Spring is here, and that means the smell of corn, hot dogs, funnel cakes and ribs will soon waft from more than 400 festivals throughout Chicago. The city’s streets come alive as the weather warms, and street fairs bring neighbors together for food, dancing, art, music, garden walks and more.
Each neighborhood in Chicago has its own flavor, and each festival gives you a small taste. Be sure to mark your calendars for these five Chicago festivals, and visit the City of Chicago’s site for more.
Ribfest, June 6-8.
Behold 50,000 pounds of pork sizzling on grills at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue, Damen Avenue and Irving Park Road. Ribfest is one of the first food fests of the season, and Chicagoans come out in force to visit the North Center neighborhood and devour the ribs by the rack. With live music on two stages, kids’ activities and even an incredibly messy amateur rib-eating contest, Ribfest is a great way to kick off the summer.
Old Town Art Fair, June 14-15.
Nearly 40,000 people head to Chicago’s stately Old Town neighborhood every year to take in this outdoor, juried fine arts show. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the beloved festival, and art lovers will stream in from across town to browse the wares of more than 250 painters, sculptors, jewelry designers and artisans. (Main gate: Lincoln Ave. and Wisconsin St.). Aside from art, there’s food to sample, a garden walk, kids’ activities and more.
Hungry for even more art? Check out the nearby “rival” art fest, Wells Street Art Festival, on Wells Street between North and Division, which has a history of more than 40 years. Between shows, take a walk around the beautiful million-dollar brownstones of Old Town, one of the city’s toniest neighborhoods.
Chicago Pride, June 21-22 and 29.
The word “Pride” actually seems like an understatement, if you’ve ever been to this Chicago festival. More than 750,000 people converge on Boystown to celebrate with Chicago’s LGBT community during this two-day festival (June 21-22), which culminates the following week, June 29, with a four-mile parade. Expect a wild ride, particularly on parade day. Chicago’s Pride event is one of the largest of its kind in the world. The main thoroughfares get really packed for this one, so the crowd-shy may want to stick to the side streets. The parade kicks off at Montrose and Broadway avenues, heading south to Diversey Parkway and Sheridan Road.
Square Roots Music Festival, July 11-13.
This fun-for-the-whole-family fest gives neighbors a chance to check out the latest acts from the beloved Old Town School of Folk Music, located in the heart of the Lincoln Square neighborhood (Lincoln Ave. between Montrose and Wilson). The style of music, which fills two stages with more than 60 acts, ranges from indie to world, and vendors peddle dozens of regional craft brews. Art and musical activities for the kiddos ensure entertainment for all.
Sheffield Garden Walk and Music Festival, July 19-20.
It’s not every day you’re invited into the backyards of some of the city’s most beautiful homes. The Sheffield Garden Walk (at Sheffield and Webster avenues), now in its 46th year, is your passport behind the walls of more than 100 urban landscapes in the well-heeled Lincoln Park neighborhood. A vibrant street festival has grown around the event, and you’ll find live music, food vendors, a kids’ corner and more as you stroll through the lush landscapes.