8 Chicago Street Festivals You Can’t Miss This Summer

Nothing marks summer in Chicago quite like the beginning of festival season. For four glorious months, there’s more food, art, booze, and music than this city sees in an entire year. Between the Old St. Pat’s block party and the North Side’s Market Days, there’s definitely a cool fest to fete near you. Our advice? Stock up on the SPF, TP, and H20. You’re probably in for a long day (and night!).
Wells Street Art Festival
This historic event on Wells Street truly brings out the best in local talent: More than 250 artists will be featured at the 39th annual event. Glassworks, sculptures, jewelry, paintings, drawings, clothing, photography, woodwork, and more are all on hand for purchase, with proceeds benefitting the Old Town Merchants and Residents Association. A silent auction and live entertainment also help to keep things exciting. Sophie B. Hawkins and Todd Kessler from The Voice are standout acts.
Wells Street Art Festival, June 8 and 9, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Wells Street (between North Avenue and Division Street).


Put on those bibs — it’s time for some ribs! On Friday night, see if you can outmatch heavy-weight eater Joey Chestnut, as he takes ‘em down in Ribfest’s RibMania — or at least come watch others try! Music lovers will want to mark their calenders, too: Local talent Comasoft and California Wives will be on hand to rock the crowd on Saturday night, and Sunday will see alt-group We Were Promised Jetpacks tearing up the main stage. Full bellies and good tunes? Sounds like our kind of party! Apparently we’re not the only ones — this community event attracts approximately 50,000 each year and goes through 50,000 pounds of pork. Wowza!

Ribfest, June 7-9, along Lincoln and Damen avenues and Irving Park Road; $5 suggested donation.


Old St. Pat’s World's Largest Block Party

Hailed as the largest block party on the planet, Old St. Pat’s is one heck of a good time. More importantly, however, the event (hosted by Old Saint Patrick’s church, the oldest public building in Chicago), benefits community organizations like the Education Center, the Outreach Group, Horizons for Youth, Career Transitions Center of Chicago, and the Global Alliance for Africa. Local celebrities will moonlight as bartenders, and bands like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Blues Traveler are sure to keep everyone on their feet.

Old St. Pat’s World's Largest Block Party, June 28 and 29, West Madison and North Desplaines streets; ticket prices vary.

Festa Italiana

Even the celebrities will be out for this one! Festa Italiana’s first-class bocce ball tournament will be drawing out several recognizable faces in Italian sports, and the musical acts will be abundant as well —
more than 30 bands have been booked for the four-day event. Discover local, raw, Italian talent at the vendor booths chock-full of local crafts, jewelry, fashion, and of course, food, while celebrating your heritage (or that of others!) at this epic celebration of the city’s historic Little Italy.

Festa Italiana, August 22-25, hours vary, Taylor Street (between Ashland Avenue and Racine Street).


Taste of Chicago

Perhaps the most well-known of the bunch, this renowned street fest (now in its 33rd year) is a foodie’s coup de grace. Practically every neighborhood, cuisine style, and food type you can dream up is represented, prepared by some of the biggest names in food — this year’s celebrity chef lineup includes Rick Bayless, Paul Kahan, Carrie Nahabedian, Giussepe Tentori, and Gale Grand plus The Hearty Boys. And the chefs aren’t the only ones dishing up talent! Big-name entertainment acts like fun., Jill Scott, Robin Thicke, and Neon Trees will be taking to the stages to help get things cooking. Sounds like “fun” to us! And why wouldn’t it? That is this year’s Taste theme, after all.

Taste of Chicago, July 10-14, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Grant Park; ticket prices vary.


McDonald’s Chinatown Summer Fair

A trip to Chinatown is always a good time — what’s not to love about authentic dumplings and flaming drinks? But the neighborhood really ups the ante for McDonald’s Chinatown Summer Fair. Now in its 35th year, the 2013 event is set to play host to roughly 25,000 of your fellow Chicagoans (and visitors!), with a dragon and lion dance procession, martial arts demos, music, children’s tents, and arts and crafts. You’ll also get a taste of the area’s worldly cuisine — hand over the chopsticks!

McDonald's Chinatown Summer Fair, July 21, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., from Cermak Road and Wentworth Street to 24th Place.

Wicker Park Fest

A big one for the music scene, Wicker Park Fest is oftentimes hailed as the next best thing for those that can’t swing the pricier music-fest tix. While much of this year’s lineup is TBD, the fest is already making waves with the announcement of The Cults as headliners. With soundwaves taking over your ears, the “arts area” features installation works, making this one fest you simply can’t miss.

Wicker Park Fest, July 27-28, noon to 10 p.m., Milwaukee Avenue (between North Avenue and Paulina Street); $5 suggested donation.

Northhalsted Market Days

Situated in the heart of Boystown, North Halsted Market Days is the largest two-day fest in the Midwest, and for good reason: 400 booths of food, arts and crafts span the six-block stretch, as well as roughly 40 musical acts, jamming as much “fest” love into one area as humanly possible. And your inner-middle-school girl will also be delighted to hear that this year's headliners include Wilson Phillips and 10,000 Maniacs.

Northhalsted Market Days, August 10 and 11, Halsted Street (between Belmont and Addison Streets); $8 suggested donation.

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