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Five Chicago Summer Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss

May 21st, 2014

Summer in Chicago is one of my favorite seasons. Yes, that means winter and sub-zero temperatures are finally over, but it also means it’s time for festivals!

I’m guessing you’ve all heard of the Taste of Chicago, Lollapalooza, and maybe even the Blues Festival. I’m not going to go into those. Chicago is a neighborhood city and there’s so much more to explore than just the downtown area (as us Chicagoans like to call it, The Loop).

Here are a few of my favorite neighborhood festivals you won’t want to miss this summer.

Ribfest ChicagoNaperville Ribfest

Yes, that’s right…there are not one, but two festivals celebrating ribs in the Chicago area. Ribfest Chicago, held June 5 to 8, features live music from 20 bands, 30 barbecue vendors, rib-eating competitions, and has a Kids Square full of inflatables, games, activities, dancing, and mini golf. Ribfest started in 1999 as a community block party, and now is one of the most anticipated street festivals in Chicago.

Taste ribs from over then different vendors at Naperville Ribfest, held July 3 through 6. There’s also live music, family activities, and fireworks (on July 4 at 9:30 PM). Headliners this year include BoDeans, Love and Theft, Roger Hodgson (former lead singer of Supertramp), George Thorogood and The Destroyers, Blue Oyster Cult, and Foghat.

Printers Row Lit Fest

Buy new, used, and rare books, watch poetry performances, view cooking demonstrations, participate in writing workshops, and so much more at Printers Row Lit Fest. Held in the Printers Row neighborhood and a short walk from AMLI Lofts and AMLI 900, the festival is celebrating its 30 anniversary and is one of the largest, free outdoor literary events in the Midwest. On another note, AMLI Lofts, a brand new apartment community, is a sponsor so stop by, say hello, and take a bus tour of the South Loop, it’s architecture, and history during the fest.

The 2014 lineup is led by best-selling author James Patterson and includes more than 200 authors participating in panels, discussions, book signings, and a number of other programs. Just remember to plan your day accordingly if you want to see and/or meet your favorite author.

Roscoe Village Burger Fest

If you enjoy a good burger and music, head over to Burger Fest in Roscoe Village, a family-friendly neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago. Held July 12 and 13, burgers that appeal to everyone with all sorts of toppings are available. One of my favorites from last year was a black bean slider from Hamburger Mary’s.

This year’s participating restaurants include Square Bar & Grill, Rockit Burger Bar, Cortland’s Garage, DMK Burger Bar, and more. You can vote for your favorites while you’re at the festival to see who will hail as the burger king of the year. Headliners this year are Better than Ezra and This Must Be The Band.

Taste of River North

River North is known for delicious food and world-class restaurants, so it’s no surprise this is one of my favorite neighborhood festivals. The Taste of River North, held July 18 through 20, features, you guessed it…neighborhood restaurants, live music, and local artists and merchants. If you’re still up to it, there are after-parties hosted by local bars in the area. Bonus to those who leave near the fest, like our AMLI River North residents…I just might be a little jealous of your proximity.

Wicker Park Fest

Held July 26 and 27, Wicker Park Fest is an annual music festival featuring live music and the best food Wicker Park has to offer. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but with three stages of live bands and DJ’s, there’s definitely a little something for everyone.

Going to some of these neighborhood festivals is a great way to explore the variety of shops and restaurants Chicago has to offer. Each neighborhood has its own flavor so explore the different cultures the city has to offer.

What is your favorite summer festival? Share with us in the comments!

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