For years, as summer rolled into the Chicago area, music festivals were in tow. Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that is.
And while last year marked a tentative return to the crowds and multistage musical extravaganzas, organizers are on full blast this year, even introducing some new events alongside the area’s summer staples.
Here’s a look at what festgoers have to look forward to during what are arguably the area’s best months for music.
Note: Versa Fest’s Chicago debut, set for June 11-12, has been called off, and Spring Awakening, planned for July 8-10, has been postponed until 2023.
Summer Camp Music Festival
Friday through Sunday, May 27-29, at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, Illinois, summercampfestival.com
If you’re into camping out and listening to music (funk, jams, electronic, rock), Summer Camp is your weekend vibe. A diverse mix of artists make the Summer Camp festival their destination every year, and with camping and RV accommodations, the fans pile in to frolic in the forest.
Top billing: Three days of Umphrey’s McGee and Moe. performances, along with Smashing Pumpkins, Zed’s Dead, Big Gigantic, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Little Feat and STS9
Local draws: Magic City Hippies, The North 41, Charlie Otto + His Gear, Mungion, The Claudettes, Chicago Farmer & the Fieldnotes, Old Shoe, Fauvely, Miles Over Mountains, Stan P. Band, ZOOFUNKYOU and more
Tickets: $269.50 for three-day passes, $169.50 for two-day passes, $59.50 for May 26 pre-party pass (all including camping); single-day, VIP and RV passes also available.
Bitter Jester Music Festival
6:30 p.m. Fridays, June 3 and 10, at Port Clinton Square, 600 Central Ave., Highland Park, bitterjesterfoundation.org
Highland Park’s Bitter Jester Music Festival is celebrating its 16th season with a FREE four-week showcase series, in progress now.
Friday, June 3: Divisor, Fightin’ Bob, Fluctuation, Ian Jake Robleza, Jagger, Opening Day; Showcase performers: The Dennies, Sara Pilkati; Guest artist: Madeline O’Dell
Friday, June 10: Linda Therese, Nyx, Rae, Summer Drive, Summer League, Venganza; Showcase performers: This Violet Hour, Jabari Zakee; Guest artist: Kate Larson
Last year’s Bitter Jester winner, Summer Drive, will performat at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 23, at Ravinia Festival on the carousel Stage, opening for the Steve Miller Band. One finalist from this summer will be invited to open before a headliner at Ravinia during the summer 2023 season.
Grand finale concert: 3:45 p.m. Monday, July 4; the finalists vie for the grand champion title and prizes at Wolters Field, 1080 Park Ave. West, Highland Park, and ends with the City of Highland Park’s Independence Day fireworks show.
Blues on the Fox
Friday and Saturday, June 17-18, at RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway, Aurora, riveredgeaurora.com
The Blues on the Fox Festival returns after a two-year hiatus for its 24th edition, which coincides with the city of Aurora’s “Party on the Promenade” at the new Wilder Park Promenade at 350 N. River St., across the bridge from RiverEdge Park.
Top billing: Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Shemekia Copeland, Buddy Guy, Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers, Billy Branch, Melody Angel
Exchange Club of Naperville’s Ribfest
Friday through Monday, June 17-20, at DuPage Event Center and Fairgrounds, behind the DuPage County Complex at Manchester Road and County Farm Road in Wheaton, ribfest.net
The family-friendly DuPage County summer music, barbecue and carnival blowout returns, this time for its first year in Wheaton.
Top billing: Toby Keith, Elle King, Halestorm, Candlebox, Brett Eldredge, Ashley McBryde and more
Tickets: Ribfest admission is free, but carnival ride passes and concert admission are available for purchase; concert tickets start at $35.
Saturday, June 18, at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, 19100 S. Ridgeland Ave., Tinley Park, 101wkqx.com
101-WKQX brings a full day of alternative rock favorites to the suburbs.
Top billing: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Bastille, Walk The Moon, Cold War Kids, Milky Chance, Cannons, Almost Monday
Winnetka Music Festival
Saturday, June 18, in downtown Winnetka, winnetkamusicfestival.com
ValsList spreads its music festival (formerly EMERGE Winnetka) across four stages throughout the downtown area, with food and beverage vendors, kids’ crafts and more.
Top billing: Guster, The Record Company, Minor Moon, Abby Hamilton
Local draws: Phillip-Michael Scales, Next Week, Bed Heads, Rhythm Revolution and more
Tickets: $50 for general admission, $25 for ages 11-16; free for kids 10 and younger
Pitchfork Music Festival
Friday through Sunday, July 15-17, at Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St., Chicago, pitchforkmusicfestival.com
Blending together alternative favorites with art-pop, electronic and hip-hop artists, Pitchfork provides a cutting-edge lineup for fans in Chicago.
Top billing: The National, Spiritualized, Parquet Courts, Mitski, Japanese Breakfast, Lucy Dacus, The Roots, Toro y Moi, Earl Sweatshirt
Tickets: Three-day general admission passes are $200, with single-day running $99; GA-Plus also available.
Thursday through Sunday, July 28-31, at Grant Park, 337 E. Randolph St., Chicago, lollapalooza.com
The headliners at this year’s fest run the gamut from pop superstars to punk and metal faves, but the undercard acts are where the real fun is.
Top billing: Metallica, Lil Baby, Dua Lipa, Machine Gun Kelly, J. Cole, Kygo, Green Day, Doja Cat
Local draws: Kaskade, Alexander 23, Beach Bunny, 100 gecs, John Summit, Horsegirl, Jordy and Jackie Hayes
Tickets: Single-day general admission starts at $125, with four-day passes running $350; GA+, VIP and Platinum packages are also available.
Homegrown Arts & Music Festival
Saturday, July 30, at BaseCamp Pub, 5750 Lakeside Drive, Lisle, homegrownartsandmusicfestival.com
The Homegrown Arts & Music Festival celebrates its 10th year shining a spotlight on musical acts and fine art vendors from Chicago and the suburbs.
Local draws: More than 30 acts, including the Josh Caterer Trio, North of Eight, The King’s Rising, Hanging Cities, Colleen Wild Band, Curious Grace & Black Rabbit, Jacks and Atoms, Demi Clara, Juitte Payne and much more
Tickets: $25; discounted tickets available from bands on the lineup
Windy City Smokeout
Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 4-7, at the United Center parking lot, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago, windycitysmokeout.com
Whether you like your barbecue sweet or spicy, there’s going to be something to fit your tastes. Enjoy it with a variety of craft beers and some of today’s hottest country acts as Windy City Smokeout takes over the United Center parking lot this summer.
Top billing: Willie Nelson & Family, Turnpike Troubadors, Tim McGraw, Sam Hunt, Miranda Lambert, Kip Moore
Tickets: $184.95 for four-day general admission; single-day passes start at $44.95; VIP and Super VIP also available
North Coast Music Festival
Friday through Sunday, Sept. 2-4, at SeatGeek Stadium, 7000 S. Harlem Ave., Bridgeview, northcoastfestival.com
Kinetic, colorful and wild with energy, North Coast puts the dance into Labor Day weekend with a mix of electronic genres.
Top billing: Armin van Buuren, Illenium, Porter Robinson, Fisher, Diplo, Kaytranada
Local draws: Bentley Dean, Steve Gerard, Dogma and more
Tickets: Three-day general admission runs $213.50, and single-day passes start at $73.57; VIP also available
ARC Music Festival
Friday through Sunday, Sept. 2-4, at Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St., Chicago, arcmusicfestival.com
With four stages, ARC Music Festival’s second-year lineup meshes global music with down-home house and dance faves.
Top billing: Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin, Charlotte De Witte, Nora En Pure, Chris Lake, Adam Beyer and more
Local draws: Derrick Carter, Gene Farris, GoodSex and the GoodBus with Alex Kislov, Dangerwayne, Dani Deahl and more
Tickets: Three-day general admission runs $279, with single-day passes coming soon; Global and Icon VIP packages are also available.
Riot Fest and Carnival
Friday through Sunday, Sept. 16-18, at Douglass Park, 1401 S. Sacramento Drive, Chicago, riotfest.org
Three days of rock, punk and emo (and a dose of weird) are what the fans need to start bringing summer to a close.
Top billing: My Chemical Romance, The Misfits, Nine Inch Nails, Bleachers, Jimmy Eat World, Yellowcard, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ice Cube, Bad Religion and more
Local draws: Alkaline Trio, Lucky Boys Confusion, Sincere Engineer, The Academy Is …, Real Friends, Night Spice, Treaty of Paris
Tickets: Three-day passes start at $299.98, with single-day passes going for $99.98
Punk the Burbs 5
Friday and Saturday, Sept. 30-Oct. 1, at BaseCamp Pub & Eatery, 5750 Lakeside Drive, Lisle; find updates at facebook.com/punktheburbs.
Punk the Burbs celebrates its fifth outing spotlighting punk and rock acts from home and around the region.
The draws: The full lineup isn’t set yet, but Chicago-based The Bollweevils, Kali Masi and Much the Same have been announced, along with founders and lineup staples Bumsy and the Moochers and The Run Around.
Fests to watch
• Bluegrass Music Festival: Saturday, May 28, at Lyon Farm, 7935 Route 71, Yorkville, nibaweb.org
• Suenos Music Festival: May 28-29 in Grant Park, Chicago, suenosmusicfestival.com
• Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival: May 28-29 on Sheffield, between Roscoe and Belmont, Chicago, lakevieweast.com
• Do Division: June 3-5 on Division Street, between Damen and Leavitt, Chicago, westtownchamber.org
• Chicago Blues Festival: June 9-12 at Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago, cityofchicago.org
• T1 Fest: June 10-11 at Reggies Rock Club, 2105 S. State St., Chicago, reggieslive.com
• Andersonville Midsommarfest: June 10-12 along Clark Street, between Catalpa and Foster, Chicago, andersonville.org/events/midsommarfest
• Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash: June 17-19 at Douglas Park, 1401 S. Sacramento Drive, Chicago, thesummersmash.com
• Taste of Randolph: June 17-19 at 900 W. Randolph St., Chicago, starevents.com
• Dry City Music Festival: June 24-25 at Dry City Brew Works, 120 N. Main St., Wheaton, facebook.com/drycitybrewworks
• Long Grove Strawberry Fest: June 24-26 in downtown Long Grove, 308 Old McHenry Road, longgrove.org
• Logan Square Arts Festival: June 24-26 at Logan Square, Chicago, logansquareartsfestival.com
• Motoblot Road Show: June 24-26 outside the Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, motoblot.com
• River North Live!: June 24-26 at River Park at theMART, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago, rivernorthlive.com
• Pride in the Park: June 25-26 at Butler Field in Grant Park, 377 E. Monroe St., Chicago, prideparkchi.com.
• American Music Festival: July 1-4 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt Road, Berwyn, fitzgeraldsnightclub.com
• Taste of Chicago: July 8-10 at Grant Park, Jackson and Columbus avenues, Chicago, chicago.gov
• Square Roots Festival: July 8-10 on Lincoln Avenue, between Montrose and Wilson avenues, Chicago, squareroots.org
• West Fest: July 8-10 on Chicago Avenue, between Wood and Damen, Chicago, westtownchamber.org
• Heatwave Music Festival: July 16-17 at Douglass Park, 1401 S. Sacramento Drive, Chicago, heatwavemusicfestival.com
• Wicker Park Fest: July 22-24 on Milwaukee Avenue, from North Avenue to Paulina Street, wickerparkbucktown.com
• 56 Music Fix: Aug. 19-21 in downtown Mount Prospect, 56musicfix.org
• Ruido Fest: Aug. 19-21 at Union Park, Chicago, ruidofest.com
• Windy City Ribfest: Aug. 19-21 at 4800 N. Broadway, Chicago, chicagoevents.com
• Sacred Rose: Aug. 26-28 at SeatGeek Stadium, 7000 S. Harlem Ave., Bridgeview, sacredrosefest.com
• Last Fling: Sept. 2-5 at Rotary Hill, 440 W. Aurora Ave., Naperville, lastfling.org
• Long Grove Apple Fest: Sept. 23-25 in downtown Long Grove, 308 Old McHenry Road, longgrove.org