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SUMMER SOUNDS

In addition to cool lake breezes, summer in Chicago is filled with music. A wealth of fantastic festivals awaits you.

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Nearly every summer weekend there's a festival going on in Chicago. At last count, there were around 200 festivals around town between March and September. Most of them have music.

One of the biggest, if only because it runs all summer long, is the Grant Park Music Festival. Concerts are free, picnics encouraged, and the range of music is as broad as the skyline. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra might play one night and a rock group the next.

Millennium Park also hosts free concert series throughout the summer.  Downtown Sound features an eclectic mix of cutting-edge indie rock, pop and rock veterans.  Loops and Variations, the park's newest series, mixes new music with electronica.  Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz returns this summer showcasing blues, boogie, Latin, Bop and beyond. No matter your choice, get ready to groove.

In July, the City hosts Taste of Chicago with top tastes and tunes. You can sample many signature Chicago dishes (heart-healthy pierogis showed up last year) with free music all day. Grab a slice of deep-dish pizza and listen to some country & western (Loretta Lynn) or R&B/soul (Natalie Cole).

The Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park draws a heavy indie crowd. With more than 80 acts, you're bound to find a few sounds you like.

And, if you miss Pitchfork, you can head back to Union Park a few weeks later for the North Coast Music Festival, which features another 40 to 50 bands.

The big daddy, of course, is Lollapalooza, which settled in Chicago in 2005, and has expanded greatly to occupy almost every square inch of Grant Park. This year's headliners include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, Black Sabbath and Jack White. The earlier you buy your tickets, the better the price. Chicago rocks hard when Lollapalooza comes to town.

Just pick your favorite musical genre, and you'll find a festival that features it. There's the annual Chicago Jazz Festival and the Chicago Blues Festival. Up north, the Old Town School of Folk Music hosts the Square Roots Festival with a decidedly global feel.

The list goes on. Last year, more than 700 acts came to play during our summer festival season, so you'll definitely be able to take your pick when you are here.

Article photo: Jay Pritzker Pavilion © Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, City of Chicago

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