4 Can’t-Be-Missed Chicago Music Festivals

Chicago's Most Popular Music FestivalsThere are a lot of ways to enjoy music, and plenty of concerts to see in any part of the country – but when you live in a city with a thriving arts scene like Chicago, one of the best treats you can give yourself is going to a live music festival. It’s good for your social life as well as for your health, and also for your music education. Every musician and fan can benefit from getting out there and discovering new varieties of music to enjoy! Keep reading to see our suggestions for some Chicago music festivals to check out. No matter your tastes, there’s a party in store for you at one of the many great music festivals nearby.

Pitchfork Music Festival – Union Park

The Pitchfork Music Festival, which first launched in 1995 by the Chicago-based Pitchfork Media music community, is a pro-independent artist festival held annually. Its lineups celebrate alternative rock, hip-hop and rap, and electronica and dance genres, but include influences from avant-garde and experimental rock, as well as jazz, punk rock, and other styles of music. Notable past artists have included Modest Mouse, Delorean, Yo La Tengo, and Chromatics.

North Coast Music Festival – Union Park

The North Coast Music Festival is one of the newest Chicago music festivals on the scene, with its first event in 2010. It’s known nationwide as a premier dance and electronic music event; just a few well-known artists from past lineups include EOTO (the side project of jam band The String Cheese Incident), Paul Oakenfold, and Pretty Lights.

Chicago Jazz Festival – Millennium Park

Chicago is one of the most important historic centers of jazz music, and the Chicago Jazz Festival is a true testament to its history! The event began somewhat out of necessity during the 1970s, merging several notable festivals at the time. Famed performers over the years have included BB King, Dizzy Gillespie, and countless other jazz music icons.

Lollapalooza – Grant Park

No list of Chicago music festivals would be complete without the famous Lollapalooza! This renowned festival has drawn travelers from far and wide since its inception in 1991. More than just a concert, Lollapalooza has made a point of encouraging social education and activism, and many charities and organizations participate in the festival, along with the performers and vendors.

Chicago has been the official home of Lollapalooza since 1995, and is the only US location (there are also festivals established in several locations in South America). The lineup is typically a diverse spread of alternative rock and peripheral genres, including heavy metal, punk rock, and hip hop, as well as dance and comedy performances. Past well-known acts include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tool, Alice in Chains, Bjork, and Lady Gaga.

Whether you’re looking for a quick musical outing or a long weekend, a relaxed listening experience or a busy networking opportunity for career musicians, there’s practically no end to the ways you can connect with good music at Chicago music festivals. Just a few other options include the Chicago Gospel Music Festival, the ongoing music events put on by the Ravinia organization, and regular national tours such as the Electric Daisy Carnival and the Vans Warped Tour. So start planning your next festival outing, and support your local arts and music scene!


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