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Your Guide to Chicago Summer Music Festivals

Not only does Chicago have state-of-the-art indoor audio facilities, but the city’s outdoor audio experience is also quite impressive. With a rich history of music festivals, summer in the Windy City will be no different.

Possibly the most popular festivals in Chicago, Lollapalooza and Pitchfork both return in 2017, each boasting exciting lineups over multiple days.

“Lollapalooza is a great way to see many different types of music without going to various concerts,” says Nathaniel Fink, a student in Northwestern’s Sound Arts and Industries program.

Though he does not plan to attend the festival this year when it returns to Grant Park on August 3, Fink says he has attended multiple Lollapaloozas in the past and had the opportunity to see acts that rarely perform in the United States, including Daft Punk and French-Spanish musician Manu Chao.

Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper is headlining this year’s festival. Other big names include The Killers, Muse and Lorde. While Lollapalooza appeals to more mainstream music fans and attracts a younger teen audience, Fink says Pitchfork, which will take place July 14 – 16 at Union Park, typically attracts an older crowd and features a more musically diverse lineup. This year’s headliners include Solange, LCD Soundsystem and A Tribe Called Quest.

Lollapalooza and Pitchfork might be Chicago’s most mainstream and talked-about festivals, but there are plenty of other smaller music festivals going on all summer long for music-lovers of all genres.

  1. Country LakeShake Festival

When is it? June 23 – June 25
Where is it? Huntington Bank Pavilion
Who should go? One of only a few country music festivals in Chicago, this one’s for the country music fans. This year’s lineup includes Thomas Rhett, Rascal Flatts and Miranda Lambert.  

  1. Logan Square Arts Festival

When is it? June 23 – June 25
Where is it? Illinois Centennial Monument
Who should go? Anyone looking for more than music out of their festival experience. Featuring tents with local art, beer and live installations, there’s plenty to do, even if you’re not there for the tunes.

  1. Chosen Few DJs Music Festival

When is it? July 1 – July 2
Where is it? Jackson Park
Who should go? House music lovers, this one’s for you. One of the largest house music festival events in the world, drawing more than 40,000 dance music fans each year, this year’s lineup will feature vocalist CeCe Peniston and guest  DJ Spinna.

  1. Square Roots Festival

When is it? July 7 – 9
Where is it? Lincoln Square
Who should go? A collaboration between  Old Town School of Folk Music and the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce’s, this family-friendly festival is fun for all ages. Enjoy craft brews and yummy bites while you jam to bands on multiple stages, both inside the Old Town School and outside on Lincoln Avenue. Genres range from local indie rockers and world music stars to Old Town School teaching artists and students.

  1. Chicago Jazz Festival

When is it? August 31 – September 3
Where is it? Millennium Park
Who should go? Jazz lovers can spend Labor Day Weekend celebrating both the legendary players and contemporary improvisers of the genre.

If outdoor festivals aren’t your thing, check out 10 of Chicago’s Top Sound Destinations and see an indoor show.