Hit the grocery store before the fest.
Pull double duty and conquer the lines and prices at the Taste of Chicago (Jun 26–Jul 5): Tickets regularly cost $8 for 12—but at Dominick’s, from June 15–25, that price drops to $6. Before the Naperville Ribfest (Jul 2–5) kicks off, charging $11 at the gate, nab presale admission tickets at several west-suburban Jewel grocery stores (including all Naperville locations) for just $8.
Score with online discounts.
We won’t advocate eschewing “donation” entrance fees—most street fairs are fund-raisers for neighborhood and cultural organizations. Instead, get a buck or two (or more!) off the gate price by ordering tickets online. Check out some sweet Web deals:
Irish American Heritage Festival (Jul 10–12) Get $6 off $14 tickets at irishfestchicago.com/buytickets.aspx.
Dearborn Garden Walk & Heritage Festival (Jul 19) Save $5 on $35 tickets at dearborngardenwalk.com.
Bristol Renaissance Faire (Jul 11–Sept 7) Instead of dropping $18.95 on gate admission, check out renfair.com/bristol/tickets for $16.95 tickets.
Hit fests at certain times and save big.
Afternoon On Sundays at the Randolph Street Market Festival (May–Sept), admission is free from 2 to 4pm—the last two hours of the weekend’s market—and vendors looking to lighten their loads are willing to haggle.
Late afternoon Before 4pm, the Taste of Lincoln Avenue (Jul 25, 26) costs a sweet $7— and after 4pm, the price goes up three bucks. Get in early—just think of it as happy hour.
Dinnertime Be prepared for a really long night of boozing if you start sipping wine at 6:59pm. But a little hangover is worth the $3 you save on admission before 7pm at Wells Street Crush, Music & Comedy Fest (Sept 12)—the festival formerly known as the Wine Crush in Old Town.
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!