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Best Free Summer Music Events In Chicago

Is there anything better than taking in a free concert on your lunch break or after dinner? This summer, the Chicagoland area offers a wide selection of free concerts, ensuring there is something for everyone. From blues to Bach and everything in between, the music events are sure to delight. Make it a full event and head out to dinner after the concert, or pack a picnic to enjoy at the outdoor venues. Keep this list handy for a guide to free summer music events in Chicago.

Blues Festival

Chicago Blues Festival
Millennium Park
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60602

and Grant Park
337 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-3370

Date: June 6 in Millennium Park from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and June 7-9 in Grant Park from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Get your summer off to the right start with the Chicago Blues Festival. The annual event has a lineup that is sure to please any blues fan, with Shemekia Copeland headlining the opening night at Millennium Park. The festival then moves to Grant Park on Friday, where Mojo Roots, Toronzo Cannon and Mississippi Heat are all scheduled to perform. The concert closes on Sunday with performances by Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Johnny Iguana, Deitra Farr and James Cotton. While parking is available at Millennium Garages, you might want to consider biking or taking public transportation.

Make Music Chicago
65 locations throughout Chicago
(312) 640-7418

Date: June 21

Get ready to be surrounded by music. Make Music Chicago, a one-day event held on June 21, is an annual celebration of music that featured more than 900 performers at 65 sites throughout Chicago last year. Where can you find these performances? Just about anywhere in the city, with performances scheduled in Daley Plaza, Millennium Park, Lincoln Park Zoo and more than 25 sites within the Chicago Park District, and a grand finale in St. James Cathedral. This free event does not require any tickets; simply check out the celebration’s website and find a concert in your area.

Millenium Park

Millennium Park
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 742-1168

If you can only head to one venue this summer, make it Millennium Park. From jazz to concerts featuring emerging musicians, the park offers something for everyone all summer long. Some of its events include Downtown Sound, which is a weekly concert series, and the opening night concert for the Chicago Blues Festival. The Grant Park Music Festival and Loops and Variations both take place here starting June, and Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz kicks off in July. Summer comes to a close with the Chicago Jazz Festival, held Aug. 29 through Sept. 1. Millennium Park is just off Michigan Avenue, making it a convenient place to meet friends for a concert after work.

Related: Best Outdoor Concerts To Look Forward To This Summer In Chicago

Naperville Park District Free Summer Concerts
Various locations around Naperville
(630) 848-5000

Whether you want to catch a lunchtime concert with your kids or just want to kick back and enjoy some tunes with friends after dinner, Naperville Park District has you covered with its free summer concerts. Its programs this summer include carillon concerts at the Naperville Riverwalk near Rotary Hill. The Concerts in Your Park series features an eclectic mix of musical groups held at several parks within the district. Rollin’ on the River returns again this year, and will be held on select Friday nights at 7 p.m. at the Riverwalk Free Speech Pavilion. Kids can also dance to the beat with the Children’s Lunch-Hour Entertainment, which takes place at several parks in Naperville.

Rush Hour Summer Concert Series
St. James Cathedral
65 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 640-7418

Date: Tuesday evenings June 4 through Aug. 27

Starting June 4, busy music lovers can head to St. James Cathedral in Chicago’s Near North neighborhood for a quick concert while also beating the heat on a hot summer day. The indoor concerts are 30 to 45 minutes long and will take you “Bach” to the classical music era with compositions by Brahms, Rossini, Bach and more. The concerts are open to the public, and no tickets are required. Don’t forget to arrive early, as a pre-concert reception with the artists and refreshments are available. If you like what you heard, you can also purchase a flash drive with that evening’s performance.

Related: Best Poetry Events In Chicago

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in "-er." She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I'm a Trader Joe's Fan. Her work can be found at

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