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Best Free Concerts In Chicago

When it seems like almost every concert is charging an arm and a leg even for nosebleed seats, finding a free music event this summer in the Chicago area may sound like an impossible task. Don't despair. With the following five venues, you can attend a musical performance without spending a dime. For an additional list of free summer music events, check out this article.
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Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts
Chicago Cultural Center
Preston Bradley Hall
78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-6630
Date: Wednesdays at 12:15 p.m.

If you're in the Loop on Wednesdays, then make catching a performance of the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts part of your lunchtime plans. The 45-minute concerts start at 12:15 p.m. and feature an assortment of musicians. The lineup includes pianist Anna Khanina on July 16, 2014, violinist Yevgeny Kutik and pianist Dina Vainshtein on July 23 and pianist Wayne Weng on July 30. You may want to plan to arrive early so you can be assured of snagging a seat. If you aren't pressed for time, take a few minutes after the concert to explore the rest of the Chicago Cultural Center, too, including its latest art exhibits.

Grant Park Music Festival
Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 742-7638
Date: Through Aug. 16, 2014

For many residents of the Windy City, summer is practically synonymous with the Grant Park Music Festival. The signature summertime event is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year and has a host of concerts lined up. Concert-goers can listen to an assortment of musicians this season, including Grant Park Chorus and vocalist Storm Large. If you can't make it to an evening performance, don't worry; you can still catch afternoon rehearsals, which take place at 11 a.m. on select days. There is also no such thing as a bad seat at Grant Park Music Festival, as the pavilion features a state-of-the-art sound system. For a concert schedule, check out the festival's website.

Starlight Concerts
Various Parks
Evanston, IL
(847) 448-8058
Date: Through Aug. 19, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.

Do you want to listen to a wide range of musical genres this summer, and for free, too? Sure you do. That's where the Starlight Concerts through the City of Evanston come in. Held on Tuesday evenings, the concert series includes jazz, folk, R&B, Latin ska and Caribbean. The 90-minute concerts are just what you need to unwind after a busy day, or to kick off a night of fun. The concerts are held at various parks throughout Evanston; for a complete schedule, check out the City of Evanston's website.

Related: Best Cheap Activities To Do With Kids In Chicago

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Made In Chicago: World Class Jazz
Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 742-1168
Date: Thursdays, July 24 - Aug. 28, 2014, at 6:30 p.m.

This summer, make the concert series Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz part of your evening plans. This year's lineup includes Milton Suggs Big Band, John Moulder and Matana Roberts, which is sure to delight both long-time jazz lovers and those who are just getting into the musical genre. The concerts, held on Thursday evenings, keep it local by opening with a musical number by high school musicians from the Chicago area. Bring a picnic and a blanket for a fun evening under the stars with Chicago's world-famous skyscrapers serving as a backdrop.

Cantigny Park
1S151 N. Winfield Road
Wheaton, IL 60189
(630) 668-5161
Date: Through Sept. 1, 2014

When it comes to free summer music events the entire family will enjoy, you need not look any further than Cantigny Park, located in the western suburb of Wheaton. Its afternoon concert series kicks off on Sundays at 3 p.m. and includes an array of musicians that will get your feet tapping. Dance to Motown classics, favorite hits from the 1950s and 1980s and selections from Big Band this summer. Cantigny also has a kid-friendly concert series, held on July 26 and Aug. 16 at 2 p.m. This year's lineup includes Miss Jamie and the Farmhands and Laura Doherty & The Heartbeats. For information on parking fees, check out Cantigny's website.

Related: Best Free Summer Music Events In Chicago

Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in "-er." She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at


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