A Local’s Guide to Navigating Summer Street Festivals in Lakeview and Wrigleyville

People walking during street festivalSummer in Chicago is synonymous with street festivals, and the neighborhoods of Lakeview and Wrigleyville are among the most vibrant hotspots for these community celebrations. These festivals offer an eclectic array of music, food, arts, and local culture, drawing both residents and visitors to revel in the summer sun. Whether you’re a seasoned attendee or a first-timer, here’s a comprehensive guide to making the most of the summer street festivals in these lively Chicago neighborhoods.

Lakeview & Wrigleyville Festivals

Southport Art Festival

One of Lakeview’s hidden gems, the Southport Art Festival takes place in late July along the bustling Southport Avenue. This two-day event showcases over 75 artists’ creativity in various mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, and jewelry. The festival’s intimate setting allows visitors to interact directly with the artists, gaining insight into their inspirations and techniques. 

The festival doesn’t just display visual art; this event has plenty of live music performances, interactive experiences, and kid-friendly activities that make it a family-friendly outing. Local eateries and food trucks offer a diverse selection of street foods, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

Lakeview East Festival of the Arts

Though September may be the end of summer, it’s often just as hot as June and July are. To celebrate summer’s lengthy run in the midwest is the Lakeview East Festival of the Arts. This early September festival transforms Broadway Street into an open-air gallery that showcases the works of over 150 juried artists, featuring paintings, sculptures, photography, and mixed media pieces. It’s a haven for art enthusiasts looking to purchase original artwork or simply appreciate the creative talents on display. 

Outside of visual arts, the festival also includes live music, performance art, and family-friendly activities that add to the festival’s vibrant atmosphere. Food lovers will delight in the diverse culinary offerings, from standard street food to gourmet desserts.

Chicago Pride Fest

Of course, a northside Chicago summer would not be complete without Boystown’s Pride Fest. The Lakeview neighborhood is home to Chicago’s robust LGBTQ+ nightlife, and the Chicago Pride Fest is a celebratory reflection of this resilient community.

Held in mid-June, the festival champions diversity, inclusivity, and equality through local and national LGBTQ+ performers. This event features three stages of live entertainment, with performances by famous musicians, drag queens, and high-energy DJs. The Pride Fest also includes a wide variety of food and drink options, as well as vendor booths offering everything from community resources to pride-affiliated merch. The festival serves as a precursor to the iconic Chicago Pride Parade, which takes place the following weekend.

Wrigleyville Summerfest

Held in late July, Wrigleyville Summerfest is a two-day celebration next door to the iconic Wrigley Field. This festival is perfect for families, featuring a dedicated kid’s zone with activities like face painting, carnival games, and inflatables. 

For adults, the festival offers a beer garden with a wide selection of craft beers and live music performances from local bands. The food vendors set up an eclectic mix of cuisines, ensuring something to satisfy every palate. The neighborhood’s friendly community and sports-loving atmosphere are on full display, making it a welcoming event for locals and visitors.

Tips for Navigating the Festivals

So you want to have fun in the sun this summer, but constant festival attendance can be laborious and exhausting in the sweltering heat. To mitigate any disastrous festival-related outcome, here are some of the best tips for attending these exciting outdoor events. 

Plan Ahead

Each festival has its own schedule of events, so check the official websites for performance times, vendor lists, and any special activities. Arriving early can help you secure a good spot for popular performances and avoid long lines at food stalls.

Planning also means bringing necessities like a water canteen, sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. Setting yourself up for success by carrying your essentials will help keep you from getting too exhausted or ill from the Chicago heat. 

Use Public Transportation

Parking can be a challenge during festival season, so public transportation is your best bet. The CTA Red and Brown Lines provide convenient access to both Lakeview and Wrigleyville, and several bus routes run through the neighborhoods. You can always plan ahead by checking a CTA tracker online or texting the CTA number for route information found at all Chicago bus stops. 

Stay Hydrated 

Summer festivals mean spending a lot of time outdoors, so ensure you drink plenty of water to offset the sweltering heat. If you didn’t bring a water canteen, make sure to prioritize purchasing plastic water bottles once you enter the event. Having water on hand will not only help you withstand the lengthy walking and standing hours but can also help a friend or two from getting dehydrated.  

Bring Cash

Though many of Chicago’s street festivals will have ATMs available, they usually have pesky fees before you withdraw money. To avoid extra commotion and spending, pack your wallet with cash before leaving your home. 

While many vendors accept credit and debit cards, having cash on hand can be quicker and more accessible, especially for smaller purchases and tipping festival staff. 

Embrace the Local Culture

Take the time to explore the neighborhoods beyond the festival grounds. Both Lakeview and Wrigleyville boast a variety of local shops, restaurants, and bars that offer a taste of Chicago’s vibrant community life. These northside neighborhoods are also known for their exceptional street art, which can be found on local residential buildings, railways, and abandoned lots around the area. 

Summer street festivals in Lakeview and Wrigleyville are more than just events; they’re an immersive experience that showcases the best of Chicago’s amiable and creative Midwest culture. With this guide at your disposal, you’re undoubtedly ready to take these summer festivals by storm and enjoy the beautiful outdoors for the upcoming months.