All over the U.S., fireworks and barbecues are Independence Day hallmarks, but Chicago offers extra fun with the annual African/Caribbean International Festival of Life. This four-day cultural celebration features music, food, dance and fashion from African and Caribbean countries and hosts the best live reggae and calypso shows in the city. This year's 25th annual festival, July 1-4 in Union Park (1501 W. Randolph Street), promises good music and good times for the whole family.

Reggae royalty will join this year's international fest with headliner's Capleton, Queen Ifrica and Minister Marion Hall, formerly known as Lady Saw.


Capleton in action

Headlining International Day of Reggae on July 1, conscious dance hall star Capleton brings his signature explosive performances that combine heavy bass rhythms with righteous lyrics. Nicknamed 'The Prophet," Capleton is noted for entertaining and uplifting crowds of fans.

Socially conscious reggae singer Queen Ifrica will join him, delivering her smooth roots reggae tunes that often address societal issues such as street violence and poverty.


Minister Marion Hall

On July 2, Hands of Love Day will be highlighted by legendary Jamaican singer Minister Marion Hall. Formerly know as the Queen of Dance hall, Lady Saw, as a Grammy-award-winning dance hall DJ, mesmerized fans with energetic shows and raunchy lyrics. Recently converted to Christianity, she now wows crowd with powerful gospel tunes and hope-filled testimonies.

Monday, July 3 will feature Chicago house music legend Farley Jackmaster Funk.

The closing July 4 concerts will showcase dance hall DJ Elephant Man and R&B singer Lyfe Jennings.

The African/Caribbean Festival of Life takes place July 1–4 from noon to 10 p.m. in Union Park, at 1501 W. Randolph Street. Union Park is easily accessible using public transportation: take the Green Line 'L' train to the Ashland stop or take the #9 Ashland bus and get off at Ashland and Lake Street. Tickets for the festival are $25 at the door, $19 in advance.