The 2023 eATLAS Guide to Summer Festivals: July

Published on July 6, 2023

Festival season is in full swing in Chicago and, with so many options to choose from every weekend, eATLAS has you covered! We’ve gone through the list and found some of the best music, food, and good times to be found across the city throughout July, complete with how your time at the festivals can be enhanced with our Adventures. Check them all out below.

By Dave Lifton (@daveeatschicago)

Windy City Smokeout

From July 13th-16th, the Windy City Smokeout will take over the parking lot of the United Center for a weekend of barbecue, country music, and beer. Attendees can sample the offerings of nearly 30 pitmasters from around the country—including barbecue capitals like Austin, Kansas City, and Nashville—and beer from 18 breweries. Zach Bryan, Darius Rucker, Luke Bryan and the Zac Brown Band are the headliners, and many other country stars are on the undercard. The organizers are matching contributions to the Clay Scherb Rehabilitation/Educational Fund. Scherb is a 17-year-old from the northern suburbs who was paralyzed from the waist down following a tragic accident. 

If you’re looking to escape the Smokeout for a few hours, check out Pilsen. eATLAS’ Frida & Friends: Food & Art Tour in Pilsen explores the sights and flavors of one of Chicago’s most vibrant neighborhoods.

Sad Summer Festival 2023

The Sad Summer Festival 2023 hits the Huntington Bank Pavilion on Northerly Island on July 21st. The all-day concert features sets from eight pop-punk/emo bands, including Motion City Soundtrack, Hot Mulligan, and The Maine, with Taking Back Sunday topping the bill. Sad Summer Fest is partnering with nonprofits to raise funds and awareness on such issues as the environment, sexual harassment, and voter registration.

Northerly Island is adjacent to the Museum Campus, the home of the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium. Before the concert, check out our scavenger hunt of the various cool works of public art displayed on the grounds.

Pitchfork Music Festival

Since 2006, the Pitchfork Music Festival has been one of the hippest weekends for indie rock in Chicago. This year’s installment will be held July 21st-23rd in its traditional home of the West Loop’s Union Park and will showcase more than 40 bands on three stages. The headliners include Alvvays, Big Thief, The Smile, and Bon Iver, with Hurray for the Riff Raff, Perfume Genius, and Panda Bear & Sonic Boom playing earlier in the day. In addition to food from local restaurants, there are also tents where you can shop for vinyl records, renegade crafts, and concert posters.

eATLAS has tours that take you to the various pieces of street art that can be found in the West Loop and Fulton Market. Both tours, created by the West Central Association, are free and take approximately 60 minutes.

Wicker Park Fest

One of Chicago’s most popular street festivals, the Wicker Park Fest is held on the stretch of Milwaukee Ave. between Ashland Ave. and North Ave. from July 28th-30th. Wicker Park Fest is celebrated for its music lineup, which is curated by the local live music club Subterranean and includes Built to Spill, The Regrettes, and Dreamer Isioma. But it’s also loved for the Arts Area and the Community Culture Stage. A $10 donation at the gate goes to the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, and 100 percent of the proceeds from activities in the kids’ section goes to Burr Elementary School.

Our Historic Homes, Cottages & Buildings of Wicker Park walking tour takes you throughout the neighborhood to view a variety of houses, from workers cottages to mansions. It was created by Ronnie Frey of the popular @doorwaysofchicago Instagram account. 

Remember that these festivals will take place rain or shine, so be sure to check the weather forecast and plan accordingly!

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