Seven Chicago Street Fests That Are Actually Worth Your Time This Summer

Of the dozens of fests in Chicago this year, here are the select few block parties that might even beat a day at the beach.

Where to party on the pavement this summer   Photo: Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune

First we rounded up some music fests. Then we rounded up some beer fests. Now, we turn our eyes to street fests—the omnipresent cross between the two.

Given the sheer number of these things that roll through Chicago each summer (most of which offer interchangeable combinations of beer/cover bands/food on sticks) we’ve narrowed it down to seven worth actually leaving the beach for.

Whether you go for the food, music, or the cutest baby contest, these big fat block parties will be well worth your five-dollar donation.

Do-Division

WHEN: May 30-June 1.
WHERE: Wicker Park (Division and Crystal between Damen and Leavitt).
HOW MUCH: $5 donation.
WHY BOTHER: They’ve nailed down a culturally relevant (if not a bit hodgepodge) lineup (J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., People Under the Stairs, Screaming Females, JC Brooks, and more).

Andersonville Midsommarfest

When: June 6-8.
Where: Andersonville (Clark St. between Foster and Catalpa).
How Much: $5-10 donation.
Why Bother: The sheer distance between Andersonville and the Loop gives Midsommarfest a hyper-local vibe (think the opposite of Taste). Plus, the heat won’t be like the inside of an armpit yet. More info here.

Green Music Fest

WHEN: June 21-22.
WHERE: Wicker Park (Damen between North and Schiller).
HOW MUCH: $5 donation.
WHY BOTHER: This year’s band lineup is pretty OK (Guided By Voices, Cheap Girls) but the real kicker is Green Music Fest’s bike-powered stage. More info here.

Chinatown Summer Fair

WHEN: July 20.
WHERE: Chinatown (Wentworth between Cermak and 24th Pl.)
HOW MUCH: Free!
WHY BOTHER: You’ll see some next-level wacky entertainment. In addition to Eastern staples like the Lion Dance Procession and classical dance, expect a cutest baby contest, martial arts demonstrations, pony rides, and an award for best men’s legs. More info here.

Wicker Park Fest

WHEN: July 26-27.
WHERE: Wicker Park (Milwaukee between North and Paulina).
HOW MUCH: $5 donation.
WHY BOTHER: Some excellent bands are playing. See Hop Along, Laura Stevenson, Pet Symmetry, the reunited Owls, and more.

Fiesta del Sol

WHEN: July 31-August 3.
WHERE: Pilsen (1400 W. Cermak).
HOW MUCH: Free!
WHY BOTHER: Can you say huarache? And flautas and churros and pinchos?

Northalsted Market Days

When: August 9-10.
Where: Boystown (N. Halsted between Belmont and Addison).
How Much: Free! Correction: There’s a $10 suggested donation.
Why Bother: It’s everything you love about Pride Parade, but infinitely more manageable. More info here.

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