Go out there and let the music lift you up, Chicago! Here are three of our July picks for getting the groove in your heart—and in your neighborhood. After all, kids learn early that the best musical experiences are out-of-doors, hands on and turned way up.
With the goal of “bringing cultures together,” the 4th annual Bantu Festival celebrates diversity, food from more than 20 countries and music from local and international faves alike. Save on airfare and travel with the fam to Africa, the Caribbean and South America, all without leaving the Hyde Park neighborhood. Admission is entirely free, too! Kids won’t know what to dive into first, with the abundance of arts & crafts areas, the Children’s Village with hands-on experiences of each featured culture, and the African drum & dance lessons—the latter of which is for all ages and stages. (No worries, you’re among friends, here.)
July 28, Midway Plaisance, 60th Street and Ellis Avenue, Chicago
Lincoln Square’s beloved Square Roots Fest is a weekend-long party that not only touts musical headliners the grownups are jonesing to see (The Jayhawks! Matthew Sweet!) but is bringing the fun for the younger set at the Kids Stage (Little Miss Ann! Nick Davio & Friends!) as well. Besides, when’s the last time you took part in a Family Barn Dance? Come for the indie rockers and local crowd-favorites, stay for the craft beer and nightly dance parties. Presented by the Old Town School of Folk Music and the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce, this is also your chance to jam out (with the kids, too!) in the city’s pitch-perfect “jam session” neighborhood.
July 13-15, Lincoln Avenue at Montrose Avenue, Chicago
Yes, the Taste of Chicago is the world’s largest food festival. (Noodle on that for a second.) But no, “food” isn’t the only reason to converge upon Grant Park—Chicago’s front yard—with roughly a million of your closest friends; the musical lineup at recent Tastes has inspired some to dub the week “Tasteapalooza.” So is it worth bringing the smallest of concertgoers downtown to get funky with the likes of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic as well as to witness whatever the heck The Flaming Lips have up their technicolor sleeves? (Um, yes.) Not only are there loads of kid-friendly activities and musical opportunities during the weekend portion of the fest but, in a beautifully cost-effective change of pace, admission to the Taste of Chicago—including lawn seats for the Petrillo Music Shell concerts—is entirely free.
July 11-15, Grant Park, Jackson and Columbus, Chicago
*Don’t miss performances from Miss Jamie’s Farm, Super Stolie, The Stu Show and singers from Bubbles Academy at Kids Eat Chicago, located at the Taste of Chicago from July 14-15.