Be sure to make time for these free-admission Chicago lakefront and citywide summer festivals.
June 23 - September 10, 2017
Visit Grant Park's Spirit of Music Garden for free dancing lessons and free live music on an alfresco stage. Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, professional instructors lead dancers of all ages and skill levels through one-hour dance lessons in styles like samba, cha-cha and tango, followed by two-hours of live music and dancing. It's the perfect way to learn some new moves while enjoying a summer evening.
Chicago Gospel Music Festival
June 2-3, 2017
Settle in for some powerful performances at the Chicago Gospel Music Festival. The free admission festival celebrates the genre's foundational roots in Chicago and will bring together local and national artists to the stunning downtown stage of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park.
Chicago Blues Festival
June 9-11, 2017
The largest free blues festival in the world moves to Millennium Park - Chicago's Premier Outdoor Music Venue this year. The Blues Festival will offer fans performances by the genres' leading artists, as well as a wonderful new experience in the city's premier outdoor music venue. The headliners performing at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion over the three days include: Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues with special guest James Cotton, Rhymefest, William Bell, Gary Clark Jr., Rhiannon Giddens, Ronnie Baker Brooks. The full schedule will be announced later this spring.
Grant Park Music Festival
June 14-August 19, 2017
Head to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion for the nation's only free, outdoor classical music series of its kind. The Grammy-nominated Grant Park Orchestra, along with the 100-plus-member Grant Park Chorus and special guest performers and conductors, bring the sounds of Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and more to Millennium Park. Spread out on the Great Lawn and enjoy.
Chinatown Summer Fair
Check out this iconic, 38th annual celebration of Far East culture includes the Dragon & Lion Dance Procession, artisans, food vendors and more.
Taste of Greektown
Hellenic pride will take center stage when this popular culinary and cultural fest in Chicago's West Loop returns for its 28th year. In addition to food, features music, dance troupe performances, a lively gyro eating contest, artisans and kids' activities.
Chicago Jazz Festival
August 31-September 3, 2017
The longest running of the city's lakefront music festivals, Chicago Jazz Festival has been a Labor Day weekend tradition for over 30 years. Known for its artistic creativity, the festival promotes awareness and appreciation for all forms of jazz through free live musical performances at two stunning downtown venues: The Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park.
Festival de La Villita (a.k.a Little Village Fest)
Held in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood, this community cultural event celebrates Mexico's independence from Spanish rule. Highlights include food, music, carnival rides and kids' entertainment.
World Music Festival
September 8-24, 2017
This city-wide, multi-venue festival is celebrating 19 years. Since 1999, this free fest has attracted over 650,000 concert-goers and has presented more than 600 artists and ensembles from over 80 countries. Free performances take you into Chicago's top live clubs, while marquee names also take to the gorgeous, open-air stage of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.
More Ideas: Free Neighborhood
For a lively weekend, head to one of the hundred street festivals that pop up in the neighborhoods. Celebrating everything from LGBTQ pride to ethnic heritage to various musical genres, these outdoor parties offer food, drink, shopping and entertainment - generally for just a small donation of $5-10 to enter. Get the full festival lineup.