May is the official kickoff of street festival season in the Chi and every month we'll be giving you a guide to the city's street festivals. Say goodbye to chilly weekends and hello to Saturdays full of sun kissed cheeks, food on a stick and live music. It's early in the season, but May brings a ton of exciting festivals. Consider your next four weekends booked with this month's eight must-visit block parties.
We drink a lot of beer here in Chicago -- and, no, it's not all Old Style (always). We're so fond of that hops laden, amber liquid that we dedicate a whole day to it with the American Beer Classic. Held at Soldier Field (where da Bears play) on May 11, the festival showcases dozens of local and not so local craft breweries. Note: unlike most Chicago fests, this one is 21+ (for obvious reasons).
Mayfest, May 17-19, is exactly what you'd think: a celebration of May as the official opener to summer. Full of fun for the whole family -- from cover bands to the beer garden to the pet pageant -- it's a great way to find out what these street festivals are all about. Mayfest is held at the corner of Ashland and Barry avenues (3100 N. Ashland). Entrance is $10.
For the first time this summer, the Electric Daisy Carnival will set up shop in the outskirts of Chicago at the Joliet Speedway. Combining ever increasingly popular electronic music and actual carnival rides, EDC started in Las Vegas and has branched out to other major cities in recent summers. The big headliners for its inaugural Chicago showdown include Avicii, Benny Benassi and David Guetta. It takes place May 24-26. Three-day and single day tickets are now on sale.
Perhaps your first shot of the summer at doing karaoke in the middle of the street while holding a hollow pineapple filled with rum, the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival is a Memorial Day weekend institution in Lakeview. Now in its 29th summer, this year's Belmont-Sheffield fest will host a slew of local cover bands and local artists showcasing their goods. It will be held Saturday and Sunday, May 25-26, on N. Sheffield Ave. between Belmont and School avenues. Typically, a $5 donation accompanies this festival.
Antiquers, start your engines. The Randolph Street Market Festival is all about vintage treasures and high-five worthy finds. Rounded out with food, beverages and a bit of live music, this festival--held once a a month May through December--makes for a great weekend in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood. New this year: a vinyl swapmeet and the additional of a global and high end foods market. For more info, check the website.
Not to be confused with the aforementioned Mayfest, Maifest--at the corner of Lincoln and Leland avenues--is a celebration of all things German. Strap on your lederhosen, fill das boot up with beer and go to town! This year Maifest takes place May 30 through June 2.
Once you get west of Ashland, Division Street in Ukrainian Village has one of the best up and coming bar and restaurant scenes in the city. The cool factor of the neighborhood gets amped up this year May 31 to June 2 with the addition of the Do Division festival (from Damen to Leavitt avenues). A live music lineup curated by west side venue favorites the Empty Bottle and Subterranean features headliners like Tilly and The Wall and Disappears.
Located right in the heart of downtown (Michigan Ave. and Lake St.) the Millennium Art Festival is a haven for Chicago artists of all kind looking to showcase their work--not to mention the art seekers searching for a new piece. This festival takes place May 31 through June 2.
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