Our 7 favorite summer fests in Chicago

Chicago has millions of fests every summer. How do you choose? Start by checking out our absolute favorites.

Printers Row Lit Fest is a festival that was always on my calendar pre-kids—but I love it now because it continues to be a welcoming place post-children. It brings books outdoors, adds music, speakers and fun activities for children, including story times, singing and characters straight from their favorite books! What’s not to love? Danielle Braff

Printers Row Lit Fest

During the African Fest, Washington Park is transformed into an African marketplace. Intricately carved drums, gorgeous dresses, brightly colored Kente cloth, books and jewelry are for sale. Not a shopper? Head to the entertainment stages to see African dance at its finest, drumming and performers like India.Arie and Chicago’s own Chaka Khan. Food vendors are plentiful, too—the grilled marinated chicken skewers still have my mouth watering. Lolita M. Cusic

African Fest

The Millennium Park Summer Film Series at the Pritzker Pavilion is downright magical. Viewing classic films on a cozy picnic blanket with Chicago’s skyline as a backdrop? Perfection. (Although my kids might be slightly sick of hearing us say how ridiculously lucky we are to live here throughout each and every movie.) Keely Flynn

Millennium Park Summer Film Series

Ravinia isn’t just for wine and cheese lovers. PB&J aficionados are welcome, too, especially at the Kids Concerts. Pack a picnic and toss a ball on the lawn, then settle in to swim like a goldfish with Laurie Berkner or shake it with the Mariachi Divas. Kids will love this awesome outdoor venue in Highland Park as much as you do! Cortney Fries


If you are looking for a truly family-friendly summer festival, Do Division in Wicker Park really delivers. Families can take advantage of two blocks jam-packed with fun activities away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the festival crowds. Highlights include train rides, crafts, balloon animals, pony rides, face painting and a rocking entertainment stage. Plus, 100 percent of proceeds from Family Fun Fest go to two local public elementary schools. Caitlin Murray Giles

Do Division

The Summer on Southport Festival combines great music, cool art and a kid-friendly atmosphere. There is a designated children’s area filled with games, a climbing wall and a bounce house. Plus, Southport Avenue is loaded with shops that tantalize kids’ taste buds: Candyality, Froyo Chicago, Sensational Bites and Jeni’s ice cream. Linda Marsicano

Summer on Southport Festival

With tons of great food, music, vendors and rides, the Taste of Westmont is one of my favorite festivals. There is no shortage of things to see, do or eat at this celebration that runs the length of downtown Westmont. The music line-up honors the Godfather of Blues, Muddy Waters. Oh, and trust me, try the Cuban sandwich. Chris Thomas

Taste of Westmont

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