There’s a lot of things Chicago is known for: deep dish pizza, the Bulls, the Bears, the wind. That big bean in Millennium Park. But what you might not know is how many music festivals it hosts every year. Although we’ve outlined our favorite below, it’s worth noting that from May to September you can catch a house music festival, blues festival, gospel festival, country festival and even a drag festival in the city. Pretty impressive for a place that’s only warm out half the year.


Since it’s inception in 1991, and rebirth at Chicago’s Grant Park in 2005, Lollapalooza has grown to become one of the nation’s most well known music festivals. The four-day festival pulls in an estimated 400,000 attendees annually, and has expanded its reach internationally with editions in South America and Europe. Recent headliners for the US fest include Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots and The Strokes. shop lollapalooza tickets

World Music Festival Chicago

World Music Festival Chicago is already a massive celebration, with eight days of live music by performers from over 75 different countries. But in honor of the city declaring 2020 the “Year of Chicago Music,” the event has become even more sprawling and will be extended to a 17-day city-wide celebration. Mark your calendars for September 11-27 and be one of the 650,000 attendees at this free event.

Riot Fest

While you’re in town for World Music Festival, you may as well swing by Riot Fest to get a dose of the best of what punk, rock, metal and various other indie acts have to offer. This alternative music-based event has been holding it down in Chicago since 2005, and even expanded to Denver and Toronto for several years. Past headliners include Blink 182, Slayer, Bikini Kill, Ween and Nine Inch Nails. In addition to the impressive lineups, fans can also experience Carnival Rides and sideshow performers throughout the grounds at Douglas Park. shop riot fest tickets

North Coast Music Festival

Although the summer season doesn’t officially end until mid-September, live music lovers know that festival season ends after Labor Day Weekend. That’s why North Coast Music Festival, dubbed “Summer’s Last Stand,” has held strong in Chicago for a decade and counting. The three-day event initially started as a melting pot of EDM, jam band, folk and hip-hop music, and has now moved primarily into the EDM space. Its 2019 edition included Bassnectar, Major Lazer, Flux Pavilion, Jauz and Jai Wolf. shop north coast tickets

Pitchfork Music Festival

College radio and Tiny Desk Concert lovers can breath easy: Pitchfork Music Festival does not seem to be budging from its Union Park home of the last 14 years. When the event was first incepted by Pitchfork Media back in 2006, it was meant as a showcase of cutting edge musical talent. Now, with headliners ranging from Animal Collective to ASAP Rocky, Broken Social Scene to ANDERSON .Paak, Chvrches to The Isley Brothers, it’s become a mid-July mainstay for the Midwestern city. shop pitchfork festival tickets

Chicago Music Festivals 2020

Festival Name Date
Chicago Gospel Music Festival May 26-30
Chicago Blues Festival June 5-7
Spring Awakening June 5-7 (tentative)
Grant Park Music Festival June 10-August 15
Chosen Few Picnic July 4
Taste of Chicago July 8-12
Square Roots July 12-14
Pitchfork Music Festival July 17-19
Lollapalooza July 30-August 2
Ruido Fest August 21-23
North Coast Music Festival August 28-30
Chicago Jazz Festival August 28-September 6
Riot Fest September 11-13
World Music Festival September 13-29

(Photo by Pedro Lastra on Unsplash)