If you are visiting Chicago or just making plans for the summer, check out our list of MUST-DO events in Chicago, which include concerts, neighborhood festivals, lakefront activities, downtown Chicago activities and more! So get out your calendars and begin to reserve these dates for awesome Chicago fun!
MUST-DO SUMMER EVENTS:
MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive
June 6 – June 9
The highly trafficked Lake Shore Drive is shut down for a day as thousands of cyclists pedal the 30-mile-long street.
Chicago Blues Festival
June 6 – June 9
The largest free blues festival in the world features famed performers who play to more than a half million music fans.
Twix Presents: TBS Just for Laughs Chicago
June 11 – June 16
Some of the country’s funniest comedians and popular headliners will be in Chicago for a week long laugh fest.
Grant Park Music Festival
June 12 – August 17
Bring your picnic blanket and spread out at the Grant Park Music Festival taking place at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park while listening to the nation’s only free outdoor classical music series, now in its 79th season.
Taste of Chicago
June 9 – June 13
One of the world’s largest food festivals takes over Grant Park with live musical performances and, of course, a showcase of the best area restaurants.
Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon
Leave your headphones at home, this 13 mile run features live music every mile. The race starts and finishes in Grant Park.
August 2 – 4
Grant Park plays the role of the world’s largest sold out stadium as hundreds of thousands of music lovers gather for this annual festival
Chicago Air & Water Show
August 17 – 18
The largest free show of its kind in the country brings people to the lake front for a jaw-dropping demonstration of boats and planes.
CHICAGO MUSIC FESTIVALS:
Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival
Where to find it: Lakeview – N. Sheffield Ave. between Belmont Ave. and School St.
Boasting some of the best local music acts in town, this fest is where you can explore arts, crafts and fashion while enjoying a variety of food and drink.
Chicago Gospel Music Festival
Where to find it: Various locations
Renowned gospel artists perform on stages throughout the city, including Ellis Park.
Pitchfork Music Festival
Where to find it: Union Park
A launching pad for major music careers, Pitchfork is where you can discover more than 40 of independent music’s best bands and artists.
Chicago Jazz Festival
August 29-September 1
Where to find it: Millennium Park
This 35th annual free event is known for attracting some of the top names in jazz for four days of blowout tunes.
North Coast Music Fest
August 30-September 1
Where to find it: Union Park
This free-spirited fest, which bills itself as “Summer’s Last Stand,” features hip-hop, electronica and jam bands as well as food vendors and craft beer.
CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD FESTIVALS:
Where to find it: Lakeview – Ashland Ave. and Barry Ave.
German food, dancing and plenty of beer are the mainstays of this festive summer event.
Where to find it: Andersonville – Clark St. between Foster Ave. and Catalpa Ave.
Join more than 50,000 people for two family- and LGBT friendly days of music, entertainment, food and artisans showcasing their wares.
Wells Street Art Festival
Where to find it: Old Town -Wells St. between Division St. and North Ave.
See eclectic pieces of art – from paintings to glasswork- by more than 250 juried artists at this fest, one of the city’s largest and most acclaimed fine arts happenings.
Puerto Rican Parade
Where to find it: Loop – Columbus Dr. and Balbo Dr.,
Celebrate Puerto Rican culture with this family-friendly procession of floats, folk dancers, reggaetón music and salsa dancers.
Old St. Pat’s World’s Largest Block Party
Where to find it: Loop – Old St. Patrick’s Church
Meet and mingle with new people and single Chicagoans amid live music from big name bands and great food.
Fourth of July Fireworks
Where to find it: Navy Pier
Watch the sky light up during a spectacular fireworks show choreographed to a patriotic score.
Windy City Ribfest
Where to find it: Uptown – Lawrence Ave. and Broadway St.,
The best local and national ribbers mix it up with three days of classic and hot music acts at this fifth-annual summer festival.
Chinatown Dragon Boat Races
Where to find it: Chinatown -Ping Tom Memorial Park
Watch teams compete in a race along the Chicago River on beautifully decorated dragon boats, plus explore music, food, crafts and performances from Chicago’s cultural centers.
Green City Market Chefs’ BBQ Benefit
Where to find it: Lincoln Park
See nearly 100 of the city’s celebrity chefs partner with Chicago farmers to create dishes from a bounty of local foods, from meats to produce to cheese.
Chinatown Summer Fair
Where to find it: Chinatown – Wentworth Ave. between Cermak Rd. and 24th St.
Enjoy the best in Asian cultural entertainment, including a Dragon and Lion Dance Procession, live music, food, Chinese arts and crafts exhibits, street vendors, a children’s play area and more.
Northhalsted Market Days
August 10 – 11
Where to find it: Boystown – North Halsted Street
The Midwest’s largest two day street festival attracts over 100,000 people gather to celebrate the LGBT community, enjoy live music, and shop for arts and crafts.
The Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival
August 23- September 2
Where to find it: The Magnificent Mile
The nation’s first shopping festival celebrates its third year with stylish events, fashion shows, culinary demos, concerts and more.
NEW AT THE MUSEUMS:
“Scenes from the Stone Age: The Cave Paintings of Lascaux”
March 20-September 8, 2013
In September 1940, four teenagers stumbled across engravings of animals in a cave in southern France. Little did they know they’d stumbled across priceless works from our early ancestors more than 20,000 years ago. The Field Musuem is unveiling a monumental re-creation of the cave with full-size replicas of the artwork, including some never-before-seen paintings.
“Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence”
March 7 – September 8
Explore the mysterious world of creatures that blink, glow, flash and flicker, from glowworms to illuminated deep-sea fish.
“Animals Inside Out”
March 14 – September 2
The makers of BODY WORLDS give you the chance to explore the inner workings of some of the world’s most impressive animals.
“Tradition Transformed: Late Roman and Early Byzantine Treasures from the British Museum”
November 11, 2012-August 2013
In November 2012, the Art Institute of Chicago celebrated the opening of the new Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art with a special presentation of late Roman and early Byzantine treasures from the British Museum. The exhibition features more than 35 incomparable examples of late antique and early Byzantine art produced between A.D. 330-700 in the period’s great cultural capitals, including Rome, Constantinople, and Alexandria.
“Picasso and Chicago”
February 20 – May 12
Picasso and Chicago tells the story of this unique 100-year relationship between the artist and the city. It documents the development of Picasso’s career alongside the growth of Chicago’s collections and cultural institutions. The exhibit brings together over 250 of the finest examples of the artist’s paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings and ceramics.
“Impressionism, Fashion & Modernity”
June 26 – September 22
Travel back to 1860-1880s France to see the worlds of art and fashion collide through nearly 80 major figure paintings, portraits, photographs, advertisements and contemporary costumes.
“Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair”
March 16, 2013 – January 5, 2014
Relive the experience of the Ebony Fashion Fair, as garments from Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior and more tell the story of this world-renowned fashion show.
April 27 – Fall 2013
Shedd Aquarium invites guests to explore the underwater grace and wonder of stingrays in a new hands-on special exhibit. The outdoor seasonal exhibit will allow guests to see – and feel – the texture and movement of these gentle gliding animals.