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Chicago's Can't-Miss Festivals In 2015

By Sponsor in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 20, 2015 5:00AM

This post is a collaboration between Expedia and Gothamist staff.

Everyone in Chicago knows it's not the Second City some insist it is. Festivals here are no different; whether you're into the summer EDM circuit, checking out barroom up-and-comers, or putting away as many ribs and bratwurst as possible, there really is something here for everyone.

This list isn't just about the events themselves, either—it's about the city itself. Really, nothing is better than spending a weekend taking in not just culture, but the beautiful scenery in the iconic parks and neighborhoods we're famous for.

For a look, we've partnered up with travel experts Expedia for a rundown of some can't-miss Chicago festivals in 2015. Whether you're a native or a traveler looking to round out your plans, check it out!

via Ben Collins-Sussman and Anne Peterson.

Baconfest, April 17-18. Fading meme or not, bacon is forever. Here, Chicago’s best chefs serve up brilliant bacon dishes to thousands of bacon lovers while liquor sponsors provide cocktails, beer and wine designed to complement a bacon meal. The two-day event takes place at the UIC Forum, so there'll be plenty of college bars and restaurants around if you find yourself wanting a little extra at the end of it all. UIC Forum, University Village.

via Facebook.

Spring Awakening, June 12-14. A huge date in the EDM circuit, Spring Awakening features a massive lineup this year including Diplo, Afrojack, Tiƫsto, and more. Three full days of mayhem at Bears arena Soldier Field is enough to supercharge the start to any EDM fan's summer. Soldier Field, Near South Side.

via the City of Chicago.

Chicago Blues Fest, June 12-14. The Chicago Blues Fest is the crowning achievement of live music events in this city. It's the largest free blues festival in the world, it's the largest music festival in Chicago, it boasts five stages of music, and it hosts 500,000 fans over three days. Join the crowds as they take over gorgeous Grant Park, where you'll be surrounded by tons of museums, food, and drink should you need a little break from the action. Grant Park, the Loop.

via RibFest.

RibFest, June 12-14. Growing every year, RibFest has come to feature dozens of local restaurants and vendors—a far cry from its humble beginnings as a parking lot affair in 1998. The North Center extravaganza is becoming a new Chicago classic, nestled in the quaint neighborhood known for its mix of families and young professionals looking for a little peace without giving up downtown amenities. Intersection of Lincoln / Irving Park / Damen, North Center.

via Facebook.

Windy City Smokeout, July 10-12. Nothing really says summer like barbecue, live music, and beer. Located at Grand and the Chicago River, this fest takes smoked meats to a whole new level. Brisket, hot links, chicken, you name it, it'll all be there against a backdrop of country music and gorgeous river views, with plenty of suds to wash it all down. Grand and the Chicago River, River West.

via Facebook.

Pitchfork Music Festival, July 17-19. Headliners Wilco, Chance the Rapper and newly-reunited Sleater-Kinney bring some diversity to this year's lineup. The whole schedule is A+ though, featuring plenty of throwbacks, new talent, and big names at one of the city's best music festivals in one of its best parks. Union Park, Near West Side.

via Facebook.

Lollapalooza, July 31-August 2. Lollapalooza's long been a bastion of alternative music, popularizing and showcasing bands like Nine Inch Nails, the Beastie Boys, Arcade Fire, Siouxsie and the Banshees, you name it. Though some say it's more commercial than they'd like since its reboot in 2003, it's hard to argue with the 160,000+ visitors to "Chicago's front yard" every year. Plus, the food is outta sight, all curated by the city's own Graham Elliot. Grant Park, the Loop.

via Instagram.

Oktoberfest, September 25-27. This year, the Bavarian classic once again takes over the iconic St. Alphonsus for its 15th anniversary, and it's gonna be a good one. Head to North Center for brats, pretzels, music on two stages, new craft beer tastings and a family-focused "Kinderfest"— everything you need to celebrate fall and start packing on those winter pounds a little early. St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church, West Lakeview.

via Facebook.

Chicago Film Festival, October 15-29. 50 years of history precede this year's festival, and it shows. 2014 featured more than 150 narrative features, documentaries and short films from over 60 countries, 40 by first-time filmmakers. This year, the festival tries something different: an open call for submissions. Now's your chance to floor your friends and family with your very own film screening in one of Chicago's ritziest neighborhoods. AMC River East 21 (and other venues), River East.


via Facebook.

North Coast Festival, likely late August. This fairly young festival focuses on electronic, indie, hip hop, jam and rock artists, and will probably take place over Labor Day Weekend as is usually the case. No lineup's been announced yet, but last year featured heavy hitters like Snoop and Kid Cudi, as well as smaller acts like Future Islands, Action Bronson, and tons of DJs. Join the revelry as it takes over Union Park the month after its bigger, Indie-er counterpart, Pitchfork. Union Park, Near West Side.

via David Kindler / Riot Fest.

Riot Fest, likely September. Once a punk upstart, Riot Fest has become one of Chicago's defining events in music. 2014 saw its 10th anniversary but 2015, though as yet unannounced, is sure to be just as amazing. The organizers' integrity and commitment to the community—spending nearly $200,000 to repair Humboldt Park after an unexpectedly raucous, rainy event last year—proves it has the connection to Chicago that an event like this thrives on. Humboldt Park, Humboldt Park/Wicker Park.