FREE Arlington Heights Frontier Days, Jul 2–6
Recreation Park, 500 E Miner St, Arlington Heights. Wed, Thu 5–11pm; Fri, Sat noon–midnight; Sun noon–10pm. Parade starts at 10:15am on Fri Jul 4.
FREE Wheeling Freedom Fest, Jul 3–5
255 W Dundee Rd, Wheeling. Thu 5pm–midnight; Fri, Sat 3pm–midnight.
Old-fashioned patriotic entertainment is topped off by performances from the Verve Pipe and the Gin Blossoms.
* Eyes to the Skies, Jul 3–6
Jul 3–6 Lisle Community Park, Rte 53 at Short St, Lisle. Noon–11pm. $5, after 5pm $7, kids 5–12 $2, kids under 5 free.
Hot-air balloons of all shapes and sizes launch daily in the morning and evening, and fireworks light up the sky each night.
International Festival of Life, Jul 3–6
Washington Park, 55th St and Cottage Grove Ave. 10am–10pm; $10, seniors and kids 7–11 $5, under 7 free, festival pass $30.
The sounds of Rastafarian reggae, Trinidad-born calypso, new gospel and R&B are joined by 300 exhibitors, food and crafts.
* Naperville Ribfest, Jul 3–6
Knoch Park, West St and Martin Ave, Naperville. Noon–8pm; $10, kids 11 and under free, Sun after 7pm free.
This suburban rib fest is bigger than your run-of-the-mill cook-off. Thousands roll in annually to gnaw on a national selection of ribs and watch big acts, but this year we’re disappointed with the lineup: Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and Foghat headline.
* Rothbury Festival, Jul 3–6
Double JJ Ranch, 5900 Water Rd, Rothbury, MI. Thu 8am–Mon 1pm; weekend ticket $244.75, VIP weekend ticket $475, RV passes $100.
Billed as the first fully sustainable music concert of its size, this fest has another feat under its belt: It’s pulled a huge array of pop acts. Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer join Snoop Dogg, Beth Orton and more.
FREE Lake Forest Festival & Fireworks, July 4
Deerpath Park, Deerpath and Hastings Rd, Lake Forest. 5–10:30pm.
* Bristol Renaissance Fair, Jul 5–Sept 1
I-94 and State Line Rd, Kenosha, WI. Sat, Sun, Labor Day Mon 10am–7pm; $18.95, advance $15.95, kids 5–12 $9.50, advance kids $8, kids under 5 free.
* FREE Cherry Pit Spitting Championship, Jul 5
9351 Eureka Rd, Eau Claire, MI. 10am–3pm.
Try your mouth in competitions or relish fresh fruit from cherry, apple and peach picking throughout the day.
Lake View Music Fest, Jul 5–6
3600 N Sheffield Ave at Addison St. Sat noon–10pm; Sun noon–9pm; $5.
FREE Neighborhood Boys & Girls Family Fest, Jul 6–10
2501 W Irving Park Rd at Campbell Ave. Wed–Fri 6–10pm; Sat–Sun 2–11pm.
Proceeds from concerts, carnival rides, games and food benefit the Boys & Girls Club.
Niketown Bastille Day 5K Run, Walk & Block Party, Jul 10
Jackson Blvd at Aberdeen Ave. Run 7:30pm, block party 8:30–10:30pm; run $25–$30, block party $5.
Runners race through West Loop streets. The rest of us await them, beer in hand, at the block party.
FREE West Chicago Railroad Days, Jul 10–13
Reed Keppler Park, West Chicago. Thu 4:30–10pm; Fri 4:30–11pm; Sat noon–midnight; Sun 2:30–10pm.
BenFest, Jul 11–12
2215 W Irving Park Rd between Leavitt St and Bell Ave. Friday 5–11pm, Saturday 3–11pm; price TBA.
Blottopia, Jul 11–12
Vasa Park, 35 W 217 Rte 31, South Elgin.
Mr. Blotto—the quintet of local long-hairs known for its perennial summer-street-fair presence—finally takes the main stage at its own self-titled fest.
* Irish American Heritage Festival, Jul 11–13
4626 N Knox Ave between Leland and Wilson Aves. Fri 6pm–midnight; Sat noon–midnight; Sun noon–11pm; $12, advance $8, seniors $7, kids under 12 free.
You can craic-up at this fest featuring four music stages, a folk tent, food and drink, and a mashed potato-eating contest.
* Chicago Folk & Roots Festival, Jul 12– 13
Welles Park, 4440 N Lincoln Ave between Montrose and Sunnyside Aves. Noon–9:30pm; $7, seniors and kids $3.
Old Town School of Folk Music’s annual fete brings together a lineup of global sounds. In addition to watching dozens of bands, you can tune into a fiddle contest, dance to Lafayette Rhythm Devils and let your kids sing live band karaoke.
FREE Rock Around the Block, Jul 12– 13
3200 N Lincoln Ave at Belmont Ave. Sat noon–10pm, Sun noon–9pm; $5.
* Wauconda Rodeo, Jul 12–13
Wauconda Rodeo Grounds, Rte 12 and Case Rd, Wauconda. Sat 5–10pm, Sun 1–6pm; $15, advance $13, kids 5–10 $6, advance kids $5, kids 4 and under free.
FREE Celebrate Clark Street, Jul 13
Clark St between Morse St and Estes Ave. Sun 1–11pm.
This neighborhood celebrates summer with a lineup of world music curated by HotHouse’s David Chavez.
* FREE Chicago Outdoor Film Festival, Jul 15–Aug 26
Grant Park, Jackson Blvd at Columbus Dr. Tuesdays at dusk.
Classic films are projected on the big screen over Butler Field. This year’s flicks include The Day the Earth Stood Still, Touch of Evil, An Affair to Remember, Grease, Blues Brothers and All About Eve.
FREE Great Performers of Illinois, Jul 18–20
Millennium Park, Michigan Ave between Monroe and Randolph Sts. Fri 5–10pm, Sat, Sun noon–10pm.
More than 50 performers present a range of acts—from folk music to spoken word. Also expect to see Abraham Lincoln and Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable milling about— impersonators give a nod to Illinois’s past.
Old St. Pat’s World’s Largest Block Party, Jul 18–19
Madison St at Desplaines Ave. 5–10:30pm; $40, advance $35. Two-night pass $65.
This summer singles fest boasts that it’s brought together more than 70 sets of spouses over the years. It probably helps that five free drinks are included with admission.
* Pitchfork Music Festival, Jul 18–20
Union Park, 1501 W Randolph St at Ashland Ave. Fri 5–10pm; Sat, Sun noon–10pm; $30, two-day pass $50, three-day pass $65.
The indie tastemaker website curates the hipster love-in of pop fests. Bands include Public Enemy, Animal Collective, Ghostface and Raekwon, and Dinosaur Jr.
* Kane County Fair, Jul 16–20
Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S Randall Rd, St. Charles. Wed, Thu, Sun 1–10pm; Fri, Sat 1–11pm; $5, Wed $1, kids under 5 free, Wed seniors free, season ticket $20.
This behemoth county fair features classic country entertainment: rides, a rodeo, truck pull, a flea market and a demo derby.
Sheffield Garden Walk, Jul 19–20
Webster and Sheffield Aves. Noon–5pm (garden and kids area); food and music till 9:30pm; $6–10.
A fest of garden tips and tours—including more than 100 private gardens in Sheffield’s historic neighborhood—turns into a rock concert at night.
Summer on Southport, Jul 19–20
3700 N Southport Ave at Waveland Ave. Sat 10am–10pm; Sun 10am–9pm. $5.
Children take center stage with activities for the little ones and two days of kid-oriented music.
FREE Silver Room’s Sound System Block Party, Jul 19
Evergreen Ave and Milwaukee Ave. Noon–10pm.
The local jewelry store throws a day of DJs, live bands, vendors and art.
FREE Chinatown Summer Fair, Jul 20
Wentworth Ave from Cermak Rd to 24th Pl. 10am–8pm.
The jewel in the crown of this family-friendly ethnic fest is the lion dance procession, which takes place at 12:30pm.
Dearborn Garden Walk & Heritage Festival, Jul 20
Dearborn and Goethe Sts. Noon–5pm; $35, advance $30.
Get a sneak peek of 20 otherwise private spaces and tour historic Dearborn Street’s architecture.
Let’s Pet Together Festival, Jul 20
Anti-Cruelty Society, 157 W Grand Ave. Noon–3pm; adults $20, kids 13 and under $10.
Hit the rooftop deck with your pet and indulge in food, cocktails and games for man and beast.
FREE Silver Room’s Sound System Block Party, Jul 21
Evergreen Ave from Pierce to Milwaukee Aves. Noon–10pm. South Side Art & Music Festival, Jul 21–22 W 35th St at Halsted St. Sat, Sun noon–10pm.
Lake County Fair, Jul 22–27
Lake County Fairgrounds, Rtes 120 and 45, Grayslake. Tue–Sat 8am–11:30pm, Sun 8am–10pm. $7, seniors $3, 12 and under free.
Dozens of classic county fair events include a demo derby, a petting zoo, carnival rides, tractor pulls and 80th anniversary celebrations.
DuPage County Fair, Jul 23–27
DuPage County Fairgrounds, 2015 W Manchester Rd, Wheaton. 8am–10pm; $10, kids 12–3 $3, kids under 2 free.
Along with a rodeo, carnival rides, 4-H shows and a demolition derby, this year’s fair features a Pink Floyd laser light show.
FREE Peruvian Festival, Jul 23–25
Daley Plaza, Washington and Dearborn Sts. 10am–5pm.
Witness dancers, singers, musicians and food hailing from the South American country.
* FREE Newberry Library Book Fair and Bughouse Square Debates, Jul 24–27
Washington Square Park, 901 N Clark St at Walton St. Thu, Fri noon–8pm; Sat, Sun 10am–6pm; debate Sat 26 noon–4pm.
Dig through cookbooks, kids’ books, art books, popular fiction and more. On Saturday afternoon, Newberry refuels the tradition of Washington Square Park, once the site of rip-roaring political banter. Join soapbox debates or take a sideline view of the ruckus.
* FREE Pierogi Fest, Jul 25–27
119th St at Indianapolis Blvd/U.S. 41, Whiting, IN. Fri, Sat 11am–10pm; Sun 11am–5pm.
This Northwest Indiana hamlet pays homage to its Polish past by putting the pierogi front and center.
FREE Ghana Fest, Jul 26
Washington Park, 55th St at Cottage Grove Ave. 10am–10pm.
FREE North Shore Festival of Art, Jul 26–27
Westfield Old Orchard, Golf Rd and Skokie Blvd, Skokie. 10am–5pm.
Taste of Lincoln Avenue, Jul 26–27
Lincoln Ave between Fullerton and Wrightwood Aves. Noon–10pm, $7, after 5pm $10.
This street fest is one of the city’s biggest, with merch booths and music stages galore.
FREE Venetian Night, Jul 26
Lake Michigan between Roosevelt Rd and Monroe St. 7:45pm.
Lakefront crowds stand by to watch about 30 elaborately decorated boats plowing a parade path similar to Venice’s boat fest. This year’s activities include reenactment of an air and sea rescue plus a Lima Lima flyover.
Wicker Park Fest, Jul 26–27
1600 N Damen Ave between Schiller St and North Ave. 11am–10pm, $5.
FREE Chicago Criterium Bike Race, Jul 27
Grant Park, Jackson Blvd at Columbus Dr. 7am–2:30pm.
At this first-time race, bike enthusiasts can cheer on the racers or buy biking merch from sponsor booths and festival vendors.
* EAA AirVenture Fly-In, Jul 28–Aug 3
Wittman Regional Airport, 525 W 20th Ave, Oshkosh, WI. 7am–5:30pm; $35, students $20, kids $15, 5 and under free.
Around 10,000 planes descend upon Oshkosh at one of the world’s biggest and best air shows.
FREE Fiesta del Sol, Jul 31-Aug 3
Cermak Rd between Loomis and Morgan Sts. Thu 5pm–10pm; Fri, Sat 11am–11pm; Sun 11am–10pm.
Toss out the cigarettes and booze—this fiesta entertains healthfully with pony rides and a petting zoo, plus dozens of live bands daily for all ages.
* Wisconsin State Fair, Jul 31–Aug 10
Wisconsin State Fair Park, 640 S 84th St, West Allis, WI. Mon–Thu 8am–11pm; Fri–Sun 8am–midnight; $8, seniors and disabled $6, kids 7–11 $3, kids 6 and under free, parking $9.
Attractions run the gamut, from classic ag competitions, carnival rides and greasy food booths to kooky contests and a birthing barn, where you can watch animals in labor with a veterinarian guide.