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Chicago Summer 2024 Events Guide

By Serra Kook

When summer arrives in Chicago, the city’s entertainment scene comes alive with contagious energy. Whether it’s live music, outdoor markets or waterfront adventures, the Windy City never lacks options for summertime fun. Whether you’re a local or visiting briefly, Chicago’s summer warmth and charm beckons all to come out and play. 

MUSIC

Chicago House Music Festival and Conference
The city will be brimming with soulful energy when Chicago’s House Music Festival and Conference comes around to help kick off summer. Since its beginnings in the late 1970s, the infectious, innovative sounds of house music have been transmitted to underground pubs, renowned venues and dance floors worldwide. The conference on May 31 gives attendees a chance to learn about house music’s legacy, while a June 1 pre-party at Navy Pier will whet the appetites of music lovers prior to the big event. Saving the best for last is the festival itself on June 2 at Millennium Park, running from mid-morning through late evening.
May 31-June 2; Chicago Cultural Center, Navy Pier, Millennium Park


Lollapalooza
For an epic music extravaganza, look no further than Lollapalooza, a Chicago favorite. The annual four-day music festival brings attendees from across the globe to historic Grant Park, where they are treated to sets from a diverse lineup of musicians specializing in rock, hip-hop, dance and other genres. Whether you are a seasoned festival seeker or a first-timer, Lollapalooza always raises the bar on the concert going experience. This year’s line-up will include performances by headliners SZA, Hozier and Blink-182.
August 1-4, Grant Park

Pitchfork
For a day’s worth of cutting-edge music, the Pitchfork Music Festival doesn’t disappoint. Held annually in Union Park, the three-day festival is famous for its eclectic, contemporary vibe that showcases pop, jazz, hip-hop and metal. Among this year’s most noteworthy artists performing are the Black Pumas, Carly Rae Jepsen and De La Soul.
July 21-23, Union Park

Lollapalooza 3 - by Nathan Zucker for Lollapalooza .jpg

Lollapalooza
Credit: Nathan Zucker for Lollapalooza

Courtesy of NASCAR.JPG

NASCAR Chicago Street Race
Credit: Courtesy of NASCAR

MEDIA &
LIVE ENTERTAINMENT

Navy Pier Fireworks
Starting Memorial Day weekend and continuing through Labor Day weekend, Navy Pier’s weekly fireworks shows will light up the sky. Families, couples and friends can gather at various points near Lake Michigan to see the amazing displays that Navy Pier organizes annually at no cost. Set against the backdrop of the lake, each fireworks show provides onlookers with bright views of an unforgettable, pyrotechnic experience.
May 25-Aug. 31, Navy Pier 


Sundance Institute x Chicago
Chicago has long been a filmmaking hotspot, and cinematic history is central to Chicago’s art scene. That legacy will be further enhanced this summer with Sundance Institute x Chicago 2024, a collaborative event between the city and the prestigious Sundance Institute. With three days’ worth of film screenings, Sundance Institute x Chicago 2024 will also feature a short film program and Q&A sessions with renowned filmmakers, among other events.
June 28-30, Various locations

NASCAR Chicago Street Race Weekend

NASCAR’s downtown Chicago street race debuted in 2023, and this year the fun returns for motorsport enthusiasts, locals and visitors alike. From the thrilling race to the interactive, family-friendly events taking place throughout the event, the two-day Street Race Weekend promises an exhilarating time for all in attendance. The festival will host a concert the day before the race with performances by the Chainsmokers, the Black Keys, Keith Urban and Lauren Alaina. Additionally, the day prior to the race, the festival will host a house music showcase featuring DJs and artists like Wayne Williams, Bad Boy Bill and Byron Stingily.  

July 6-7, Grant Park
 

Millennium Park Summer Film Series 

Every summer, visitors and locals head to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park for free movie nights. Films are shown every Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m., and attendees can bring picnic blankets, snacks and refreshments to watch blockbusters, award-winners and classic films on the pavilion’s big screen. 

July 9- August 27, Millennium Park

NEIGHBORHOOD CELEBRATIONS &
FESTIVALS

Randolph Street Market
Advertising itself as America’s largest urban antiques market, the renowned Randolph Street Market is a great place to support local businesses specializing in vintage finds, artisanal goods and other eclectic treasures. Boasting an impressive selection of goods ranging in price, style and craft, this West Loop institution is a treasure for neighborhood residents, as well as out-of-town visitors.
May 25-26, 1341 W. Randolph St.

 

Chicago Pride Fest 

Celebrate diversity and equality with loved ones and newfound friends at Chicago Pride Fest, the annual commemoration of LGBTQ+ pride and culture. Held in the Boystown neighborhood, this Chicago festival staple is a joyous weekend of music, art and activism. From colorful parades to inspiring performances by LGBTQ+ artists and allies, Pride Fest’s messages of love and community are sure to reverberate citywide even after the event wraps up. 

June 22-23, Northalsted on Halsted St. from Addison to Grace St.
 

Wicker Park Fest
Nearly 75,000 city residents and visitors flocked to Wicker Park last year for its annual neighborhood festival, which in 2024 celebrates its 20th anniversary. Most notable for its live music, the Wicker Park Fest’s lineup is curated, in part, by the iconic live and local music venue Subterranean. At the festival, attendees can discover the talents of budding artists, browse through the culinary and craft selections of various vendors, as well as tap into the excitement of Wicker Park’s surrounding nightlife.
July 28-30, Intersection of North Ave., Milwaukee Ave., and Damen St.

Chicago Pride Fest by Chris Perardi.jpg

Chicago Pride Fest
Credit: Steven Koch

FOOD

Ribfest Chicago
Get your taste buds ready for the smoky and semisweet flavors of Ribfest Chicago. Set in the charming Northcenter neighborhood, Ribfest 2024 will bring together some of the city’s favorite rib vendors and pitmasters for the ultimate summer celebration of barbecue bliss. Attendees can vote for their favorite rendition of the classic recipe from barbecue masters of the event, which includes live performances and kids activities during the weekend of culinary fun. This year’s Ribfest will also feature a whiskey tasting comprised of 30 local and global brands.
June 14-16, Along Lincoln Ave., between Irving Park Rd. and Berteau Ave.

Windy City Smokeout
Get ready for the Windy City Smokeout, an annual celebration of barbecue, beer and country music. Held on the grounds of the United Center, this three-day festival brings skilled grillmasters from across the city and the country to showcase their tasty, fired-up delicacies. From slow-cooked brisket to pulled pork sandwiches, and with all the necessary sides like macaroni and cheese, the Smokeout is most worthy of smoky, meaty praise! This year’s event also includes performances from top country artists such as Carrie Underwood and Cody Johnson.
July 11-14, United Center

Taste of Chicago
What would summer in Chicago be without the Taste of Chicago? Established in 1980, this premier culinary and live entertainment extravaganza celebrates the diverse flavors of the Windy City, bringing food connoisseurs, chefs and vendors from Chicago and beyond out to Grant Park. At the Taste, festivalgoers can sample various dishes representing the city’s innovative fare. Whether deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hotdogs, barbecue turkey legs or sweet treats like ice cream and shaved ice, each bite holds a special memory of summertime in Chicago lasting beyond the season. And if that weren’t enough, this year’s Taste will host neighborhood pop-up events in Rogers Park, Marquette Park and Pullman Park, all of which will take place before the big event gets underway in September.
September 6-8, Grant Park

 

For more summer events in Chicago, go to:
https://www.choosechicago.com/articles/chicago-music/top-summer-music-festivals-in-chicago/

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