The Ultimate Guide to Chicago Jazz Festival

In 1974, jazz legend Duke Ellington passed away at the age of 75. Just a few weeks later, dozens of Chicago musicians grouped up to form the first ever Chicago Jazz Festival (though it wasn’t called this at the time) in his honor. Located near the southern end of Grant Park, around 10,000 music lovers attended what would become the pinnacle of annual jazz events.

With yearly crowds of 125,000, Chicago Jazz Festival has become a top-notch draw among music fests today. In fact, it’s the largest festival of its kind in the entire world. So, why wouldn’t you go?


Good question.

Here’s all you need to know: 



Though Millennium Park is the main area, there are actually two central locations for Chicago Jazz Festival.

  • Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.) in the Claudia Cassidy Theater and Preston Bradley Hall
  • Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph St.) at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the Von Freeman Pavilion (South Promenade) and the Jazz and Heritage Pavilion (North Promenade)




Chicago Jazz Festival takes place from Thursday, September 3rd to Sunday, September 6th.



Admission to the festival is completely free of charge.



There are a couple of options here. If you’re looking to park at Millennium Park, it’s going to cost you $35 for a full day of parking. That’s just the way it goes. If you’re planning on parking closest to the Cultural Center (which is basically across the street), your best bet is the garage on Wabash & Randolph, which is only $20/day. This garage also offers in & out privileges if you purchase parking online for multiple days, which you won’t be able to get elsewhere.

Bonus Info

  • If you’re heading to Millennium Park, you can bring your own alcohol
  • You can bring a picnic basket too
  • Leave the fireworks at home
  • You can buy food & drinks at the fest
  • No photography is allowed
  • No dogs



Thursday, September 3
Friday, September 4
Saturday, September 5
Sunday, September 6

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