11 Free Chicago Summer Festivals You Don't Want to Miss

11 Free Chicago Summer Festivals You Don't Want to Miss

Enjoy the best music, art and food Chicago has to offer!
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The weather is warm, the sun is out (sorta), and summer has finally arrived. But what’s the best way to celebrate summer in Chicago? Neighborhood festivals of course! Just at the start of June all the way through the end of August, Chicago is home to a variety of vibrant neighborhood festivals celebrating the cultural diversity of the Windy City.

Mayfest (Maifest)


In Chicago’s Lincoln Square, the annual Mayfrest (or German “Maifest”) occurs June 1st- June 4th celebrating Lincoln Square’s vibrant German heritage. The festival takes places by Lincoln and Leland ave and features bands like Polkaholics, Mike Zabrin’s Funktastic, and Uncle Bob and the Bluzers. Attendees enjoy German food and music as well as the coronation of May Queen. For more information, visit their, website.

Andersonville Midsommarfest

The beautiful neighborhood of Andersonville is home to the Swedish Art Museum and one of the largest LGBT communities in Chicago. The neighborhood hosts the Andersonville Midsommarfest during June 9th-June 11th along Clark Street between Foster Avenue and Catalpa Street. This street festival features food, music, dancing, and even activities for the kids. Celebrate pride month with Andersonville and attend the Chicago Equality Rally on June 11th at the tail end of the festival. Midsommarfest asks for a $10 donation to help benefit future Midsommarfests. For more information, visit their website.

Chicago Pridefest


For those who don’t know, June is a celebration of pride for the LGBT community. In the neighborhood of Boystown located between Lakeview and Lincoln park just off of the scenic Lake Shore Drive, residents take part in a month long celebration of gender identity and sexual orientation. The heart of the celebrations take place during Chicago Pridefest on June 17th and 18th on Halsted and Addison featuring performances from Carlito Olivero to Abba Salute and will also feature a DJ for fun dancing on Halsted. Don’t miss the pride parade on June 25th! For more information, visit their website.

West Fest

source: chicago.brooklynvegan.com

Hosted by the West Town community, West Fest brings attendees a unique event featuring local artists and food vendors at their annual street festival. West Fest will take place on July 7th-9th along Chicago Avenue between Damen and Wood Street. The event also includes two additional sub-events: Pet Fest which will have a dog obstacle course and paw painting hosted by Canine Crews and Doggy Style Petshop as well as Kid Fest featuring a kid-friendly stage, pony rides, and local theatrical performances. For more information, visit their website.

Chinatown Summer Fair


On July 16th, Chicago’s own Chinatown will host their annual Chinatown Summer fair on Wentworth Ave. For thirty-nine years, Chinatown has hosted their iconic event featuring artisans, Chinese cuisine and the unforgettable Dragon and Lion Dance Procession. Visit the event's website for more information.

Taste of River North

For sixteen years, River North residents have celebrated their neighborhood with the Taste of River North music and art festival. On July 21-23rd, enjoy live entertainment from Boy Band Review, Funky Monks, and Hello Weekend. The event will also feature food from Da Lobsta, Farmhouse, and Starfruit. Come one and all to Ward Park at the corner of North Kingsbury and West Erie. For more information, visit website.

Fiesta Del Sol

The vibrant neighborhood of Pilsen known for it’s beautiful Mexican-American community and underground punk rock scene hosts their annual cultural festival Fiesta Del Sol. The festival will take place on July 27th-30th at 1400 W. Cermak Ave. The festival will feature food vendors that offer variety in taste from local restaurants including Amy’s Taco and El Campeon. For more information, please visit their website.

Jeff Fest

At the start of August, Jefferson Park hosts their popular music and art festival. The neighborhood festival takes place on August 4th-6th on 4822 N. Long ave. Artists at the event include The Buckinghams, Too White Crew, and Covergirl. Attendees can also enjoy food from local vendors and the Kids Zone, a family friendly spot with arts and crafts. For more information, visit website.

Ginza Festival

In the neighborhood of Oldtown on August 11th-13th, tourists and local residents can experience and enjoy the Japanese Cultural festival featuring taiko drummers, Japanese folk dance, and traditional dishes. This cultural festival is hosted by the Midwest Buddhist Temple and is located on west menomonee street. The event is free however they do sell food tickets to enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine including udon noodles, sushi, and chicken teriyaki. For more information, visit their website.

Edison Park fest


On August 18th-20th, the historic Edison Park hosts their annual neighborhood street festival featuring food from local vendors, live music, and activities for the kids. This festival takes place on the block of Northwest Highway and Oshkosh Avenue. Bands playing include the Corsairs, Prairie Station, and Ginger road. All proceeds for this event benefit beautification projects all across the neighborhood. For more information, please visit their website.

Logan Square Food Truck Social

Near the end of summer, on August 25th-27th local residents and tourists alike can enjoy a large array of local food trucks in the Logan Square neighborhood on Humboldt boulevard between Armitage and Bloomingdale. The event will feature live music and drinks from Revolution Brewery. A five dollar donation is requested and a sampler ticket will cost $20 however music is completely free. For more information, visit their website.

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Cover Image Credit: http://www.chicago-d.com

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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Sociolinguistics Series: Part 41

Language is a powerful tool.

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After our lunch at the market, the sun began to go down. When the sun sets on Jerusalem on Friday nights, the city essentially goes to sleep. The people don't, but the city as an institution rests; it's the observance of Shabbat, or the day of rest. For Christians, the day of rest is Sunday. For Muslims, it's Friday.

A cool linguistic tangent about Arabic--the days of the week in Arabic recognize the label of "Shabbat" for Saturday. In Arabic, Saturday is called "يوم السبت" or "yom al-sabt" in transliteration. "Yom" means "day," and "al-sabt" is the label for Saturday. "Sabt" sounds like "Shabbat," and it is the name for Saturday as a reference to the Jewish community that observes Shabbat on Saturdays.

The rest of the days of the week in Arabic are also very interesting. The first day of the week is Sunday, and its name is "yom al-'aHad," which refers to the word for "one": "waaHid." Monday's name, "yom al-ithnayn," is in reference to the number two: "ithnayn." This pattern continues with the words for Tuesday (three), Wednesday (four), and Thursday (five). However, Friday is different. The word for Friday is "yom al-jumea," or "يوم الجمعة."

As mentioned previously, Friday is the day of rest and gathering for Muslims. At a mosque that we went to in Haifa, we learned that when Muslims pray, they always gather as a group to pray; the movements of prayer are in-sync with each other and beautiful, as if it seemed to be the motions of the waves on the ocean.

In Arabic, nouns are made from roots that consist of three letters. Every noun that shares the same three roots have meanings that trace back to a central theme; for example, the nouns that derive from ك-ت-ب, or k-t-b, have meanings that go along the lines of "writing." "Kitaab" means "book," while "muktaba" means library; "muktab" means office, which is a place where people write, and "kaatib" means writer.

The word for Friday, "يوم الجمعة," has the three root letters "ج-م-ع" or "jiim-miim-ayn." Other words that are derived from this root pattern are "mosque" ("جامع" or "jaami3a"), "university" ("جامعة" or "jaamie3at"), "all" ("جميع" or "jamee3a") and "to collect" ("جمع" or "jam3a"), to name a few. All of these have to do with gathering--students gather at a university, observers gather at a mosque, and a collection of things are gathered.

The reason the word for Friday also uses this root is because Friday is one of the most important days for Muslims to gather and pray together (of course, all days are important for prayer for those who follow religion). Arabs congregate for family visits on Friday as well, and thus, Friday is named accordingly.

I hope you found that tangent as fascinating as I did! We are back to Shabbat in Jerusalem, where observant Jews are not allowed to do work. What does "not doing work" mean? A circuit cannot be completed. For example, elevator buttons cannot be pressed, because when the button is pressed, an electrical circuit is completed.

At our hotel, there was an elevator that became a "Shabbat elevator" on Friday night. This meant that no buttons were able to be pressed; instead, the elevator automatically stopped at every floor. It was a slow process to ride that elevator, but it did follow the rules of Shabbat.

On Friday morning at the hotel breakfast, there was a coffee machine where guests could choose for a latte, espresso, cappuccino, or Americano to be made. On Saturday morning, the coffee machine was turned off and covered by a blanket. For those coffee addicts, though, there was a pot of Americano.

At first, I was very confused by how this coffee was made without doing "work." I learned that the hot water used to make the coffee was actually boiled the day before, on Friday before the sun had set. The boiled water would be kept in a thermos-like container (much like the kind my family uses in China to make tea at a minute's notice) overnight, and it would be used to make coffee with pre-ground beans for Saturday morning hotel guests.

One person in our group of students argued that even moving a chair across the carpet is completing a circuit, if we're speaking in terms of physics--we laughed this off as a joke and informally established that they probably meant ~electrical~ circuits cannot be completed on Shabbat. Most observant Jews will not use their phone or drive on Shabbat, and all the public transportation in Jerusalem is not in use either.


Since Tel Aviv is a more secular (and less religiously observant) city than Jerusalem, Shabbat there is very different than Shabbat in Jerusalem. But we'll get there later.

In Jerusalem, restaurants and stores close at sundown on Friday and don't reopen until after sundown on Saturday. When we were at the market for lunch on Friday, we noticed that Jews were frantically gathering groceries--stocking up for the next day, but more importantly, stocking up for Shabbat dinner.

By 2 or 3pm, the energy surround the markets and stores had died down; since the sun sets between 4 and 5pm, people were already getting ready for their 25-26 hours of rest.

Every Friday night in Jerusalem, families gather for Shabbat dinner, which is an important occasion that happens every week. There is something beautiful and ritualistic about the way Shabbat dinner is carried out.

We were fortunate enough to be invited to a Shabbat dinner at the house of our guide's friend; we arrived at the Amit family house by walking that night, as our bus driver had gone home to observe Shabbat--and we couldn't use the bus on Shabbat!

We started dinner by reciting prayer--the blessing over wine, which is called Kiddush. It was presented, almost as if singing a hymn, in Hebrew. After it was finished, we washed our hands in the traditional manner and then broke bread with each other at the table.

We were then served some delicious, homemade Israeli food, including couscous, hummus, and chicken. No one used their phones a single time--both out of respect for not using technology and for being fully present at dinner instead of distracted by social media.

At dinner, we went around and introduced ourselves to the host family--and vice versa. The family had many sons, but only one daughter. The mom of the family was originally South America, but she and her husband--the dad of the Amit family--made Aliyah to Israel to raise their children. Their daughter, Leya, was sitting at dinner with us; she had previously studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and gotten her first degree there.

Some of her brothers were in the IDF at the time, and the others had already served their time (all Israeli citizens, no matter what gender, are required to serve in the IDF--girls for at least two years, boys for at least three--upon turning 18 and graduating high school, though there are other options (like community service) to accommodate for people with disabilities/other conditions, or who choose to not join the army in some day). Leya had chosen community service. She plans on going to medical school in the future, and she was currently studying for the MCAT.

Once we learned about our host family, it was our turn to talk. At this point, our group had not really gotten to know each other very well yet, so this introduction helped us just as much as it helped the host family. Keep in mind that we've only been there for a little over 24 hours, though it's already felt like forever.

We were asked "who are you?" by our host family, and each student spoke individually about themselves for a few minutes. It really allowed our group to break the ice with each other, as I learned something new about every person.

Even for a place as diverse as Berkeley, our group was special--it was a slice of the pie that was more diverse than I had ever seen before. We came from all different walks of life. One Caucasian girl had been born in Indonesia and raised their for the first part of her life, which is something I never could have known just by looking at her.

One guy was half Indian and half Jewish-German and had spent years of his life living in India. Another girl, who was Indian as well, had actually been brought to India to live and study there by her parents--as a surprise! She didn't know she was there to stay until she had gotten there already, which was hard at first but ultimately shaped the way she is today.

That was just a few examples of the amazing stories I heard that night, and thanks to this introduction around the dinner table, I began to really start knowing the genuine, curious, and strong people who were with me--for which I am incredibly grateful.

The next morning, while the Jewish sector of Jerusalem was at rest, we explored the Christian and Muslim Quarters of the Old City. Stay tuned, as we will cover that in the next section!

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