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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.

Things to do, Festivals

artfest Michigan Avenue

icon-location-pin Tribune Tower, Streeterville
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Looking to add some new fine art to your apartment this summer? You'll find 65 juried artists exhibiting their work at this annual art show, which takes place at the foot of the historic Tribune Tower. Stop by the two-day fest, shop around and see if you can find something worth exhibiting in your personal (home) gallery.

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Photograph: Anat Ronen
Art, Outdoor art

Chalk Howard Street

icon-location-pin Howard St and Paulina St, Evanston
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The surface of Howard Street will become a canvas for 3D chalk artists and local street artists at Chalk Howard Street, a festival devoted to art scrawled on pavement. Artists Anat Ronen and Nate Baranowski will reate murals that function as optical illusions, allowing guests to take photos with superheroes and characters that appear to be crawling out of the ground. The free one-day event in Rogers Park will also feature live music, entertainment, food and drinks, as well as plenty of opportunities to snap a mind-blowing shot for your Instagram feed.

Photograph: Josh Salacup on Unsplash
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Water Lantern Festival

icon-location-pin Humboldt Park, Humboldt Park
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Humboldt Park's lagoon will be illuminated with thousands of floating paper lanterns during the Chicago Water Lantern Festival, which brings live music, food truck and a photogenic spectacle to the West Side park. Each ticket to the event includes a floating rice paper lantern that you can decorate with a maker before releasing it into the water (don't worry, organizers will be retreiving all of the lanterns after the event is over).

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Los Comales
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Things to do, Festivals

Tacos y Tamales Festival

icon-location-pin 16th St and Peoria St, Lower West Side
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This three-day Pilsen food festival takes its inspiration from the Tianguis, a traditional Mexican and Central American bazaar. As its name suggests, guests are invited to sample plenty of tacos and tamales, prepared by authentic local restaurants. Between bites, cruise vendor stalls, sip a cold one inside the Modelo beer garden and dance to live Latin music.

Things to do, Festivals

BenFest

icon-location-pin St. Benedict's Parish, North Center
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This annual benefit thrown by St. Benedict Parish in North Center is one of the city's premiere family-friendly fests, stocked with inflatables, a waterslide, basketball, Skee Ball and a plenty of other activities for the kids. Adults can enjoy live music, food from local restaurants and a relaxing afternoon spent in the shadow of the parish's steeple.

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Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Craft Beer Festival

icon-location-pin Lincoln Ave at Addison St., North Center
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If the foamy, flat macrobrewed suds served in a plastic cup that most street festivals serve aren't your idea of a good time, head to Lakeview's celebration of craft beer. You'll find more than 70 local, regional and national craft beers from 35 brewers on offer at this event. Purchase tickets before making your way to the tasting area each day from 1–8pm—each ticket is good for one 3 ounce sample of beer.

ComplexCon
Photograph: Courtesy ComplexCon
Things to do, Conventions

ComplexCon

icon-location-pin McCormick Place, Museum Campus
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Calling all hype beasts! Pop culture publication Complex is bringing a new edition of its ComplexCon event (which has previously taken place in Long Beach, California) to Chicago, with more than 100 brands, a lineup of performers and stacked selection of restaurants in tow. Attendees will be able to snag exclusive merchendice from the likes of Puma and Champion, as well as local streetwear makers like Joe Freshgoods and Jugrnaut (though you'll likely have to spring for early admission to cop the most sought-after drops). Rapper Schoolboy Q and singer Ella Mai headline the convention's live music lineup, while influential designers, musicians and chefs will take the stage for in-depth panels.

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pitchfork 2018
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Music, Music festivals

Pitchfork Music Festival

icon-location-pin Union Park, West Loop
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Curated by tastemaking music publication Pitchfork, this summer music festival typically boasts performances from the most of-the-moment acts. Taking place in Union Park, this year's lineup features headlining sets from pop-rock trio HAIM, Swedish electro-pop star Robyn and Motown R&B legends the Isley Brothers. The rest of the bill is equally exciting, featuring acts like Stereolab, Charli XCX, Pusha-T, Mavis Staples and Kurt Vile. With only three stages set amid a small park, it's easy to move around the fest and see all of your favorites while discovering some new music along the way. While you're there, don't forget to snag a souvenir from the record fair and sample some of the Chicago cuisine being cooked by local restaurants.

Silver Room Block Party
Photograph: Christopher Dylan Andrew
Things to do, Festivals

Silver Room Block Party

icon-location-pin Silver Room, Hyde Park
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Don't want to deal with the crowds in Union Park? Head to Hyde Park where cultural storefront the Silver Room is organizes an expansive block party, complete with three outdoor stages in addition to performances at businesses and venues throughout the neighborhood. In addition to live music, local food and plenty of libations, this year's block party also features a roller skating rink (soundtracked by a lineup of DJs) and basketball tournaments.

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Photograph: Kaitlin Hetterscheidt
Things to do, Festivals

Chinatown Summer Fair

icon-location-pin Wentworth Ave and Cermak Rd, Armour Square
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Chinatown celebrates the arrival of summer at this annual event, featuring food, art and music. The festival opens with a traditional lion dance procession and continues with performances, kung fu demonstrations and cuisine from Chinatown restaurants.

Things to do, Festivals

Taste of River North

icon-location-pin Ward Park at N. Kingsbury and W. Erie,
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River North may not have as many culinary institutions as neighborhoods like the West Loop, but there are some good eats to be found in the area—and you'll be able to try a lot of it at this tasty gathering of local eateries. While you're digesting, you'll enjoy tunes from local cover bands and plenty of beverages.

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Photograph: Courtesy South Loop Beer & Cider Fest
Things to do, Festivals

South Loop Beer & Cider Fest

icon-location-pin Chicago Women's Park and Gardens, Near South Side
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Head to the South Loop for an afternoon of beer and cider samples served in Chicago Women's Park. featuring more than 100 beverages provided by some of the region's most popular breweries and cideries. The outdoor festival also welcomes a lineup of Chicago food trucks and live performances from local musicians. All proceeds from the festival will benefit Chicago Women's Park and Gardens.

Bantu Fest
Photograph: Courtesy Bantu Fest
Things to do, Festivals

Bantu Fest

icon-location-pin Midway Plaisance Park, Hyde Park
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The annual Bantu Fest prides itself on bringing people, cuisine and culture from more than 30 different countries together for a two-celebration of Chicago's (and the world's) diversity. When you're not sampling tantalizing dishes from around the globe, you can take in sets from local musicians and enjoy the sights during a summer afternoon on Midway Plaisance.

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Photograph: Chris Litwin
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Margarita Festival

icon-location-pin Navy Pier | Chicago, IL, Streeterville
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For one weekend each summer, Navy Pier's margarita options extend well beyond what's offered at Jimmy Buffett's joint. A selection of Chicago bars and restaurants mix their finest tequila-filled concoctions during two sessions of tipsy revelry along Lake Michigan. Our advice: Ride the Ferris wheel before you pour a bunch of sugary drinks into your body.

Fiesta del Sol
Photograph: Max Herman
Things to do, Festivals

Fiesta del Sol

icon-location-pin Cermak Rd and Loomis St, Lower West Side
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One of the largest Latino fests in the Midwest returns to the heart of Pilsen, brings a carnival, delicious food from local vendors and a lineup of traditional music to the neighborhood's streets. Unlike many other summer festivals, Fiesta del Sol is a proudly booze and tobacco-free event, making it ideal for families.

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Taste of Lincoln Avenue
Photograph: Courtesy Taste of Lincoln Avenue
Things to do, Festivals

Taste of Lincoln Avenue

icon-location-pin Lincoln Ave between Fullerton and Wrightwood Aves, Sheffield & DePaul
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Local restaurants bring their most famous dishes outside for two days of tastings at this Lincoln Park street festival. You'll find more than 250 vendors lining Lincoln Avenue, including area businesses and eateries, as well as four stages of live music and a kids carnival area stocked with activities, face painting, games and more. Don't forget to swing by the Lill Street Craft Fair, which showcases DIY crafts and handmade art.

Wicker Park Fest 2017
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
Things to do, Festivals

Wicker Park Fest

icon-location-pin Milwaukee Ave between North Ave and Paulina St, Suburbs
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Wicker Park may be overrun with chain restaurants, boutiques and shoe stores, but the neighborhood still clears out Milwaukee Avenue for a street celebration each summer. The main attraction of the annual fest is the music lineup, which features sets from neo-soul outfit Durand Jones & The Indications, West Coast rockers Wavves, cinematic folk band Murder By Death and New Jersey punks Screaming Females. You'll also find plenty of delicious food, sales at local shops, daily fashion shows and twentysomethings watching the festivities from precarious perches on rooftops, balconies and fire escapes.

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.

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