Guide to the Top Festivals in Chicago
Summer Festivals in Chicago
The temperature is finally heating up and summer is underway. But what to do? Answer: hit up one of Chicago’s many summer festivals! There’s something exciting going on all season: from local music to major artists, food to jazz, art to athletics, the Windy City has got it all. Check out our list of our top 10 summer picks, as well as a full list of summer festivals.
Top 10 Chicago Festivals
The Midwest’s answer to Bonnaroo and Coachella. Lollapalooza keeps up with its two competitors in terms of quality of lineup and sheer scope, but it offers a much different experience. The festival is held in Grant Park, in the middle of Chicago’s Central Business District, so unlike the other two of the big three, concert-goers camp out in hotel rooms rather than tents. While this can be more expensive, it means that when the concerts are over, attendees are in a prime position to explore the city and all it has to offer. A daily pass will run you about $95; three days is $235.
Pitchfork Music Festival
An annual festival put on by Pitchfork Media in Union Park. Normally held over three days in July, Pitchfork focuses heavily on indie and alternative music, but its lineups have included major performers from all genres. Not as big or as crowded as Lollapalooza, but the lineup can often compete. A 3-day pass costs $120, a single-day pass costs $50.
North Coast Music Festival
August 30 – September 1
North Coast features some of the best in electronic, jam and alternative music that the industry has to offer – as if Chicago needed another bangin’ music festival. Set in Union Park over Labor Day weekend, the gathering features art galleries, food, drink, and of course music all day, every day. There is no camping available on the festival grounds, but close by hotels have partnered with the venue to provide housing options.
Chicago World Music Festival
September 12 – 22
World Music Festival Chicago has been home to over 600 musicians from over 80 countries throughout the course of its 15-year run. Held annually in the city, it’s an 11-day long affair which highlights traditional and contemporary music from cultures all over the world. The best part? It’s free!
Taste of River North
July 19 – 21
Do you like food? How about music? What about those two things at the same time? Assuming you’re a human, you likely answered yes to at least one of those questions. If so, then Taste River North is probably the perfect festival for you. Featuring some of the best cuisine and local music that Chi-town has to offer, not to mention artwork and a designated Kids Zone, this fest appeals to both locals and tourists alike.
Hideout Block Party
September 6 – 7
The Hideout bar has been a staple of Chicago since it opened back in 1934. To celebrate their nearly 80-year-long tenure, they throw an annual block party which has come to feature a slew of insanely popular indie and rock bands. This year, you can expect Young The Giant, Neko Case, Mavis Staples, The Hold Steady, Superchunk and more. Certainly not your average sidewalk bash.
Chicago Jazz Festival
August 29 – September 1
Not to be outdone by the World Music Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival is also free, and also features a myriad of musicians from all around the world. This festy has been taking place since 1979, and aims to educate and encourage a jazz audience of all ages. You’ll have to choose between this one and North Coast, though, as they both fall over Labor Day weekend.
In what is quite possibly the most epic punk and alt rock lineup of all time, Riot Fest is making waves through Chicago yet again. Head to Humboldt Park to listen to the musical stylings of Fall Out Boy, Blink 182, Rancid, Violent Femmes, Rocket From the Crypt, Bad Religion, Screeching Weasel, The Dismemberment Plan – I could go on and on. Despite all the great artists on the bill, the price for a 3-day pass are only $149.
Wicker Park Festival
July 27 – 28
When Wicker Park Festival began in 2004, it started as a small neighborhood party with local acts and artisan vendors. Now, nine years later, it’s become a “can’t miss” annual events of Chicago, and was hailed by the Chicago Tribune as the best street festival of the summer. Oh yea, and it only costs $5.
According to their official website, Chicago’s Cultivate Festival brings together food, farmers, chefs, artisans, thought leaders and musicians. Sounds like a good time, and keeping in the spirit of the other Windy City festies, it’s also free! Held at Lincoln Park, this year’s lineup includes Walk the Moon as music headliners, and Chef Carla Hall cooking up delicious treats.