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Chicagoist's Guide to July: 20 Fun Things To Do This Month

By Michelle Meywes Kopeny in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 1, 2016 4:46PM

Lollapalooza is July 28-31. Photo by Michelle Kopeny.

Summer in Chicago means it's festival season. Street fests, food fests, music fests and the mother of them all, Lollapalooza, all rock our calendar this month.


July 2 to 3

The full-on music festival Mamby on the Beach takes over Oakwood Beach this Saturday and Sunday. Milky Chance, Chet Faker, Animal Collective and Chromeo are just a few of the big name artists playing. Be sure to check out local acts like Wild Belle, MONAKR and Lupe Fiasco. There’s also a DJ mixing tent and silent disco to get your dance on. Perfect summer weather predicted means lots of beach wear and fashion on the horizon. Tickets are $130 for two-day passes, $69.50 for single day.

Photo courtesy of Chosen Few DJs.


July 2 to 3

The “world's biggest party” gets even bigger this year with a two-day music festival in Jackson Park. The Chosen Few DJs Picnic is a house music celebration with their traditional picnic happening on Saturday, and a special celebration of soul music planned for Sunday.The party started as a small gathering of friends back in 1990, and quickly grew into the festival that it is now. Roy Ayers, Cheryl Lynn, Monique Bingham, DJ Spinna and more are all scheduled to perform. Tickets are $50 for a two-day pass, $30 for single day.

Photo courtesy of DCASE.


July 6 to 10

Now in it’s 36th year, the Taste of Chicago is much more than food. Multiple concert stages, cooking demonstrations, Food For Thought Podcasts and more are all part of the downtown festival. This year they’ve got 69 food vendors and pop-up restaurants, with cooking demonstrations, beer and wine gardens and Celebrity Chefs du Jour mixed in. And the music lineup, as usual, is stellar. The Roots, KONGOS, The Decemberists, Billy Idol and The Isley Brothers all perform on at the Petrillo Music Shell this year. Entry is free, and “Taste Of” portions are $2.50 or less. For more information visit Taste of Chicago’s website.


July 8 to 10

West Fest is a street fest celebration of the West Town neighborhood with live music, local vendors and it’s own “Pet Fest.” Curated by the Empty Bottle, their band lineup has always been great, and this year includes it-rock band Bully (who released one of our favorite albums of 2015), indie rock band Cloud Nothings and more. They’ve also got a house DJ stage with Derrick Carter and Mark Farina headlining. Entry is $5 suggested donation.


July 8 to 10

The three-day Latin Alternative Music Festival takes place at Adams/Medil Park in Pilsen. More than 40 bands make up the lineup with Latin Post-Punk, Electronic, Hip-Hop, Rock, Psychedelia, Tropicalia, EDM, Reggae and Pop from all over the continent recognized. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, La Ley and Maldita Vecindad are among the headliners. Tickets are $149.98 for a three-day pass, $94.98 for single day.


July 8 to 10

More than 50 music acts and 30 craft breweries make up Square Roots Craft Brew & Music Festival in Lincoln Square this weekend. Old Town School of Folk Music is in charge of the music, so the lineup is stacked, inside and out of the building. Lydia Loveless and 90’s alternative band Cracker are just a couple of the bands playing, and let’s not forget about the beer. 5 Rabbit Cerveceria, Half Acre Beer Company, Metropolitan Brewing Company, Temperance Brewery, Two Brothers and more will be pouring. There’s also Wiggleworms and Doodle Bugs for the kids. Entry is $10 suggested donation ($20 for families).


July 9

New Belgium Brewing celebrates all things “beer, bikes and bemusement” at Tour De Fat in Palmer Square. Musical guests include Dr. Dog and Mucca Pazza and a ton of other music and live entertainment on two stages. Free.

Photo via Butcher & the Burger's Facebook page.


July 9 to 10

Get your fill of burgers, music and family fun at the 10th annual Roscoe Village Burger fest. Saturday headliners 10,000 Maniacs rub shoulders with popular Chicago cover bands like Wedding Banned and Trippin Billies. Nearly a dozen burger joints will be represented including Hackney’s, Butcher & the Burger and Fatso’s Last Stand. Entry is $10 gate donation benefitting the Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce.


June 18 to 19

It’s the “Granddaddy of American Art Festivals.” Head to Grant Park this Saturday and Sunday for the Gold Coast Art Fair. Not only will they showcase art from more than 300 artists from around the world, but there’s also food, beer, music and interactive art you can make yourself. Photographers, painters and artists of many other mediums will have art for sale, with prices from $25 to $25,000. Free.

Photo via Brian Wilson's Facebook page.


July 15 to 17

It’s the hottest indie festival around and it’s right here in Union Park. Now in it’s 12th year (if you count Intonation) Pitchfork, not unlike the online publication, has championed talented undercard bands and musicians. Beach House, Sufjan Stevens and FKA Twigs top the lineup this year, but there are a ton of other notable artists on the list, including the legendary Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds. Tickets are $165 for a three-day pass, $65 for single day.


July 15 to 17

Windy City Smokeout is a three-day ode to BBQ, country music and beer. Happening on Grand Ave near the Chicago River, the smokeout includes a pitmaster showdown among other events like cooking school, brunches and a family tasting. Restaurants serving up the meat include local joints like Bub City, Lillie’s Q and Smoque plus Pappy’s Smokehouse from St. Louis and Peg Leg Porker out of Nashville. Tickets start at $110 for a three-day pass, and $30 for single day passes.

Photo courtesy of MSI.


July 16

The Museum of Science and Industry gets in on the nighttime party with their first ever adults-only after-hours event, Brick Bash. Named in honor of the museum’s latest exhibit, Brick By Brick, guests can build LEGO structures in the hands-on section or just build their own sliders and cocktails. 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $30.

Photo via Dusty Groove's website.


July 16

Dusty Groove is turning 20 and they’re throwing a giant block party. From noon to 5 p.m. the niche record store on Ashland Ave. will have free food and drinks, giveaways and of course, dusty grooves. The day also includes a "Jazz In The Alley" reunion, a Plastic Crimewave exhibition and a live performance from Meridian Trio. Free.

Photo via Cake Boss' Facebook page.


July 16

TLC hosts a Summer Block Party at Soldier Field’s Stadium Green with food, fun and personalities from some of their popular television shows. Stars from Cake Boss, Long Island Medium, Say Yes To The Dress, Little People Big World and more will be in attendance. They’ll have summer festival activities both on stage and in booths like cookie decorating with Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and a ring toss with the Sister Wives. Free. RSVP here.

Celebrate Clark Street Festival: A Cultural Explosion in Rogers Park from ItziNallah on Vimeo.


July 16 to 17

Celebrate Clark Street at the Celebrate Clark Street World Music Festival in Rogers Park. Four Star Brass Band, Palenke Soultribe, Krar Collective and more represent at the street fest boasting an eclectic lineup of world music. Local restaurants and bars get in on the festivities, plus there’s interactive entertainment, an Art Lot and stuff for kids. Entry is a $5 suggested donation benefiting the Rogers Park Business Alliance.


July 16

Local blues label Alligator Records is honored with their own stage at Laid Back Festival on Northerly Island. Gregg Allman, Peter Frampton headline the fest, while Alligator artists like Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials and Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater will also perform. The hometown label also celebrates their 45th anniversary this year. Tickets start at $25.


July 16 to 17

Peruse art from more than 75 local artists at the Southport Art & Music Fest (formerly Summer on Southport). Shop paintings, jewelry, sculpture, photography and more during the day, and then stick around for the live music at night. Admission is a $5 suggested donation benefiting Southport Neighbors Association.


July 17

Immerse yourself in Far East culture at the Chinatown Summer Fair from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be classical Chinese dance, martial arts demonstrations and a Dragon & Lion Dance Procession at 12:30 p.m. Free.


July 23 to 24

Wicker Park Fest is a jam packed street fest with a “cutting edge” music lineup and local fare. Check out local bands like Lowdown Brass Band and The Island of Misfit Toys early in the day before it gets too crowded. There’s also a Kids Fest area with programming from noon to 6 each day. Entry is a $10 gate donation benefiting WPB Chamber of Commerce.

Photo by Michelle Kopeny.


July 28 to 31

The time is here for the biggest of the big Chicago music festivals. Each summer for the last 12 years, Lollapalooza has taken over Grant Park, expanding bigger and bigger each time. This year, the fest has grown from three days to four, so you have a whole extra day to take in hot bands, sweat your ass off and get covered in mud. Headliners include Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers and LCD Soundsystem, but don’t miss out on those up-and-comers early on the schedule and on the side stages (especially the BMI stage). Some local acts that made the bill are rapper Towkio, hip hop artist Vic Mensa and DJ duo Flosstradamus. GA tickets sold out immediately, but check those re-sale sites. VIP and Platinum packages are still for sale.