Taste of Chicago is an enormous festival that closes Grant Park for 10
days leading up to Independence Day in July. Over 100 local eateries serve
some of the greasiest food you've ever tried to rub off your fingers.
Live music on several stages drowns out the rumble of the belches from
the 3.5 million people who attend. The German-American Festival is an
enjoyable Oktoberfest-type event held in the heart of an old German neighbourhood
at Lincoln Square during the third weekend in September.
Blues and jazz musicians have been flocking to Chicago since 1915, so
it's no surprise that the city knows how to celebrate its musical heritage
with style. The Chicago Blues Festival is a highly regarded three-day
festival held in Grant Park on the first weekend in June. Soon after,
Grant Park hosts the weekend-long Chicago Gospel Festival and, on Labor
Day weekend, the Chicago Jazz Festival.
In May, artistic types get along to Art Chicago. This massive mid-month
festival on Navy Pier is a Very Big Deal in Chicago's art world. Over
3000 artists are featured, and city-wide events are held at museums and
galleries. Also features the Stray Show, a separate event for up-and-coming
Winter Celebration in Lights
View holiday lights and beautiful plants in the largest glass greenhouse
in the U.S. Bring the kids and enjoy interactive events in the Elizabeth
Mores Genus Children’s Garden. Located at The Garfield Park Conservatory,
300 N. Central Park Avenue through the first week of January. Call (312)
746-5100 for more information.
Christmas Around the World
See how the world celebrates Christmas with Christmas displays from around
the world. Located at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington Street,
through the first week of January. Call (312) 346-3278 for more information.
Winter Flower and Train Show
Check out the amazing flowers or take a train ride through a Christmas
town at the Lincoln Park Conservatory, 2400 N. Stockton Drive, through
the first week of January. Call (312) 742-7736 for more information.
Around the Coyote Winter Festival
Attend this annual studio walk and view works from over 400 artists including
art performances in the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods. This event
is sponsored by the resident artists and takes place during the first
week of February. Call (312) 744-2400 for more information.
Rube Goldberg Machine Contest
Teams come out to compete at building a machine that takes an alloted
number of steps to complete a certain task. Hosted by the Chicago Children’s
Museum. Located at Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Avenue, in the middle of February.
Call (312) 527-1000 for more information.
Come to one of the country’s oldest expos of contemporary cars.
Get a firsthand look at what’s new. Located at McCormick Place,
2301 S. Lakeshore Drive, for two weeks in the middle of February. Call
(312) 791-7000 for more information.
Chicago Bike Show
Check out the annual bike show where bike manufacturers and bike clubs
come together in one location. Located at the Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand
Avenue, usually held at the end of March. Call (312) 595-PIER for more
Comedysportz March Madness
For nearly two decades, Comedysportz has wowed audiences with comedy entertainment.
March Madness, a competition where a 60-plus member ensemble divides into
four-person teams, features bracketed tournament fun with winners crowned
Chicago Bosses. Old School Players won by a single point over Wrath of
Karl in a recent annual competition. Call (773) 549-8080 for more information.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Come out and join the fun at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. For the
past 40 years, the Chicago river has turned green in the celebration of
St. Patrick’s Day. The parade begins at noon on Dearborn Street,
between Wacker and Van Buren, then down the State Street Mall on March
17. Call (312) 744-3315 for more information.
Golf Around Chicago
Play miniature golf on this city like course with each hole depicting
a Chicago landmark or Chicago's culture. All proceeds from the event benefit
the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago. Located in the Crystal Gardens
at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Avenue, 10 AM - 5 PM daily, later on the weekends.
Usually held the second week in March. Call (312) 595-7437 for more information.
April Fools Day; Easter/ Children’s Museum
Join storytellers as they help the children get acquainted with what the
museum has to offer. There are games, too. Located at the Navy Pier, 700
E. Grand Avenue, April 1 and 15, 10 AM - 5 PM. Call (312) 527-1000 for
International Antique Poster Fair
Enjoy this annual exhibition of vintage posters. Hosted by The Navy Pier,
600 E. Grand Avenue. Usually held in the middle of April. Call (800) 856-8069
for more information.
Chicago Improv Festival
For nigh onto a decade, give or take a season or two, Chicago Improv Festival
has made improvisational fun a must event series within the Windy City.
Each year brings added dimension to the laugh-packed schedule. In 2005,
the festival marked “50 Years of Improvisational Theater”
with the legendary Compass Players, the company that later birthed Second
City. Call (773) 935-9810 for more information.
Latino Film Festival
View the most current films from Latin America, Spain, Portugal and the
U. S. at the Latino Film Festival. Hosted by the International Latino
Cultural Center at Columbia College, 600 S. Michigan, starting the 3rd
Friday April, from 6 PM - 11 PM each evening. Call (312) 431-1330 for
Memorial Day Parade
Come out and honor our country’s veterans. Begin with a ceremony
at the Logan Memorial (Grant Park, Michigan and 9th St.) at 11 AM. Then
watch the parade starting at noon on Columbus Drive, between Balbo and
Monroe Streets. Call (312) 744-5648 for more information.
Visit 200 international galleries at this annual art fair. See contemporary
and modern art. Located at Festival Hall, Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Avenue.
This event is usually held in the middle of May. Call (312) 587-3300 for
Laugh the night away with comedians from all over the world as they entertain
you through improv, stand-up and sketches. Located at several venues including
the Vic Theater, Chicago Theatre and the Apollo Theater. This event is
held the last weekend in May. Call (847) 304-6624 for more information.
Chicago Blues Festival; Chicago Gospel Festival
Hear the most talented blues musicians in the world at the biggest blues
festival. THis festival also coincides with the Gospel Festival. Located
at the Petrillo Music Shells at Grant Park, Lake Shore Drive and Jackson
Boulevard, the second week of June. Call (312) 744-3315 for more information.
Internet Street Fair
See the latest in technology at this state of the art exhibition. This
is the place for vendors, professionals and the public to view and discuss
the newest technology. Enjoy live music and food from local restaurants.
Located at Hubbard Street, between Noble and Armour Street, usually the
third week in June. Call (312) 563-1750 for more information.
Come out and watch the Annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade, during the
last week in June. In addition, during the month of June, PRIDEChicago
sponsors several events in a variety of venues. Call (773) 348-8243 for
Taste of Chicago
This ten day festival is packed with food, activities and entertainment.
Over 60 restaurants showcase their food. This is a festival you don’t
want to miss. Located in Grant Park (Lake Shore Drive and Jackson Boulevard),
the last week in June through the first week in July, daily from 11 AM
- 9 PM. Call (312) 744-2400 for more information.
Dance the nights away during this festival where approximately 40 different
live bands will perform a variety of dance music and styles. Free dance
instruction will be available. Located at the Spirit of Music Garden,
601 S. Michigan Avenue, between Harrison and Balbo. This event continues
through the month of August. Call (312) 744-1424 for more information.
Dearborn Garden Walk and Heritage Festival
Walk through some of the loveliest gardens in the Gold Coast neighborhood
during this annual garden walk. Enjoy food, music and fun for the kids,
too. Located at Dearborn Street, between Division Street and North Avenue,
usually in the middle of July. Talk with award-winning gardeners about
their blooms. Call (312) 944-1521 for more information.
Air and Water Show
Join two million spectators as they watch military aircraft perform amazing
aerial stunts. Located at the Lakefront, Fullerton Avenue to Oak Street,
beginning the 3rd Saturday of every August. Admission is free. Call (312)
744-3315 for more information.
Underground Film Festival
Experience the largest underground film festival in the country. View
independent features, documentaries and experimental films by film makers
with an independent vision. Located at the Fine Arts Theatre, 418 S. Michigan
Avenue, starting the 3rd week of August. Call (312) 744-2400 for more
Annual Viva! Chicago Latin Music Festival
Come out and enjoy the Latin beat. Dance to tropical, merengue, salsa
and much more. In addition to the music, you'll find traditional food
and merchants selling authentic Hispanic items including artwork and jewelry.
Located at Grant Park, usually the last weekend in August. Admission is
free. Call (312) 744-5648 for more information.
Chicago Jazz Festival
Enjoy the world’s largest jazz festival featuring local, national
and international musicians. This event is free and is sponsored by the
Jazz Institute of Chicago. The event is located at Grant Park, on the
first weekend in September. Call (312) 427-1676 for more information.
Enjoy homemade jams, garden demonstrations, pony rides, pie-eating contests,
face painting and live music. In addition, check out the Chapungu stone
carving demonstration. Located in the Garfield Park Conservatory at 300
N Central Park Avenue, usually held the third week of September. Call
(312) 746-5100 for more information.
26th Street Mexican Independence Day Parade
Come out and celebrate Mexican Independence Day. Watch the floats, street
dancing and mariachi bands. In addition, enjoy mexican food and merchandise.
Lcoated at 26th Street from Albany Avenue to Kostner Street, usually in
the middle of September. Call (773) 521-5387 for more information.
Ninety two international galleries and dealers will exhibit at the Sculpture,
Objects and Functional Art Exposition, bringing the decorative and fine
arts together. Located at the Navy Pier Festival Hall, 600 E. Grand. This
event is usually held around the second week in October. Call (312) 595-5200
for more information.
International Film Festival
View a collection of amazing feature films from all over the world. See
works from promising new directors. This event is located at the Chicago
and Music Box Theatres and at Loews Cineplex during the first two weeks
in October. Call (312) 425-9400 for more information.
Join Chicago’s professional ghosthunter, Richard T. Crowe, as he
reveals Chicago’s haunted sites, ghosts and other unexplainable
phenomena. The tours leave from the Goose Island Brewery, 1800 N. Clybourn
Road, in the middle of October. Call (708) 499-0300 for more information.
Pow Wow Tribute to All Veterans
Enjoy Native American dancing, authentic crafts and food at this three
day festival. Located at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State Street, beginning
on the 2nd Friday of every November. Call (312) 902-1500 for more information.
Enjoy Native American singing, dancing and arts and crafts at the American
Indian Center of Chicago’s annual Pow Wow. Located at the University
of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Pavilion, 525 S. Racine, in the middle of
November. Call (312) 413-5740 for more information.
Tree Lighting Ceremony
Join thousands as they watch the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. See the
85 foot Christmas tree covered with hundreds of lights, beautiful ornaments
and fancy, holiday bows. Check out the holiday marketplace and Santa Claus.
Located at Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington Street, during the last week
in November. Call (312) 744-3370 for more information.
Caroling to the Animals
Join local choral groups and sing to the animals at the zoo's annual Caroling
to the Animals event. See Santa feed the animals, too. Located at the
Lincoln Park Zoo, at 2200 North Cannon Drive, during the first week of
December. Call (312) 742-2293 for more information.
Visit this outdoor European village with over 44 original timber booths
offering holiday items. Located at the Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington Street,
a few weeks before Christmas. Admission is free. Call (312) 644-2662 for
Listen to the Apollo Chorus as they sing their version of Handel’s
Messiah. Located at the Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Avenue, the week
before Christmas. Call (312) 427-5620 for tickets or for more information.
From a humble start in a Boston bar, Matzo Ball bashes in more than a
dozen cities including San Francisco and Washington D.C. have blowin into
the Windy City at Betty's Blue Star Lounge as a holiday party for Jewish
singles on the night before Christmas. Call (312) 243-1699 for more information.
When to Go
The hot Chicago summer is the peak of the festival season, with major
events taking place in the parks and neighbourhoods every weekend. September
is blessed with reliably warm days and is probably the most pleasant month
of the year, weather wise, but there's less going on during this period.
January to March is when Chicago is least busy and hotels and airfares
are usually at their cheapest; however, temperatures and brisk winds will
guarantee that you'll spend most of this period indoors.