When the weather (finally) warms up in Chicago every year, a few things happen like clockwork: people flock to Big Star for hours and hours of Tecates and guac on the patio, fireworks go off at Navy Pier twice a week, North Avenue beach becomes home to hundreds of volleyball nets and co-ed teams who are more concerned after their post-game beers than the game… and of course, weekend plans get filled up quickly with dozens of Chicago festivals that have become summer rituals.
Each year, more summer festivals are added to the already-stacked lineup of annual favorites, and it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed with all the options. To help you out, we’ve made a map-based guide to Chicago summer festivals in 2015 and categorized each festival according to whether it’s focused on food, drink, music, arts, culture, and more. Here’s a look at what’s in store for you this summer.
The weather in May can still be a little iffy in Chicago, but kick off festival season on May 9 by heading to the American Beer Classic, a beer festival put on by local event planning company Red Frog Events that takes place on Soldier Field. One of the city’s biggest festivals, the Randolph Street Market Festival, takes place on Memorial Day weekend; while the festival is known for its arts and crafts sale, it also boasts food, drink, and entertainment. On May 29, the Do Division Street Festival takes over Division Street from Damen to Leavitt and includes drinks and entertainment for the whole family.
Festival season gets into full swing in June, and you better bring your appetite for festivals such as the Chicago Food Truck Fest, Ribfest Chicago, Taste of Randolph Street, 6 Corners BBQ Fest, and the Long Grove Strawberry Festival. Balance your eating out by browsing one of June’s many art festivals in Old Town, Gold Coast, or the West Loop. June is also the month of Chicago’s famous Pride Fest and Pride Parade, where you’ll see some of the most… creative costumes the Boystown nieghborhood has to offer. EDM fans can attend the Spring Awakening music festival at Soldier Field, while fans of more classical pieces can attend one of Grant Park’s free concerts throughout the summer.
In July, mark your calendars for any of the popular neighborhood festivals that take place, whether you live on Clark Street or Southport or in Chinatown, Wicker Park, or West Town. Two of Chicago’s most famous music festivals also take place in July as well: Pitchfork, in Union Park from July 17-19, and Lollapalooza, in Grant Park from July 31-August 2.
Make your way to North Avenue Beach in August for the Chicago Air and Water Show, where you’re sure to get a crick in your neck gazing in awe at the daredevil pilots’ tricks. North Halsted Market Days is a classic Chicago festival, famous for its unique vendors. Sample new cuisines at Taste of Latin America, Taste of Greek Town, or Festa Italiana.
Finally, close out festival season in September with the Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival or Fulton Fest. Say goodbye to summer at the famous Chicago Jazz Festival in Grant Park, or head to Union Park for the North Coast Music Festival. And if you missed a festival, don’t worry about it- there’s always next summer.