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The Chicago SummerDance Celebration in Millennium Park, August 2019.
Photograph: Patrick L. Pyszka

A long list of festivals and events will return to Chicago this summer

Beloved events like the Chicago Blues Festival and the Air and Water Show will be back (and in-person) this year.

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

Over the past two summers, Chicago has drastically scaled back its city-run public programming in an effort to reduce large gatherings in the midst of the pandemic. But the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is planning a slate of festivals, markets and happening for 2022 that looks more like a "normal" pre-pandemic summer, including several reimagined events.

Highlights of the 2022 schedule include the return of the Chicago Blues Festival and Chicago Jazz Festival, both of which will take place in Millennium Park over the course of four days. Festivals devoted to house and gospel music have been reconfigured as single-day "experiences," with the Chicago Gospel Music Experience scheduled for Saturday, June 4 and the Chicago House Music Experience taking place on Friday, September 16. Plus, the Millennium Park Summer Music Series will be back this summer, presenting a slate of free shows on Mondays and Thursdays from June 20 through August 18.

Dance enthusiasts will be happy to know that Chicago SummerDance will also return in 2022, with dance classes offered in Grant Park (and parks throughout the city) from July 6 through September 17—the programming culminates with a SummerDance Celebration in Millennium Park on Saturday, September 17. The city has designated 2022 as the Year of Chicago Dance and will showcase local troupes during the Year of Chicago Dance Showcase at Millennium Park on Saturday, August 27.

The Taste of Chicago will expand its reach again this year, with the city hosting three "Taste pop-ups" featuring local vendors in yet-to-be-announced neighborhoods throughout June. A three-day "bite-sized Taste" featuring 30-40 local vendors and three headlining performances will be held in Grant Park from July 8–10. Maybe this will be the year that the city does away with the outdated ticket payment system?

Finally, the Chicago Air and Water Show is also set to return over the course of two days, on August 20 and 21. The event was reconfigured as a two-day flyover in 2021, but this summer's event will be the complete four-hour aerial display. Prepare yourself for the apocalyptic sound of jets roaring over the city in the days leading up to the event.

Yes, summer in Chicago is still months away, but eventually the snow is going to melt and you'll have to start making plans. Take a look at the city's complete spring/summer festival and event schedule below. 

  • Maxwell Street Market (800 S Desplaines St): Sundays, April 3–December 18 
  • Chicago City Markets (citywide including Daley Plaza): May–October
  • Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony & Parade (Daley Plaza and State Street): Saturday, May 28
  • Millennium Park Summer Workouts (Great Lawn): Saturdays, May 28–September 3
  • Millennium Park Summer Film Series (Jay Pritzker Pavilion): Tuesdays, July 12–August 30
  • Chicago Gospel Music Experience (Jay Pritzker Pavilion): June 4
  • Chicago Blues Festival (citywide and in Millennium Park): June 9–12
  • Taste of Chicago (citywide including Grant Park): Saturdays, June 11, 18, 25 (neighborhood Taste pop-ups) and July 8–10 (a bite-sized Taste in Grant Park)
  • Millennium Park Summer Music Series (Jay Pritzker Pavilion): Mondays & Thursdays, June 20–August 18
  • Chicago SummerDance (citywide and the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park): select dates July 6–September 17
  • Chicago Air and Water Show (North Avenue Beach and along the Lakefront): August 20, 21 from 10am – 2pm
  • Year of Chicago Dance Showcase (Jay Pritzker Pavilion): August 27
  • Chicago Jazz Festival (citywide and in Millennium Park): September 1–4
  • Chicago House Music Experience (Jay Pritzker Pavilion): September 16
  • SummerDance Celebration (Jay Pritzker Pavilion): September 17
  • World Music Festival Chicago (citywide): September 30–October 9

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