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lollapalooza 2018
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan

Rock on at Chicago’s best summer music festivals

Explore the best summer music festivals in Chicago—from Lollapalooza to Pitchfork to Riot Fest

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long
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Chicago summer music festival season will get off to a late start this year, but at least we'll be able to see some giant concerts outdoors again this summer. Music festivals will officially return when the Windy City Smokeout takes over the United Center parking lot in July, but a couple of events (Pride in the Park and the Grant Park Music Festival) are getting a head start as capacity restrictions are loosened. Events like Pitchfork Music Festival and Spring Awakening have shifted their dates to later in the season, while fests like Lollapalooza and Riot Fest will take place during their usual weekends.

Before you head to your fest of choice, you might want to double check the COVID-19 vaccination policy. Many events are requiring attendees to show proof of full vaccination, whether by flashing your card or signing up for an app that verifies your status. If you're not vaccinated, you'll likely have to supply a negative test result from within 24 to 72 hours prior to you entry to a festival. And some of these policies could change—keep an eye on festival websites for the latest updates. 

Chicago summer music festivals

  • Music
  • Music festivals

You can pack a picnic basket, hop on the Metra and enjoy an evening of live music at the annual Ravinia Festival once again this summer, as the Highland Park venue presents a slightly truncated version of its usual array of concerts from July 5 through September 24. See prog-rock outfit King Crimson (Aug 29) eclectic pop act Lake Street Dive (Aug 26) or violinist Andrew Bird (Sept 24) Living legends like Willie Nelson (Aug 14), Gladys Knight (Aug 18) and Judy Collins (Aug 10) will also show up to perform. Plus, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is presenting great classical shows throughout the festival's run. Just don't forget to bring your mask—they'll be required on the grounds.

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