Ultimate 2015 Guide to Fall Festivals and Events in Chicago Area

Labor Day is over, which means fall festivals and events have begun to pop up around the Chicago area.

Take a look at our ultimate guide to the biggest festivals and events happening from Sept. 11 through the end of November.


Shaw's Oyster Fest
When: Sept. 11
Where: Shaw's Crab House, Hubbard and Rush
Hours: 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Admission: $30
What It's About: Enjoy live music from headliner St. Lucia while drinking craft beer and eating oysters from the best seafood restaurants around the country.

Windy City Wine Festival
When: Sept. 11-12
Where: Buckingham Fountain
Hours: 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 2:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday
Admission: $35 in advance, $45 at the door
What It's About: Taste wines from a sample of more than 300 varieties from around the world and learn from experts in wine seminars and cooking demonstrations.

Lakeview East Festival of the Arts
When: Sept. 11-13
Where: North Broadway Street from Belmont to Hawthorne
Hours: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
Admission: Free
What It's About: More than 150 artists will showcase their paintings, sculptures, photography, furniture, jewelry and more for sale in the dynamic Lakeview East neighborhood.

Riot Fest
When: Sept. 11-13
Where: Douglas Park
Hours: Gates open at 11 a.m.
Admission: Price varies
What It's About: The three-day festival, now in its 10th year, features some of the best punk, rock, alternative, metal and hip-hop bands.

Chicago German-American Festival
When: Sept. 11-13
Where: 4700 N. Lincoln Ave.
Hours: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday
Admission: Free
What It's About: The 92nd annual festival in the Lincoln Square neighborhood features German music, entertainment, food and a parade.

World Music Festival
When: Sept. 11-22
Where: Various locations, including Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center
Hours: Varies by day and venue
Admission: Free
What It's About: This year's performers include Red Baraat, Ester Rada, Dos Santos Anti-Beat Orquests and Orlando Julius. In the last 17 years, more than 650 artists and ensembles from more than 80 countries have performed at the festival.

Andersonville City Made Fest
When: Sept. 12-13
Where: Clark Street, between Argyle and Carmen
Hours: 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission: $5 suggested donation to benefit the Andersonville Development Corporation and eco-Andersonville
What It's About: Sample craft beer, food and music all from Chicago as well as shop for local artisan crafts in the Andersonville neighborhood.

Festival de la Villita
When: Sept. 11-13
Where: 2600 S. Kostner Ave.
Hours: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Admission: Free, but additional cost for carnival rides
What It's About: The annual festival in the city's Little Village neighborhood celebrates Mexico's independence from Spanish rule. Carnival rides, music, entertainment, arts and crafts and food from nearly 25 restaurants in the neighborhood will be available.

Fall Crawl: A Girl's Shopping Weekend
When: Sept. 17-20
Where: Shops in downtown Glen Ellyn
Hours: Promotions all weekend; fashion show luncheons at A Toda Madre at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursday
Admission: $30 for the luncheon
What It's About: Join your girlfriends for four days of grand openings, creative demos, wine tastings, birthday celebrations, trunk shows and special promotions for shopping and dining in downtown Glen Ellyn.

Oak Park Oaktoberfest
When: Sept. 18-19
Where: Marion Street and North Boulevard in Oak Park
Hours: 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday
Admission: Free
What It's About: Enjoy music, fall-themed food from local restaurants, craft beer and a kids' root beer garden.

Evanston Art and Big Fork Festival
When: Sept. 18-20
Where: 800 Church Street in downtown Evanston
Hours: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Admission: Free
What It's About: The inaugural Evanston festival celebrates local art and "flavorful fare," with live music, beer and wine. 

Renegade Craft Fair
When: Sept. 19-20
Where: Division Street in Wicker Park, between Damen and Paulina
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: Free
What It's About: Shop for handmade crafts and participate in DIY workshops with some of the best and brightest of the "Maker" community.

Sam Adams Lakeview Taco Fest
When: Sept. 19-20
Where: Southport, between Addison and Roscoe
Hours: 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Admission: Free
What It's About: Sample tacos from various local vendors and drink Sam Adams beer on tap while listening to local musical acts.

Ravenswood ArtWalk
When: Sept. 19-20
Where: Along Ravenswood Avenue, between Grace and Lawrence; artist market located at Ravenswood Avenue and Berteau
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: $5
What It's About: Gather in Ravenwood for a tour of the arts and industry, as several artists showcase their work and several musicians give on-stage performances.

Vintage Illinois Wine Festival
When: Sept. 19-20
Where: Matthiessen State Park in North Utica
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $20 for advance tickets, $25 for tickets at the door. Designated drivers pay $5.
What It's About: This wine festival is a little further out from the Chicago area, but it may be worth the drive. Festival-goers can sample wine from 25 Illinois vineyards while listening to live music at a beautiful state park, located near Starved Rock Nature Preserve.

Chicago Gourmet
When: Sept. 25-27
Where: Millennium Park
Hours: 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $170 per day, $275 weekend pass
What It's About: Take part in celebrity chef demos, wine and cocktail seminars and tasting of food, wine, spirits and beer from more than 150 restaurants and chefs, including Emeril Lagasse and Rick Bayless.

Oktoberfest Chicago
When: Sept. 25-27
Where: St. Alphonsus, Southport and Lincoln Avenue
Hours: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $40
What It's About: Celebrate all things fall and all things Bavarian with craft beer tastings, German food and live music.

Johnny Appleseed Festival
When: Sept. 26
Where: Downtown Crystal Lake
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: Free entry; tickets cost $1 each for certain activities
What It's About: Meet Johnny Appleseed strolling down the streets of downtown Crystal Lake and listen to live music from Northwest Highway. Family-friendly entertainment and activities, including games, pony rides, a petting zo an dpumpkin bowling, will also be offered.

The Great Chicago Fire Festival
When: Sept. 26
Where: Northerly Island
Hours: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission: "Pay what you want" admission online to reserve a spot, minimum of $5
What It's About: The GRIT House will be ceremonially burned to represent the Great Chicago Fire. The festival also includes a neighborhood bazaar, musical performances, fireworks and food.

Edgewater Fall Art Festival
When: Sept. 26-27
Where: Granville Avenue and Broadway
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: Any donation
What It's About: Browse through the work of more than 120 Chicago artists in the Edgewater neighborhood.

Hyde Park Jazz Festival
When: Sept. 26-27
Where: Various venues in Hyde Park
Hours: 1 p.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
Admission: Free, but $5 donations are suggested
What It's About: Listen to the finest of local jazz musicians as well as nationally and internationally recognized artists in diverse venues across Hyde Park.

Randolph Street Market Festival
When: Sept. 26-27, Oct. 24-25, Nov. 21-22, Nov. 28-29
Where: Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington St.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: $8 general admission, or $10 at the gate. Other ticket options available.
What It's About: Purchase vintage and antique items from more than 200 indie vendors, and enjoy food, drink and live entertainment.

Lincoln Park Zoo Fall Fest
When: Oct. 2-4, Oct. 9-12, Oct. 16-18
Where: Lincoln Park Zoo
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: Free, with additional cost for activity tickets
What It's About: Take your family to the zoo for this seasonal festival, featuring a corn maze, pumpkin patch, hay ride, Ferris Wheel, burlap sack slide, musicians, pumpkin carvers and other activities.

Scarecrow Fest
When: Oct. 9-11
Where: Downtown St. Charles
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Admission: Free
What It's About: More than 150 hand-crafted scarecrows will be on display, and festival-goers can vote for their favorite one. Live entertainment, arts and crafts, a carnival and a petting zoo are also features of this annual community festival.

The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival
When: Oct. 9-11
Where: Downtown Highwood
Hours: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $2 per day; donations to the Autism Society of Illinois also accepted
What It's About: Every year, the Autism Society of Illinois and the City of Highwood host a pumpkin festival, featuring pumpkin carving, hay rides, a pet costume contest, a maze, a petting zoo, carnival rides and more. This year, organizers hope to break the Guinness World Record of most pumpkins carved in one place, which currently sits at 30,581.

Cantigny Fall Festival
When: Oct. 10
Where: Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Road in Wheaton
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: Free
What It's About: Enjoy a fall-themed craft show, music, hay rides and hot cider and hot chocolate from Bertie's.

Open House Chicago
When: Oct. 17-18
Where: Various locations across Chicago
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but times vary at different sites
Admission: Free
What It's About: The Chicago Architecture Foundation sponsored event offers a behind-the-scenes look at 200 hidden gems and architectural treasures across Chicago.

When: Oct. 24
Where: Downtown Batavia and Batavia Riverwalk and Peg Bond Pavilion
Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Admission: Suggested donation
What It's About: This family-friendly Halloween-themed event features downtown trick-or-treating, a parade, a pumpkin bowl, contests and games.

SOFA Art + Design Fair
When: Nov. 5-8
Where: Festival Hall at Navy Pier
Hours: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $20 general admission, $30 three-day pass, $15 students and seniors
What It's About: The Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design Fair is a gallery-presented art fair dedicated to three-dimensional art and design. Around 80 dealers will showcase their work in Chicago.

When: Nov. 20 to Dec. 24
Where: Daley Plaza, between Washington, Clark and Dearborn streets
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Admission: Free
What It's About: Inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, German, the Chicago Christkindlmarket celebrates German and European tradition with food, drink and gifts.

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
When: Nov. 21
Where: Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue, between Wacker Drive and Oak Street
Hours: TBA
Admission: Free
What It's About: Each year before Thanksgiving, the Magnificent Mile lights up with more than 1 million lights adorning 200 trees. A parade and a fireworks show over the Chicago River accompany the lighting event.

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Daley Plaza
When: Nov. 24
Where: Daley Plaza, between Washington, Clark and Dearborn streets
Hours: TBA
Admission: Free
What It's About: Watch officials light the giant Christmas tree in Daley Plaza to kick off the holiday season. Visitors can view the lit tree through the end of December.

McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade
When: Nov. 26
Where: State Street, beginning at Congress and moving northbound to Randolph
Hours: Parade begins at 8 a.m.
Admission: Free
What It's About: The annual Thanksgiving Day parade through downtown Chicago kicks off the long holiday weekend with marching bands, balloons and floats from groups around the city.

Wreathing of the Lions at the Art Institute
When: Nov. 29
Where: Michigan Avenue entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago, located at 111 S. Michigan Ave.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admission: Free
What It's About: Kick off the holiday season by watching the annual wreathing of the iconic lions at the Art Institute of Chicago and enjoying complimentary hot chocolate and music.

West Town Winterfest
When: Nov. 28
Where: Various locations near Halsted and Grand
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Admission: Free
What It's About: As fall wraps up, the winter festivities begin in Chicago. Businesses and restaurants in the West Town neighborhood welcome the oncoming season by offering the best in local shopping and dining.

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