to while you devour your turkey leg, Eli's Cheesecake or deep dish pizza.

Read more
Grant Park | Chicago, IL , Millennium Park Wednesday July 11 2018 - Sunday July 15 2018

Square Roots Festival

Alt-country, folk and Americana music take the spotlight at Square Roots, a street festival that takes over the main drag of Lincoln Square. Alt-country pioneers the Jayhawks, Americana explorer Pokey LaFarge, and Appalachian folk duo the Handsome Family are among the headlining acts on the diverse music lineup. The event also features multiple craft beer gardens, food from local restaurants and a market stocked with goods from area businesses.

Read more
Lincoln Square , Lincoln Square Friday July 13 2018 - Sunday July 15 2018
Advertising

Windy City Smokeout

Spend a weekend eating barbecue and listening to country music at the Windy City Smokeout, which fills a parking lot with some of the country's best pitmasters and musicians. Sample smoked meats cooked by BBQ masters from Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennesee while you listen to twangy tunes from the likes of Brett Eldredge, Brothers Osborne, Ashley McBryde and Aaron Lewis. Dust off your cowboy hat, tie a bib around your neck and dig into this weekend of delicious meat and music.

Buy tickets Read more
560 W Grand St , River West/West Town Friday July 13 2018 - Sunday July 15 2018

Roscoe Village Burger Fest

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 , North Center Saturday July 14 2018 - Sunday July 15 2018
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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 Ave and Addison St , Lake View Saturday July 14 2018 - Sunday July 15 2018
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Pitchfork Music Festival

If you're searching for a fest that showcases rising bands, underground legends and mainstream performers with strong independent roots, look no further than the Pitchfork Music Festival. This Union Park fest is best described as a laid-back weekend of musical discovery. Headlining acts include Aussie psych outfit Tame Impala, folk-rockers Fleet Foxes and R&B singer Ms. Lauryn Hill (performing her 1998 debut The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill). You'll want to show up early to catch sets from funk legend Chaka Khan, electronic duo Mount Kimbie, experimental collective This is Not This Heat and host of other compelling performers.

Buy tickets Read more
Union Park , West Loop Friday July 20 2018 - Sunday July 22 2018

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 , North Center Friday July 20 2018 - Sunday July 22 2018
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Chicago Craft Beer Festival

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 70 local, regional and national craft beers from 35 brewers. Purchase tickets before making your way to the tasting session each day from 11:30am–4pm—each ticket is good for one 3 ounce sample of beer. Once you've got a buzz going, admire some lawns or catch a band at the nearby Sheffield Music Festival and Garden Walk.

Buy tickets Read more
Webster St and Sheffield Ave , Lincoln Park Saturday July 21 2018 - Sunday July 22 2018

Newberry Library Book Fair

It’s not too late to flesh out your summer reading list at one of the city’s largest used book fairs, where you can browse more than 120,000 titles that are priced to move. Many titles are $3 or less and the selection is vast, including cookbooks, music, fiction, art books, children's literature, collectibles and much more.

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Newberry Library , Rush & Division Thursday July 26 2018 - Sunday July 29 2018
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Concerts in July 2018

Serpentwithfeet + Lee Mo

Vocalist Josiah Wise presents a sultry, futuristic take on gospel music and R&B balladry inspired by his love of artists like Björk and Brandy, using his flexible voice to sing about his experiences as a black, queer man. Serpentwithfeet comes to Bottle in support of his debut album, soil, which features production by frequent Adele collaborator Paul Epworth. Philadelphia soul singer Lee Mo opens the show.

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Empty Bottle , Ukrainian Village Sunday July 1 2018

Janelle Monáe + St. Beauty

After appearing in films like Moonlight and Hidden Figures, sci-fi soul diva Janelle Monáe returns to outer space on her new album, Dirty Computer. The sprawling record features backing vocals from Brian Wilson, grooves that the late, great Prince gave his blessing and songs that reckon with Monáe's pansexual awakening. If the "emotion picture" video that Monáe released alongside the album is any indication, she'll wrap the funky, soul-searching songs into a visually-arresting, futuristic live performance. R&B duo St. Beauty open the show.

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Chicago Theatre | Chicago, IL , Loop Thursday July 5 2018
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Radiohead

After Radiohead headlined Lollapalooza in 2016, we didn't expect to see the band in Chicago again anytime soon—at least not until it got around to recording another album. Thankfully, Thom Yorke and company are full of surprises, the latest of which is another North American tour in support of A Moon Shaped Pool that kicks off at the United Center. Radiohead's larger-than-life experimental rock is fit for an arena, but we're just as excited about the mind-blowing light show.

Buy tickets Read more
United Center | Chicago, IL , United Center Friday July 6 2018 - Saturday July 7 2018

Chosen Few DJs Music Festival

In 1990, a group of Chicago house DJs and a small group of friends gathered in Jackson Park for an impromptu concert. Today, the Chosen Few DJs spin tracks for thousands of fans each summer, joined by a selection of guests, including production collective Basement Boys, remix artist Ralphi Rosario and local singer Sheree Hicks. Attendees can bring a picnic basket, set up a tent or hit the dance floor to groove along to a day of slick house beats.

Buy tickets Read more
Jackson Park , Woodlawn Saturday July 7 2018
Advertising

Live in Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park hosts a music festival devoted to jam bands, reggae and roots rock at this new event, which should provide a fitting comedown from Fourth of July celebrations. Reggae act Michael Franti and Spearhead headline the fest on Saturday night and Phish bassist Mike Gordon closes out the weekend on Sunday evening. Live in Lincoln Park also features sets from the Original Wailers, Collie Buddz, Cory Wong, Pimps of Joytime and more great acts.

Buy tickets Read more
Stockton Dr and LaSalle Dr , Loop Saturday July 7 2018 - Sunday July 8 2018

Brandi Carlile + Martha Redbone Roots Project

Americana singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile belts out impactful anthems about empathy and motherhood on her latest album, By the Way, I Forgive You. A skilled lyricist (who has been covered by the likes of Adele, Dolly Parton and Pearl Jam), Carlile's folk, country and rock ballads betray a contemplative outlook on the world that still seems wise beyond her years. Blues and soul singer Martha Redbone and her Roots Project band open the show.    

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Grant Park, Petrillo Music Shell , Grant Park Wednesday July 11 2018
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Black Star + Madame Gandhi

Two decades ago, Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) and Talib Kweli—two of hip-hop's most conscientious emcees—joined forces as Black Star. Now the pair has a new record produced by Madlib on the way and is taking the stage in anticipation of its release. Nevermind that Yasiin Bey announced his retirement from the music industry back in 2016—we're just happy that Black Star is rising, once more. L.A. musician and activist Madame Gandhi opens this Taste of Chicago concert. 

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Grant Park, Petrillo Music Shell , Grant Park Friday July 13 2018

Jimmy Buffett + Boz Scaggs

No name is more synonymous with island-themed restaurant chains and tropical menswear than Jimmy Buffett, a former country artist best known for his beach bum anthem, "Margaritaville." For the second summer in a row Buffet and the Coral Reefer band will pack Parrotheads into the Friendly Confines for an evening of songs about drinking (and eating cheeseburgers) by the beach. ‘70s soft-rock icon Boz Scaggs opens the show.

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Wrigley Field | Chicago, IL , Wrigleyville Friday July 13 2018
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Square Roots Festival

Recommended

Alt-country, folk and Americana music take the spotlight at Square Roots, a street festival that takes over the main drag of Lincoln Square. Alt-country pioneers the Jayhawks, Americana explorer Pokey LaFarge, and Appalachian folk duo the Handsome Family are among the headlining acts on the diverse music lineup. The event also features multiple craft beer gardens, food from local restaurants and a market stocked with goods from area businesses.

Read more
Lincoln Square , Lincoln Square Friday July 13 2018 - Sunday July 15 2018

Windy City Smokeout

Spend a weekend eating barbecue and listening to country music at the Windy City Smokeout, which fills a parking lot with some of the country's best pitmasters and musicians. Sample smoked meats cooked by BBQ masters from Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennesee while you listen to twangy tunes from the likes of Brett Eldredge, Brothers Osborne, Ashley McBryde and Aaron Lewis. Dust off your cowboy hat, tie a bib around your neck and dig into this weekend of delicious meat and music.

Buy tickets Read more
560 W Grand St , River West/West Town Friday July 13 2018 - Sunday July 15 2018
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See more July 2015 concerts

Free events July 2018

Fourth of July Fireworks

Recommended

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, Gateway Park , Streeterville Wednesday July 4 2018

Slo ’Mo

At this polysexual Logan Square dance-off, party purveyor Kristen Kaza and DJ Audio Jack drop the needle on love-drenched classics by Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Prince and the queen of lovers' rock, Sade. Admission is always free and the Whistler's capacity is limited, so there's usually a line out the door. Arrive early if you want to start grooving on the crammed dance floor ASAP.

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The Whistler , Logan Square Thursday June 21 2018
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