The Best Summer Music Festivals In Chicago This Year

The sweet sounds of summer in Chicago: the El passing by overhead, people talking in the streets, and loud music festivals! Being one of the biggest and most diverse cities in the country, Chicago is home to some of the best and most wide-ranging music festivals. Along with our favorite staple fest, Lollapalooza, there are so many different genres and acts to check out at spots all over the city. Whether you’re looking to pack a picnic and listen to some soulful Jazz at Millennium Park, or rage and head-bang to lively EDM at SeatGeek Stadium,  check out the summer music festivals in Chicago this year!

Chicago Gospel Music Festival

201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602

WHEN: June 4


Did you know that gospel music was started in Chicago more than 80-years ago? You do now! To celebrate the culture, history, and future of the genre, head to Millenium Park on June 4th for the annual Chicago Gospel Music Festival. First held in Chicago in 1984, this festival has transformed from traditional gospel music to more modern takes on the genre. Mixed with hip-hop and house music, you can be sure that you won’t be hearing solely church choirs singing hymns. Pack a picnic, grab a blanket or lawn chair, and enjoy the talent and harmonies of Chicago’s best gospel choirs! 

Chicago Blues Fest 

201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602

WHEN: June 9-12


If you’re looking for a relaxing way to soak up a long weekend, head to the annual Chicago Blues Fest. Held at Millenium Park for free, this blues fest is the largest free blues fest in the world and the largest festival in Chicago. The Chicago Blues fest started in 1984, one year after the death of “Muddy Waters”, who is often deemed “the father of Chicago Blues”. Each year since, the theme of the festival has been dedicated and related to a recently passed blues musician to honor their legacies. This summer, see performers like Jamiha Rogers, Eddie Cotton, and Billy Branch! 

Pitchfork Music Fest

WHEN: June 15-17

1501 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60606

If your music taste is as eclectic as the weather in Chicago, you have to check out Pitchfork Music Fest. This summer, Pitchfork Music Fest is back for the 17th consecutive year (wow) and is better than ever. Some of the top acts include The National, Earl Sweatshirt, and legendary hip-hop band, the Roots. What started as a music fest to only feature “cutting-edge” artists has gradually expanded to include fresh acts, artists, and genre. Not only is Pitchfork the perfect place to listen to live music, but you can indulge in food, drinks, and other types of art from vendors all over Chicago and the county. 

Summer Smash 

1401 S Sacramento Dr, Chicago, IL 60623

WHEN: June 17, 18, 19

For the fourth year, Lyrical Lemonade will be hosting The Summer Smash. This three-day music festival is held in Union Park, and features some of the most popular rap and hip-hop artists. Ticket packages include general admission and VIP, and are selling out quickly! With popular acts like Post Malone, 2 Chainz, and Wiz Khalifa, Summer Smash is a music festival you won’t want to miss this summer. 


WHEN: July 28-31

337 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601

Okay, okay. We said enough shit about this year’s Lolla line-up, but it’s still a sweet festival to go to this year if you’re looking for some outdoor music fun. With performers this year like Metallica, Machine Gun Kelly, Chelsea Cutler, and Green Day, there is an act for everyone. Not only is Lolla packed with music, but food vendors from around the city come out to serve festival patrons with “fresh, reasonably priced” items. For the first-time group of 17-year-olds who rode the Metra in, we recommend bringing plenty of water, cooling towels, and a fully charged phone for when you inevitably get separated from your friends for a few hours. 

Windy City Smokeout

1901 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60612

WHEN: August 4-7

If there is a music genre that is synonymous with summertime, it’s country. Cold beer, boat days, and heartbreak; isn’t that what country is all about? If you’ve been waiting all year to indulge, head to the Windy City Smokeout. This year, the Smokeout will be held on the grounds of the United Center, with acts like Russel Dickerson, Sam Hunt, and country music legends Tim McGraw and Willie Nelson. There’s also another, tastier reason to head to the Smokeout, the barbecue! With world-famous pitmasters attending the festival, both your taste buds and ear drums will be satisfied. 

Ruido Fest

1501 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60606

WHEN: August 19-21

If you’re a fan of both Latin music AND alternative music, you have to check out Ruido Fest in Union Park. Since 2015, Ruido Fest is the newest Latin-alternative festival in Chicago. With three days packed with different acts and over a dozen food vendors (with vegetarian and vegan options), Ruido Fest is the perfect place to spend a hot, August day. The fest strongly encourages cowboy hats and dancing shoes, so you know it’s going to be a party that transforms from day to night. If you’ve never heard of Latin-alternative music, be sure to check out popular acts like Cypress Hills, Cuco, and Carla Morrison. 

Chicago Jazz Fest

201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602

WHEN: September 1-4

Relaxing in the park, munching on your favorite snacks, and listening to the smooth sounds of Jazz music. Originating in New Orleans in the 1920’s, this 100-year old genre has a rich history in our own city, too. Chicago Jazz Music, taking influence from New Orleans, has more of an emphasis on solos and “more prominent rhythm section” (source). The Chicago Jazz Festival started in 1979 and has been a summer tradition ever since. Held at Millenium Park, be sure to check out the full list of FAQs about what you can and can’t bring into the park during the fest.

North Coast Music Fest 

7000 S Harlem Ave, Bridgeview, IL 60455

WHEN: September 2-4

End summer with a bang! While this festival technically takes place right outside city limits in Bridgeview, North Coast Festivals originated in Union Park. Since 2010, North Coast has been featuring the most popular EDM and house artists. This year is no different, and we will see acts like Armin Van Buuren, Illenium, and Diplo. Besides loud and exciting beats, attendees can expect to find an emphasis on community, where differences are celebrated! Grab your neon outfits, finger lights, and coolest shades to get ready for North Coast 2022! 

Featured Image Credit: Chicago Blues Fest