Essential Chicago Summer Festivals: August 2015 Edition

Chicago Summertime

Believe it or not, Chicago: August is here. The good news is that summer, in all its steamy, sweaty splendor has finally arrived… the bad news is… well, I am not going to even go there.

August is undoubtedly one of the best months of the year in Chicago, so it is imperative to take full advantage of every sunny afternoon and balmy evening. This guide, featuring my selections for the best August festivals, should assist in that endeavor.

Chicago Hot Dog Fest

Chicago Hot Dog

Chicago Hot Dog (photo by Jeremy Keith )

Who: Encased meat junkies.

What: A wide variety of Chicago’s beloved Vienna Beef dogs. Numerous hot dog vendors. Beer. Bands. Children’s activities.

Where: Clark Street & LaSalle Drive at the south end of Lincoln Park (the event is hosted by the Chicago History Museum).

When: Fri., August 7th & Sat., August 8th {11:00a- 9:00p}; Sun., August 9th {11:00a- 8:00p}.

Why: Because you have a serious penchant for meat in tubular form and want to pay homage to one of Chicago’s most iconic eats.

How Much: Free admission.

Northalsted Market Days

Who: A diverse LGBT crowd from all over. A really insane number of humans. Dancing queens. Hedonists.

What: A lot of drinking, dancing, and reveling in the street. Street food vendors. Arts and crafts merchants. Three stages featuring over 40 top musical acts from the area and across the country including Blu Cantrell, En Vogue, Salt-N-Pepa & All-4-One. General debauchery. An excessive amount of skin. Limitless opportunities for people watching.

Where: Halsted Street from Belmont Avenue to Addison Street in Chicago’s Boystown ‘hood.

When: Sat., August 8th & Sun., August 9th {11:00a- 10:00p}.

Why: Because you wouldn’t want to pass up the Midwest’s largest street festival and an absurdly fun time. Read: this fest is FOMO-inducing, folks.

How Much: $10 donation.

Festa Italiana

Chicago's Little Italy

Chicago’s Little Italy (photo by Benjamin Lipsman )

Who: Italians. Celebrants of Italian culture (and food).

What: All Things Italian. A wine garden. Traditional Italian fare. Three stages of live entertainment. Activities from grape stomping to competitive meatball eating. Carnival rides.

Where: Taylor Street at Ashland Avenue in Chicago’s Little Italy ‘hood.

When: Thurs., August 13th {5:00p- 10:00p}; Fri., August 14th & Sat., August 15th {noon- 11:00p}; Sun., August 16th {noon- 10:00p}.

Why: To experience la dolce vita.

How Much: $5 suggested donation.

Chicago Air & Water Show

Who: Boat enthusiasts. Lakefront locals. Lovers of Chicago summer.

What: You know, that time of the year when you are absolutely convinced that the city of Chicago is under siege via the air? Headliners including the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the Breitling Jet Team. Diving and parachute teams. A ginormous beach and waterfront party.

Where: Chicago’s lakefront from Fullerton Parkway to Oak Street.

When: Sat., August 15th & Sun., August 16th {10:00a- 3:00p}.

Why: Because it is billed as the largest free show of its kind. Also, because our summers are fleeting and this show offers a perfect excuse to chill, picnic, and soak up Chicago’s beautiful lakefront and skyline with complimentary entertainment (okay, if you don’t mind a crowd).

How Much: Free.

Taste of Greektown

Who: Greeks. Grecophiles. Fun seekers.

What: The biggest, fattest annual celebration of Greekness in Chicago. Greek delicacies served up by Greektown’s finest establishments. Greek bands and dancing. Greek booze (ouzo, duh) and vino. A whole lot of Hellenism. Infectious OOOO-PA!

Where: Halsted & Van Buren in Chicago’s Greektown.

When: Sat., August 22nd – Sun., August 23rd {noon- 11:00p}.

Why: Yeah, maybe I should disclose the Greek bias up front. Greekness aside, you would be hard pressed to find an ethnic group who drinks, eats and dances like the Greeks. (In fact, we probably invented all of the aforementioned.)

How Much: Free.

Chicago Food + Wine Festival 

Who: Gastronomes. Oenophiles. Culinary scenesters. Celebrity chef groupies.

What: Artisanal food, wine, beer & spirits. Hob-Knobbing with acclaimed chefs, sommeliers, and winemakers. Cooking demonstrations. Live music.

Where: Chicago’s Lincoln Park.

When: Fri., August 29th – Sun., August 30th.

Why: You really, truly, deeply love delectable food and drink and have to be at foodie ground zero for this festival’s inaugural year.

How Much: You can peruse and purchase tickets here.

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