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Summer guide street fests

Chicago has an incredible amount of street festivals throughout the summer. Here are some of the best.

Photos courtesy of (from top left, clockwise) Anthony Jackson for the Chicago Sun-Times; Matthew Rubinberg Photography/Special Events Management; Timmy Samuel-Starbelly Studios; Sam Varley-Stephens for WBEZ. Photo illustration by Mendy Kong

In a summer of street fests, these are the 10 Chicago parties to not miss

There’s a neighborhood festival every weekend. But these offer it all: neighborhood flavor, great tunes and stellar food.

WBEZ’s Summer Guide 2024 will help you live your best season. Find more stories here.

There’s no better way to get to know the vast network of Chicago neighborhoods than to roam the open streets during one of the city’s many street festivals. A summer tradition in many neighborhoods, these street parties — which are often free or request a small suggested donation – feature tastes, sights and sounds of different parts of Chicago. But the best have a unique flair. This year’s offerings include pet parades, polka parties and street foods galore, so put on your walking shoes and get ready to spend your weekends wandering through the many Chicago celebrations.

FINOM band

FINOM will perform at this year’s Andersonville Midsommarfest.

Courtesy of Alexa Viscius

Andersonville Midsommarfest

June 7-9

This massive, family-friendly street fest is celebrating its 58th year with five (!) stages of entertainment and vendors up and down Clark Street. With an emphasis on the neighborhood’s Swedish heritage and LGBTQ+ pride, featured performances run the gamut from drag shows to house DJs, the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus to the Jesse White Tumblers and a pet parade on Sunday at noon. This year’s event ups the ante on indie music, with multi-instrument experimentalist Nnamdi headlining Friday and indie-folk duo Finom headlining Sunday.

Summer Smash

June 14-16

Yes, it’s technically in the ’burbs. But with the loss of Hyde Park Summer Fest, this is your best bet for an all-out hip-hop and rap jam this summer. Bridgeview’s Seatgeek Stadium will host three full days and as many stages with more than 50 artists. Headliners include Cactus Jack (aka Travis Scott), Playboi Carti and Chief Keef, with loads of support from the likes of Kodak Black, Big Sean, Lil Yachty, Denzel Curry and dozens more.

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Lawrence Fish Market is one of the participating restaurants in Flavors of Albany Park.

Sam Varley-Stephens for WBEZ

Flavors of Albany Park

June 26

Choose your own culinary adventure at Albany Park’s 15th annual restaurant crawl. For three hours on one night only, participants can stroll along the Lawrence West, Lawrence East, Kedzie or Montrose routes, where more than 50 restaurants have prepared bites of food, a sweet treat or unique drink. The Kedzie route best serves vegetarians, but all four offer a wide range of ethnic eats.

International Festival of Life

July 4-7

Game for a nontraditional Independence Day weekend? Head to Washington Park for IFOL, the blended African/Caribbean–themed festival now in its 31st year. With roots in the reggae community, the festival’s highlight is the Chicago Music Awards on Friday, July 5, when more than 150 local industry members are nominated and celebrated across 20 genres of music — with performances to boot.

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Jefferson Park Arts & Music Festival, aka Jeff Fest, is a street fest with a block party feel.

Matthew Rubinberg Photography/Courtesy of Special Events Management

Jeff Fest

July 12-14

If you’re into cover bands and a street fest with a block party feel, head to the 23rd annual Jefferson Park Arts & Music Festival, aka Jeff Fest. Unlike most street fests, there’s a nominal cover charge, but the lineup of throwback musical tributes on the Main Stage — including Pearl Jam on Friday; U2 and Nirvana on Saturday; and Elton John and ABBA on Sunday — promises to be entertaining. There’s a second Community Stage, too, and all the fixin’s of a typical summer street fest.

Tacos & Tamales Fest

July 19-21

Several festivals take over Pilsen’s streets each summer, but this one’s a favorite thanks to its unapologetic celebration of everyone’s favorite street foods — plus elote, churros and more from all over Latin America. Staged against the backdrop of colorful street murals on 16th Street at Peoria Street, there’s a broad selection of musical entertainment (mariachi, Latin pop and more) and plenty of vendors representing cultural wares.

Wicker Park Fest

July 26-28

Wicker Park Fest is a breeding ground for indie music talent (i.e. Snail Mail, ODEZSA), and this year will be no different. Come for the headliners Jamila Woods and Superdrag, stay for the up-and-coming names in the music scene that you’re sure to be hearing more from in the coming years. Kids and pets can also find designated activities at the festival with mini golf, arts and crafts, pet portraits and treat vendors. WBEZ will also host its own stage in celebration of 40 years of house music and feature DJ sets galore from DJ Chip E., Microdot and more.

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A wide amount of performances await at the Chinatown Summer Fair in July.

Anthony Jackson/For the Chicago Sun-Times

Chinatown Summer Fair

July 27-28

Check out K-pop bands, B-boy competitions and celebrate the Year of the Dragon (4722!) at this 45th annual celebration of all things Chinatown. The fest takes over Wentworth Avenue from Cermak down to 24th Place and kicks off with a lion dance procession on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Stay for kung fu demonstrations, a wide variety of performances from Asian cultural groups and all the delicious samples from neighborhood restaurants.

Taste of Polonia Fest

Aug. 30-Sept. 2

This massive four-day festival in Jefferson Park is the largest of its kind in the country. With literally nonstop live music (polka by day, pop and cover bands by night) and an impressive variety of entertainment (among them: cooking classes, carnival rides and an actual casino), there’s enough to fill an entire day or more. More than 30 vendors are committed, and the beer garden is perennially popular.

Glenwood Avenue Arts Festival

Aug. 16-18

A festival for those looking to create and collect, the Glenwood Avenue Arts Festival offers all the necessities of a neighborhood festival: street food from local vendors, live music and free admission. But the differentiating factor for this neighborhood fest is its arty angle. Buy art directly from artists, watch some live art demonstrations and jam out to live music while roaming around an eclectic slice of Rogers Park.


Lauren Viera has covered Chicago’s arts and cultural scenes for more than 20 years. She is the author of The 500 Hidden Secrets of Chicago (Luster) and lives in Logan Square.
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis is a digital producer for the Arts & Culture desk.

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