5 outdoor concerts for kids to rock out

Anyone who knows me well knows that live music is one of my most favoritest things in all of life. From small venues with indie artists to sold-out arenas with pop’s mega stars, there’s something about the energy of a show that I’ll never tire of—like, ever (to quote T-Swift).

Every now and then, when I’m heading to a show, my 7-year-old son will ask if he can tag along. I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’m thinking 10 is the magic age at which I’ll take him to his first “real” concert. Until then, though, there’s plenty of live music to be heard that’s just for kids. Take advantage of the rest of summer break to catch these awesome outdoor family-friendly concerts around town (no ear plugs required). 

Kidz Bop Best Time Ever Tour

Ah, finally! Let your kids sing along to radio pop without cringing every other second when a not-so-great word squeaks out. For those not familiar with Kidz Bop, it’s basically kid-friendly versions of top 40 hits—everything from Bruno Mars to Shawn Mendes. This 60-minute show features favorite songs plus choreography, a cool set and all the bubblegum pop you’ll be able to chew. 

3 p.m. July 30 

Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, Chicago


So, here’s one you’ll kind of have to pep talk yourself into, but there’s so much to enjoy. Kids can check out skateboarders on the halfpipe, create a craft with the folks from Shedd Aquarium, get their drum rhythm on with Rhythm Revolution, or get a (temporary…) rockin’ hairdo, like a pink mohawk. Located in its own enclosed area of Grant Park, Kidzapalooza lets kids and parents enjoy Chicago’s epic music festival in a family-friendly way. Kids 10 and under get in free. 

11 a.m. to 7 p.m. August 3-6

Grant Park, Chicago

Eat to the Beat

Bring a picnic and the little ones to this free weekly series featuring live music and plenty of park time. Each week stars a different kid-approved artist playing interactive shows designed to ignite a love of music in children. 

11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 9

Jewett Park Pavilion, Deerfield 

Dancin’ Sprouts

Live music with the backdrop of the Chicago Botanic Garden? Idyllic. Check out this free weekly series featuring a range of musical artists for kids, from Grammy-nominated Zak Morgan to Poochamungus, which bills itself as the greatest rock ‘n’ roll kiddie band in America. 

5:30–7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 30 

Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe 

Friday Family Picnic Series 

Pull up a lawn chair and enjoy the sounds of Ben Tatar and the Tatar Tots—with a name like that, what’s not to love? Think of Ben and his band as kid-pop with touches of Chicago influence, plus a little ska and doo-wop thrown in for good measure. 

12 p.m. Aug. 4

Towne Square, Palatine 

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