Chicago is brimming with music festivals all year long. Some of the most popular festivals combine music with fantastic food, history, art, and culture making them truly iconic and world-renowned. Whether you are searching for heart-stopping, ear-pounding, head-banging live music or something a bit more sedate, the music festivals in Chicago have you covered.
Being home to some of the top music festivals in the Midwest, Chicago is the place to be when the weather warms enough for venues to throw open their gates and welcome the masses. Some of the best-known music festivals in Chicago include Lollapalooza, Pitchfork Music Festival, and Riot Fest.
Festival goers tips: Book your tickets in advance as most of these festivals do sell out quickly and once here, leave your belongings at a luggage storage locker so you can rock out without being weighed down by extra baggage. Read our guide on getting around Chicago to easily make your way from place to place. And lastly, get ready to make new friends! Some people make plans to come to Chicago for an annual festival so there are a lot of familiar faces at these events.
The best music festivals in Chicago in 2022
Held July 15-17 at Union Park, the Pitchfork Festival is one of the most popular music festivals held in Chicago. The festival began in 2006 and has grown into a huge event that offers some of the best live music. Street food vendors are also on site offering delicious food.
Before COVID shut things down, the festival drew 60,000 people who came from all 50 states and several different countries just to attend. Aside from fantastic live music and delicious food, there are crafters, specialty record and poster fairs, and local artisans set up booths. The festival helps promote local businesses.
Be sure to get your tickets early for whichever day you want to attend or purchase a 3-day pass so you can see all the acts that will be performing. Some of the artists scheduled to perform include The National, Amber Mark, Camp Cope, Ethel Cain, Japanese Breakfast, Chubby & the Gang, The Roots, Earl Sweatshirt, and Pink Siifu.
Heatwave Music Festival
Head over to Douglas Park July 16-17 for the Heatwave Festival where live music and fanatical dance moves abound. This two-day festival showcases live dance music. Downtown Chicago comes alive when this festival comes to town.
This pop-art inspired festival helps bridge the gap between dance music performers and experiential art. When you come to the Heatwave festival, it is so much more than just live music, it is a cultural experience. Grab your tickets ahead of time to make sure you get to see the performer or band you really want to see.
On Saturday, performers include Above & Beyond, Ranger Trucco, Frank Walker, Boombox Cartel, Shiba San, With Love, and Rome in Silver, just to name a few. Sunday will see even more acts which include Dion Timmer, Blunts & Blondes, G Jones, Lost Kings, Slow Magic, Tres Mortimer, Win & Woo, and many more.
Probably the most iconic music festival in Chicago, Lollapalooza is coming back from July 28 through July 31st. Spend the weekend hanging out at Grant Park in downtown Chicago listening to great live music, eating street food, and rocking out with other fans. This rather unique, messy, and totally wonderful festival has nine stages set up and over 170 bands coming in from across the globe.
People from around the world come just for Lollapalooza. Head over to the interactive areas during Lolla where you can find merchandise, giveaways, food, and drinks. These areas are the place to be if you are hoping to score some great swag during the weekend.
The entire lineup for Lollapalooza 2022 has not been set but some of the confirmed artists include Big Sean, 100 Gecs, Girl in Red, Metallica, Dashboard Confessional, Wet Leg, Green Day, Tinashe, Dua Lipa, Manchester Orchestra, Willow, and Zach Bryan.
Windy City Smokeout
Held August 4-7 at the United Center, the Windy City Smokeout is so much more than a fabulous country music festival. This is where sensational BBQ and craft beer meets downhome country music. Grab your tickets early and come hungry! As soon as you get to the United Center, your tummy will be grumbling and your mouth watering with all the BBQ smells that will be swirling about.
Come on Thursday and catch Willie Nelson & Family and the Turnpike Troubadours. Friday headlines Tim McGraw and Saturday you will hear Sam Hunt. The weekend closes out on Sunday with Miranda Lambert and Kip Moore headlining. Other acts that will be on stage include Morgan Wade, Niko Moon, Zach Bryan, Russell Dickerson, Lily Rose, Shelby Darrall, and Mackenzie Porter.
Latin alternative music rocks downtown Chicago in Union Park on August 19-21. This is a lively festival filled with great music, dancing, food, drinks, and so much more. You will want to get your tickets early. There are three levels of admission that range from general admission to VIP status. VIP is obviously the most inclusive ticket to hold, but general admission is the cheapest.
VIPs will have their own entry gate, will have their ticket and matching ID, a commemorative souvenir wristband, access to the VIP tent and lounge, access to the VIP seating and stage area, private restrooms, and $1 bottled water.
Sacred Rose Festival
This is truly a unique music festival and one of the first of its kind where Americana culture is celebrated and includes jam bands, psychedelic indie, funk, soul, rock, and bluegrass. Grab your tickets and head to SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, just outside of downtown Chicago. August 26-28, the stadium will be rocking.
With over 45 artists already on the ticket, the Sacred Rose Festival will be amazing. Some of the artists confirmed include Animal Collective, Kitchen Dwellers, Blu Detiger, Cory Wong, Holly Bowling, Black Pumas, Dawes, Lettuce, Punch Brothers, Moon Taxi, The Infamous Stringdusters, White Denim, The Disco Biscuits, and Sierra Hull.
Chicago Jazz Festival
Held in Millennium Park on September 1-4, the Chicago Jazz Festival is another very popular music festival. Admission is free but you will definitely want to get there early so you have one of the best spots close to the stage. Top jazz performers from across the United States and even from abroad come to Chicago to play at this festival. While some of the main events are held in Millennium Park, the festival is really held citywide.
The full schedule is still being finalized but some of the artists already set include William Parker and his quintet, Henry Threadgill, Bill Frisell, Zooid, Jazzmeia Horn, Linda May Han Oh, and Miguel Zenon. Food trucks and food vendors will also be on hand along with a beer garden serving craft beer and mixed drinks.
North Coast Music Festival
Spend Labor Day weekend at the SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview and party one last time before summer ends. September 2-4 will see some of the best electronic, jam bands, house, hip-hop, and indie bands in the world descend on Chicago for one last weekend of jamming in the park and soaking up the sunshine. The experience of the North Coast festival will stay with you for quite a while.
The festival has several zones or installations for fans to enjoy and includes the Chill Dome which is a laser-filled dome filled with relaxing music and pillows all over, and the Void which is filled with smoke bubbles and synched lighting patterns. Into the Fog is a tunnel filled with light and fog where you will lose your senses and Bam Creates lets you rediscover your inner youth and encourages live painting. Rainbow Lounge is part art and part hammock lounge where you can kick back and relax.
The costumed performers add a touch of whimsy and are totally eccentric making this a rather interesting and absolutely unique experience. Performers include Bentley Dean, Steve Gerard, Lizzy Jane, Dirt Monkey, Mason Maynard, Boogie T, Dogma, Slander, Fisher, Illenium, Porter Robinson, Space Wizard, and Jason Ross.
ARC Music Festival
This is a newer festival in Chicago and is also being held on Labor Day weekend. This is where house music is celebrated and bands from across the globe come to get the crowd fired up. This three-day festival has a lineup of artists that will keep you on your feet all night long.
The technicolor lights flashing across the stage add a little something extra to the experience and give you a chance to hear house bands from almost every genre. The festival will see some of the biggest stars in electronic music including Adam Beyer, Carl Cox, Motor City Icon, Fatboy Slim, and Charlotte De Witte.
International techno bands include Italian Joseph Capriati, Brazil’s ANNA, and Palestine’s Enrico Sangiuliano and Sama Abdulhadi. ARC is truly the place to be for some of the most diverse international house and techno artists.
Riot Fest Chicago
Grab your friends and head to Douglas Park September 16-18 for a punk, alt rock experience like no other. Riot Fest started in 2005 and has grown into a headbanging good time. This outdoor festival is the ultimate in music festivals with hardcore live music, food, and of course, drinks of all kinds.
Friday’s lineup is filled with great acts including My Chemical Romance, Rocket from the Crypt, Lucky Boys Confusion, The Wonder Years, and Sitting on Stacy, just to name a few. Saturday has Sunny Day Real Estate, Bad Religion, The Story So Far, The Get Up Kids, and so many more. Sunday’s acts include Nine Inch Nails, Jimmy Eat World, Less Than Jake, Treaty of Paris, Moon Kissed, and more.
World Music Festival Chicago
This is a citywide event that is being held from September 30 through October 9 and is an annual event that has been going strong since 1999. The festival is organized by the City of Chicago and has had musicians from over 75 different countries come in to play. Admission to the different concerts and live performances is always free, you will just want to get there early to get a good spot.
There are usually around 20 different venues used during the World Music Festival including the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park. The festival really showcases the city’s roots in the performing arts scene and encourages new and up-and-coming artists to keep pushing to one day play on one of the festival’s stages.
The festival has showcased music from around the world and has had over 650 artists perform at the festival since it began. More the 650,000 people have crammed into the different venues to hear Bulgarian bagpipes, Indian classical music, Congolese funk, and Jamaican reggae.
Planning to stay some more days in Chicago?
Summer music festivals in Chicago really are like no other festival you have ever been to, they are filled with local vendors, fantastic music, delicious food, and lots of booze. Some offer VIP perks for those willing to pay, others are a free event, and some are even family-friendly. You never know what is going to happen when you visit a music festival in Chicago.
Grab your friends and plan to extend your stay for 3 days in Chicago to check out some of the sites and maybe visit some of the best museums in Chicago. A little culture added to your trip to the Windy City would not be a bad thing.
Live music brings out the best in some people and the worst in others, especially when alcohol is involved. Be smart and responsible when attending music festivals. Once the festival is over, plan on spending extra time in Chicago checking out the attractions and landmarks. You do not want to miss looking out over the city from one of the observation decks. Shopping in Chicago is a great way to find unique gifts for loved ones back home.
If you're planning to stay longer in Chicago, take a look at our other Chicago guides for other fun activities!