By Megan Horst-Hatch

With spring in the air, it’s time to start thinking of outdoor concerts. Grab your friends and family, pack a beach towel and a decadent picnic and listen to tunes with other music lovers, all the while catching a few rays in the great outdoors. From festivals to concerts, the Chicagoland area offers a wealth of opportunities for you to catch a performance of your favorite type of music. Check out the following outdoor concerts when planning for this summer.

Chicago New Arts Trio
Cantigny Park
1S151 Winfield Road
Wheaton, IL 60189
(630) 668-5161

Date: Apr. 21

Start the outdoor concert season with a performance by the Chicago New Arts Trio at historic Cantigny Park. Started in 2008, the group consists of Carolyn Hart (soprano), Jennie Brown (flute) and Misook Kim (composition and piano) who have performed works by composers such as Jake Heggie and Thea Musgrave. For a sample of the trio’s performances, check out their website. To get a real feel for spring, make sure to check out Cantigny’s 29 acres, which include more than 20 gardens. Although the concert is free, tickets are distributed by lottery; to be eligible for a ticket, call (630) 260-8162 by April 12.



Chicago Blues Festival
Grant Park
337 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 744-3370

Dates: June 6-9

When you think of Chicago, you probably think of the blues — music, that is. The city is synonymous with this genre of music, so it’s only fitting that the 30th annual Chicago Blues Festival takes place against the backdrop of Chicago’s skyline. Grab your picnic basket and your friends, and get ready for one of the most anticipated events of the year. The annual event attracts more than 500,000 music fans, and previous musical acts have included Magic Slim, Bonnie Raitt and Ray Charles. This year’s festival will kick off with a performance by Shemekia Copeland, who was named Queen of the Blues during the 2011 festival. While garage parking is available, you may want to consider taking public transportation.

Related: Live Music In Chicago: 5 Great Venues

Sting: Back To Bass Tour
Ravinia Festival
418 Sheridan Road
Highland Park, IL 60035
(847) 266-5000

Date: June 7-8

Are you ready to see Gordon Sumner on stage? This summer, Sting will perform for two nights at the historic Ravinia Festival at its Pavilion venue. The ‘Back to Bass’ tour will be comprised of Sting’s greatest hits, and as of press time, Ravinia was the only tour stop in the Midwest, making it among the must-have concert tickets of the summer. While Ravinia’s Pavilion is outdoors, don’t let that sway you; the venue is both open-air and covered, offering the best of both worlds for concert-goers.

Grant Park Music Festival
Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 742-7638

Date: June 12-Aug. 17

Whether you want to attend a concert after work or are looking for a way to kick off your Saturday night, consider making plans to see a performance during the Grant Park Music Festival. What kind of music is on schedule? An easier question to answer might be what isn’t scheduled. The festival includes a number of musical genres, including compositions by Mozart, dance melodies, jazz and more. Don’t worry if you forget your picnic basket; restaurants and grocery stores abound in the area so you can grab that last-minute item. While most concerts will take place at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, some are scheduled for the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. For a complete schedule, check out the festival’s website. The festival extends until August 17.

(Credit: John Sciulli/Getty Images)

(Credit: John Sciulli/Getty Images)

B96 Pepsi Summer Bash 2013

7000 S Harlem Ave
Bridgeview, IL
(708) 594-7200

Date: June 15

If it’s the hottest pop acts you’re into, then the B96 Pepsi Summer Bash is for you. First held in 1992, it’s presented by B96 — one of Chicago’s top radio stations. The event has been held at Toyota Park in the suburb of Bridgeview since the venue opened in 2006; that year’s edition of Summer Bash was the first non-soccer event held at the stadium. 2013’s B96 Pepsi Summer Bash will have performances by Demi Lovato, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Ariana Grande, Afrojack, Cher Lloyd, Zedd, EMBLEM 3, and it’s just the beginning!

(Credit: Randall Starr /

(Credit: Randall Starr /

Grant Park
337 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601

Date: Aug. 2-4

Established in 1991, Lollapalooza has quickly become one of the hottest tickets in the summer concert season in Chicago. The three-day event features more than 130 artists and has included groups like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack White, Black Sabbath, Metric and The Black Keys, with a variety of musical genres represented at the festival. The festival also offers more than music, with last year’s festival including a wine lounge, a playground for families and food booths. The festival has kid-friendly activities, and is also easily accessible by public transportation.

Related: Best Outdoor Venues In Chicago

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at