20 venues host over 60 artists from 25 countries over 11 days — all free performances, all across the city — from September 9-25, 2016.

Back to Previous Page

It's the LARGEST and LONGEST RUNNING festival of international music in the U.S. and it takes place in Chicago!

The 18th Annual World Music Festival is your passport to musical genres that span the globe. Spicing up Chicago's already culturally-rich performing arts scene, the city-wide, multi-venue event features over 60 artists from 25 countries at 20 venues, including Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center, from September 9-25, 2016.

The festival of international music embraces well-known stars and emerging artists in genres that span between the traditional to contemporary. You can hear everything here — from Indian classical music to Bulgarian bagpipes to Ethio-Jazz, and much more!

It's a music free-for-all, in every sense. In addition to a lineup that fills 11 days and multiple local venues, all performances are FREE ADMISSION. Note, however, some venues have age minumims of 18 or 21 years and older.

Find artists, venues and more at the official website WorldMusicFestivalChicago.org.



This year's striking lineup includes a Millennium Park concert on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion stage; Ragamala, an all-night celebration of Indian classical music at the Chicago Cultural Center; and two performances by Sounds of China, a highly polished ensemble from Beijing that blends traditional Chinese music with forward-looking arrangements, mixing the ancient and the modern.

Opening Day Concert: Tsukasa Taiko (Chicago, USA)

  • Thursday, September 9 at 12 p.m.
  • Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington St.)

The Japanese drum ensemble's highly choreographed performances are dominated by a chorus of taikos generating thunderous rhythms, a visceral kick that audiences won't soon forget, but its vast repertoire represents many traditional Japanese approaches, and offers listeners something beyond that intensely physical spectacle.

Ragamala: A Celebration of Indian Classical Music

  • Friday, September 9 at 6 p.m.
  • Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.)

The Chicago Cultural Center hosts 15 straight hours of music that goes until 9 a.m. the next morning. A tradition in India, all-night classical concerts are rarely held in the United States. Showcasing 10 different groups and artists, this is a wonderful opportunity to hear ragas (traditional scales or modes) that are rarely performed in public and are only performed early in the morning or late at night.

IMAN Community Café + UChicago Arts Presents Alsarah & The Nubatones (Sudan/Brooklyn, USA) | J.A.S.S. Quartet (Chicago, USA)

  • Saturday, September 10 at 7 p.m.
  • University of Chicago Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts (915 E. 60th St.)

This co-headlining concert is presented in collaboration with Old Town School of Folk Music, as part of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art Residency Program and Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts.

A-Wa (Yemen/Israel) | Maya Kamaty (Reunion Island)

  • Thursday, September 15 at 7 p.m.
  • Lincoln Hall (2424 N. Lincoln Ave.)

A-Wa, a trio of sisters, collides reggae, techno, and hip-hop with effervescent harmony singing, delivering the slaloming melodies in precise unison that gives A-Wa its infectious personality. Reunion Island is home to a pair of dominant musical styles, both rooted in African drum-and-voice traditions: séga and maloya. Maya Kamaty is an adherent of the latter, and the tradition is literally in her blood.

Tenores di Neoneli + Orlando Mascia (Sardinia, Italy)

  • Friday, September 16 at 6 p.m.
  • Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.)

Presented in collaboration with ItalCultura, Istituto Italiano di Cultura and Regione Autonoma della Sardegna, Sardinia's canto a tenores tradition is one of the great, untouched vocal practices remaining on earth, with four male voices delivering breathtaking feats of polyphonic song. A lead voice, known as boghe, sings the primary melodic idea using a traditional poetic text, while the rest of the group shapes extraordinary harmonies.

Millennium Park Concert: Herencia de Timbiquí (Colombia) | Occidental Brothers Dance Band International (Chicago, USA)

  • Saturday, September 17 at 3 p.m.
  • Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion (201 E. Randolph St.)

Herencia de Timbiquí, an eleven-member group from Colombia, uses all sorts of rhythms and styles indigenous to the area but also liberally mixes in elements of reggae, salsa, funk, calypso, and rock into its electric, high-energy sound. Chicago's Occidental Brothers Dance Band International plays classic Central and West African dance music-specializing in soukous, Highlife, Rumba, Dry Guitar, and other delights from the great continent.

The 606 Walk + Peace Picnic with Juicebox Concerts

  • Sunday, September 18 from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Humboldt Park Boathouse (1301 N. Sacramento Ave.)

This special event is a day of family-friendly activities in celebration of the International Day of Peace. All ages are welcome to participate in instrument making stations, a peace procession and a global peace picnic. Performers include Rocky Dawuni (Ghana/USA), Herencia de Timbiquí (Colombia) and Rajab Suleiman & Kithara (Zanzibar, Tanzania).

Sounds of China (China)

  • Saturday, September 24 at 3 p.m.
  • Ping Tom Memorial Park (300 W. 19th St.)

Beijing's Sounds of China incorporates plenty of traditional instruments, however, Composer Ma Jiuyue's arrangements utterly recast the ancient melodies into thoroughly contemporary, rock-oriented settings with electric guitar, synthesizers, and a standard drum kit giving the performances a pop-like energy and sheen. This concert is presented in collaboration with the Chinese Ministry of Culture, the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Chicago and Choose Chicago.

Closing Night Concert: Kaynak Pipers Band (Bulgaria) | Yves Lambert Trio (Quebec, Canada) | Sounds of China (China)

  • Saturday, September 25 from 12 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
  • Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.)
World Music Festival Chicago closes with three acts from around the world. Kaynak Pipers Band from Bulgaria will change your thinking about the word "pipes," as the members play the kaba gaida, a regional type of bagpipes traditionally made from either goat or sheep hide. Quebec's Yves Lambert Trio conveys an abundant energy and style through a diverse array of tunes, but at its core is an irresistibly fierce intimacy and sense of camaraderie that characterizes the group's high-octane performances. Sounds of China mixes in bits of new age, pop, progressive rock, jazz, and cinematic grandeur. Several of the group's members are heavily involved in scoring and performing on film soundtracks in China.



For the most up-to-date and complete schedule, as well as artist backgrounds, visit the official website WorldMusicFestivalChicago.org.

Get the latest updates on performances and join the conversation on Facebook at facebook.com/WorldMusicFestivalChicago and on Twitter @WMFChicago.

Over 60 artists will play over the 11-day festival. The city's top live music venues will put on to the international showcase, including: Daley Plaza, Chicago SummerDance (Grant Park), Chop Shop & 1st Ward Events, Chicago Cultural Center, Concord Music Hall, University of Chicago Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, Martyrs', Uptown Lounge, Old Town School of Folk Music, Lincoln Hall, Metro, Thalia Hall, Millennium Park, DePaul University Concert Hall, Humboldt Park Boathouse, The Promontory, The Hideout, and Ping Tom Memorial Park.  

Featured Partners
Book a Trip
Find Hotels In
Check In
Check Out
Flying From
Find Packages In
Check In
Check Out