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FREE African Festival of the Arts, Sept 4–7 Washington Park, 51st St at Cottage Grove Ave (africainternationalhouse.org). 10am–10pm. This fest marks its 20th anniversary with the theme “History, Traditions, Legends.” Performers, vendors and family activities entertain.
FREE Chicago Jazz Festival, Sept 4–6 Grant Park, Jackson Blvd at Columbus Dr (chicagojazzfestival.us). 10am–9:30pm. The storied Chicago Jazz Festival has been attracting the world’s best jazz musicians for more than three decades.
FREE Lake in the Hills Summer Sunset Festival, Sept 4–6 Sunset Park, Miller Rd at Albrecht Rd, Lake in the Hills (summersunsetfest.com). Fri 3–10:30pm; Sat 10am–10:30pm; Sun 11am–10:30pm. Highlights of this out-of-the-city getaway include a horseshoe tournament, a melon-propellin’ contest (build your own catapult and launch a watermelon farther than the competition) and live music.
* FREE Taste of Melrose, Sept 4–6 1000 25th Ave, Melrose Park (melrosepark.org/events). Fri 5pm–midnight; Sat noon–midnight; Sun noon–11pm. Free parking and shuttle service. At one of our annual favorite food festivals, local cooks offer $3 tastes of their cuisine. Italian cooking is the specialty, so look out for anything fried by nuns—it’ll be delish.
Taste of Polonia, Sept 4–7 Copernicus Center, 5216 W Lawrence Ave (copernicusfdn.org). Fri 5–11pm; Sat, Sun noon–11pm; Mon noon–10; $7. Polish classics like pierogis, kielbasa and potato pancakes will be served while Polish dancers and artists entertain.
Windy City Wine Fest, Sept 11, 12 Daley Bicentennial Plaza, 337 E Randolph St (windycitywinefestival.com). Fri 4–10pm; Sat 3–10pm; $30, advance $25, designated-driver tickets $10, under 21 with paid adult free. Wine seminars, cooking demos and live music set the vibe.
FREE Fiestas Patrias Festival, Sept 11–13 26th St and Kostner Ave (lavillitachamber.com). Fri 6–11pm; Sat 3–11pm; Sun noon–11pm. Also known as the 26th Street Mexican Independence Festival to those of us who no hablo espanol, this fest celebrates Mexico’s casting off of Spanish colonialism. Mariachi bands, food merchants and craft vendors color 26th Street all weekend.
FREE German-American Festival, Sept 11–13 Lincoln Plaza, Western Ave at Lincoln and Leland Aves (lincolnsquare.org/calendar). Fri 5–11pm; Sat noon–11pm; Sun noon–10pm. Parade Sat 2pm. Lincoln Square becomes the Old Country once a year as Chicagoans flock north for large steins of beer, sausage and brass bands.
Harvest Fest, Sept 11–13 1900 W Belmont Ave (starevents.com/harvest). Fri 3–10pm; Sat noon–10pm; Sun noon–9pm; price TBA. This festival of live music, food, carnival rides and children’s games benefits the Jahn World Language School, an institute that aims to create well-rounded global citizens.
FREE Celtic Fest Chicago, Sept 12, 13 Grant Park, Jackson Blvd at Columbus Dr (celticfestchicago.us). 11am–9:30pm. This fest has a mandate: to educate the public on Celtic music and culture. Two tents highlight different Celtic instruments—the Harp tent and the Uilleann Pipe Tionol tent. Other tents offer traditional dance lessons and one stage features those cute, curly-haired dancing children who are keeping the tradition alive.
* FREE Renegade Craft Fair, Sept 12, 13 Division St between Damen and Hermitage Aves (renegadecraft.com). 11am–7pm. Supporting the DIY movement has never been this fun; the best local and national indie designers gather to hawk their hand-mades.
Wells Street Crush, Music & Comedy Fest, Sept 12 Wells St between North and Evergreen Aves (chicagoevents.com). 11am–10pm; $7 before 7pm, $10 after. The festival formerly known as the Wine Crush in Old Town has re-created its image to more fully encompass all that Wells Street has to offer—now serving comedy with its wine, food and music.
FREE 57th Street Children’s Book Fair, Sept 13 57th St at Kimbark Ave (57cbf.org). 1–6pm. It’s not just children’s books on hand at this Hyde Park fest—music and dance performers and even some memorable book characters make an appearance.
FREE Graue Mill’s Cornfest, Sept 13 3800 S York Rd, Oak Brook (grauemill.org). 11:30am–4pm. Although fall is near, come celebrate summer with an old-fashioned picnic. Guests can expect BBQ, homemade pies, taffy apples and plenty of roasted corn on the cob. The whole family can have fun with art, games and music.
Naperville Wine Festival, Sept 18, 19 Naper Settlement, 523 S Webster St, Naperville (napervillewinefestival.com). Fri 4–10pm; Sat 2–9pm, ticket sales end at 7:30pm; $30, advance $25, designated driver $10, under 21 free with adult. Wine experts drop knowledge on new and exotic grape varieties; wine seminars and cooking demonstrations abound; and local restaurants and caterers help you pair those reds and whites properly.
World Music Festival, Sept 18–24 Several venues including Millennium Park, Michigan Ave between Monroe and Randolph Sts (cityofchicago.org/worldmusic). Times vary, free–$15. Venues across the city host contemporary artists from all over the world in this musical ode to the many ethnicities at home in our city.
LandShark Lager Oyster Fest, Sept 19 2000 W Roscoe St at Damen Ave. (chicagoevents.com). 11am–10pm, $7. The annual Guinness Oyster Fest has landed a new beer sponsor, Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville brand LandShark Lager. Well, at least fresh-shucked oysters are still on the menu.
Oktoberfest, Sept 25–27 St. Alphonsus Church, 3000 N Lincoln Ave (starevents.com/oktoberfest). Fri 5pm–10pm; Sat noon–10pm; Sun noon–9pm; $5. Founded by German immigrants in 1881, St. Alphonsus Church puts on a truly authentic Oktoberfest with traditional music, homemade brats and lots of beer under a big outdoor tent, just like in Munich.
FREE Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Sept 26 The Midway at 59th St (hydeparkjazzfestival.org). Noon–2am. Local emerging artists and headliners perform on an outdoor stage and throughout various Hyde Park venues.
FREE Lakeview East Festival of the Arts, Sept 26, 27 Broadway between Belmont Ave and Roscoe St (lakevieweast.com/lakeview-east-festival-of-the-arts.htm). Sat 10am–6pm; Sun 10am–5pm. All-day music, food and children’s entertainment accompany 130 juried artists exhibiting, selling, and occasionally offering live art demonstrations.
Rib-A-Que Smoke-out, Sept 26 Moonshine, 1824 West Division St (moonshine.com). Noon–6pm; $35, advance $30. What better way to cap off summer than a barbecue throwdown? A dozen Chicago restaurants and award-winning amateurs will compete for the title of “Smokeout Champion.”
The best spots at Chicago’s summer fests | Index fun | How to dress for this summer’s festivals | Chicago’s summer ethnic festivals | Cheap drinks at Chicago’s summer festivals | Festival treats cost plenty of cash, calories | Cheap summer thrills | What and where to buy at this summer’s festivals | Volunteering at music fests can get you in free | Money-saving tips!