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Can't-Miss Summer Music Festivals in Illinois

Make some Illi-noise during these fantastic music festivals happening all summer long.

Jul 15, 2021 Arts, Culture & History

Crowd at lollapalooza

There’s nothing quite like a day to take in amazing musicians in an outdoor venue — which is why Illinois music festivals are such hot tickets.

Across the state, there are a variety of music festivals that satisfy any taste. Whether you’re a blues fan or a rock lover, partaking in some live tunes during the Illinois summer is the perfect way to spend a weekend.

Lollapalooza (July 29 - August 1)


Chicago’s biggest music festival, Lollapalooza, is back for another four-day set that you don’t want to miss. Located in Grant Park, this year’s lineup features Miley Cyrus, Post Malone, Journey, Foo Fighters, Illenium and Modest Mouse. Since 1991, Lollapalooza isn’t just a music festival - it’s an experience. Chicago’s delectable cuisine is at the ready in Chow Town and features Chicago’s favorite restaurants like Billy Goat Tavern, Broken English Taco Pub, and Harold’s Chicken. Stay close by at memorable hotels like Swissotel Chicago, Hilton Garden Inn Chicago, or Chicago Athletic Association.

Summer Camp Music Festival (August 20-22)


Summer Camp Music Festival’s first event 20 years ago in 2001 brought about 1,000 patrons to enjoy over 15 bands on two stages during the two-day event at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, IL. Since, Summer Camp has transformed the grounds annually, welcoming in more fans, more fun, and way more music. The year's lineup includes Dirty Heads, Subtronics, Cherub, Lettuce and Houndmouth. If you need somewhere to crash for the weekend, you can't go wrong with the Staybridge Suites and Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette in Peoria, or the Embassy Suites in East Peoria.

Blues Brews & BBQ (August 20-21)


The 10th annual Blues, Brews & BBQ will feature an all-star cast of talent from throughout the fest’s history. From the John Todd Band — a perennial favorite opening act  — to the final notes by Chicago Blues great Toronzo Cannon, the sounds will exhilarate. Add to that an impressive array of craft beers, sweet, tangy barbecue and other fare — all against a beautiful lakeshore backdrop — and you’ve got the recipe for fun! The Hampton Inn in town makes for a great home base.

Freddie gibbs at pitchfork festival
Pitchfork Music Festival

Pitchfork Music Festival (September 10-12)


Pitchfork Music Festival at Union Park in Chicago features a can’t-miss lineup that you want to be part of. Headliners include Phoebe Bridgers, St. Vincent and Erykah Badu. This festival is independently run and hosts more than 60,000 attendees from all across the country. Going beyond the music, Pitchfork boasts 50 vendors, specialty retail fairs, and even a Kids’ Zone for little ones to take a break from the loud stages. There are plenty of convenient hotels close to the park, such as Hotel Chicago West Loop, The Hoxton, and Ace Hotel, so you can walk to the festival at your leisure.

Riot Fest (September 17-19)


Founded in 2005, Riot Fest is a multi-day music festival specializing in punk, rock, alternative, metal, and hip-hop. Carnival Rides, amazing food vendors, sideshow performers, and more add to the atmosphere of this independent music fest. Now held outdoors in beautiful Douglass Park, this year's stacked lineup features The Smashing Pumpkins, Run the Jewels, Nine Inch Nails, Taking Back Sunday, Lupe Fiasco, Machine Gun Kelly and much more. Stay downtown at the Radisson Blue Aqua or the Hilton Chicago.

Main stage at spring awakening
Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening (October 2-3)


Spring Awakening — the largest all-electronic music festival in the Midwest — returns to Addams/Medill Park as Autumn Equinox in October. Dance your pants off to headliners like Excision and Martin Garrix while enjoying the food and drinks of local vendors. More than 70 artists will perform at the festival, including AC Slater, Baynk, Atliens, Dillon Francis, and Bear Grillz.

Wander Down Music Festival (October 8-10)


Wander Down to Makanda, Illinois for three days of live music, campfire jams, art, and environmental education. Hosted by The Way Down Wanderers, who play multiple sets throughout the weekend, this fest features national touring acts with a roots, Americana and bluegrass focus that will perform on the main stage and beautiful lake stage. There are plenty of lodging choices, including traditional camping, on-site RV camping, bunkhouses, cabins, or a hotel in nearby Carbondale like the Home2 Suites by Hilton.

By Erica Abdnour of Concierge Preferred

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