About the Town in June



By Philip Vidal




When I started this column, I was struck at the number of times the word “festival” appeared in the information I had assembled.  June is an endless string of festivals, fairs and markets in Chicago!


The house music genre was born in Chicago forty years ago.  An impressive lineup of local and international DJs celebrate that anniversary on June 2 in Millennium Park at the Chicago House Music Festival, which is itself marking its twentieth anniversary season.


Make sure to catch one of the final Chicago performances from legendary Buddy Guy at the Chicago Blues Festival, June 6-9. Photo credit: Casey Mitchell.


Blues across Chicagoland! Aurora’s Blues on the Fox Festival will host several artists at their two-day outdoor live music jam. Photo courtesy of Thomas J. Weisner RiverEdge Park.


Touted as “the largest free blues festival in the world,” the Chicago Blues Festival runs June 6-9 at the recently renovated Ramova Theatre (June 6), and Millennium Park (June 7-9).  A Chicago Blues Fest pre-event, “Red Hot & Blues Women in Chicago — World Capital of the Blues” presented by Delmark Records on June 5 at the Harris Theater features modern blues vocalists and instrumentalists. You can also hear great blues artists at the Blues on the Fox Festival in Aurora, June 14-15.


In the mood for live music? Several cities will host their own music festival like the Winnetka Music Festival which returns for its 8th  year. Photo by Winnetka Music Festival.


Its’ the 90th season for the Grant Park Music Festival (GPMF), June 12-August 17.  The GPMF’s tagline is “We’re Classic Chicago.”  Hhmm…sounds familiar.  Founded in 1904, the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, June 7-September 15, offers a wide variety of musical genres.  Also on the North Shore are the 8th annual Winnetka Music Festival, June 14-15, the inaugural Off North Shore: Skokie Music Festival,  indoors and outdoors at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, June 21-22, and the Bitter Jester Music Festival: Season 18, Port Clinton Square, Highland Park, June 7-29.


The Opera Festival of Chicago returns with a season of celebration in its fourth season at various venues across Chicagoland. Photo by Opera Festival of Chicago.


The Opera Festival of Chicago runs June 21-July 14 at various venues.  It kicks off with “Puccini Forever” on June 21 at the Jarvis Opera Hall, Holtschneider Performance Center at DePaul University School of Music.


Begun in 1988, the Rhinoceros Theater Festival (aka Rhinofest) is Chicago’s longest-running fringe festival.  The citywide festival features more than 50 plays, dance, music, and other performances through June 30.


Don’t forget the food festivals! Ribfest Chicago returns the weekend of June 14-16 with 20+ food vendors. Photo credit: Steven E Gross.


From fringe fests to food fests — Chicago has it all!  The ninth season of the Chicago Food Truck Festival at Daley Plaza continues on Fridays through October 4.   Ribfest Chicago, on Lincoln Avenue from Irving Park Road to Berteau, runs June 14-16.  Craft Brews at Lincoln Park Zoo is June 15,  which was on the Chicago Tribune’s7 can’t-miss summer food fests in Chicago” last year.  Not a festival per se, but certainly a culinary celebration, Chicago hosts the James Beard Awards, June 8-10, including the Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on the last day, June 10.



Featuring a variety of vendors and Maxwell Street original restaurants, the Maxwell Street Market returns Sundays to the iconic street. Photo by City of Chicago. 


The Maxwell Street Market returns for the 2024 season to where it originally began in the late 19th century (on Maxwell Street) on Sundays: June 30, July 28, September 1 & 29, and October 27.  In the 1970s, I attended St. Ignatius College Prep, very near the Maxwell Street Market.  I’ve had Maxwell Street Polish sausage, but I’ve never had the famous Maxwell Street pork chop sandwich.  In the 1980s, I worked around the corner from Mr. Beef on Orleans, so I had my fill of Italian beef sandwiches.  Mr. Beef was the inspiration for the wildly popular FX series “The Bear” on Hulu.  Season three is available beginning June 27.  One thing I’m most looking forward to in June is the opening of the Tuesday SOAR Farmers Market in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art on June 4. There are dozens of farmers markets across Chicago and the suburbs, but this one is close to home.


Art fairs galore! Visit art fairs across the city in support of local and critically acclaimed artists. Photo by Logan Square Arts Festival.


Chicago has a long history of art fairs. The 74th annual Old Town Art Fair is June 8-9, the same weekend as the 49th annual Wells Street Art Festival.   It the 66th anniversary of the Gold Coast Art Fair, Grant Park, June 15-16.  It’s the North Shore Art League’s 100th anniversary.   The league hosts  Art in the Village, a juried art show at Hubbard Woods Park in Winnetka, June 22-23. The Logan Square Arts Festival is June 28-30.  The first of two Sundays on State festival is on Father’s Day, June 16.  State Street, arguably Chicago’s most famous street, is closed to vehicular traffic from Adams to Lake to host this event, featuring food, shopping, and performances.


The annual citywide Chicago SummerDance festival runs June 15-September 8 (select dates).  This free outdoor series in Grant Park and neighborhood parks offers dance lessons taught by professional instructors, followed by music and social dancing.


Ambi Subramaniam will perform at the finale of the 6th annual Mandala South Asian Performing Arts Makers Festival which runs June 2-27. Photo courtesy of Mandala South Asian Performing Arts.


The 6th annual Mandala South Asian Performing Arts Makers Festival runs June 2-27 with workshops, performances and panel discussions at Northeastern Illinois University, continues with events throughout the Devon Avenue neighborhood in “Little South Asia,” and ends with a performance, Ambi Subramaniam with Mandala Music Circle, at the Harris Theater on June 27.  Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater’s “Flamenco Passion” runs June 7-9 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. The troupe performs “Flamenco to Tap and All That Jazz” on June 13 and “Duende Flamenco” on June 15 at the Old Town School of Folk Music. These performances are part of the company’s 48th annual American Spanish Dance and Music Festival, including concerts, classes, and a symposium, June 7-15. The 40th anniversary Ruth Page Festival of Dance includes performances by  Ruth Page Professional Dance & Friends on June 20 and 22 in Ravinia’s Bennet Gordon Hall.


The 40th annual Fiestas Patronales Puertorriqueñas / Puerto Rican Fest in Humboldt Park is June 6-9.


Celebrating the neighborhood’s Swedish Heritage, it’s the 58th year for the  Andersonville Midsommarfest  on Foster Avenue, June 7-9.  The 38th annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games take place at a new location, the DuPage County Fairgrounds, Wheaton, June 14-15.  Celebrate Juneteenth and African-American culture at the 5th annual Beverly/Morgan Juneteenth Family Festival at 110th and Longwood on June 15.


The 23rd annual Chicago Pride Fest is a celebration of LGBTQ+ life, culture and community taking place June 22-23 on North Halsted Street. Photo by Chicago Pride Fest.


June is LGBTQ Pride Month.  The Chicago Pride Fest® street festival on North Halsted Street from Addison to Grace is June 22-23, the weekend before the 53rd annual Chicago Pride Parade, June 30.  Art Johnson and Pepé Peña, Chicago civil rights activists and the owners of Sidetracks, one of the most popular LGBTQ bars on North Halsted Street, are featured in a new documentary “Art and Pep” on WTTW on June 27.


The highly anticipated inaugural Sundance Institute x Chicago event takes place across the city, June 28-30, featuring screenings of films from Luther Vandross and more. Photo credit: Matthew Rolston.


A festival from another city is coming to Chicago:  Films from Utah’s annual Sundance Film Festival will be screened at the inaugural Sundance Institute x Chicago 2024, along with programming, panel discussions and other events citywide, June 28-30.


Even festivals in other places have ties to Chicago.  Chicago’s Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke developed Aspen as a ski resort and founded the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Music Festival and School.  The 20th Aspen Institute’s Aspen Ideas Festival is June 23-29.  The 75th anniversary summer season of the Aspen Music Festival is June 26-August 18.


Dates, times, locations and availability are subject to change.