From huge music festivals to celebrations paying homage to food and the arts, there are many exciting annual events in Chicago that have put the city on the map. Here are our top picks of must-see events for new arrivals.


Annual events in Chicago

St Patrick's Day Parade (March)

Chicago hosts one of the largest St Patrick's Day celebrations in the US, with close to half a million people gathering to watch the festivities. The Chicago River is even dyed green for the occasion (with an eco-friendly dye).

Bike the Drive (May)

Each year at the end of May, Lake Shore Drive is open to bikes only, offering a fantastic occasion to bike with family and friends. This is a unique opportunity as this 30-mile stretch of road is usually full of cars.

Chicago Blues Festival (June)

As the world's largest free blues festival, this event is a must for all blues enthusiasts living in Chicago. Dozens of local and international artists of the highest calibre perform over the course of this three-day festival.

Grant Park Music Festival (June to August)

This ten-week classical music festival founded in the 1930s is a must-see for music buffs. The Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Grant Park Chorus are a mainstay of the concert series, with special guest conductors and performers also making appearances.

Taste of Chicago (July)

By some measures the world’s largest food festival, this gastronomic multiple-day marathon celebrates Chicago-style food and entertainment. Apart from the array of food stalls and pop-up restaurants, live music performances are another highlight.

Lollapalooza (August) 

Lollapalooza is a world-famous annual music festival taking place in Chicago. Lasting four days, Lollapalooza offers performances from all sorts of musicians across its eight stages. The festival hosts an impressive line-up of local and international bands.

Chicago Gourmet (September)

Foodies who are ready for another culinary adventure after Taste of Chicago can enjoy the fantastic weekend celebration of food and wine at Chicago Gourmet. Highlights include tastings, seminars and live demonstrations by celebrity chefs.

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