Summertime, Summertime! The Chicago Festival Hot List

Photo Credit: Mary L. Datcher
Photo Credit: Mary L. Datcher

The summer is alive and on a vibrant upswing as the city of big shoulders will be carrying a non-stop line-up of city wide, neighborhood and annual festivals that will keep the party going well into the Fall season. We wanted to highlight some of the key festivals that both Chicago residents and visitors will be interested in placing on your calendar of activities. There is a variety for everyone in every age group and for those on a short budget—you will be very pleased with our recommendations.

Once again, the dancing will continue under the stars with the City of Chicago’s Summer Dance weekly series which begins from June 26 – September 26 at the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park. Fridays and Saturdays with dance lessons: 6-7pm live music and dancing: 7:30-9:30pm. Sundays dance lessons: 4-5pm and live music and dancing from 5-7pm.

The Chicago Park District has expanded Night at the Parks at various park locations throughout the city. For the first time, they have created an easy-to-navigate mobile app to help locate which movies will be shown, location, and times. To download the app, go to “My Chi Parks” to view activities now through October.

Here’s our Summertime ‘Hit List’:

Chicago Gospel Music Festival

May 29-31

Millennium Park

Free Admission

6:30pm-9pm Friday, May 29

11am-9:30pm Saturday 5/30 & Sunday 5/31

Headliners include: Friday, May 29 – Ricky Dillard & New G, Donald Lawrence and Company presents: A Tribute to Andre Crouch and Walter Hawkins on Saturday, May 30; Israel Houghton & New Breed on Sunday, May 31 along with many others.

Youth Lemonade Dayricardocummingsatlemonadedaydetroit

June 6

Chicago Defender

4445 S. King Drive


Free Admission

Pilsen Food Truck Festival

June 6 & 7, 2015

Pilsen, 18th St. and Allport St. “permit is still pending”

Chicago, IL 60608

11 am-10 pm

FREE Admission

New this year is Pilsen Food Truck Fest, which will feature and benefit the Illinois Food Truck Association. On June 6 & 7, up to 40+ food trucks from around Illinois will congregate in Pilsen and serve up sample size portions of their best eats in a festive and entertaining atmosphere!

buddyguy280Chicago Blues Festival

June 12-14

Grant Park

The Chicago Blues Festival kicks-off on Friday, June 12 with Zora Young, Clarence Carter, Syl Johnson and more. Buddy Guy (pictured) headlines the festival on Saturday, other headliners include Taj Mahal Trio and Toronzo Cannon.The festival closes on Sunday with Centennial Tributes to Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters.

Ribfest Chicago XVII

June 12-14, 2015

Northcenter, 4000 N. Lincoln Ave.

Chicago, IL 60618

Friday, 5-10 pm; Saturday & Sunday, 12 Noon-10 pm

FREE Admission; $5 suggested donation

Taste of Randolph

June 19-21, 2015

West Loop, 900-1200 W. Randolph St.

Chicago, IL 60607

Friday, 5-10 pm; Saturday & Sunday, 12 Noon-10 pm

FREE Admission; $10 suggested donation

The summer’s #1 street festival is returning to Chicago’s West Loop for its 19th year. As the city’s leading annual celebrations, this three-day cross-cultural celebration will mix extraordinary food, brilliant artisans and diverse musical offerings.

Chicago Pride Festival

June 20 & 21

Halsted St. & Broadway

FREE Admission: For a full lineup of performers,

African Caribbean International Festival of Life (IFOL)

July 3-5, 2015

Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St.

Chicago, IL 60607

12 Noon-10 pm

Advance tickets $17/$25, Season pass $39, VIP $75/$100

Chosen Few DJs25th Anniversary Chosen Few Picnic Weekend

July 2-6, 2015

Saturday, July 4

Jackson Park, 63rd and Hayes Drive

The annual Chosen Few DJs present the 25th Anniversary House Reunion Picnic featuring live performances by Stephanie Mills, Cory Daye, Evelyn King, Masters At Work, Derrick Carter and Stan Zeff.

For admission and VIP package information:

Windy City Ribfest in Uptown

July 3-5, 2015

Uptown, 4700 N. Broadway

Chicago, IL 60640

Friday, 5-10 pm; Saturday, 12 Noon-10 pm; Sunday, 12 Noon-9 pm

FREE Admission; $5 gate donation

Taste of Chicagotasteofchicago

July 8-12

Grant Park

Taste of Chicago is the nation’s premier outdoor food festival showcasing the diversity of Chicago’s dining community. The delicious array of food served at Taste of Chicago is complemented by music and exciting activities for the entire family. Live performances include Grammy singer/songwriter Eryka Badu on July 9th and the legendary R&B band, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly at the Petrillo Bandshell on July 12. Get there early for the best lawn seating.

Free Admission. For advance seating, tickets are for sale:

Mamby on the Beach

July 11,12

Oakwood Beach/31st St.

React Presents a new beachside music festival at the 31st Street beach featuring two stages with a variety of house and techno DJs and producers alongside indie dance artists. The line up includes Empire of the Sun, Passion Pit, Felix da Housecat, Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk, Casmere Cat, Classixx among others.

Tickets are on sale now:

13th Annual “I Have a Vision” Community Gospel Festival

July 11, 2015

Bessemer Park, 8930 S. Muskegon Ave.

Chicago, IL 60617

12 Noon-10 pm

FREE Admission: The annual event will provide the community with one full day of family fun, food, games, a gospel concert and other activities – free of charge.

Pitchfork Music Festival

July 17-19, 2015

Union Park, Ashland Ave. and Lake St.

Friday, 3-10 pm; Saturday & Sunday, 12 Noon-10 pm

$65/day available on sale:

Three days each summer in Chicago’s Union Park, the internationally recognized Pitchfork Music Festival presents over 40 bands, highlighting the best in new and emerging music. Three day passes are SOLD OUT. Live performances by Chance the Rapper, Wilco, A$AP Ferg among others.

5th Annual Taste of WVONtasteofwvon

July 18, 2015

Lorraine Dixon Park, 87th St. and Dauphin (Ingleside)

Chicago, IL 60619

10 am-8 pm

FREE Admission

WVON 1690AM presents it’s Fifth Annual Taste of WVON – a fun-filled day-long festival featuring great food, merchants, a children’s pavilion, and live entertainment for the whole family! Admission is free.

Chicago Margarita Festival

July 25

Northerly Island

Keep your Uber and Lyft apps on call because drinking and driving is not recommended after visiting this festival. Whoever thought about dedicating one day to a variety of margaritas should have a stature named after themselves. This will be the festival’s first year to debut and tickets are going fast.

For more information:

Taste of Latin Americas

August 1, 2

3600 to 3828 W. Armitage from Central Park to Avers St.

A weekend celebration of all things Central and South American. Eclectic (and exotic) cuisine& live music& arts & crafts& cooking demonstrations and much more are part of this festival’s mix that showcases a rich multi-country heritage and Latin culture. 

Bud Bulliken Parade and Picnicband

August 8


The largest African American parade in the U.S. striving the improving the quality of life for African Americans through educational, cultural and social programs. The parade begins at King Dive and Oakwood and wraps up in Washington Park with an outdoor festival for family fun.

Northalsted Market Days

August 8, 9

Halsted and Belmont St. (Chicago’s historic Boys Town)


The 34th Annual Northhalsted Market Days® features several stages with national and local entertainment along with favorite Dance DJs. It’s a blend between Mardi Gras and Miami’s White Party without having to wear white attire. If you’re not a drinking person, it’s best to stay at home.
Donation: $10

Attendees at WMFWest Side Music Festival

August 15

Douglas Park

The outdoor festival is a free concert that features both local and national live performances by the best in R&B, Soul, Spoken word and Gospel music bringing various West Side neighborhoods together. A variety of food vendors and family fun throughout the day.

For more information:

6th Annual Cubano Festival

August 14-16

Riis Park

Fullerton and Narragansett

A weekend packed with food, family entertainment and some of the best live performances by live Latin bands from around the country. This is an awesome festival for those that love the aromas of the Caribbean and the richness of Latin culture.

For more information on tickets and live performances:

Chicago Dancing Festival

August 25-29

Four days of various concerts featuring a variety of dance companies and productions at Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Museum of Contemporary Art and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park.

Free Admission but advance tickets are needed for special performances. For more information on upcoming concerts:

Chicago Food and Wine Festival

Photo Credit: Caryn Lee
Photo Credit: Caryn Lee

August 28-30

Lincoln Park

This is a festival is to foodies what Great America is to tweenies on a roller coaster high. It is the ultimate food experience connecting food fans with their favorite chefs and restaurants.

This year features rock star chefs Jimmy Bannos, Sr, Rick Bayless, Ludo Lefebvre, Stephanie Izard, Fabio Viviani and many more.

Tickets are on sale:

Chicago Jazz Festival

September 3-6

Grant Park

Known for its artistic creativity, the Chicago Jazz Festival is a favorite Labor Day Weekend tradition. It promotes awareness and appreciation for all forms of jazz through free, quality live musical performance. Live performances by Muhal Richard Abrams, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9, Jose James among others.

Free Admission

African Festival of Arts

September 4-7

Washington Park

For more information on live performances and vendors:

North Coast Music Festival

September 4-7

Union Park

Three days of non-stop music, food, DJ stages and vendors for the young at heart. Line-up featuring D’Angelo and The Vanguard, The Chemical Brothers, The Roots and Wale.

For more information of live performances:

Venetian Night at Navy Pier

September 12

Chicago Gourmet

Photo Credit: Caryn Lee
Photo Credit: Caryn Lee

September 25-27

The highlight for the best palette in town featuring food, wine and beer experts showcasing the finest in food. Tickets go fast!

For more information:

9th Hyde Park Jazz Festival

September 26-28

Saturday, September 26:  Two Outdoor Stages Midway Plaisance (Woodlawn-Ellis); Smart Museum; DuSable Museum; Little Black Pearl; Kenwood Academy; Hyde Park Bank; International House; Oriental Institute; Kenwood Academy; Hyde Park Union Church; Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House; Rockefeller Chapel, Logan Art Center.

Free Admission but $5 Donation preferred. For more information on line up:

AAHH Music Festival

September 26 & 27

Union Park

Photo Credit: Tito Garcia
Photo Credit: Tito Garcia

Common Ground Foundation Presents the 2nd Annual AAHH Festival featuring local and national recording artists. The event is hosted by Dave Chappelle and Grammy/Oscar award artist, Common. Proceeds to benefit Common Ground Foundation, Lupe Fiasco Foundation and Donda’s House, NFP.

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