Chicago is host to hundreds of festivals throughout the summer, many drawing crowds from around the world. Most people are familiar with popular festivals such as Lollapalooza, the Taste of Chicago and Chicago Blues Festival but there are numerous smaller festivals that take place throughout the city that are equally as impressive and often with much smaller crowds. These festivals are often free or accept a suggested donation.

Food Festivals

There is no shortage of delicious food offerings in Chicago. The Taste of Chicago is one the nation’s most popular food festivals boasting a taste of the best of Chicago. While the food festival does showcase a wide variety of different tastes from around the city, Chicago also offers some food festivals focused on different foods and cuisines. Unlike the Taste of Chicago, these festivals take place in many different neighborhoods that give visitors a true taste of what Chicago is like.

Roscoe Village Burger Fest (July 13-15), Roscoe Village – One of the city’s most anticipated food festivals! Every year burger lovers flock to Roscoe Village to taste burgers from top restaurants in Chicagoland; $10 suggested donation.

Taste of Greektown (August 23-25), Greektown – Celebrating its 30th anniversary, this family-friendly festival offers a taste of the best restaurants in Greektown. Immerse yourself in Greek culture and entertainment while munching on gyros, souvlaki, souvlaki and other Greek eats. Don’t miss the roasted lamb on a spit that can be found a select vendors; $10 suggested donation.

Taste of Polonia (August 30-September 2nd), Jefferson Park – Did you know that Chicago is home to one of the largest Polish populations outside of Warsaw? Learn about how the Polish community contributed to building Chicago while eating delish pierogi, sausages and much more; $5 entry fee.

Neighborhood Festivals

Travelers often find themselves Downtown for a majority of their visit. Chicago has many different neighborhoods, each with a personality of its own.  Venture out to these neighborhood festivals and get a real feel of what it is like to spend a summer in Chicago.

West Fest (July 5-7), West Town – One of Chicago’s up and coming neighborhoods. This family friendly festival draws locals from all neighborhoods. Enjoy delicious eats and an impressive lineup of musical acts that range from live music to legendary Chicago House DJs; $5 suggested donation.

International Festival of Life (July 4-7), Jackson Park – Celebrate Afro & Caribbean cultures at the International Festival of Life, also known as, the Carnival of Nations. Here the community gathers to celebrate people from all over the world that help make Chicago unique and full of culture. This year the festival will pay tribute to Reggae music. IFOL is perfect for families. Early bird discount tickets are available.

Festival Cubano (August 9-11), Riis Park – Celebrating its 10th year, Festival Cubano, never fails to bring in some big name musical acts that will keep the entire park dancing all day and all night. This year the festival is boasting to be the largest dance party of the year bringing local favorite DJs like Bad Boy Bill and old time favorites like C&C Music Factory! All that dancing will surely make you hungry so grab some Cuban Sandwiches and other Cuban favorites like Ropa Vieja and Croquettes.

Music Festivals

Every year Lollapalooza, now a 4-day music festival, seems to sell out in nanoseconds. Don’t worry, Chicago has many more music festivals sure to please even the most critical audiophile. See your favorite bands or discover new up and coming artists at these festivals. Best of all, these festivals fit almost every budget.

Pitchfork Music Festival (July 19-21), Union Park – This festival brings in some of the top chart-topping musical acts along with some up-and-coming artists. This festival appeals to a wide audience with this wide array of musical genres represented in this 3 day festival.

Chicago Jazz Festival (August 23 – September 1), Downtown – Jazz lovers gather in Chicago in August to celebrate Jazz music throughout Chicago. Main headliners perform at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion, an impressive outdoor venue with incredible acoustics, while other jazz ensembles play at various venues throughout the city; free.

Riot Fest (September 13-15), Douglas Park – Riot Fest has gained popularity in the past few years and brings in some big acts and classic favorites. While it was originally a punk and metal festival the festival has included music from other genres bringing in classic favorites like Blondie in the past years and even bringing in hip-hop favorites like Wu-Tang Clan.

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