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The best Chicago summer festivals

Start making weekend plans filled with food, music and art with our guide to Chicago summer festivals and street parties

Wicker Park Fest 2017
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
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Warm weather aside, one of the best things about May through September in Chicago is the sheer variety of summer festivals that take over the city's streets, parks and public spaces. You can catch your favorite bands headlining summer music festivals, sample the latest creations from Chicago breweries at beer festivals or explore a different neighborhood at a street festival. There are even entire events devoted to some of the best burgers in Chicago and Chicago-style hot dogs. Feeling a little overwhelmed? We've assembled a month-by-month breakdown of our favorite summer festivals in Chicago—all you have to worry about is finding the time to visit as many of them as possible.

RECOMMENDED: Things to do in the summer in Chicago

Chicago summer festivals in July 2019

Argyle Night Market
Photograph: Dave Suarez
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Argyle Night Market

icon-location-pin Argyle St and Sheridan Rd, Uptown
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Each Thursday during the latter half of the summer, Argyle Street turns into a market featuring regional farmers, dishes from local restaurants and live performers. The fun takes place on the Argyle Streetscape between Kenmore and Sheridan, welcoming visitors to enjoy an evening of food, shopping and entertainment.

Chicago summer festivals in August 2019

Lagunitas Beer Circus
Photograph: Lagunitas Brewing Company
Things to do, Festivals

Lagunitas Beer Circus

icon-location-pin Douglas Park, North Lawndale
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The Chicago outpost of Lagunitas Brewing Company throws a Beer Circus in Douglas Park (the same place where Riot Fest is held), with more than 100 performers, two stages of live music, food trucks, games and more diversions. In addition to a menu that includes one-of-a-kind Lagunitas brews, you'll be able to take in burlesque, sideshow acts and aerialists.

Cider
Photograph: Pixabay
Things to do, Festivals

Tour de Cider

icon-location-pin Revel Fulton Market, West Loop
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Still trying to find your goto cider? You'll be able to narrow down a personal favorite among the more than 80 varities being sampled at Tour de Cider, including offerings from Stem, Virtue, Wild Tonic, B Nektar and Farmhaus as well as cideries based in Germany, France and the U.K. Each attendee will recieve 20 tasting tickets and access to several local food trucks, where you can buy some snacks to eat while you explore the cider lineup. Spring for early entrance tickets to get an extra hour of tastings.

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Taste of Greektown
Photograph: Courtesy Greektown Chicago
Things to do, Festivals

Taste of Greektown

icon-location-pin Halsted St and Van Buren Sts, Greektown
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Enjoy the feta, tzatziki, roasted chicken and more signature Mediterranean flavors at this three-day festival in Greektown, where you'll find lots of tasty dishes cooked by some of the neighborhood's most beloved restaurants. Stick around for performances from Greek and American bands, traditional Hellenic dancing and performances by the Jesse White Tumbling Team.

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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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 jam 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.

Lobster dinner
Photograph: Pixabay
Things to do, Festivals

The Great American Lobster Fest

icon-location-pin Navy Pier | Chicago, IL, Streeterville
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Navy Pier hosts a Labor Day weekend feast featuring mountains of fresh seafood flown in from the East Coast. At the Great American Lobster Festival, every attendee recieves a token that can be exhcanged for a 1.25-pound steamed red lobster or a lobster roll served with corn-on-the-cob, potatoes, a dinner roll, lemon wedges and melted butter. Once you're full, head to the stage, where you can catch live music all weekend. This year, the event is also introducing a Lobster Hero Feast for an additional fee, which includes all-you-can-eat lobster during a three-hour period at lunch or dinner.

Chicago summer festivals in September 2019

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.

Pierogi
Photograph: Pixabay
Things to do, Festivals

Taste of Polonia

icon-location-pin Copernicus Center, Jefferson Park
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Feast on potato pancakes, kielbasa, pierogi, blitzes and more at this annual Polish celebration during Labor Day weekend. Once you're full, stick around to take in performances from polka bands and tribute acts, explore photos of Polish Chicago between 1850 and 1939, watch traditional dance groups or enter a cow milking contest.

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Tour de Fat 2016
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Bike Revolution

icon-location-pin Humboldt Park Boathouse, Humboldt Park
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New Belgium Brewing's Tour de Fat event is taking a year off, so West Town Bikes is teaming up with Revolution Brewing to present a new beer and biking festival in its stead. It looks pretty familiar: there's a bik parade to kick off the day, plenty of cold beverages to enjoy, an appearance from local marching band Mucca Pazza and a stacked list of local musicians taking the stage throughout the afternoon. Soulful duo the O'My's headline the day's festivities, with support from singer/rapper/saxophonist Sen Morimoto, psych rock collective Glad Rags, poct-punk act Negative Scanner and synth-pop outfit Little Church. Proceeds from the event keep West Town Bikes' classes and youth programs rolling year-round.

Kveik Fest
Photograph: Courtesy District Brew Yards
Things to do, Festivals

Kveik Fest

icon-location-pin District Brew Yards, River West/West Town
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The inaugural beer festival at District Brew Yards explores a Norwegian farmhouse ale yeast called kveik that has recently become available to brewers in North America. A lineup of local breweries such as Burnt City, Penrose, Off Color, Marz and Illuminated Brew Works will be sampling their creations at the festival, giving attendees a chance to experience the various styles that benefit from the event's titular yeast. Plus, Norwegian beer expert Lars Marius Garshol will be in attedance to answer questions about kveik yeast and its various brewing applications. The event will take place in the District Brew Yards parking lot and each guest will recieve 20 drink tickets that can be redeemed for 3oz samples.

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Oktoberfest
Photograph: Pixabay
Things to do, Festivals

German-American Oktoberfest

icon-location-pin Western and Leland Aves, Lincoln Square
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Grab a plastic stein and munch on a pretzel at this annual Lincoln Square celebration of Deutschland heritage, which kicks off Oktoberfest season in Chicago. The street party takes place under two gigantic tents and features plenty of German food, music and dancing. Make sure to stop by to see the annual Von Steuben Parade march up Lincoln Avenue on Saturday, September 7 at 2pm.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Shopping, Markets and fairs

Renegade Craft Fair

icon-location-pin Division St between Damen Ave and Ashland Ave, Wicker Park
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Renegade Craft Fair's fall festival takes over Division Street in Wicker Park, where makers from across the nation will be selling their handmade art and wares, including jewelry, pottery, prints, T-shirts and more. When you're not browsing the offerings of more than 400 vendors, you'll enjoy food from local restaurants, cool drinks and hot tunes being spun by Chicago DJs.

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Music, Latin and world

World Music Festival

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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See musicians from India, Peru, France, South Africa, China and more locations around the globe at the annual World Music Festival, which stages a series of free concerts at venues throughout the city during the month of September. As usual, the festival kicks off with an overnight Ragamala concert at the Chicago Cultural Center, featuring 14 hours of classical music from India. Other highlights of this year's lineup include the ¡SÚBELO! concert in Millennium Park featuring acts from Peru, Puerto Rico and Mexico (Sept 14); Chinese rock, reggae and ska band MABANG! (Sept 20, 21) and Afropop artist Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited (Sept 28). The festival concludes at Navy Pier with a series of performances at the World Dumpling Fest on Sept 29. Friday, September 13–Saturday, September 14Ragamala – A Celebration of India Classical MusicChicago Cultural Center, 6pm–8am Saturday, September 14¡SÚBELO! – A Celebration of Pan Latin Music and CulturePirulo y la Tribu (Puerto Rico), Los Wembler’s de Iquitos (Peru), Centavrvs (Mexico)Jay Pritzker Pavilion, 3–7 pm Saturday, September 14Lucibela (Cape Verde), Girma Bèyènè and Akalé Wubé (Ethiopia, France, USA)The Promontory, 6pm Sunday, September 15Girma Bèyènè and Akalé Wubé (Ethiopia, France, USA), Khalil El’Zabar Ethnic Heritage Ensemble (Chicago)Constellation, 7pm Wednesday, September 18The Englewood/Soweto Exchange (Chicago, South Africa), Jeremy Dutcher (First Nation/Canada)Old Town School of Folk Music, 7pm Thursday, Sep

riot fest 2018
Photograph: Kate Scott
Music, Music festivals

Riot Fest

icon-location-pin Douglas Park, North Lawndale
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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. We don't know when the festival's lineup will be released—and you probably shouldn't ask the fest via Twitter, unless you're willing to be the subject of a biting retort.

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Kurt Vile and the Violators played to an enthusiastic crowd during an unexpectedly stormy Saturday at Pitchfork Music Festival, July 18, 2015.
Photograph: Hallie Duesenberg
Music, Music festivals

312 Block Party

icon-location-pin Goose Island Brewery, United Center
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Haven't made it to a bonafide Chicago block party yet this year? You'll get your chance to celebrate in the streets at Goose Island's annual end-of-the-summer soirée on the pavement outside of its Fulton Street brewery. The 312 Block Party brings together a stacked lineup of performers, food truck fare and plenty of beer (for just $3 a pop)—and your $10 donation at the gate supports local charities. On Friday, September 20, country-tinged singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis headlines the party, with support from Nashville balladeer Margo Price and actor-turned-musician Lola Kirke. Laid-back rocker Kurt Vile (whose set at July's Pitchfork Music Festival was rained out) tops the bill on Saturday, September 21, joined by D.C. punks Priests and soulful psych rockers the Budos Band. You'll also find local acts like Rookie, Cafe Racer, Dogs at Large, Ben Pirani, Manwolves, Roy Kinsey and Tatiana Hazel at the two-day fest. With so much great music and cheap beer on tap, the 312 Block Party usually fills up quickly, so we recommend arriving early (the fest's entrance is at Fulton St and Wolcott Ave) and have a few drinks while you wait for your favorite act to play.

Beer Hoptacular
Photograph: Courtesy Beer Hoptacular
Things to do, Festivals

BeerHoptacular

icon-location-pin Vertiport Chicago, Little Italy, UIC
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One of the Chicago's most expansive craft beer festivals sets up in a helicopter hanger this year, offering more than 150 different brews to taste over the course of an afternoon. The Beerhoptacular also features a homebrew competition and much more.

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