Sponsored: Chicago, the largest city in Illinois, attracted a record 54.1 million tourists last year, thanks in part to its vibrant summer festival calendar.
The epic Chicago Gay Pride is of course on every LGBTQs’ radar, this year culminating on 25 June, the day of the parade.
But Pride’s pioneering spirit can be found in numerous other Chicago events and festivals.
So why not join the locals who take to the streets for the myriad of fairs, fetes and get-togethers during the sunny days and warm nights?
From a celebration of all things vegan to two of the world’s coolest music fests, Chicago’s an exciting, imaginative and creative destination all year round, reflecting an authentic, modern America that’s gritty and down-to-earth. Here’s our pick of the best…
17 – 25 June, 2017
A weeklong buildup of events in Boystown, the US’s most iconic gayborhood, precedes the 48th annual Chicago Gay Pride Parade on Sunday, 25 June. But wider celebrations of all things LGBTQ take place across The Windy City throughout the month.
Lesbian-focused events not to be missed include the Dyke March in Humboldt Park, and the epic outdoor party Back Lot Bash in Chicago’s trendy gayborhood Andersonville. It takes place on Saturday, 17 June and Thursday-Sunday, 22 – 25 June.
On Pride Day, make like a local and indulge in the Chicago tradition of going out for brunch or Bloody Mary’s at one of Chicago’s many excellent dining spots.
Also in Andersonvile is the street party Midsommarfest, taking place from 9 – 11 June. It’s known for its farmers market, craft stalls, live music and general lively fun. Although not specifically LGBTQ, it has a wonderfully inclusive attitude perfect in the run-up to pride.
14 June – 19 August
The stunning 319-acre Grant Park is located in The Loop district of Chicago, and the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture (or “The Bean”) therein. Also located here is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion: the grand setting for Grant Park Music Festival.
This annual classical concert series lasts 10 weeks, and offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy a spot of culture in the open air for absolutely no cost whatsoever.
14 – 16 July
Meanwhile, over in the North West Side of Chicago is the far smaller Union Park. Found in one of the hippest regions of the city, it’s the perfect home for this achingly cool celebration of music from Pitchfork Media.
This year’s headliners include LCD Soundsystem and Dirty Projectors on 14 July, A Tribe Called Quest and PJ Harvey on 15 July and Solange and Nicolas Jaar on 16 July.
3 – 6 August 2017
Meanwhile, back in Grant Park is the city’s most iconic major music festival of the year. Our pick of this year’s lineup? Blockbuster bands Muse and The Killers, and pop starlets Lorde and Zara Larsson, all the way from New Zealand and Sweden, respectfully.
Also, be sure to check out British indie giants The xx (frontwoman Romy Madley Croft announced her engagement to Hannah Marshall this year) and Canadian lesbian sister duo Tegan and Sara.
12 – 13 August 2017
If you can’t make it to Chicago in June in time for Pride, fear not. LGBTQs, plus their friends and allies, will descend on Boystown once again the following month for Northalsted Market Days, the largest outdoor street festival in the region.
Expect arts, crafts, organic foods and some 180,000 revelers. Enjoy them all while weaving in and out of the area’s 35 LGBTQ bars.
Photos by enjoyillinois.com unless otherwise stated.