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Rock on at Chicago’s best summer music festivals

Explore the best summer music festivals in Chicago—from Lollapalooza to Pitchfork to Chicago Blues Festival

lollapalooza 2018
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
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When it gets warm enough to spend entire days outdoors, there's never a dull weekend in Chicago (a.k.a. the unofficial capital of summer music festivals). Whether you want to join the hordes at Lollapalooza 2019 or stroll through a quiet neighborhood street festival, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy live tunes this season. Splurge on VIP tickets, spring for general admission or pay a small donation to see some of your favorite acts at a block party. There's no denying that attending a summer music festival is one of the best things to in Chicago. Pack some sunblock, stay hydrated and hit the streets (or the best Chicago parks) to find a summer music festival that makes your heart sing.

 

 

Chicago summer music festivals

Music, Music festivals

Ravinia Festival

The music at the Ravinia Festival in suburban Highland Park runs all summer long, from May 31 through September 15, with rock, pop and classical concerts nearly every night. As usual, you can pony up for primo seats in the pavilion or snag a more affordable lawn ticket (and bring along your own picnic basket and booze). Highlights of the 2019 lineup include "Weird Al" Yankovic (July 28), Ringo Starr and the Beach Boys (Aug 3, 4), Buddy Guy (June 14), the Beach Boys (Aug 24) and Kesha (Sep 8).

Mamby on the Beach
Photograph: Courtesy React Presents
Music, Music festivals

Mamby on the Beach

One of Chicago's only remaining lakefront music festival moves to a new stretch of sand this summer, relocating to Montrose Beach from its former home at Oakwood Beach. Boasting three stages, beach games and plenty of picturesque spots for a selfie, the expanded event will feature headlining sets from rap collective Brockhampton, deep house producer Zhu, synth-pop singer Troye Sivan, Porter Robinson's retro techno project Virtual Self, electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso and electronic musician Flying Lotus.

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North Coast Music Festival
Photograph: Keith Griner
Music, Music festivals

North Coast Music Festival

icon-location-pin Huntington Bank Pavilion, Museum Campus
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Entering its 10th summer in Chicago, change is in the air for the North Coast Music Festival in 2019. The Labor Day weekend music festival is vacating its former home in Union Park and moving to the Huntington Bank Pavilion on Northerly Island, where it will host a two-day event (down from its usual three days of music). And while past North Coast lineups have included jams bands, indie rockers and hip-hop acts, its 2019 slate of performers is squarely focused on electronic artists, including headlining sets from EDM titan Bassnectar and Diplo's dancehall project Major Lazer. Spread across two stages, the rest of the lineup features Jai Wolf, Flux Pavilion, Tchami, Juaz, Gorgon City and more than 20 other acts.

Eddie Palmieri
Photograph: Courtesy DCASE
Music, Jazz

Chicago Jazz Festival

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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Some of the biggest names in jazz come to Chicago for a series of shows at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park during this annual festival. This year's lineup features the Art Ensemble of Chicago, jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, legendary pianist Eddie Palmieri and a tribute to Nat King Cole (led by his brother, Freddy Cole). In the week leading up to the festival, you'll be able to catch free shows at venues like Constellation, Hungry Brain and PianoForte Chicago.

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riot fest 2018
Photograph: Kate Scott
Music, Music festivals

Riot Fest

icon-location-pin Douglas Park, North Lawndale
icon-calendar

It's the social event of the season for anyone with a denim jacket covered in patches hanging in their closet. Riot Fest brings a lineup of rock, hip-hop and punk acts to Douglas Park for a three-day carnival of music (there's even a Ferris wheel), where attendees can eat corn dogs and enjoy some of the final gasps of warm summer weather. This year, Blink-182, Slayer, Bikini Kill, the Raconteurs and Rise Against headline the festival, joined by acts like the Flaming Lips, Jawbreaker, Ween, Patti Smith and Die Antwoord. It also happens to be Riot Fest's 15th anniversary, so maybe there will be some cake?

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