Grab your light jacket and head into Chicago for the start of spring. Each year, beginning in May, communities organize festivals that showcase local restaurants and stores, while live bands and DJs play all day long.
Every year 30,000 people flock to Lakeview’s Mayfest to start the festival season, according to the festival’s organizer Star Events Management. As in the past, the weekend-long street festival will have live performances on outdoor stages, art vendors on the sidewalks and a lovable Pet Parade going down the street. See owners showcase their pets down the streets, winning prizes such as Best Looking, Owner Look-a-Like and more.
In addition to the annual Pet Parade on Sunday, the event celebrates some of the unsung workers of Chicago. “We have a ‘Hometown Heroes’ event that we do every year where we honor the firemen and the police officers of Chicago. It’s one of our main attractions,” said Star Events Management spokesperson Mirella Medrano.
Friday, May 15 from 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; May 16 and 17 from 10 a.m. all day until 10 p.m., on the corner of N Ashland Avenue and W Barry Avenue. Get off the Red Line at Belmont and walk 8 blocks west.
This authentic German festival will have you drinking beer out of steins in no time. Festivities start on Thursday, May 28 at 5 pm, but the real event begins Friday night. At 8 pm, Mayfest will officially begin with the May Queen Crowning and the Traditional Keg Tapping. The festival continues until Sunday and shuts down at 10 p.m. that night.
May 28 from 5 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., May 29 from 5p.m. until 11 p.m., May 30 and 31 from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively. Located at the corner of Lincoln and Leland Avenues. A short walk from the Western stop on the Brown Line, or a quick cab ride from the Lawrence stop on the Red Line.
Immediately off the Belmont stop on the Red Line, the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival is a hotbed for new music and fashion. Special Events, the organizing company, hopes to draw 20,000 people for their 25th anniversary with hip bands to headline the weekend. “It kicks off the summer festival season,” said Special Events Management spokesperson Fred Newton. “When the line-up is posted, it is usually one of the more cutting edge shows… in Chicago.”
Admission is free, but a $5 donation to the Central Lakeview Merchant Association is recommended.
Concerts go from noon to 10 p.m. May 30 and noon to 9 p.m. May 31. Take the Red Line south to Belmont and you’ll get off in the middle of the action.
A truly local event, the West Town Chamber of Commerce will host the Do-Division Fest again this year, an event that brought 30,000 people last year. Unlike some other festivals, Do-Division focuses on Division, going as far as making the featured beer the hometown favorite: Pabst Blue Ribbon. “All of the West Chicago festivals are in-house, so we focus on local stuff,” Susan Aldous said, a spokesperson for the Do-Division Street Festival. “Local restaurants show off their food, Empty Bottle Presents is a local bar and venue that books all of the bands, local stores set up shop on the sidewalk and we find local liquor stores to provide all of our drinks.”
Last year, Empty Bottle Presents brought Ted Leo & the Pharmacists to their outdoor stage to headline the two-day event. This year, they have Flosstradamus coming, among others.
May 30 and 31 from noon to 10 p.m. starting at the corner of Division St and Ashland and continues down Division until Leavitt. One end of the festival begins eight blocks west of the Division stop on the Blue Line.
A festival solely dedicated to music, Metronome Chicago will bring more than 30 live acts over two days on five unique stages. Empty Bottle Presents will plan the Rock Stage and Congress Theater will organize an Electro stage for Friday June 6. On Saturday June 7, MP Productions will bring together a Punk Stage and The Chicago Bluegrass Blues Festival will present the Folk Stage. The Local Stage will provide a venue for local bands to play to their hometown fans on both Friday and Saturday.
June 6 and 7 from noon to 10 p.m. in between the Western stop and the California stop on the Blue Line.