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15 Free Ways to Enjoy Summer in Chicago

By / May 21, 2018

Let’s face it — city living ain’t always cheap. But warmer temperatures make it easier than ever to experience Chicago at its prime, thanks to an abundant arrival of art fairs, street fests, farmers markets, and outdoor fêtes. From a community celebration in West Town to a lively garden walk in Lincoln Park, here are 15 free ways to embrace summer living.

Green City Market at Gallagher Way

Thursdays starting at 6:30 p.m.

Gallagher Way

Green City Market, Chicago's largest and first year-round sustainable farmers' market, will showcase chef demos, beer and wine pairings, prepared food, and locally sourced vendors.

More info

Chicago Gospel Music Festival

June 1: 12pm-9:30am; June 2: 11am-9:30pm

Millennium Park

Celebrating the great influence of the music genre born in this city 80 years ago, this fest features local and national artists from traditional choirs to contemporary styles.


Lincoln Park Greek Fest

Friday, June 1: 5pm to 11pm; Saturday, June 2: Noon to 11pm; Sunday, June 3: Noon to 10 pm

St. George Greek Orthodox Church

Authentic Greek cuisine, music, dance performances, kids' activities, and Hellenic culture and pride are celebrated at this lively annual happening.

More info

Taste of Mexico in Little Village

Friday June 1: 3-10pm, Saturday June 2 and Sunday June 3: 12-10pm

Little Village

Fans of authentic Mexican street foods can rejoice at this festival, when restaurants serve up an array of signature and authentic dishes. Enjoy music, arts, and crafts, as well.


35th Annual Chicago Blues Festival

Millennium Park

This fest features live music performances from over 100 national, international, and local artists celebrating the city's rich Blues tradition.

More info

Wells Street Art Festival

Wells Street, Old Town

This art extravaganza is known as one of Chicago's most popular fairs, thanks to works from more than 200 fine artists. Expect live music, kids' activities, and eats from local restaurants.

More info

Gold Coast Art Fair at Grant Park

Saturday and Sunday, 10am-6pm

Butler's Field

Kick off summer with this neighborhood art fair, a celebration of more than 300 juried artists from around the world.

More info

Friday Art Market at Daley Plaza

Daley Plaza

Art lovers can explore a variety of crafts (including jewelry, ceramics, sculpture, and paintings) from more than 75 juried artists at this summer art festival.

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Logan Square Arts Festival

Logan Square

This fest is presented by local nonprofit organization I Am Logan Square, with music curation and cocktails by The Whistler, 30 bands, 50 art vendors, and food from neighborhood restaurants.


Evanston Chamber Artisan SummerFest

Evanston, IL

This annual North Shore art happening features the works of nearly 100 juried artists, as well as more than 25 artists focusing on eco-friendly and recycled pieces.

More info

Inferno Fest

Everts Park

This fest tests the taste buds of the most daring food enthusiasts with the spiciest foods and drinks. Expect creations like spicy pasta dishes, peppery nuts, hot wings, and more — plus, live music.

More info

Windy City Ribfest in Uptown

Uptown, Chicago

Enjoy live music, arts and crafts, and, of course, tons of tasty slabs of ribs from local and national rib enthusiasts.

More info
   West Fest

West Fest

West Town, Chicago

This locally planned festival features retailers, restaurants, artists, crafters, and more, reflecting the eclectic West Town community. Another bonus? Its cutting-edge live music.

More info

Southport Art Festival


This festival will showcase the work of more than 75 of the city's most diverse artists who work in a variety of mediums, including oil, acrylic, watercolor, jewelry, sculpture, and photography.

More info

Sheffield Music Festival & Garden Walk

Lincoln Park, Chicago

This fest features self-guided tours of more than 80 Gardens, guided Architectural Tours, live entertainment by some of Chicago's best-known bands, and plenty of food and drink.

More info


Nicole Schnitzler is a freelance writer who covers​ ​food, drink, ​travel, entertainment, and ​lifestyle. When she is not planning her next adventure​​, she can be found​ ​commuting between bakeries, yoga classes,​ live music shows, and libraries ​in her hometown of ​​Chicago. She is most comfortable with a pen in one hand and a fork in the other. Nicole is also the founder of Doors Open Dishes, an initiative committed to keeping the doors open to the group homes and workshops of individuals with special needs by partnering with chefs and restaurants across the city. Follow her on Twitter (@Write_To_Eat) or on Instagram (@WriteToEat).

More articles by Nicole Schnitzler



  1. Glenn R Rygel

    Glenn here from the ROSELLE CRUISE NIGHTS. We have a weekly car cruise night every Friday night which began on May 25th, and goes straight through to September 28th. We average about 125 cars ranging from a Model T to a late model Corvette. The event is free to the public, and we have a DJ, and most of the time we have a live band, food & drinks are available. Our address is 344 E Maple in Roselle Il. 60172 at the Roselle American Legion. Our website is We would love to be listed on your site !!
    Glenn Rygel

  2. Tonia Edgeston

    I attended the Chicago Gospel Music Festival on Saturday, June 2, 2018. It was absolutely fantastic. Thank you to the City Of Chicago, sponsors, park staff, Inspiration 1390 Hosts, and all the amazing gospel artists & musicians. If anyone is interested in an engaging and interactive bible study done at your own pace which fosters discipleship, mentoring, and encouragement, please check out You will not be disappointed. It’s not meant to replace your weekly bible study at church. This is for daily consistency in your study time with God. *Peace*Joy*Strength*Blessings*

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