Summer in Chicago picks up speed as July arrives and a barrage of music festivals, concerts, theater shows and art openings jockey for your attention. You can spend a weekend catching rising bands at Pitchfork Music Festival, look up to the sky at a series of Fourth of July celebrations and explore neighborhoods by attending a packed calendar of street festivals. Start figuring out how you'll spend the next month with our guide to the most exciting Chicago events in July.
THINGS TO DO
Eyes to the Skies Festival; Lisle Community Park
Hover above Lisle in a hot air balloon or take a spin on a carnival ride at the final day of this suburban festival.
Fourth of July Fireworks; Navy Pier
Your neighbors are probably planning an unofficial fireworks display for the Fourth, but if you want to see the biggest show in town, find a sightline of Navy Pier and sit back to see the aerial sparks beginning at 9:30pm.
Fourth of July Celebration; Chicago History Museum
Get up early on the Fourth of July to hear patriotic tunes from the Americana Concert Band and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. The free festivities begin at 10am; admission to the museum is free for Illinois residents.
African Caribbean International Festival of Life; Union Park
Experience African-Caribbean culture with a weekend full of reggae, dancing, soccer, art and delicious bites.
July 7–Sept 3
Bristol Renaissance Faire; Kenosha, WI
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.
Taste of Chicago; Grant Park
The granddaddy of Chicago food festivals takes over Grant Park, where you can trade tickets for a taste of Chicago's street fare—from the Billy Goat Tavern's cheezborgers to Eli's Cheesecake.
Volleywood; North Avenue Beach
Hit the sand, grab a drink and see sets from DJs such as Matoma and Thomas Jack at this sun-soaked festival and volleyball tournament.
July 14, 15
Roscoe Village Burger Fest; Belmont and Damen Aves
Loosen your belt and prepare to taste grilled creations from local restaurants, such as Kuma's Corner and Bareburger, while enjoying live music and ample libations.
July 14, 15
Southport Art Festival; Southport Ave and Addison St
The Southport Corridor hosts its annual two-day art festival, bringing together a variety of creators and local vendors.
Chinatown Summer Fair; 2200 S Wentworth Ave
Chinatown celebrates the arrival of summer at this annual event, featuring food, art, music and a traditional Lion Dance Procession.
Taste of River North; Kingsbury St and Erie St
River North restaurants like Pink Taco, Big & Little's, Fogo de Chao and more sample delicious dishes at this neighborhood street fest, soundtracked by a deep lineup of cover bands.
BenFest; St. Benedict's Parish
This annual street fest is a family affair, with plenty of fun activities for the kids as well as a beer garden and live music for the grown-ups.
Art Institute of Chicago Block Party; Art Institute of Chicago
One of the city's most beloved institutions invites guests to learn about the museum while enjoying exhibitions, activities, presentations, gallery tours, live music and more.
July 21, 22
Chicago Craft Beer Festival; Webster St and Sheffield Ave
Raise a glass and sample more than 70 beers throughout two tasting sessions at the annual fest, which occurs in tandem with the Sheffield Music Festival and Garden Walk.
July 21, 22
Sheffield Music Festival and Garden Walk; Webster St and Sheffield Ave
Take a self-guided tour of more than 100 Lincoln Park gardens and check out a lineup of local bands and tribute act at this popular neighborhood street fest.
Newberry Library Book Fair; Newberry Library
Expand your summer reading list by looking through racks of used books, many of which are on sale for $3 or less.
Fiesta del Sol; Cermak Rd and Ashland Ave
One of the largest Latino fests in the Midwest returns to the heart of Pilsen, hosting a carnival, delicious food from local vendors and a lineup of traditional music.
Serpentwithfeet; Empty Bottle
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.
Janelle Monáe; Chicago Theatre
Sci-fi soul diva Janelle Monáe returns to outer space on her new album, Dirty Computer, armed with songs that reckon with her pansexual awakening.
West Fest; Chicago Ave between Wood St and Damen Ave
Folk-rocker Kevin Morby and local rapper Joey Purp top the lineup at this street fest, joined by Chicago acts like Ohmme, Varsity and oddCouple.
July 6, 7
Radiohead; United Center
Thom Yorke and company kick off their latest North American tour in Chicago—prepare for deep cuts from the band's experimental rock catalog and a killer light show.
Chosen Few DJs Music Festival; Jackson Park
Local house music legends the Chosen Few DJs throw their annual picnic and concerts, with support from the Basement Boys, remix artist Ralphi Rosario and local singer Sheree Hicks.
Weezer + Pixies; Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
Endearingly cheesy power-pop act Weezer and ’90s alt-rock titans Pixies co-headline an evening of nostalgic melodies.
July 7, 8
Live in Lincoln Park; Stockton Dr and LaSalle Dr
Reggae act Michael Franti and Phish bassist Mike Gordon headline this new jam, reggae and roots rock festival in Lincoln Park.
Brandi Carlile; Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park
Americana singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile belts out impactful anthems about empathy and motherhood at this free Taste of Chicago concert.
Black Star; Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park
Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) and Talib Kweli join forces as Black Star, touring behind a new LP produced by Madlib.
Jimmy Buffett; Wrigley Field
Escape to "Margaritaville" among hordes of Parrotheads at this ballpark concert.
Square Roots Festival; Lincoln Square
Alt-country pioneers the Jayhawks, Americana explorer Pokey LaFarge and Appalachian folk duo the Handsome Family top the diverse lineup at this Lincoln Square street fest.
Windy City Smokeout; 560 W Grand St
Twangy tunes from the likes of Brett Eldredge, Brothers Osborne, Ashley McBryde and Aaron Lewis soundtrack this barbecue bonanza.
The Flaming Lips; Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park
Oklahoma weirdos the Flaming Lips bring psychedelia, streamers and costumed dancers to a free Taste of Chicago show.
Journey + Def Leppard; Wrigley Field
Two classic rock titans unite for one hot, sticky sweet night of triumphant stadium rock anthems.
George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic; Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park
Before the Godfather of Funk retires next year, catch his band closing out Taste of Chicago with tracks like "One Nation Under a Groove."
Pitchfork Music Festival; Union Park
Aussie psych outfit Tame Impala, folk-rockers Fleet Foxes and R&B singer Ms. Lauryn Hill top the bill at the most hipster-friendly festival in town.
Chance the Rapper + Usher; Huntington Bank Pavilion
Hometown hero Chance headlines a 50th-anniversary celebration for Special Olympics, joined by a cavalcade of guests.
July 23, 24
Sylvan Esso; Riviera
Enjoy the slick, efficient electro-pop of this energetic duo, which balances emotionally resonant lyricism with danceable beats.
The Kingston All Stars; Millennium Park
Some of the most talented reggae session players come together onstage to show off their skills at this free Millennium Park concert.
Wicker Park Fest; Milwaukee Ave and North Ave
One of the biggest street fests of the summer brings synth-pop act Porches, punk rockers Against Me! and singer-songwriter Ezra Furman to its stages.
July 29, 30
Foo Fighters; Wrigley Field
Dave Grohl returns to Wrigley Field for two evenings of alt-rock anthems—and this time he won't be performing from a throne.
Aimee Mann; Millennium Park
Prepare to shed a few tears, as Mann runs through a new batch of sad ballads at this free Millennium Park show.
July 1–Aug 5
The Roommate; Steppenwolf Theatre
Two women—one Midwestern nice, the other a loud-mouthed New Yorker—move in together by chance and form a surprising friendship.
Support Group for Men; Goodman Theatre
In this new comedy from TV and Chicago theatre vet Ellen Fairey, four middle-aged men meet every week in a Wrigleyville apartment to vent and talk about being a man in a changing world.
July 1–Sept 9
Heartbreak Hotel; Broadway Playhouse
This new jukebox musical chronicling the early years of Elvis Presley’s career comes from Floyd Mutrux, the co-writer of Million Dollar Quartet, and an eye toward following Quartet to a Broadway bow.
Waitress; Cadillac Palace Theatre
Pop singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles penned the score for this Broadway sleeper hit about a small-town diner waitress who can bake the hell out of a pie but finds her life choices less than filling.
July 7–Aug 18
Linda; Steep Theatre
In this wicked feminist satire, Linda Wilde is a powerful beauty executive whose picture-perfect life in London starts to unravel.
July 10–Aug 19
Pamplona; Goodman Theatre
Actor Stacy Keach suffered a heart attack onstage during the May 2017 opening night performance of this one-man show—after a lengthy recuperation, he's returning to the role.
July 11–Aug 5
Victims of Duty; A Red Orchid Theatre
Michael Shannon, Chicago’s favorite tall, frightening son, returns to a role he first played back in 1995 in this absurdist detective story from Eugene Ionesco.
July 21–Aug 26
The Harvest; The Den Theatre
In a church basement in Southeastern Idaho, a group of young missionaries prepares for a trip to the Middle East—until one of them suffers from a sudden crisis of faith.
Michael Che; Vic Theatre
The Weekend Update co-host gets out from behind the desk and onto the stage for a pair of stand-up sets featuring a barrage of witty observations.
Bryan Callen; Thalia Hall
Once a performer on MadTV, Callen has become UFC commentator and mixed martial arts podcaster, who also happens to be an entertaining stand-up comic. He'll be recording a new special at Thalia Hall.
Darrell Hammond; Zanies Chicago
The former Saturday Night Live cast member and master impressionist returns to the stage with some hilarious voices and tales from his long career.
July 1–Sept 30
“John Singer Sargent and Chicago's Gilded Age”; Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute displays 100 works by one of the most sought-after portrait artists at the turn of the 20th century.
“Counterparts”; Vertical Gallery
Self-taught street artist Pizza in the Rain, fine artist Joseph Renda Jr. and multimedia creator Crop take the spotlight in Vertical's showcase of rising Chicago talents.
July 13–Aug 18
“Compression”; Western Exhibitions
Artists Elana Herzog and Luanne Martineau layer textiles, paper and other materials in unexpected ways in this dual show.
July 17–Nov 4
“Paul Chan: Happiness (finally) after 35,000 years of civilization”; Block Museum of Art
Chan unpacks the violent and sexual themes of Henry Darger’s The Story of the Vivian Girls through an 18-minute looping animation inspired by the artist's work.
July 17–Dec 2
“Chicago Works: Mika Horibuchi”; Museum of Contemporary Art
The MCA's latest local artist showcase displays the hyper-realistic of Horibuchi, who creates images that appear to be three-dimensional.
July 19–Sept 30
“Lucas Foglia: Human Nature”; Museum of Contemporary Photography
Photographer Foglia considers the classic (and increasing) conflict between humanity and nature through his latest collection of images.
Mediterranean bites and summery cocktails await at the rooftop-equipped West Loop counterpart to Ema from chef CJ Jacobson.
Grange Hall Burger Bar quietly shuttered last month to make way for a New Orleans-inspired restaurant and bar that brings Creole flavors to the West Loop.
Terrace 16; River North
Free Rein; Loop