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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 August 2019

lollapalooza 2018
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
Music, Music festivals

Lollapalooza

icon-location-pin Grant Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
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Taking over the fields of Grant Park for four days each summer, Lollapalooza is a behemoth of a music festival, welcoming an estimated 100,000 attendees to a sea of stages, brand activations and concession stands set beneath the beating sun. This year, pop princess Ariana Grande, rapper Childish Gambino, alt-rock duo Twenty One Pilots, rockers the Strokes, psych act Tame Impala and EDM hit-makers the Chainsmokers headline the main stages. Some people come for the music, some come for the people-watching and others come to get drunk on a blanket in the middle of a field—there's no wrong way to Lolla.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Hot Dog Fest

icon-location-pin Stockton Dr and LaSalle Dr, Loop
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The Chicago History Museum organizes this celebration of one of the city's most famous dishes, serving creative franks from some of our favorite hot dog stands. While you're chowing down on neon green relish and sport peppers, you can listen to live music or attend a lecture that will teach you about the history of the Chicago-style hot dog.

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Festival Cubano
Photograph: Courtesy Festival Cubano
Things to do, Festivals

Festival Cubano

icon-location-pin Riis Park, Belmont Cragin
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Back in Riis Park, the three-day Festival Cubano brings together musicians, dancers and food for a weekend of cultural celebration. Begin by checking out the festival's more than 30 Cuban vendors, who will be serving dishes such as jibarito sandwiches, ropa vieja, lechón and tostones. Once you're full, play a game of dominos, shop for hand-rolled cigars, watch boxing matches or catch a performance from Cuban musicians.

Photograph: G Nagata
Things to do, Festivals

Ginza Holiday Festival

icon-location-pin Midwest Buddhist Temple, Lincoln Park
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Celebrate Japanese culture, food and entertainment at the annual Ginza Holiday Festival. Meet and buy crafts from master craftsmen (called Waza), who will be flown in from Tokyo to share their skills. Live martial arts, Taiko drumming, ukulele performances, classical dances and Japanese food (teriyaki, sushi, Spam musubi, Hawaiian shave ice and more) give Chicagoans a taste of Japan.

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Northalsted Market Days
Photograph: Kaitlin Hetterscheidt
Things to do, Festivals

Northalsted Market Days

icon-location-pin Halsted and Roscoe Sts, Boystown
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Northalsted Market Days is the largest two-day street festival in the Midwest, welcoming 100,000 to the streets of Boystown for an LGBTQ-friendly summer celebration. Headlining acts at this year's fest include former Prince collaborator Sheila E., "Don't Let Me Down" singer Daya and Swedish pop duo Icona Pop. When you're not dancing in the streets, you can chow down on fried foods, shop for colorful local goods or head to an afterparty at a nearby club.

Retro on Roscoe
Photograph: Courtesy Retro on Roscoe
Things to do, Festivals

Retro on Roscoe

icon-location-pin Damen Ave and Roscoe St, North Center
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Antique vendors and classic cars fill six blocks of Roscoe Village at this throwback street market, where everything old is new again. The music lineup is usually equally nostalgic, featuring tribute acts that perform hits from the ‘80s and ‘90s.

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The Big North
Photograph: Courtesy Half Acre
Things to do, Festivals

The Big North

icon-location-pin Half Acre Brewery Balmoral, Lincoln Square
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Half Acre Beer Company throws its annual bash at its expansive Balmoral Brewery, welcoming guests into its taproom, production space and patio to enjoy drinks, music and more. This year's event will feature more than 60 beers, including wyld varieties, barrel-aged brews and some never-before-seen creations. Los Angeles psych-rock outfit the Allah-Las, garage rockers the Cowboys and local quartet Skip Church provide the live soundtrack for the evening, accompanied by some interactive experiences and surprises. Tickets include a tasting glass, koozie and one food token that can be redeemed at the festival.

North Avenue Beach was the perfect place to watch aerial acrobatics at the Chicago Air and Water Show on August 15, 2015.
Photograph: Anthony Soave
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Air and Water Show

icon-location-pin North Avenue Beach, Lincoln Park
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Don't be surprised if you get a neck ache from looking up during this two-day event. Join throngs of people at North Beach and surrounding areas to catch air and watercraft demonstrations, including the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the Royal Air Force Red Arrows and the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights.

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Sangria Festival Chicago
Photograph: Courtesy Sangria Festival Chicago
Things to do, Festivals

Sangria Festival Chicago

icon-location-pin Humboldt Park, Humboldt Park
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Humboldt Park transforms into an outdoor tapas bar during this boozy bash, which pairs bites from local restaurants with pitchers of red wine and chopped fruit. Lay our a blanket to sip sangria on the lawn, put color on a canvas at the festival's painting station or watch flamenco dancers sway to Spanish music.

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

Mamby on the Beach

icon-location-pin Montrose Beach, Uptown
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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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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.

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, Downtown
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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.

Photograph: Courtesy of Smack Shack
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. Each attendee recieves 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.

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.

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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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.

The annual Chicago Gourmet festival features tastings, cookoffs, book signings and more.
Photograph: Max Herman
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Gourmet

icon-location-pin Millennium Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
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The annual three-day festival kicks off Friday with its Hamburger Hop throwdown, where you can taste creative patties cooked by a stacked lineup of chefs. On Saturday and Sunday, Millennium Park hosts the Grand Tasting event, filling the Great Lawn with cooking demos, tasting pavilions and a wine sampling. This year's event features local celebs such as Diana Dávila, Joe Flamm, Rick Bayless and more.

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