Chicago Summer Festivals

With distant memories of this year's grueling winter, Chicagoans can enjoy dozens of festivals from June through September in downtown and many neighborhoods.

29 photos
Kathleen Virginia Photography
Beautiful weather led to a beautiful day of music on the Saturday of Lollapalooza 2013. One of many highlights was The Lumineers' lead singer Wesley Schultz wading into the crowd to get up close to the fans. Rock on.
As Chicago settles into warm weather, sun-seekers can pick from dozens of festivals from June through September across the city to enjoy the summer months.
Riverwest Music Festival
nJuly 4th Weekend (Friday - Sunday)
nRiverwest Music Festival makes its Chicago debut over the July 4th weekend, showcasing the world’s finest in select electronic music along the shore of the Chicago River’s North Branch. Featuring many artists over three days –July 4, 5 and 6– from 11am until 10:30pm, the festival spans blocks of virgin riverfront property.
Windy City RibFest
nJuly 4-6 at Broadway and Lawrence
nWith local and international rib vendors, the three-day festival brings good barbecue and brew to Uptown. Festival goers can enjoy home-grown barbecue from the Chicago BBQ Co. or taste "barbies" from Aussom Aussie Australian BBQ.
Meredith Gregory
Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic
nJuly 5 at Jackson Park
nDuring the event dubbed the "Woodstock of House Music," Chicago's Chosen Few DJs reunite to celebrate the city's house music history. This year's event features legendary Chosen Few DJs including Mike Dunn, Terry Hunter and Tony Hatchett.
Cindy Barrymore
Taste of Chicago
nJuly 9-13 in Grant Park
nSince its inception on July 4, 1980, as a one-day food festival, the Taste of Chicago has put the city's culinary talent on display. While dining on delicacies in the 34th annual festival, attendees can listen to this year's headline performers including Janelle Monae, Gary Clark Jr., Aloe Blacc and Jeff Tweedy.
Irish American Heritage Festival
nJuly 11-13 at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave.
nThis three-day North Side festival brings Irish poetry, plays, art and culture to Chicago. More than 100 performers, including the Dublin City Ramblers, Derek Warfield and Young Wolfe Tones, take the fest's five stages.
Katie Karpowicz
West Fest
nJuly 12-13 on Chicago Avenue between Damen and Wood
nGrowing from one small street party to one of Chicago's most popular summer festivals, the West Fest features live BMX bike demonstrations, a roller rink accompanied by the Windy City Rollers and array of fun activities for kids. Musical guests include Chicago School of Rock, Pink Avalanche and Turn to Crime.
Taste of River North
nJuly 18-20 at Ward Park
nSince 2002, this riverfront festival illuminates the best food and drink offered in the River North neighborhood. The three-day fest features tributes to popular bands such as Led Zeppelin, No Doubt, Weezer and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Cindy Barrymore
Pitchfork Music Festival
July 18-20 in Union Park
nSince 2006, this independent music festival has highlighted emerging bands and artists. Among more than 40 acts performing at the three-day fest, this year's headliners include Kendrick Lamar, Beck, Grimes and Schoolboy Q.
Chicago Craft Beer Festival
nJuly 19-20 on Sheffield Avenue between Webster and Fullerton
nDuring one of the city's premier beer gatherings, brew aficionados can enjoy booze from more than 30 breweries in Illinois and around the U.S. including Samuel Adams Brewing Co., Two Brother's Brewing Co. and Goose Island Brewery.
Sheffield Garden Walk & Music Festival
nJuly 19-20 at Sheffield & Webster Avenues
nThis Sheffield neighborhood festival serves up lush garden tours and views of Chicago's renowned architecture. In addition to observing some of the city's historic buildings and beautiful gardens, attendees can enjoy food, drink and live entertainment and activities for the kids.
Chinatown Summer Fair
n July 20 at Wentworth Avenue from Cermak Road to 24th Place
nWith a Lion Dance Procession, martial arts, Chinese classical dance and music, the 36th annual fair blends old and new culture.
Marcus Riley
Wicker Park Fest
n July 26-27 at North and Milwaukee avenues
nWicker Park Fest is considered one of the top neighborhood fests in the city. More than 25,000 people cram Milwaukee Avenue to enjoy music on three stages, food and merchandise, along with a kids area that offers a petting zoo and face painting.
Leah Mennies
Bud Biliken Parade & Picnicn Aug. 9 at Washington Park
nNamed after the nickname of the late Chicago Defender Jr. editor Robert Watkins, the Bud Billiken Parade hits Chicago's South Side Aug. 9. Chicago Defender founder Robert Sengstacke Abbott created the parade to put talented, underprivileged youth in the spotlight.
Getty Images
Retro on Roscoe
nAug. 9 on Roscoe Street
nThis two-day event rolls through Roscoe Village to showcase more than 50 antique, classic and muscle cars. Along with the old-school wheels, festival attendees can enjoy live throwback hits on the festivals three stages.
Annie Potasznik
Slow & Low: Community Lowrider Festival
n Aug. 8 at the Chicago Urban Art Society, 600 W. Cermak Road
nThis festival is billed as the only lowrider community fest in Chicago that brings bike and car clubs from across the Midwest to Pilsen. In addition to cruising in Pilsen, the festival features films, live entertainment, activities for kids and an award ceremony honoring fellow lowriders.
Festa Italiana
nAug. 14 - 17 at Ashland Avenue and Taylor Street
nTo celebrate Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood and all things Italian, the fifth annual fest features a meatball eating contest, grape stomping, carnival rides, cooking courses, DJs and rock bands. Musical guests perform tributes to legendary talents like The Rat Pack, the Three Tenors and Bon Jovi.
Cindy Barrymore
Chicago Air & Water Show
n Aug. 16-17 at North Avenue Beach
nWhat began in 1959 with an $88 budget has since expanded into one the largest free air-and-water exhibitions in the country, drawing about 2.2 million people annually. Beach goers can gaze at the U.S. Army, Navy and civilian teams as they perform daredevil aerial tricks above Lake Michigan.
Chicago Fashion Fest
nAug. 23-24 at 1725 W. Division St.
nWith a broad showcase of Chicago models and clothing, the Chicago Fashion Fest brings the runway to Wicker Park. Attendees can gaze at summer and fall fashions from local designers, boutiques and artists.
Chris Shields
North Coast Music Festival
nAug. 29-31 at Union Park.
nThis fifth annual festival merges electronic, hip-hop, indie rock, rap and more genres into one three-day festival at Union Park. Talent ranges from up-and-coming acts to big name artists such as Autobody, Snoop Dogg and Kid Cudi.
Hideout Block Party & Onion A.V. Fest
nSept. 5-6 at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave.
nThe Hideout, one of Chicago's most historic bars, and The Onion A.V. Club, the art and entertainment wing of The Onion, have joined forces to present this two-day music festival in the Riverwest neighborhood. This year's performers include Death Cab for Cutie, The War on Drugs and Sylvan Esso.
John Audley
Guinness Oyster Fest
nSept. 6 at Damen Avenue and Roscoe Street
nContrary to the festival's name, this post-Labor Day fest serves up a variety of seafood during its 16th year in Roscoe Village. Past festivals have gathered musical talent from the U.S., Ireland and the U.K. This year's lineup is loaded with Chicago-based artists.
Riot Fest
nSept. 12 -14 at Humboldt Park
nAfter wrapping up in Toronto, Riot Fest heads to Humboldt Park with a lineup of fresh and established artists including Taking Back Sunday, Weezer, Cheap Trick, Pussy Riot and Wu-Tang Clan. What started in Chicago in 2005 has grown into a multi-city tour with a collection of diverse rock, alternative and hip-hop artists.
Sam Adams' Lakeview Taco Fest
n Sept. 20-21 at Newport and Southport Avenues
nBringing with it professional wrestlers from Lucha Libre pro wrestling collective, this festival joins the lineup of food fests here in Chicago. Festival goers can vote for Chicago's "Best Taco" and taste tacos from local restaurants.
Design Harvest Fest
nSept. 20-21 on Grand Avenue
nSet in Chicago's "Design District," this West Town festival is billed as being one of few contemporary home and garden design gatherings in the city. Along with live music during the event, festival goers can enjoy wine, craft beer and food from local restaurants and vendors. Before the festival officially kicks off this year, Chicago Magazine's Chairs for Charity auctions eurofurniture on Sept. 19.
Riverwest Music Festival
nJuly 4-July 6 at Elston Avenue and Division Street
nThough this festival debuts this year, it already boasts a lineup of more than 40 emerging artists and bands including Apollonia and Lauren Lane. Festival goers can enjoy three days chock full of fresh music along Chicago's riverfront.
Kathleen Virginia Photography
Square Roots Festival
n July 11 - 13 on Lincoln Avenue between Montrose Avenue and Wilson Street
nTwo outdoor and indoor stages equipped with more than 60 acts sets this Lincoln Square festival apart. While enjoying the vast music lineup, attendees can taste more than 30 craft beers and take dance lessons.
Alex Matthews
Chicago Jazz Festival
n Aug. 28 - 31 at Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.
nFollowing the death of legendary jazz musician Duke Ellington in 1974, several dozen local musicians gathered to play in what is now known as the Chicago Jazz Festival. Chicago's jazz talent, along with international and national artists, are brought to downtown Chicago for the four-day fest.
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