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We’re almost halfway through summer in Chicago and it feels like the fun is just beginning. Navy Pier has started their weekly fireworks, movies in the park are in full swing, and Miko’s Italian Ice has opened for the season to serve locals sweet treats on “hot” days.
If you’re still looking for something to do on the weekends, I can almost guarantee that somewhere, there’s a festival going on. Around town, festivals come in all forms and celebrate everything you can imagine. From hot dogs to heritage, most street fests only require a small donation.
When I’m not traveling, my summer schedule quickly fills up with festivals. A few years ago, my husband and I decided to take a Saturday and go to every street fest we could, starting the day at the German-American Fest in Lincoln Square and ending it at our fourth fest of the day, Renegade Craft Fair. However, we still felt like we could’ve made to a few more if time allowed!
That being said, here are a few festivals I’d recommend!
Randolph Street Market Festival, July 25 & 26
If finding vintage and antique treasures brings you as much joy as it brings me, the Randolph Street Market Festival is a place you should make time to check out. Surrounded by some of the best restaurants Chicago has to offer, this festival provides a great environment to browse and bargain with over 250 vendors. And it’s a great idea if it is just too hot outside, as the market extends to an air conditioned, indoor area.
This festival does require an $8 general admission ticket, but bring the family because kids under 12 get in free. If you happen to miss the event in July, fear not—the Randolph Street Market has additional dates in August and September.
The Randolph Street Market is located at the 1350 Block of W. Randolph Street.
Wicker Park Fest, July 25 & 26
Music, food, shopping—all the best of Wicker Park in one weekend. Conveniently located right off the Damen Blue Line, it is easy to spend a full day wandering around the Wicker Park Fest. The arts area always has interesting and compelling works, this year featuring local neighborhood performances produced by Out of Site. There is also a complete lineup of can’t miss musical acts including Pianos Become the Teeth, Deafheaven, and Veruca Salt.
It is hard to talk about Wicker Park Fest and not talk about the awesome sales nearby. Every year, the stores along Milwaukee Ave. have specials that will leave your shopping bags and wallets full. If art and music don’t interest you, you will not want to miss these deals. Wicker Park Fest asks for a $5 suggested donation for entry and has bike parking available for locals riding down.
The Wicker Park Fest can be found on Milwaukee Ave., from North Ave. to Paulina St.
Chicago Hot Dog Fest, August 7-9
Many of us, myself included, are still recovering from last year’s closure of the beloved Hot Doug’s, but the Chicago Hot Dog Fest might help us fill that gap. After a great turnout last year, this fest has expanded to three days, all to celebrate the Chicago staple. The event also provides a lineup of bands so you can work off the hot dogs with a little dancing.
Entry is free, but food tickets must be purchased to try any of the hot dogs.
The Chicago Hot Dog Fest is located at Clark and LaSalle at the Chicago History Museum.
Chicago Jazz Festival, September 3-6
There is something really special about listening to music in the middle of downtown with the city surrounding. The Chicago Jazz Festival provides the perfect setting, offering guests peaceful weekend listening to musicians from all around the world. The fest opens at the Chicago Cultural Center with Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9 and concludes on September 6th with Muhal Richard Abrams’ Experimental Band at the Jay Pritzker Pavillion in Millennium Park.
In addition to the music, there will also be shopping and food for sale among various vendors. I love to bring a blanket and a few snacks to make a day of it. This event is free to attend and taking public transit is recommended.
The Chicago Jazz Festival is located at Millennium Park.
Renegade Craft Fair, September 19-20
Now, I may be a bit biased towards the Renegade Craft Fair because it’s steps away from my house, but it is one of my favorite summertime events. With so many unique crafts and items for sale, it’s hard to walk away empty-handed. Renegade includes artists from all over the country and local vendors selling plenty of Chicago-specific items, perfect for displaying your city pride. There’s really something for everyone at this fair.
The Renegade Craft Fair is accessible between the Division and Damen Blue Line stations and also has ample bike parking.
What about you? What are your favorite festivals in Chicago? What about your home town?