Chicagoland summer fun

by Eszter Hargittai on June 17, 2005

For those in Chicagoland or those contemplating a visit, here are some fun goings on over the summer. I still consider myself relatively new in the area so I’m still actively on the lookout for what goes on here these months. I’m very impressed.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve already had the opportunity to go see a Gospel Music Festival, an Art Fair and participate in other outdoor celebrations. Much more is ahead. The free Summer Dance program started at Grant Park this past Wednesday. It runs until the end of August. On Wednesdays they have a DJ. On Thu-Sun they first offer free dance lessons and then have a live band for dances ranging from Polka to Swing, from Bachata to Waltzes. Given that I have been spending increasing amounts of time in dance classes, this is an exciting and fun opportunity. A propos dance, this weekend is the annual Chicago Crystal Ball national dance competition. I’ll be there although only for part of it since I’m hosting friends over the weekend and we’ll be exploring numerous areas of town. No, I won’t be competing at Crystal Ball, but I’ll be cheering on friends who will.

Next weekend (24-26th) will be the Wired Nextfest for all of us interested in the latest gadgets. I think from there I’ll head straight to Grant Park for that evening’s ballroom session.

A bit later in the summer will be the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival also in Grant Park. This event it free as well. They will be wrapping up with Star Wars on Aug 23rd. Sounds fun.

I have found the following resources especially helpful in finding out about goings-on and keeping track. I recommend them as sources of additional amusement:



Amber 06.17.05 at 9:55 am

Don’t forget the Tast of Chicago (I beleive it will be over the July 4th weekend). It is absolutely wonderful!! You will gorge yourself on some of the best food EVER!


Jonathan Dursi 06.17.05 at 11:39 am

You definately need to go to the outdoor film festival; it’s lots of fun. Go at about 6pm with a big picnic and some friends. Last year they got very strict about not allowing wine at those picnics. Different neighborhood parks also do this sort of thing on a much smaller scale.

The various neighborhood festivals are largely dissapointing; it’s more or less a block party with the same commercial booths at each one; go to the one nearest you or in neighborhoods you really like, but there’s not much in going to a bunch of them.

I personally find the Taste of Chicago frustrating; it’s expensive and hugely crowded. The more fun way to explore Chicago food is to wander into the various neighborhoods over the year and try them one at a time. Last year, *McDonalds* had a booth at Taste of Chicago.

If you cycle, the Bike the Drive is fun, but it’s already come and gone this year.


Henry 06.17.05 at 11:42 am

It’s not just a summer event, but I highly recommend going to see any production by Barrel of Monkeys (I think they’re every Monday night). They teach creative writing units at Chicago public schools that lack art funding and then adapt their students’ stories into series of very short plays. The show I saw, “That’s Weird, Grandma!” was a collection of the best of those and was the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages (and it’s cheap, and a good cause, etc., etc.).

Their website is, by the way.


geoff 06.17.05 at 1:40 pm

Don’t forget Metromix ( for event information. I usually check it first for festival news and things like the Taste or the Air and Water Show.


Dargie 06.17.05 at 4:47 pm

Do check out Andrew’s site: He’s got one of the oldest Chicago event sites, and covers stuff that even good mainstream resources miss.

As someone said, the Bike-the-Drive ride is over, but the LATE ride is in July, and that’s a great deal of fun because it begins at midnight. It used to go right past my house and I loved sitting on the lawn watching the cyclists fly past.

Glad you’re enjoying the city. I think it’s one of the greatest cities in the world.


Dargie 06.17.05 at 4:48 pm

And I forgot the link for the LATE ride. Augh.


Jeffrey Utech 06.17.05 at 4:59 pm

You also ought to check out the boat parade at Venetian Night at the end of July. It’s kind of an interesting gathering, and the fireworks that follow are usually pretty outstanding.


Eszter 06.17.05 at 5:38 pm

Thanks for all the additional recommendations. A propos fireworks, here’s a link to the schedule of fireworks at Navy Pier this summer. Basically, every Wed at 9:30pm and Sat at 10:15pm until the first weekend of September, plus additional times around July 4th weekend.

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