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Chicago summer festivals guide

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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Once the weather in Chicago starts warming up, the streets fill with people and the city's summer festival season gets started. Looking for things to do this weekend? May through September, there’s more than likely a festival for that. Whether you want to dance the night away to live music, hunt down the most impeccable burger in Chicago or taste as many local brews as possible, these summer fests have something for you. Don't get too stuffed though, because these Chicago summer festivals offer some of the best, and most worldly food available all year long. So what’re you waiting for?

RECOMMENDED: Things to do in the summer in Chicago



Chicago summer festivals in May 2019

Chicago Beer Classic
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Beer Classic
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Beer Classic

icon-location-pin Soldier Field | Chicago, IL, Museum Campus
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Enjoy the best beer Chicago and the Midwest have to offer while sampling brews from more than 80 participating breweries, including local standbys and national favorites such as Half Acre, Dovetail, Whiner and more. Attendees receive 48 two-ounce samples, as well as access to exclusive beers, activities and interactive learning opportunities to get better educated about the beer-making process. Beer drinkers are also able to cast their votes for the best beer of the day, with the winning beverage receiving the Most Valuable Brew award. Ticket prices for this fest will rise as the event draws closer.

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Photograph: Tessa Marshall
Things to do, Festivals

Kids and Kites Festival

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park Cricket Hill, Uptown
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Celebrate the arrival of spring at this free, outdoor family-friendly festival at Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park, where kids can fly a kite or watch professional demonstrations. Free paper kites will be provided, but families will also be able to purchase more intricate flying creations from a variety of vendors.

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Holiday shoppers browsed a selection of handmade goods at the Renegade Craft Fair, December 5, 2015.
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Shopping, Markets and fairs

Renegade Craft Fair

icon-location-pin Halsted St and 18th St, Lower West Side
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Renegade Craft Fair's first visit of the year (the market will be back in September and December) heads outdoors in Pilsen, 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 180 vendors, you'll enjoy food from local restaurants, cool drinks and hot tunes being spun by Chicago DJs.

Beer Under Glass, held at the Garfield Park Conservatory, kicked off 2015 Chicago Craft Beer Week.
Photograph: Max Herman
Things to do, Festivals

Beer Under Glass

icon-location-pin Garfield Park Conservatory | Chicago, IL, East Garfield Park
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Illinois Craft Beer Week kicks off with this annual event at Garfield Park Conservatory, where you can sample some of the finest ales and lagers from local and national breweries amid a sea of foliage. If you're trying to narrow down your list of Craft Beer Week events, this is a good place to separate the worthwhile breweries from the ones you'll save for your next trip to Binny's. Tickets include samples from each of the brewers in attendance and access to grub from local food trucks.

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Things to do, Festivals

Food Truck Social at Lincoln Park Zoo

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park Zoo | Chicago, IL, Lincoln Park
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Dig into tacos, grilled cheese, doughnuts, pierogis and more at this annual feast hosted by the Lincoln Park Zoo. A $10 ticket gives you access to dozens of local food trucks, including Aztec Dave's, Cheesie's, Piegogi Wagon, Harold's Chicken and the Roaming Hog.

Buckingham Fountain
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
Things to do, Quirky events

Switch on Summer

icon-location-pin Grant Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
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Celebrate the arrival of summer a few weeks early at ComEd's annual season-changing ritual, which culminates with Buckingham Fountain being turned on at 2pm. Meteorologist Tom Skilling hosts the party, with live music from local cover band Sixteen Candles.

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Chicago Zine Fest
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Zine Fest
Things to do, Literary events

Chicago Zine Fest

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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If you don't see the magazines and comics you want to read in the world, why not create ‘em yourself? At Chicago Zine Fest, makers of DIY publications gather for three days of sharing knowledge, stories and enthusiasm for handmade art. On Thursday and Friday, attendees can gather at DePaul University, Quimby's Bookstore and the Cards Against Humanity Theater to attend readings, panels and a zine quiz show. On Saturday, the festivities move to the Plumbers Union Hall, where creators from across the country will be selling homemade books, comics, magaziners, posters and more.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Things to do, Festivals

Lincoln Park Wine Fest

icon-location-pin Jonquil Park, Sheffield & DePaul
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With four sessions to choose from, the annual Lincoln Park Wine Fest offers a chance to unwind and enjoy the warm spring weather with a glass of vino in your hand. Attendees recieve 12 tasting tickets to use throughout their session, choosing from a selection of sparkling wines, whites, reds and roses. There's also a lineup of mellow live music (no ‘80s rock cover bands here) and food to pair with your favorite glass of wine.

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Mayfest
Photograph: Courtesy Star Events
Things to do, Festivals

Mayfest

icon-location-pin 3100 N Ashland Ave, Lake View
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Head to Lakeview to kick off street festival season beneath a gigantic big-top tent, stocked with food and plenty of beverages. The music lineup at this year's Mayfest features all the cover acts you'll be seeing at fests throughout the summer, including Sixteen Candles, Too White Crew and Rod Tuffcurls and the Bench Press.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Music, Dance and electronic

Chicago House Music Festival

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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Chicago is the birthplace of house music, so it stands to reason that the city hosts a festival celebrating the homegrown genre. The Chicago House Music Festival brings DJs and musicians to Millennium Park for a daylong dance party, showcasing the various genre styles that have developed since house was popularized in local nightclubs in the early ’80s. This year, London R&B, soul and house band Reel People makes its Chicago debut with a headlining set, joined by New York DJ Tony Humphries and local acts like Gene Hunt, Mark Grusane and First Lady. The festival will also host a conference at the Chicago Cultural Center on Thursday, May 23 and a performance in Millennium Park on Friday, May 24.

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Chicago summer festivals in June 2019

Music, Classical and opera

Chicago Gospel Music Festival

icon-location-pin Millennium Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
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The city's annual celebration of gospel music welcomes national touring acts and up-and-coming local talent to Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center for two days of uplifting songs and hymns.

ACTIVATE
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Loop Alliance
Things to do, Quirky events

ACTIVATE

icon-location-pin Various locations throughout Chicago,
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Chicago Loop Alliance's pop-up party series returns to alleys and other unexpected downtown locations this summer, giving you a good reason to hang out on a street after work. Joining the city's celebration of the Chicago Year of Theater, all four ACTIVATE events will be centered around the local performing arts community, including drag performers, lighting designers, stage decorators, comedians and circus acts. The location of each party is typically announced a few weeks before the event takes place. Don't forget to RSVP for ACTIVATE to receive a complimentary drink ticket (good for beer, wine or cocktails) when you show up.

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Chicago Blues Festival 2017
Photograph: Max Herman
Music, Music festivals

Chicago Blues Festival

icon-location-pin Millennium Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
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Chicago honors its legacy as a city filled with 12-bar melodies by hosting the world's largest blues music festival, bringing living legends and local players to Millennium Park for a three-day celebration. This year's lineup of headlining acts includes “King of the Chitlin' Circuit” Bobby Rush, soul singer-songwriter Bettye LaVette and gospel blues singer Ruthie Foster. Snag a spot on the lawn to secure a great view of the always-packed evening performances at Pritzker Pavilion, or stroll through the park to catch sets from local musicians on the Blue Festival side stages.

Spring Awakening Music Festival 2016, Friday
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
Music, Music festivals

Spring Awakening Music Festival

icon-location-pin Sears Centre, Suburbs
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Chicago's largest EDM festival returns each June, armed with some of the biggest DJs and electronic acts in the world. This year, Spring Awakening takes over Poplar Creek at 59-90 Entertainment District in Hoffman Estates (just west of the Sears Centre), welcoming a slate of headliners that includes DJ Snake, Zedd, Martin Garrix, Rezz, Griz and DJ Illenium. If endless bass drops, pyrotechnics and high-tech light shows are your cup of lukewarm beer, Spring Awakening is the place to kick off summer festival season.

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Things to do, Festivals

Craft Brews at the Zoo

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park Zoo | Chicago, IL, Lincoln Park
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Head to Lincoln Park Zoo for this after-hours tasting event, featuring beers, food pairings, live DJs and prime views of the venue's animal residents. This year, attendees can choose from two evening sessions, each offering more than 120 craft beers to taste. If you've ever wanted to drink a beer within eyeshot of a rhinoceros, this is the place to make your dreams come true.

Taste of Randolph
Photograph: Courtesy Star Events
Things to do, Festivals

Taste of Randolph

icon-location-pin 900 W Randolph St, Downtown
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Taking place on the same street occupied by some of Chicago's best-known restaurants, this West Loop fest boasts six blocks of food, drinks and music. You'll find food from more than 16 restaurants (on Randolph Street and beyond) being served as well as two stages packed with performances throughout the day. This year's lineup include indie rockers Real Estate. R&B act Anderson East, synth-pop duo Holy Ghost!, Vulfpeck guitarist Cory Wong and New York rockers Cults. Donations made at the entrance to the festival support the West Loop Community Organization.

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Windy City LakeShake Country Music Festival, June 20, 2015 at Northerly Island, Chicago.
Photographer: cousindaniel.com
Music, Folk, country and blues

Country LakeShake Festival

icon-location-pin Huntington Bank Pavilion, Downtown
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Country music doesn't get a lot of love on major Chicago summer music festival lineups, but the annual Country LakeShake gives cowboy hat-wearing fans a place to see some of the favorite Nashville stars. Taking place at the Huntington Bank Pavilion on Northerly Island, this year's edition of the county fest features headlining sets from Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban and Luke Bryan. Props to whoever programmed the event's Friday lineup, which is almost exclusively made up of female artists, including Maren Morris (who provided the vocals for Zedd's hit "The Middle") and American Idol runner-up Lauren Alaina.

Chicago Pride Parade 2018
Photograph: Jordan Avery
LGBT

Pride in the Park: Iggy Azalea + Steve Aoki

icon-location-pin Grant Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
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This year marks the 50th anniversary of LGBTQ Pride celebrations in Chicago and the city is observing the occassion with a gigantic one-day festival in Grant Park. On the Saturday before the Chicago Pride Parade on the city's North Side, Pride in the Park will bring revelers to the Loop for an entire afternoon of performances and entertainment. Australian rapper Iggy Azelea and EDM cake-thrower Steve Aoki headline the the festival, joined by R&B singer (and reality TV star) Tamar Braxton and Kathy Sledge of disco group Sister Sledge. Plus, Ru Paul's Drag Race contestants like Shea Coulee, Alexis Michelle and Coco Montrese will also be appearing at the fest, which will take over Bulter Field north of Buckingham Fountain. A portion of proceeds from the event will benefit local organizations like the Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Center on Halsted and Stonewall Sports.

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Logan Square Arts Festival
Photograph: Christopher Dilts
Things to do, Festivals

Logan Square Arts Festival

icon-location-pin Illinois Centennial Monument, Logan Square
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Each summer, stages, tents and food trucks spring up around the Illinois Centennial Monument for a weekend that celebrates local art, food, beer and music. The Logan Square Arts Festival is one of the neighborhood's most beloved events and a reminder of the importance of community in an area of the city where demographics are changing as rapidly as new condos and high-rises can be built. In addition to a full slate of local artists, printers and makers, this year's festival will feature sets from Philadelphia rockers Hop Along, New Zealand indie-pop group the Beths, Brooklyn electronic act Future Generations and more.

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