Summer is halfway through and if you haven't started experiencing the fun of Chicago's different neighborhoods yet, it's time to start. What better a way to sample Chicago's different cultures, food, art and music than to get them all in one place?
Truthfully, there might not be a more American way to celebrate 4th of July weekend than with saucy ribs, sun and live music. Local rib grillers and bands, including Michael Jackson tribute act Who's Bad, are all set to make this an Independence Day to remember in Chicago's historic Uptown neighborhood. A $5 suggested donation upon entrance benefits The Chamber of Uptown. Also, this year the festival is offering a $40 Craft Beer & Rib Tasting Package which includes entrance donation, a half slab of ribs, five beer samples, private seating and more! Click here for tickets.
Here's one for the foodies. Taste of Lakeview brings the fun and family friendliness of the traditional street fest but it's the culinary arts that are front and center this weekend. If you can't make Taste of Chicago the following week, this is your next best option. A $5 donation will benefit the West Lakeview Neighbors.
North Michigan Avenue is Chicago's most visited street and this weekend there's one more reason to check it out. Now entering its 23rd year, the North Michigan Avenue Arts Fest presents pop-up stores and boutiques and gives you the chance to meet and get to know the artists. Admission is free.
St. Pat's isn't the only day of the year that Chicago's Irish community has to celebrate. Held on the grounds of Chicago's Irish American Heritage Center, this outdoor festival offers more than 100 authentically celtic performers on five stages over the three days including The Tossers and The Killdares. New this year you can attend Sunday mass in the festival's main tent, play a round of Bingo or partake in an Irish BreakFEST on Sunday morning. And what Irish party would be complete without a few spirits? Stop by The Fine Spirits Tent for whiskey, beer and mead tastings. Tickets are $10 in advance on Friday and Saturday ($15 at the door) and $15 in advance on Sunday ($20 at the door). Buy tickets here.
Led by the folks behind Lincoln Square staple Oldtown School for Folk Music, Square Roots Festival puts the spotlight on music from all over the globe. Global dance lessons, experimental jazz groups, pop and soul acts and bluegrass battle of the band competitions dot this year's diverse programming. As for refreshments, Square Roots offers one of the best selections of craft beer as far as street fests are concerned including Two Brothers, Lagunitas and Revolution Brewing. A suggestion $10 is requested upon admission to benefit Old Town School of Folk Music's scholarship programs and Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce farmers markets and concerts.
Take a break from the bars, the Cubby Bears and he rest of Wrigleyville's standard activities with this artsy festival. Summer on Southport brings an added boost of culture to the neighborhood with displays and pop-up shops from artists of all mediums. A special kids' zone also lends to a friendly Saturday or Sunday afternoon out on the town with the family. A $5 suggested donation will benefit the Southport Neighbors Association.
Burgers, burgers and more burgers. Chicago's best bring their beef this weekend. Burger fest participants include Butcher & The Burger, DMK Burger Bar and John's Place (back by popular demand). Dancing, courtesy of bands like Better Than Ezra and local pop punkers Treat of Paris, will keep the hunger coming all through the weekend. A $8 suggested donation will benefit the Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce.
West Town is truly a neighborhood on the rise in Chicago and West Fest is the summer's best display of what it has to offer. Local restaurants and bars converge on this three-block stretch of Chicago Avenue along with a Kid Fest, Pet Fest (bring your well-behaved pup!) and a pop-up roller rink featuring Chicago's favorite roller derby team the Windy City Rollers. And let's not forget about the music. This year is a standout year for West Fest's lineup which includes headliners Lee Fields & The Expressions and Death (of the critically acclaimed documentary A Band Called Death). Chicago house music legends like Mark Farina, Diz and Derrick Carter will also spin on the fest's bbp DJ Stage. A $5 suggested donation will benefit the West Town Chamber of Commerce.
Just because we live in a big city, it doesn't mean we can't throw a good, old fashioned parish party. Every year St. Benedict Preparatory School throws a mid-summer bash that attracts thousands. BenFest combines family fun and adult entertainment, i.e. a kids music stage and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Plus, somebody's going to win that $10,000 cash raffle. It could be you! There will be a $5 suggested donation upon entry.
Find out why River North is one of Chicago's most visited neighborhoods. Just west of the famed downtown area, many of River North's signature food and drink spots like Redhead Piano Bar, El Hefe and Stout will be present at the Taste. And, if you were a child of the ‘90s, Friday's music lineup will leave you pleased. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back performances from Weezer, Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt and Sublime tribute bands are set to hit the stage!
Rogers Park is one of Chicago's most culturally diverse neighborhoods and its signature street fest best showcases that. Musical artists from the Congo, Mexico, Germany and more will take center stage as well as Chicago's best known multi-ethnic funk group Funkadesi. Expect the artist and food vendor list to be just as eclectic over this mid-summer weekend.
As one of Chicago's most scenic neighborhoods, this annual garden walk and music festival is the Sheffield Neighborhood Association's way of showcases its best attributes. Musical acts like ZZ Ward and local Dave Matthews Band Trippin' Billies take the stage and neighborhood garden walks are offered through the weekend. Bringing the kids? They'll love the Kid's Corner's moonwalk and petting zoo! A $7 suggested donation ($10 after 3 p.m.) will be requested upon entry.
Of course all street festivals are excellent displays of Chicago's culture but Chinatown's annual fair is one of the most exemplary. Take the Red Line south for a day filled with delicious Asian cuisine and traditional Chinese music and dance. The Fair also includes plenty of activities for the young ones including a traveling Children's Museum, a petting zoo and pony rides.
Jeff Fest crams as much activity into Jefferson Park as any one fest-goer could want this weekend. Live music, aerial dance, drum circles, food trucks, a photo show, a family picnic area, urban crafters--Jeff Fest has it all! Admission is $5 before 5 p.m. and $7 after.
Everyone knows that Wicker Park Fest is Chicago's best street festival when it comes to live music year after year. The 2014 edition is no different. In addition to the street fest mainstays (local food, drinks and crafts) you can catch shows from Lydia Loveless, Owls, RJD2, JEFF The Brotherhood and many, many more!
It's back! Taste of Lincoln Avenue is the most delicious way to round out July and its central location is Lincoln Park makes it one of the more scenic street fests nearly 100 local vendors will bring their eats and the kids will love the mini carnival. Two live music stages will be up and running both days and we can't wait for this year's headliners, the Gin Blossoms and Rusted Root!
Photos Courtesy of: Special Events Management; Square Roots, Two Brothers