If you can’t count on the weather to tell you it’s summer in Chicago, the next best sign is the beginning of festival season! While June hosts a number of events, July is really where it all begins. And, if we’re lucky, we can finally put away the winter gear! From the Taste of Chicago and Movies in the Park, to neighborhood festivals and concerts all over the city, this month is the perfect way to celebrate summer. I don’t want you to miss a thing, so we’ve put together a list of some of the top ongoing free events and weekend festivals. Get ready to enjoy great food, sensational music, wonderful dancing, arts and crafts, and family fun.
Make memories with friends and family. Share your photos with us! If we left anything out, please let us know!
Ongoing Summer Events
Grant Park Music Festival – Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. This outdoor classical music series is celebrating their 85th season! Check out their website for a complete listing of free concerts.
Night Out in the Parks
Summer Dance – Grant Park, Spirit of the Music Garden and other Chicago Park District locations. Wednesdays – Sundays, through Aug. 24, Free Admission. Dance to the sounds of 48 different live bands + DJs and get into step with dance lessons beforehand.
Movies in the Park – celebrating its 19th season, Movies in the Park brings big-screen entertainment to local parks. Check out the full lineup on their website. All movies begin at dusk. Call (312) 742-1134 for daily listings and weather-related cancellations.
July Chicago Festivals and Events by Date
The Grant Park Orchestra Independence Day Salute is on Thursday, July 4, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Or check out the open rehearsal on Wednesday, July 3 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Bring a blanket or lawn chairs. There’s also some free seating in the rear.
July 4 – July 6
Windy City Ribfest – 4800 N. Broadway St., Thurs. – Sat., Noon to 10:00 pm. What better way to celebrate summer and the 4th than with a tasty slab of ribs? Held in the heart of the Uptown entertainment district, the 11th annual fest also features an eclectic music lineup, arts/crafts, and a kids’ activity area.
July 4- July 7
The 27th Annual International Festival of Life – Washington Park, 58th and Cottage Grove, Fri. – Sun., Noon – 10 p.m. This year’s celebration is dedicated to “TheReggae50,” fifty years of reggae. Bring the entire family to enjoy reggae and world music, food, arts, crafts, games, and more!
July 5 – July 7
West Fest Chicago – Chicago Ave. & Damen Ave., Fri. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sat. – Sun., Noon -10 p.m. This three-day street festival held in the West Town community features local food, beer, retail, and art vendors. West Fest is for the entire family. Kid Fest (Noon – 7 p.m. on Sat. and Sun.) activities include train rides, bounce houses, an inflatable super slide, pony rides, carnival games, kid friendly vendors, and a kid’s stage with live family friendly music. Bring Fido along for Pet Fest (Noon – 6 p.m. Sat. – Sun.) and enjoy a charity dog wash, dog obstacle course and dog caricature artist, as well as paw painting, pet retail booths, paddling pools and plenty of water. Check out various pet related demonstrations throughout the day, pet services booths, local veterinarians and canine therapists. All proceeds benefit Alive Rescue and One Tail at a Time. There is a suggested $5 donation to attend West Fest Chicago. Proceeds benefit local non-profits.
July 6 – September 2
Live on the Lake – (Sat. –Sun. ongoing) Free for all ages, check out the live music on select days and times at the Navy Pier Miller Lite Beer Garden. Hear local favorites, national touring acts, and exciting new artists all summer long. Check the website for start times.
July 10 – July 14
Taste of Chicago – Grant Park, Wed. – Fri., 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sat. – Sun., 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Free Admission. Since 1980, this annual outdoor food festival has showcased the diversity of Chicago’s dining community! With approximately 40 restaurant booths, a dozen food trucks, a beer hall, a wine garden, a cocktail lounge, and first-rate concerts, there’s something for everyone at the Taste! Three stages offer free local, national, and international music every day. Tell us what you can’t wait to sample!
July 11 – August 29
Music in Lincoln Square/ Summer Concert Series – (ongoing) Giddings Plaza, 4731 N Lincoln Ave., Thurs., 6:30 – 9 p.m. (weather permitting). Listen to local Chicago musicians, while you enjoy beer and wine for purchase from local vendors. This is one of Lincoln Square’s favorite free summer events!
July 12 – July 14
Square Roots Festival – Lincoln Square (Lincoln Ave. between Montrose and Wilson), Fri., 5 – 10 p.m., Sat., Noon – 10 p.m., Sun., noon – 9 p.m. This festival features over 70 bands and artists from around the world! Enjoy neighborhood food and regional craft beer, as well as unique and exciting market vendors. Donations support Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce’s free concerts and farmers markets and Old Town School of Folk Music’s financial aid programs and outreach programming. Take advantage of family fun events and activities all weekend long!
Windy City Smokeout – United Center Parking Lot C. 1901 West Madison St., Gates open at 2 p.m. on Fri., Noon on Sat. – Sun. General admission tickets start at $40. Children 10 and under are free. It doesn’t get any better than BBQ, bands, and beer! Check out over 15 live music performances and savor BBQ from 20 of the world’s best pitmasters!
Irish American Heritage Festival – Enjoy Irish music and dance, cultural exhibits, food vendors, beer, wine, clothing, jewelry, contests, and family activities at Irish American Heritage Center.
July 12 – August 23
Water Colors – Navy Pier- Lake Stage in Polk Bros Park, Select Fridays, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Navy Pier has teamed up with the Jazz Institute of Chicago to host free, live jazz music featuring top Chicago jazz artists.
Performances range from emerging new talent, to established and seasoned artists. This year’s lineup features reinvented brass band music fused with hip-hop, freedom songs through the jazz lens, classic New Orleans jazz, big-band tributes, young bebop players, afro-beat music from Lagos, renowned jazz vocalists, and one of the best up-and-coming trumpet players on the scene.
July 13 – 14
Roscoe Village Burger Fest – Belmont and Damen Ave., 11a.m. – 10 p.m. Is there anything that says summer more than a great grilled hamburger? Check out the delectable flavors of some of Chicago’s finest burger joints, add some great music, and enjoy fun activities for the kids and you’ve got the perfect family outing! A $10 suggested gate donation benefits the Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce and other community organizations.
Southport Art Fest – Waveland and N. Southport Ave., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. This two-day festival showcases some of the city’s most diverse artists, with two full days of music. Families can enjoy a special Kid’s area with interactive games and activities. Admission is free.
Bucktown Garden Walk and Block Party – Churchill Park, 1825 N. Damen Ave., Block Party runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Children’s Fest is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Gardens open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Explore the hidden gems that make Bucktown one of Chicago’s most charming neighborhoods! Celebrating their 15th year, the Garden Walk features curated self-guided gardens tours and trolley rides. Enjoy live music, food trucks, beer & wine gardens, and entertainment at the block party. Amuse the kids for hours at the children’s fest and renowned petting zoo. All proceeds are directly reinvested back into the Bucktown community.
July 19 – 21
Horner Fest and Brewfest – Horner Park, 2741 W Montrose Ave. Brewfest – Fri., 6 -10 p.m., Family Day – Sat., 9 a.m. to 10:45 p.m. On Friday night, sample cold craft beer from dozens of Chicago’s best breweries and cider houses while enjoying live music and food truck fare. Tickets are $40 per person, which includes: admission to the event, a tasting glass, and samples from every attending brewery. Participants must be at least 21 years old. Saturday is Family Day (free admission) with river activities, live music, games, activities, and a movie in the park at dusk.
Pitchfork Music Festival – Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph. This internationally recognized music festival presents the best in new and emerging music, including alternative rock, rap, hip-hop, electronica, and dance music. Enjoy 40+ acts, as well as food and arts & crafts. Pitchfork works to support local businesses while promoting the Chicago arts and food communities as a whole. Music begins at 1 p.m. each day. One-day and three-day passes are still available. Check the website for details.
Tacos Y Tamales Festival – Pilsen, 16th and Peoria, Fri., 5 – 10 p.m., Sat. and Sun., Noon to 10 p.m. This 4th annual street fair features authentic Latin American cuisine, a beer garden, tequila tasting, art vendors, and music, including traditional mariachis, song & dance, and the very best of Latin pop rock. Sample a wide variety of tamales and handmade tortillas from several regions of Latin America. $5 suggested donation benefiting the Frida Kahlo Community Organization.
Sheffield Street Festival – 2250 N Sheffield Ave., Fri., 4 – 10 p.m., Sat., Noon to 10 p.m., Sun., Noon to 8 p.m. Celebrating the 51th year, Sheffield Street Festival features self-guided tours of more than 80 gardens, guided Architectural Tours, live entertainment by some of Chicago’s favorite cover bands and original artists, food and drink, an Artisan Village showcasing fabulous art and craft work, and activities for children at the Kids’ Corner. Proceeds from this festival provide continued support for neighborhood schools, local institutions, and community projects.
Artfest Michigan Ave. – 435 N. Michigan Ave., Fri. and Sat., 10 – 5 p.m. This two-day fine art festival takes place on Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue at the base of the Chicago Tribune building. Overlooking the Chicago River, this “all art” show features about 65 juried artists. Admission to the festival is free and open to the public.
BenFest – 2215 West Irving Park Rd., Fri., 4 – 10 p.m., Sat., 1 – 10 p.m., Sun., 1 – 7 p.m. This summer festival is held on the grounds of St Benedict Parish and Preparatory School. Recreate memories of summers past and start new ones right here. Enjoy three days of family fun including great bands on two stages, cuisine from local restaurants, craft beers, local dance performances, and strolling entertainers. There are also plenty of activities for the kids including inflatables, obstacle course, atomic drop (slide), wrecking ball, double water slide, and bungee run. Suggested $5 donation.
Columbian Fest – Kelvyn Park, 4438 W. Wrightwood, Fri., 4 – 10 p.m., Sat. and Sun., Noon to 10 p.m. Non-stop live music, a variety of food offerings, a circus, dance workshops, arts and crafts, games, bounce houses, and more for three spectacular days! Enjoy the amazing aspects of Colombian culture. Single and three day tickets are available online. Kids 12 years of age and under free with paid adult ticket at gate box office day of event.
Taste of River North – Ward Park at the corner of Erie & Kingsbury, Fri., 5 – 10 p.m., Sat., Noon to 10 p.m., Sun., 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Taste great food from some of River North’s most dynamic restaurants, sip on cold beers, and listen to the best party jams live on stage.
Dearborn Garden Walk – Noon to 5 p.m. Celebrating their 61st year, the Garden Walk starts at The Latin School, 45 W. North Ave. Stroll through the neighborhood as you view 20+ beautiful gardens, as well as numerous charming front gardens easily along the way. In addition, musicians provide a calming ambience to the already relaxing nature of the Walk.
Chinatown Summer Fair – 2200 S. Wentworth Ave. at Cermak Rd., 10 – 8 p.m. This popular annual celebration of Far East culture returns for its 41st festive year. Highlights include the Dragon and Lion Dance Procession, artisans, plenty of neighborhood cuisine, activities for families and children, and more.
July 25 – 28
Fiesta del Sol – Pilsen, Cermak Rd. Thurs., 5 – 10 p.m., Fri. and Sat., 11 to 11 p.m., Sun., 11 to 10 p.m. Free to the public, this family-friendly festival spans eight-blocks of Cermak Rd. Over 100 booths showcase some of the best tacos, tamales and tostadas in town. Well known artists, as well as up and coming talent, perform on two stages. Enjoy carnival rides, a children’s area, educational resources for parents and youth, soccer games and much more.
Wicker Park Fest – Milwaukee Ave. (North Ave. to Paulina St.), Fri., 5 – 10 p.m., Sat. and Sun., Noon to 10 p.m. Wicker Park Fest reflects the neighborhood’s rich musical heritage, vibrant nightlife and acclaimed restaurants. Celebrate with eclectic music (over 50 bands on four stages), great local food, arts and crafts, a kids’ area, and retail vendors. Your $10 donation benefits the local community.
July 27 – July 28
Taste of Lincoln Ave. – N. Lincoln Ave. between Fullerton & Wrightwood, Sat. and Sun., Noon to 10 p.m. $10 at the gate. Celebrating its 36th year, this festival features100 food, arts/crafts, and other vendors, as well as two stages of great national and regional music. The free Kids’ Carnival area offers entertainment, art activities, pony rides, kiddie rides, and more. Don’t miss the popular Wine and Whiskey Tastings. Ticketed tasting sessions are held several times over the weekend.
I hope you will take advantage of all these festivals that July in Chicago has to offer. Please share with us your favorite experiences and let get in touch if I can help you with your next home buying or selling need.