15 family-friendly festivals to check out this September

Summer might be over soon, but the booming festival season still carries on in Chicago! How do you choose? Read some of our picks below and find more local events on our calendar.

Kids Fringe at Chicago Fringe Festival 

When: Sept. 1-3

Where: Chicago (North Side)

Kids Fringe shows and activities are guaranteed to be appropriate for kids 12 and under. They run each Saturday and Sunday of the festival. Shows include “Smarty Pants Presents The Big Balloon Show,” “Windy City Performs” and “ASC Trailblazers.” 

Harvard Balloon Fest

When: Aug. 31-Sept. 2

Where: North/Northwest Suburbs

Watch 15 hot air balloons make morning and evening ascensions, enjoy live music, food vendors, beer tent, zip lines, tethered balloon rides, nighttime balloon glows, inflatables, rock climbing wall, bungee jump, Knockerball and more. There is a free shuttle to festival grounds from Harvard Metra depot.

Fox Valley Folk Festival

When: Sept. 2-3, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. 

Where: Western Suburbs

This festival features eight stage areas with performances of folk music and storytelling, plus workshops and kids’ activities. There’s also a Barn Dance and Ghost Stories on Sunday night.

Sandwich Fair

When: Sept. 5-9

Where: Western Suburbs

Sandwich’s annual fair features carnival, livestock judging, arts and crafts, horse shows, truck and tractor pulls, demolition derby, farm zoo, exhibits, kids’ entertainment, live music and food stands.

German-American Fest

When: Sept. 7-9

Where: Chicago (North Side)

Celebrate German Day and the Von Steuben parade at the German-American Festival. Enjoy German food, beverages, dance and music. The parade is at 2 p.m. Saturday on Lincoln Avenue from Irving Park Road to Lawrence Avenue. Extra costs for food and booths. 

Festival of the Vine

When: Sept. 7-9 

Where: Western Suburbs

This festival features food, flower markets, kids’ activities, arts and crafts show, live music and entertainment. There are extra costs for food and wine.

Bloomingdale Septemberfest

When: Sept. 8

Where: Western Suburbs

The annual end-of-the-summer gathering kicks off with an 11 a.m. parade that leads into a full day and evening of entertainment in Old Town Park, including a car show and stage performances. The fest also hosts a variety of food and craft vendors and a Lions Club beer tent.

Scandinavian Day Festival

When: Sept. 9

Where: Western Suburbs

This festival celebrates the cultures of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. There will be morning church services and entertainment throughout the day, including a performance by ABBA Salute. Plus, there are cultural displays and Scandinavian food and vendors.

Misericordia Family Fest

When: Sept. 9

Where: Chicago (North Side)

Cost: $10, $5 kids and seniors

The Misericordia Family Fest includes food, music, children’s games and entertainment. Park at SC Electric and take the free shuttle bus. 

Autumn in the Park Festival

When: Sept. 14-15

Where: South Suburbs

Enjoy a parade at 11 a.m. Saturday, a Chili and BBQ Rib Cook-Off, music, games and entertainment, including a sports cave and a kids’ area with a petting zoo, games, touch-a-truck, Euro Bungee and pony and hayrack rides.

Cornfest Family Fun Day

When: Sept. 16

Where: Western Suburbs

Celebrate the beginning of fall with an old-fashioned family picnic featuring burgers and hot dogs, roasted corn on the cob, homemade pies and taffy apples. Entertainment includes games, races and a fishing tournament for kids. Kids can use hammers, nails and paint to create a craft project in the giant woodpile. Food and activities cost extra.


When: Sept. 16

Where: North/Northwest Suburbs

Cost: Free

This community fall festival includes face painting, old-fashioned games and a trackless train.

Long Grove Apple Fest

When: Sept. 21-23

Where:North/Northwest Suburbs

Get your apple fix on treats like brown bag apple pies, apple cider donuts, hot apple cider, caramel apple lattes and more. Plus, participate in free family activities, including apple-themed games and the legendary apple pie eating contests.

Johnny Appleseed Festival

When: Sept. 29

Where: North/Northwest Suburbs

Meet and greet Johnny Appleseed as he strolls the streets of downtown. Plus, see demonstrations of an antique apple cider press and apple peelers, musical groups, dance presentations, gymnastics demonstrations, martial arts demonstrations and storytelling in front of the Raue Center. Plus, enjoy children’s games, pony rides, petting zoo, pumpkin train, pumpkin bowling, temporary tattoos, wagon rides, ticketed amusement rides and a moonwalk. Some activities cost extra. 

Highwood Starving Artists Festival

When: Sept. 29-30

Where: North/Northwest Suburbs

This art festival features live music, food and kids’ art activities. 

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