There’s no better way to celebrate summer than with a barbecue party. Beer in hand, grilled meat, and cool tunes are some of the best ways to beat the heat. The Windy City Smokeout brings all this together with Downtown Chicago as the perfect setting.

This year’s festivities mark the festival’s fifth. The event is hosted by popular Chicago restaurant Bub City, and award-winning Joe’s Bar. The weekend-long event (July 14-16, 2017), is expected to bring in over 45,000 attendees. Besides enjoying some of the country’s best BBQ and craft beers, attendees will be jamming alongside country music’s biggest names and upcoming talent.

Windy City Smokeout

Thirty acts will take over this year’s stage including headliners Jake Owen, ACA winner, and CMA nominated Kip Moore and Lee Brice. Besides big names, attendees will be treated to the musical stylings of up-and-coming artists including Luke Combs, The Steel Woods, and Eli Young Band (to name just a few). Windy City Smokeout's website has the full musical lineup if you want to plan ahead.

The Windy City Smokeout pitmasters will be dishing out barbecue classics and hometown specialties all weekend long. This year’s BBQ lineup features fourteen pitmasters, including returning favorites 17th Street BBQ, Skylight Inn, and The Salt Lick BBQ. New additions include Little Miss BBQ from Phoenix, and Fox Bros BBQ from Atlanta.

Like country music but could do without the BBQ food? Additional food options will be available in various lounges around the Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Jam stage. These include Maine Lobster and Sir Kensington’s at the New England lounge, Texas sausage at the Texas lounge and Three Dots and a Dash at the tropical Tiki lounge. Windy City Smokeout will also welcome the Budlong and their famous Nashville hot chicken to the festival. Other newcomers include cookie DŌ from NYC, Aloha Poke, Bang Bang Pie, The Budlong, Pearl’s Southern Comfort and Lickity Split.

Windy City Smokeout

As if you didn't already have enough to plan for, there are many additional activities available to festival-goers. Play ping pong at the SPIN pop-up ping pong tables on-site for all three days, or learn the basics and tricks of the trade at Myron Mixon’s overnight cooking school. This four-time world barbecue champion can help you to become a true pitmaster in just a few hours.

For those looking for an elevated dining experience, there will be a Whole Hog Brunch on Saturday, with champagne provided by Moët & Chandon, and spirits from the Whistle Pig Whiskey. Later in the day, an evening crawfish boil will be hosted by Pearl’s Southern Comfort Crawfish Boil, served alongside Moët & Chandon Imperial.

The last day of the festival closes out with a BBQ Brunch featuring a variety of dishes from each pitmaster, along with a Belvedere Bloody Mary bar, while the first day of the weekend kicks off with the Biggest Happy Hour of the Summer, a 2-5pm event that brings you the rarest craft beers from 25 of the best craft breweries all over America. Note that these special events do not include admission to the festival; attendees are required to purchase a single day or three-day pass for access. For help keeping all of this straight, check out the complete schedule of events.

Windy City Smokeout

The Windy City Smokeout’s craft beer program is something every beerhead wouldn't want to miss, with over 45 beers available from 25 local and visiting breweries, including Moody Tongue (Chicago), Boulevard Brewing (Kansas City), Evil Twin (Brooklyn), Blue Point (Long Island), and Against the Grain (Louisville). Attendees will get a chance to try all of the brews with a Craft Beer Crawl pass. Check out the full beer lineup.

For the first time in festival history, the festival is implementing a cash-free policy this year to ensure a more streamlined payment process, thus reducing the long lines and hassle of entering the event space. Each festival goer will be provided with a wristband that allows the owner to pay for his barbecue or brew. Credit cards will also be accepted.

Single-day tickets for the festival start at $40. For a list of prices and to purchase tickets, drop by windycitysmokeout.com

Will you be attending Windy City Smokeout? What are you most excited about? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Photos by Jeff Marini