Summer is festival season in Chicago. Hundreds of music, food and neighborhood fests take place throughout the city, making for a summer of non-stop entertainment. With so many events, it's hard to choose which one to check out. We've rounded up a list of the biggest summer festivals to help you get started.
Chicago Blues Festival
June 13–15, 2014; Grant Park, chicagobluesfestival.us
There's a reason why Chicago is known as the "Blues Capital of the World." The urban sound evolved in this city thanks to influential musicians like Muddy Waters, Koko Taylor and Slim Harpo. The Chicago Blues Festival celebrates the genre and the artists that made it what it is today, with Bettye LaVette and Aaron Neville among this year's headliners. It is the largest free blues festival in the world, and the largest of Chicago's music festivals.
Chicago Gospel Music Festival
June 27–29, 2014; Chicago Cultural Center and Ellis Park,
Gospel got its start in Chicago in the early 1900s in the Bronzeville neighborhood. Today, the annual gospel music festival honors the tradition at various stages around town. Gospel artists from the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana area will keep the music going all around Chicago for these three days in June.
Taste of Chicago
July 9–13, 2014; Grant Park, tasteofchicago.us
A tradition since 1980, Taste of Chicago is a treat for foodies and families. It showcases the diversity of Chicago's dining community with a delicious array of food from some of the city's best restaurants. Chicago staples, like deep dish pizza and Eli's Cheesecake, are complemented by more adventurous fare, food trucks, cooking demonstrations and live music.
Chicago Air and Water Show
August 16–17, 2014; Lakefront – North Avenue Beach, chicagoairandwatershow.us
The sky above Lake Michigan bursts with the sights and sounds of the Chicago Air and Water Show. The free festival features jaw-dropping aerial moves from the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, daring leaps from the U.S. Army Parachute Team "Golden Knights" and many other acts in the two-day lineup. Crowds line along the lakefront to see the stunts at this show, the largest free event of its kind in the country.
Chicago Jazz Festival
August 28–31, 2014; Millennium Park, chicagojazzfestival.us
Summer in Chicago goes out in style at the Labor Day weekend spectacular, the Chicago Jazz Festival, now in its 36th year. The oldest of Chicago's free lakefront music festivals, it boasts nearly 50 diverse live sets across four days, with Terence Blanchard and Cecile McLorin Salvant among the headliners.
More Festivals to Enjoy...
The fun doesn't stop with these five fests. Chicago packs plenty of action into summer. Chicago's streets come alive with a vast collection of fairs and festivals. Mix music, shopping and fun at the Do-Division Street Fest & Sidewalk Sale (May 30–June 1, 2014) in West Town, or mingle with thousands of locals and singles at the Old St. Pat's World's Largest Block Party, now in its 30th year (June 27–28, 2014). If you love art, check out the Wells Street Art Festival (June 14–15, 2014), one of the city's largest and most acclaimed fine arts happenings.