We know the winter can be harsh, and we know the last year has been tough, but as last year's restrictions begin to ease, the city's summer festival schedule is looking like a great one.
Chicago in the summer is the greatest city in the world, after all, and it's time to get some fresh air. So you do what you need to do, but get out there and enjoy.
Listed below are all of Chicago's 2021 summer festivals that we know about. If you'd like your favorite festival to be included and we can confirm it's happening, send a message to: email@example.com.
July 29 - August 1
Locals often try to avoid it and, after one of Mayor Lightfoot's cringiest videos yet, the biggest cranks and music snobs may want to cancel it forever:
It’s happening. @Lollapalooza returns.— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) May 18, 2021
In alignment with our public health guidance, the world class festival returns to the city later this summer. However, full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test will be required to enjoy the festivities.
Get vaxxed. #OpenChicago pic.twitter.com/yQCSyYJQiz
But hey, it's the big one here and the reality is it's one of the biggest music festivals in the western hemisphere and, most importantly, it means summer in Chicago is officially back, baby.
And it makes your summer all the better if you can catch one of the bands at a secret show somewhere through the city, but we don't have any idea about where they'll be...
We'll update this post when we have the official schedule, but check out the 2021 Lollapalooza lineup below:
Tyler the Creator
Megan Thee Stallion
Band of Horses
Jimmy Eat World
Young the Giant
Angels & Airwaves
All Time Low
The Front Bottoms
Black Pistol Fire
Peach Tree Rascals
The Backseat Lovers
Aly & AJ
Brownies & Lemonade All Stars
Riz La Vie
Jake Wesley Rogers
As a thank you to those who purchased tickets for the canceled 2020 Riot Fest, those who already had a ticket to Riot Fest 2020 — or anyone who bought a ticket by July 16, 2020 — will gain admission to a special Thursday Preview Party on September 16, 2021. This extra night of Riot Fest will be jam-packed with secret sets from mystery bands, some of which will be Thursday exclusives. You can finally take that Ferris wheel ride, get first dibs on hot merch, and stuff your face with your favorite fried foods.
You can read more about the Thursday Night Preview here, and check out the official lineup below:
Friday, September 17
The Smashing Pumpkins
Coheed and Cambria
Lupe Fiasco (performing The Cool)
Submlime with Rome
Motion City Soundtrack
The Lawrence Arms
Amigo the Devil
Meet Me @ the Altar
Saturday, September 18
Run the Jewels
Faith No More
Taking Back Sunday
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Les Savy Fav
Four Year Strong
Man on Man
The Orphan The Poet
Devon Kay & The Solutions
Sunday, September 19
Nine Inch Nails
Machine Gun Kelly
New Found Glory
The Ghost Inside
The Weak Days
Pitchfork Music Fest
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 and craft fairs, the festival works to support local businesses while promoting the Chicago arts and food communities as a whole.
Friday, September 10
The Fiery Furnaces
Kelly Lee Owens
The Soft Pink Truth
Saturday, September 11
Ty Segall & Freedom Band
Georgia Anne Muldrow
Sunday, September 12
The Weather Station
Mariah the Scientist
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Consecutive Weekends from May 27 - June 13
Fanfare (May 27, 28, 29 & 30)
A program of triumphant music by American composers, featuring musicians from the CSO brass and percussion sections, heralds the return of live concerts at Symphony Center. Works by Aaron Copland and Samuel Barber paint the sounds of traditional fanfare and chorale with modernist colors, and themes by Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Bernstein and Gunther Schuller reflect the electric influence of jazz and film music.
Strum (June 3, 4, 5 & 6)
Franz Schubert’s sunny and tuneful Fifth Symphony anchors a program led by former CSO Solti Conducting Apprentice Erina Yashima that includes two of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Noveletten, which feature expansive melodies propelled by rhythmic energy. Zoltán Kodály pays homage to the folk music of his native Hungary in Dances of Galánta, while Strum, by incoming Mead Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery, draws folkish timbres from the familiar classical string orchestra.
Overture (June 10, 11, 12 & 13)
In the final in-person concert of the 2020/21 season, celebrated conductor Edo de Waart leads a program that offers a prelude to live music in the season ahead. Wagner’s sun-soaked Siegfried Idyll, first performed as a birthday gift for his wife Cosima, is a poignant musical love letter that sheds light on the composer’s intimate side. Two works by Mozart — the stormy overture to Don Giovanni and the indelible Symphony No. 40 — bookend this spirited program.
MCA's Tuesdays on the Terrace
Museum of Contemporary Art
Tuesdays @ 5:30pm. June 1 - August 31.
Summer Tuesdays come alive on the MCA’s Anne and John Kern Terrace Garden with free music highlighting artists from Chicago’s internationally renowned jazz community. Enjoy two sets of live music beginning at 5:30 pm hosted by Al Carter-Bey, WDCB 90.9 FM and Richton Guy Thomas, WHPK 88.5 FM, in a safe, socially distant outdoor environment. Free tickets must be reserved in advance.
In case of inclement weather, the event will be canceled. Announcements will be made by 2pm each week.
Food and beverage are available for purchase on the upper terrace. Options on Tuesdays include light refreshments and a full bar with cold beverages, wine, and cocktails. Outside alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
Masks are required for entry and must be worn at all times, except while seated.
June 1: Alexis Lombre’s Ancestral Awakenings
June 8: Thaddeus Tukes and the Chicago Freedom Ensemble
June 15: Victor Garcia Quartet
June 22: Chuck Webb’s Guru Tonic
June 29: Edwin Sanchez and Papo Santiago co-organized with the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center
July 6: Twin Talk (Katie Ernst, Dustin Laurenzi, and Andrew Green)
July 13: Junius Paul / Tomeka Reid Duo
July 20: The Fred Anderson Legacy Band featuring Tatsu Aoki
July 27: Ethan Philion Quartet
August 3: Sharel Cassity
August 10: Greg Artry Quartet
August 17: Maggie Brown
August 24: Mwata Bowden’s One Foot In, One Foot Out
August 31: Alexander McLean Project
Old Town Art Fair
Old Town Triangle Historic District
There will be 200+ nationally acclaimed artists, an estimated 10,000 art lovers, a Garden Walk, Live Music, Food Court and Children’s Corner. Gates open Saturday 10:00 am to 7:00 pm and Sunday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, rain or shine.
Pride in the Park
The Vixen Denali Foxx
Kara Mel D'Ville
Zoliy Miyake Mugler for Ballroom Pride
418 Sheridan Rd
Highland Park, IL 60035
July 1 - September 26
Ravinia Festival's complete 2021 summer lineup features more than 60 events from July 1 through September 26, including the 85th annual residency of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with Marin Alsop stepping into the role of Chief Conductor and Curator for the very first time.
In addition to returning favorites such as Train and The Beach Boys, each for two nights, plus Ben Folds, Gladys Knight, Willie Nelson & Family, violinists Joshua Bell and Midori, and the annual Tchaikovsky Spectacular concert, this summer’s schedule will feature 47 festival premieres and 30 artist debuts, including star singers Cynthia Erivo and Julia Bullock with the CSO, plus Brian McKnight, Yacht Rock Revue, King Crimson, The Zappa Band, Ana Bárbara, and Las Cafeteras.
Grant Park Music Festival
July 2 - August 21
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.
The Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus return to Millennium Park with a thrilling lineup of Festival favorites, including the Grieg Piano Concerto, the New World Symphony, the William Tell Overture, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun plus plenty of family fun with Carnival of the Animals, Classic Broadway and the annual Independence Day Salute.
All concerts are free with reserved seats for all concertgoers and will take place Wednesday, Fridays, and Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. Run time will be 90 minutes, without intermission.
The Windy City Smokeout
United Center Parking Lot
Do you like BBQ? Do you like Beer? Do you like Country music? Then just buy a ticket. You won't find a better event in this town that gives you all three.
Thursday, July 8
Friday, July 9
Saturday, July 10
Cody Canada & the Departed
Sunday, July 11
Randy Rogers Band
Southport Art Fair
Waveland and Southport Avenues
The Southport Art Festival is a juried art event that takes place features work showcasing a massive range of styles. The two-day street festival highlights some of the city's most innovative and revered artists in a family-friendly setting. Additional attractions include a children's game area, live music performances, and various food vendors.
Sundays on State
State Street from Madison to Lake
July 11 - up to 12 Sundays
A new venture by the Chicago Loop Alliance, they invite you to come together with neighbors from every Chicago community and beyond for this free, interactive block party, while safely enjoying art, culture, active recreation, retail, bars, restaurants, and local attractions to experience everyone’s neighborhood, the Loop.
Chicago Auto Show
The Chicago Auto Show has received approval from state and city officials to host a special edition of the show July 15-19 at McCormick Place. The Chicago Auto Show will be one of the McCormick Place's first live, in-person events since the pandemic shutdown.
The special edition show will move to the West Building of the McCormick Place complex and expand outdoors to take advantage of July weather. With the show's move, attendees will now experience more outdoor test drive opportunities, test tracks and technology demonstrations, which will take place along Indiana Avenue and surrounding city streets. Auto show fans will be able to enjoy favorites like the Camp Jeep and Ram Truck indoor test tracks as well as Subaru's popular pet adoption event. Ford has also embraced the show's outdoor space availability with experiences featuring the new Bronco, Bronco Sport, and all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV.
Millennium Art Festival
Lake St. at Michigan Ave.
Popping up for a three-day weekend, top-ranked art and design show Millennium Art Festival brings the art of happiness to the heart of downtown Chicago. Millennium Art Festival embodies Amdur Productions’ dedication to crafting an experience of art exploration. An array of artwork, including paintings, ceramics, photography, and furniture, showcases the talents of more than 110 juried artists who participate in this city-centric festival. Millennium Art Festival infuses a creative spirit into Chicago’s urban streets.
Race to Mackinac
The sailboats are back and so is the 112th running of the greatest freshwater distance race in the world, the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac™ presented by Wintrust.
Chinatown Summer Fair
Wentworth Avenue from Cermak Avenue to 24th Place
July 31 - August 1
This neighborhood street festival will open with a lion dance procession at 12:30 p.m., a welcome at 1 p.m. on the main stage, followed by Asian performances, kung fu demonstrations, samplings from Chinatown’s restaurants & unique gift shops, arts & crafts exhibits, street vendors with an array of merchandise, a children’s area with pony rides, and petting zoo.
Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest
On Sheffield from Belmont to Roscoe St.
It’s back for mid-July.
No matter when held, expect to have a blast at this popular 36th annual street happening on Sheffield Avenue in the heart of the Lakeview neighborhood (and just steps from the Belmont 'L' station).
Don’t miss top local tribute bands on the main stage (near Roscoe), great eats, beer and wine, and artisans. Also expect an eclectic “community” entertainment stage near Belmont filled with fun neighborhood music acts, deejays, and other performers.
Chicago Latin Jazz Festival
Humboldt Park Boathouse
The Chicago Latin Jazz Festival returns to Humboldt Park this summer with a concert featuring a lineup of the hottest Latin Jazz ensembles. While free, pre-registration is required. JazzCity is a free concert series initiated in 1997 by the Jazz Institute of Chicago in collaboration with the Chicago Park District to bring people together from across the city to listen to Chicago's top jazz musicians. In accordance with Be Safe Chicago Guidelines for Parks and Recreation Activities, participants in this activity will be required to wear a mask and practice social distancing at all times while participating. Patrons who are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 are asked to stay home and join us for an event when symptoms subside.
Lincoln Park Greek Fest
St. George Greek Orthodox Church
Come experience the Ancient Greek concept of “filoxenia” and the famous hospitality of the Greek culture. This popular annual cultural celebration on the grounds of St. George Greek Orthodox Church will serve up authentic flavorful food, great music, dancing, and fun.
Northalsted Market Days
Halsted Street from Belmont to Addison
The annual Northalsted Market Days is a weekend long festival celebrating life & community in Chicago’s historic Northalsted/Lakeview district. The 1/2 mile long festival features all-day lineups of live music on 5 stages, 250+ unique vendors, arts, crafts, food and drink, DJ’s and dancing, sponsor booths, and more!
Estimated attendance exceeds 100,000 people from near and far, representing all colors of the rainbow!
Printers Row Art Fair
Dearborn Street from Harrison to Polk
The festival showcases the beauty, creativity and culture of the area. Held on Dearborn Street from Polk to Harrison, the Printer’s Row Art Fest will be a buying opportunity for art lovers of all ages. There will be art from all price points by painters, street artists, jewelers, up-cycling artists, artisans of all kinds, photographers, and mixed media artists. Area restaurants and bars will be on hand to serve up their Chicago specialties.
Retro on Roscoe
Roscoe St. & Damen Ave.
Chicagoans looking for a blast from the past don’t need to look further than the 24th annual Retro on Roscoe festival. Go back in time with music enthusiasts, families, and gearheads for a back in the day weekend.
Three stages will be spread amongst a six-block stretch in Chicago’s Roscoe Village. Live music will play oldies and throwbacks along with popular hits to keep festival goers moving through the hot summer nights.
Admission to Retro on Roscoe is a $10 suggested donation. The Roscoe Village Neighbors are a non-profit organization comprised of volunteers that work hard daily to ensure committed excellence in advocacy of quality-of-life for Roscoe Village, its residents, and merchants alike.
Edison Park Fest
6730 N. Olmsted Avenue
August 13-15 (tentative dates)
Edison Park Fest has applied for a city permit and are awaiting word if any festival will be allowed.
If granted the permit by the City of Chicago and liquor license which is issued by the State of Illinois, Edison Park Fest will be held August 13-15. Entertainment line-up will be the same from 2020.
Wells Street Art Festival
Wells Street in Old Town
Over 225 juried artists from across the continent. A number of disciplines are represented -- from traditional painting and sculpture, to artisan woodworking and metalsmithing, jewelcraft, the digital arts, and more.
The Wells Street Art Festival has a dedicated performance stage in the rear lot of O'Briens Restaurant (1528 N. Wells). Local music, performance artists, and cover/tribute bands are featured here throughout the weekend.
The children's play area is located at the corner of Wells Street and Evergreen Street.
Addams/Medill Park, Pilsen
Café Tacvba returns to the headlining stage. They’ll be delivering a closing performance Sunday night. They’ll be releasing many, many more bands and attractions for Ruido Fest 2021 as the event approaches.
Summer Smash Festival, presented by indie hip-hop promoter SPKRBX Presents and Cole Bennett's media platform Lyrical Lemonade, has turned into one of the Midwest's largest indie music festivals and is returning as a three-day event.
Lil Uzi Vert
Waka Flocka Flame
Ski Mask The Slump God
The Kid LAROI.
Yung Baby Tate
Benny the Butcher
First Class Bee
Gold Coast Art Fair
Grant Park - Butler Field
The annual Gold Coast Art Fair returns to Chicago’s Grant Park in Butler Field for its 64th year. The award-winning Art Fair welcomes 200 juried artists from across the country to create an exceptional, shoppable weekend experience in Chicago. This year, festival attendees will find beautiful artwork in all mediums and at all price points, as well as artist demonstrations. Tickets for the Gold Coast Art Fair are $10 per person, per day with children 12 and under admitted for free.
New this year, the Gold Coast Art Fair will feature an Emerging Artist Section at the show.
Recently announced and details coming soon.
September 2-4, 9-11, and 16-18.
Many jokingly refer to Milwaukee as a Chicago suburb but don't read that as a bad thing, especially when they boast such a great event like Summerfest. This year's diverse lineup includes Chance the Rapper, Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, Black Pumas, Wilco, Nelly, Chris Stapleton, Sheryl Crow, Green Day, Fallout Boy, Luke Bryan, Zac Brown, Rise Against, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Diplo, Guns 'N Roses, and many more.
Quite frankly, there are too many to list. Just buy a ticket and make the hour and a half trip up the shore.
Printers Row Lit Fest
Dearborn Street, from Polk Street to the newly renamed Ida B. Wells Drive (formerly Congress Parkway).
The Printers Row Lit Fest, the largest free outdoor literary showcase in the Midwest, is a community-based celebration for book lovers presented by the not-for-profit Near South Planning Board. Headlining the festival will be National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates. More details to come.
Hyde Park Jazz Festival
The Hyde Park Jazz Festival is a collaborative platform dedicated to supporting the presentation and ongoing development of jazz, particularly on the South Side of Chicago. The Hyde Park Jazz Festival expanded significantly and now includes more than 35 programs over 2 days in more than a dozen unique venues, presenting Chicago’s most exceptional musicians across age and "style" to crowds of nearly 20,000 community members and visitors.
Spring Awakening/Autumn Equinox
Traditionally one of the first festivals of the year called just Spring Awakening, this year it moved to late fall to accomodate the pandemic and became one of the last of the year while adding "Autumn Equinox" to the name.
Spring Awakening Music Festival 2021 features great electronic music across multiple stages. Check out a lineup stacked with house music, trap, dubstep, trance, future bass and more, that includes sets from acts like Diplo, Galantis, Martin Garrix, Dillon Francis, and Madeon.
Hint, hint: if you're an EDM music fan, you can almost certainly find a headliner's set somewhere, someplace in the city while they're in town for this festival. So start asking around...