A Guide to Chicago Street Festivals for 2018
When the weather in Chicago finally starts to turn warm, you can count on a different street festival taking place every single weekend. You probably know about the bigger ones, but we wanted to highlight the street festivals that are their neighborhood's pride and joy. Beyond the typical draw of festivals — being able to enjoy booze, food truck fare, and local bands — these festivals show off their neighborhood's culture and heritage, doubling as an opportunity to have fun while exploring a new part of Chicago. From now until September, in all corners of the city, here are the festivals that anchor their neighborhood, where you can do everything from eat tacos in Pilsen to stomp wine grapes in Little Italy.
June 1-3: Do Division
Harkening back to Wicker Park’s early days as a rock mecca, a $10 donation is all it costs to see bands like Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Deerhoof, and Bear vs Shark at Do Division Happening on Division Street between Damen and Leavitt, you’ll also find family activities and fashion shows featuring local designers.
June 2-3: Hyde Park Brew Fest
Located in the heart of its eponymous neighborhood, Hyde Park Brew Fest includes city favorites Revolution Brewing to global superstars like Sam Adams Brewing. This festival combines the best of the beer-making world with local musical acts. The event is held at 53rd and Harper, admission is free and tickets for beer sampling start at $30.
June 8-10: Midsommarfest
Andersonville celebrates its Swedish heritage with a smorgasbord of food, music, and shopping down the neighborhood's main thoroughfare, Clark Street. A Swedish music stage features an ABBA tribute. Sunday of the festival includes The Chicago Equality Rally, and a $10 donation supports neighborhood programming.
June 9-10: Pilsen Food Truck Social
You can either pay the $5 donation to get into the food truck festival, or opt for a $20 “sampler ticket” that gets you six sample-sized portions from participating food trucks and restaurant vendors. Food trucks roll in from all around the city, and vendors include Pilsen favorites like Dusek’s and Honky Tonk BBQ.
June 9-10: Printers Row Lit Fest
The highlight of the summer for the city's bibliophiles, Printers Row Lit Fest pays homage to the neighborhood's literary history with two days of booksellers, author panels, and local publishers. Most events are free but some can run up to $35. The fest is from June 9-10 and will be located throughout the Printers Row neighborhood.
June 16: Puerto Rican Festival & Parade
A neighborhood parade is the culmination of Humboldt Park's celebration of Caribbean culture. The festival also features two stages of live music, authentic cuisine, arts and crafts, carnival rides, and more. Admission is free.
June 16-17: Chicago Pride Fest
Regarded as one of the city's most boisterous festivals, Chicago Pride Fest takes over the Boystown neighborhood for two days of dancing, drinking, and pride. The Pride Parade is held the weekend after, and essentially shuts down the northside for the afternoon. Admission is free and will be held June 16-17 on North Halsted and Belmont.
June 23-24: Ravenswood On Tap
Entering its second year, Ravenswood on Tap joins the ranks of Chicago street festivals celebrating the city's favorite summer pastime - drinking outdoors. The event is held on Ravenswood and Bertreau Avenues. For just a $5 donation, you can have access to the neighborhood's surging number of breweries. The event will be held June 23-24.
TBD July: Figment Festival
Originally a one-day event on Governors Island in New York, the festival has since moved to Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. Billed as a festival where "anyone can be an artist," participants can play, dance, and paint with the festival's interactive areas. Figment is free and will be held in Logan Square's Palmer Square Park.
July 6-8: Irish American Heritage Festival
A three-day festival that celebrates the city's unapologetic devotion to all things Irish, this festival includes traditional Irish music from the likes of Gaelic Storm, food, drink, and dozens of vendors. The festival is held July 6-8 on the grounds of the sprawling Irish American Heritage Center, located in Irving Park. Tickets are $10.
July 6-8: West Fest
West Fest established itself as one of the city's most dynamic festivals since debuting in 2004. Featuring acts like ESG, West Fest focuses on supporting local vendors and restaurants. The festival also has Pet Fest and Kid Fest, making the festival fun for everyone. The event will be held July 6-8 in West Town on Chicago Avenue between Damen and Wood.
July 15: Chinatown Summer Fair
Entering their fourth decade in the city, Chinatown Summer Fair takes place in its eponymous neighborhood and features dance processions, artisans, and the neighborhood's classic cuisine. Live bands, martial arts displays, and Taiko drums will also be a part of this iconic celebration. This free event will be held July 15 in Chinatown.
July 20-22: Taste of River North
Located in Ward Park, this festival will attract over 50,000 people when the 17th edition offers up the best in River North cuisine and beverages. In between beers and meals, enjoy the live music, family activities, and morning yoga.
July 20-22: Colombian Fest Chicago
The El Gran Festival Colombiano (a.k.a. Colombian Fest) in Hermosa is the biggest two-day festival in town to celebrate Colombian culture. Everything comes with authentic flair, from the live music to the carnival rides to the cuisine. Kelvyn Park will be the epicenter of Colombian culture for the weekend.
July 21-22: Sheffield Music Festival & Garden Walk
A bit different than most festivals, this one encourages you to actually take a tour of Lincoln Park's homestead and gardens. Over 100 residential gardens will be open for the public. But if that's not your thing, there's also two stages of music, as well as food, crafts, and a big kid's corner.
July 26-29: Fiesta Del Sol
What started out as a block party to celebrate Pilsen, Fiesta Del Sol is now one of the largest festivals in the Midwest, drawing over a million people. They come for the live entertainment, local art, food, carnival rides, sporting events, and more. All revenue goes back to the Pilsen community.
July 28-29: Taste of Lincoln Avenue
Sprawling several blocks in Lincoln Park, this festival features over a hundred vendors, lots of food, and nearly 30 musical acts. All money raised goes to fund grants for local charities, schools, parks, and neighborhood improvements. Since it began the festival has raised over $2.2 million.
July 27-29: Wicker Park Fest
Wicker Park Fest is all about recognizing its neighborhood's rich musical heritage, vibrant nightlife and popular restaurants. Three stages of music, local food, arts and crafts, and dozens of retail vendors line the streets during the two-day party.
August 3-5: Jeff Fest
Colloquially known as Jeff Fest, this northwest side neighborhood party in Jefferson Park isn't one of the biggest in Chicago but its intimate setting makes it an ideal spot for enjoying live music from local bands as well as touring acts. There's also sure to be a kid's zone, performing arts, and plenty of vendors.
August 11-12: Northalsted Market Days
Claiming to be the largest street festival in the Midwest, the LGBTQ-centric two-day event takes over Lakeview — particularly the Boystown and Wrigleyville areas — with food, booze, arts and crafts, and entertainment (past performers include Salt-N-Pepa and Wilson Phillips). A $10 donation benefits the Northalsted Business Alliance and The Legacy Project.
August 30 - September 2: Chicago Jazz Festival
A Labor Day Weekend tradition since 1979, The Chicago Jazz Festival takes place in Millennium Park at the Chicago Cultural Center. Showcasing both national and international talent, this years festival will be headlined by jazz legend, Ramsey Lewis, who will perform his last live performance in Chicago before retiring. An art fair is also part of the festivities. Admission is free.
August 25-26: Ukrainian Days Festival
Held during Independence Day of Ukraine, Ukrainian Village hosts its annual festival featuring food, live music and dance. A $5 donation gets you in.
August 24-26: Taste of Greektown
Food is the focus of Greektown's free fest, where many of the neighborhood's restaurants set up shop on Halsted Street. Greek bands and games promise to also get you in the "opa!" spirit.
August 25-26: Bucktown Arts Festival
Priding itself on being “free of the corporate stuff,” the Bucktown festival is a sprawling art sale with live music, a craft beer tent, and food trucks. Admission is free, and proceeds benefit neighborhood arts programs.
September 7-9: Little Village Fest
Celebrate Mexico's Independence Day in Little Village; on Sunday of the weekend-long event, the festival is the end location of the 26th Street Mexican Independence Day Parade. Before that, the fest offers food, music, arts and crafts, and carnival rides. Admission is free.
August 31 - September 3: Taste of Polonia Festival
Located in Jefferson Park, Taste of Polonia highlights Polish culture and features an assortment of Polish foods and beers to enjoy. Offering live music, tasting & cooking classes, and carnival rides, Taste of Polonia has something for everyone to enjoy. Prices are $5 before 5 P.M. and $10 afterwards. Kids 12 & under get free admission.