Chicago Prepares for a Busy Festival Season
With summer fast approaching, peak festival season in Chicago will soon be upon us. See below for a list of some of the most exciting programs returning in 2022 (many of them free) along with a few new surprises!
Chicago Gospel Music Experience (June 4, 2022): This outdoor festival at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, celebrating the Chicago-born genre, brings together traditional choirs, contemporary urban gospel artists, and more. FREE
Chicago Blues Festival (June 9-12, 2022): With a diverse lineup in Millennium Park celebrating the blues’ past, present and future, the Chicago Blues Festival, the largest free blues festival in the world, shares the great Chicago-born music tradition while shining a spotlight on the genre’s contributions to soul, R&B, gospel, rock, hip hop and more. FREE
Andersonville Midsommarfest (June 10-12, 2022): For more than 50 years, this summer festival has celebrated Andersonville’s Swedish heritage, LGBTQ+ pride, and vibrant local business community. For three nights and two days, this vibrant and diverse community will bring together over 75,000 people to celebrate a proud Swedish summer tradition with eclectic music, great vendors, food and free kids’ activities. Suggested donation of $10, as well as proceeds from beer sales, benefit the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, along with several local non-profit organizations.
Grant Park Music Festival (June 15 - August 20, 2022): For more than 80 years, the Grant Park Music Festival has been Chicago's summer musical sensation, demonstrating that classical music, performed by a world-class orchestra and chorus, can have a transformative impact on the city. This year will offer a thrilling lineup of music at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion with a mix of contemporary compositions and classical favorites such as Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty and Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2. Plus there’s plenty of family fun with the Independence Day Salute, Lights on Broadway, and Cirque Goes to Hollywood featuring live aerialists soaring above the stage. FREE
The Summer Smash Festival (June 17-19, 2022): SPKRBX presents The Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash Festival, the premier Hip-Hop music festival in the Midwest. For three days, on three stages, some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop will perform, including Post Malone and Wiz Khalifa. Tickets range from a 3-Day $275 General Admission Pass, to a $449 VIP Pass.
Chicago Pride Fest (June 17-19, 2022): Celebrate Pride in Northalsted, the country’s oldest official gay neighborhood at this lively fest, featuring live music, dance queens, local food, and more. The following weekend the Chicago Pride Parade (June 26, 2022), one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world, marches through the neighborhood. Suggested donation of $15 for Chicago Pride Fest.
Millennium Park Summer Music Series (June 20 - August 18, 2022, Mondays & Thursdays): With the backing of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), this outdoor program features a wide variety of music from established and emerging artists at the iconic Jay Pritzker Pavilion. FREE
Pride in the Park (June 25-26,2022): An annual outdoor music festival held downtown in Chicago's Grant Park at the end of June features LGBTQ+ performers, artists, vendors and more. 2-Day General Admission Passes to Pride in the Park start at $100.
Chicago has been chosen to host the United States Sail Grand Prix (SailGP) at Navy Pier (June 18-19, 2022). If you are not familiar, SailGP is one of the fastest emerging properties in world sports featuring exciting, up-close action as teams race identical F50 catamarans – a highly-technical, hydro foiling race boat that boasts highway speeds – in an annual global championship held in some of the most iconic cities around the world. Ten national teams will compete, comprising the best athletes in the sport representing the United States, Great Britain, France, Denmark, Spain, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, plus two new franchises from Canada and Switzerland. In June, the F50s will race on Lake Michigan directly in front of the Chicago skyline, marking the first time the championship has ever competed on fresh water! Tickets for single-day waterfront viewing access begin at around $40.
Ravenswood On Tap (June 18-19, 2022): Sip your way through Ravenswood, one of Chicago’s top craft beer neighborhoods and home to many small craft producers. Malt Row is one of the most prolific craft brewing communities in the country – and it’s right in Ravenswood! Enjoy brews from Malt Row, KOVAL Distillery cocktails, plus ax throwing, live music and some of Chicago’s favorite restaurants and food trucks. Suggested donations and proceeds from this event benefit the Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce, Ravenswood Community Council, and several other community organizations.
Chicago SummerDance (July 6–September 17, 2022, select dates): The beloved series returns this summer at parks throughout the city this summer. Dancers of all ages and skill levels are invited to take part in introductory dance lessons by professional instructors followed by live music and dancing. FREE
Taste of Chicago (July 8-10, 2022): A bite-sized version of the classic lakefront extravaganza will take place over three days in July — showcasing an estimated 30–40 eateries and food trucks each day, and three mainstage evening concerts. Prior to the main event, a series of Taste of Chicago pop-ups will return this year with food and music events in three Chicago neighborhoods in June. FREE admission; tickets for food and beverages are sold in strips of 14 for $10.
Southport Art & Music Fest (July 9-10, 2022): Chicago’s iconic Southport Corridor blooms to life when Southport Art Fest takes over Waveland and Southport in July. Festival fans will visit the beautiful tree-lined streets of the picturesque neighborhood. Just steps away from the friendly margins of Wrigley Field, the two-day festival will showcase some of the city’s best and most diverse artists. FREE admission; all donations and proceeds benefit the Southport Neighbors Association.
Millennium Park Summer Film Series (July 12–August 30, 2022, Tuesdays): Guests may take a seat at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion or lounge on the Great Lawn as crowd-pleasing movies are presented on the state-of- the-art, 40-foot LED screen. FREE
Pitchfork Music Festival (July 15-17, 2022): Since 2006, the Pitchfork Music Festival has consistently proven to be one of the most welcoming, comfortable, reasonably priced, and rewarding weekends of music around. Hosting 60,000 attendees of all ages from all 50 states and dozens of countries, Pitchfork Music Festival showcases the best up-and-coming music from around the world, as well as special performances from touring stalwarts and legends alike. Featuring diverse vendors, as well as specialty record, poster, and craft fairs, the festival works to support local businesses while promoting the Chicago arts and food communities as a whole. Single day General Admission tickets start at $99 while the 3-Day, General Admission pass is $200.
Wicker Park Fest (July 22-24, 2022): As one of Chicago’s most anticipated summer festivals, and dubbed "Chicago's Best Street Festival of the Summer " by the Chicago Tribune, Wicker Park Fest is one of Chicago’s top-drawing festivals, attracting visitors from across Chicagoland and the country with its fantastic music line-up. Building on the area’s unique character, the weekend celebrates the neighborhood with eclectic music, great local food, arts and crafts, and retail vendors. Suggested donation of $10 and all proceeds benefit the local Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce.
Pizza City Fest (July 23-24, 2022): Steve Dolinsky – a 13-time James Beard Award-winning food reporter, currently “The Food Guy” at NBC 5 - is creating a pizza festival unlike anything that’s ever been done, over two days in the West Loop. Pizza City Fest: Chicago brings together 39 of the region’s best pizza makers (and one out-of-town guest) for two days of pizza making and appreciation, all in one location – Plumbers Union Hall in the West Loop. Thanks to 10 PizzaMaster ovens on-site, guests will be able to see each pizza maker create, bake and serve up their remarkable pies in the massive parking lot at the Hall. There will also be live music, pizza-themed art, merchandise and a few special treats. Attendees will also be able to take in a series of highly curated seminars and panel discussions with some of the country’s greatest pizza makers in attendance. General Admission 1-Day tickets start at $59 and 2-Day tickets at $89.
Sundays on State (July 24–September 4, 2022, select Sundays): After its enormously successful debut in 2021, Sundays on State, presented by the Chicago Loop Alliance, will return for Summer 2022, with portions of Chicago’s most iconic street, State Street, closing to vehicular traffic again for select Sundays this summer. Join neighbors from every Chicago community and beyond for this free, interactive block party, while safely enjoying art, culture, active recreation, food, drinks, shopping, and local attractions in the heart of everyone’s neighborhood. FREE
Windy City Smokeout (August 4-7, 2022): It’s like a weekend-long tailgate at this popular country music festival, known for drawing in the industry’s top names. The 2022 festival lineup includes some of the biggest names in the industry, including Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, Sam Hunt, Willie Nelson, and more. Along with today’s hottest country acts, the lineup also includes some of the world’s best pitmasters. Barbecue pros from all over the country will be serving up ribs, brisket, smoked meats and more, highlighting styles from Kentucky, Nashville, Missouri, and Chicago. Local barbecue vendors include Bub City, Lillie’s Q, and Pearl’s Southern Comfort. Ticket prices range from $45 for a 1-Day Sunday General Admission ticket to $185 for a 4-Day pass.
Northalsted Market Days (August 6-7, 2022): The 40th Northalsted Market Days is a weekend long live music street festival celebrating community in Chicago’s landmark Northalsted/Lakeview district. The 1/2-mile-long festival features all-day lineups of live music on 6 stages, 250+ unique vendors, arts, crafts, food and drink, DJ’s and dancing, sponsor booths, and more! Estimated attendance of 120,000 people from near and far, representing all colors of the rainbow! Suggested donation of $15, as well as proceeds from festival support local nonprofits, and fund community projects like the Chicago Pride Crosswalks.
Chicago Air and Water Show (August 20-21, 2022): The largest free show of its kind in the country, this waterfront show features stunning aerial displays above Lake Michigan. The show can be viewed along the lakefront from Fullerton to Oak Street, with North Avenue Beach as the focal point. FREE
For more information and a full list of Chicago’s festivals and events, please visit: https://www.choosechicago.com/articles/festivals-special-events/chicago-festival-event-guide/