Now that the weather is on the upswing, it doesn’t matter when you want to go to a fun, outdoor food, music or ethnic fest. With all of the festivals taking place in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, there is something for everyone almost every summer weekend. However, if your time is limited, you ought to know about the following five events. Listed chronologically, each of them is quite different but fun.
Date: May 2-4, 2014
Festival Cinco de Mayo (May 5) is a chance to visit Chicago’s colorful Little Village neighborhood. Although Cinco de Mayo is not the Mexican Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16, the festival is about Mexican heritage. Sponsored by the Little Village Chamber of Commerce, the event commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory against the French at the Battle of Puebla. The Little Village neighborhood celebrates the victory with delicious food, wonderful craft booths and tap-your-foot Latin beats.
Date: June 21-22, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Produced by Special Events Management to benefit the Northalsted Business Alliance, Chicago Pride Fest takes place the weekend before the city’s Pride Parade. The event features terrific music and dance entertainment including internationally known pop star Kathy Sledge of the Sister Sledge act and pop singer/musician Betty Who. Suggested donation is $8.
Taste of Chicago
Jackson Blvd. and Columbus Drive
Chicago, IL 60604
Date: July 9-13, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
Downtown workers take lunch breaks here or stop after work for food and music. Suburban families often take the train down during the weekend. Either way, going early is best because about two million people come to “The Taste.” They are there to munch such yummy Chicago specialties as deep-dish pizza, Eli’s cheesecake and dishes from some of the city’s ethnic eateries, all on one day. Meanwhile, upbeat notes float across the park from the Petrillo Music Shell and other stages to help the digestion and as a gorging break. Admission is free but food and drinks are only available with tickets. Strips of 12 tickets are about $8.
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337 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60602
Date: Aug. 1-3, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Chicago hosts several music festivals from blues and jazz to classical and country. But the event that arguably draws the crowds from all over the United States is Lollapalooza. “Lolla” features more than 100 bands ranging from hip hop and heavy metal to punk and alternative rock. Headliners in 2013 included The Cure, Mumford & Sons, The Killers, Nine Inch Nails and Phoenix. To control attendance and be sure of no counterfeit tickets, entry will be by wristband. Check the Lollapalooza website for wristband sales information.
Port Clinton Art Festival
600 Central Ave.
Highland Park, IL 60035
Date: Aug. 23-24, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Out of thousands of applications, about 260 artists from across the globe are accepted for the Port Clinton Festival. Considered among the top art fests in the United States, the two-day event annually attracts about 250,000 visitors to north-suburban Highland Park. The festival is free. Tip: go early to avoid crowds and summer heat.
Jodie Jacobs is a veteran journalist who loves writing about Chicago, art, theater, museums and travel. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.