Grab the sunglasses and sunscreen — festival season is about to begin and we have the scoop on the outdoor parties both kids and parents will love. Have a blast with art, cars, animals and folk music . . . and that’s just the start! Scroll down and get ready for a summer of festival fun.

photo: courtesy of North Charleston via flickr


The start of the festival season, Mayfest celebrates spring and all things outdoors. At Saturday’s Kids Day, kids will learn about health, safety and wellness while crafting or burning energy in one of the activity areas. On Sunday, families can dance together to live music.

May 18-20; Fri., 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Sat. & Sun, noon-10 p.m.; Kids Day, Sat., 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Ashland Ave. & Barry St., Lakeview
Cost: Suggested donation $10

Pilsen Food Truck Social
Food truck fans, this street fest is just for you. Savor a variety of delicacies and treats from a caravan of different food trucks all in one central location. The menus offer a little something for everyone. Want to try something from each truck? Check out the $20 sampler ticket that gets you sample-size portions from 6 different trucks. Bon appetit!

Jun. 9 & 10; 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
18th St., between Racine and Throop, Pilsen
Cost: Suggested donation $5

milwaukee-artsphoto: Logan Square Arts Festival / 1st Family Dental of Logan Square

Logan Square Arts Festival
This event on the Square is an awesome art walk at the local businesses that celebrates the creativity, diversity and vitality of the Logan Square neighborhood. The fest features two stages of live music, visual art, performance art, dance, food and drinks and a family tent where budding artists can show their skills. This year’s festival is extra special as it coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the Illinois Centennial Monument, the focal point of the neighborhood.

Jun. 22-24, noon-10 p.m.
Logan Blvd. & Milwaukee Ave., Logan Square
Cost: Suggested donation $7

Square Roots Festival
This fest gives you lots of reasons to twist and shout. From singing along with Wiggleworms to a drum circle, this fest is perfect for families that love tunes. The instrument petting zoo is always a hit with curious kids and parents love checking out some of the best craft beers in the area. Bring a bathing suit or a change of clothes so that your kiddo can enjoy the splash pad at nearby Welles Park.

Jul. 13-15; Fri., 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sat., noon-10 p.m.; Sun., noon-9 p.m.; Family Fun days Sat. & Sun. starting at noon
Lincoln Ave., between Montrose Ave. & Wilson Ave., Lincoln Square
Cost: Suggested donation, $10/adults, $5/seniors & kids, $20/families

Southport_020 copyphoto: Summer on Southport / Raney Images

Southport Art Festival
A favorite of many families, Southport Art Festival brings old-fashioned fun to the Southport Corridor. When a street boasts about multiple kid-friendly restaurants and two ice cream shops, you know you’re in for a good time. Throughout the day, kids can enjoy interactive games and activities that make for an unforgettable time.

Jul. 14 & 15; Sat., 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Southport Ave. & Waveland Ave., Lakeview
Cost: Suggested donation of $5

Sheffield Music Festival & Garden Walk
Formerly known as the Sheffield Garden Walk, this fest expanded its focus from garden tours to music stages. The Kids’ Corner combines garden-inspired crafts with kid favorites like a petting zoo and rides, and event a talent show Saturday 3 p.m.-5 p.m. Admission to The Kids’ Corner is free, but each attraction is fee-based. Our tip: Leave the car at home and take the El; parking is at a premium at this fest.


Jul. 21-22; Sat. & Sun., noon-10 p.m.; Kids Corner operating Sat. & Sun., noon-7 p.m.
Kenmore St., between Webster St. & Belden Ave., Lincoln Park
Cost: Suggested donation $10

Fiesta del Sol
Get a taste of Mexico at the largest Latino Festival in the Midwest. Put together by the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council, the fest draws people to the Pilsen neighborhood and raises money to provide scholarships to local youth. The children’s area encourages educational activities through read-aloud sessions, book sales and educational games. Face painting, art displays by local and national artists (including kids!) rounds out the fest and may inspire your little ones to get creative.

Jul. 26-29; Thurs., 5–10 p.m.: Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m.–11 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
1400 W. Cermak St., Pilsen
Cost: Free

Wicker Park Fest
Wicker Park is one of the city’s most kid-friendly neighborhoods and it shows with this fest. Kids Fest is a fest-within-a-fest that provides lots of fun-filled children’s activities throughout the weekend, including cooking and karate lessons, inflatables, face painting, carnival games, nail painting, science activities and an impressive lineup of children’s musicians.

Jul. 27-29, Fri., 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Sat. & Sun., noon-10 p.m.; Kids Fest, noon-6 p.m.
Damen, between North & Schiller, Wicker Park
Cost: Suggested donation $10

TOLA-kids-artphoto: Taste of Lincoln Avenue

Taste of Lincoln Avenue
This popular fest sprawls over several city blocks in the heart of Lincoln Park and has so many attractions, including 250-plus vendors, food and more than 35 acts on three music stages. Afternoons include a stand-alone free Kids’ Carnival on Altgeld Street, featuring art activities, pony rides and more.

Jul. 28 & 29; Sat. & Sun., noon-10 p.m.; Kids Carnival, Sat., & Sun., noon-6 p.m.
Lincoln Ave. & Fullerton Ave., Lincoln Park
Cost: Suggested donation $10 benefits the Wrightwood Neighbors Association; kids carnival is free if you enter on Halsted (rides cost extra)

Jeff Fest
Jefferson Memorial Park plays host to a three-day art and music fest known for cutting edge local and national acts across all genres. The festival takes place on the grounds of Jefferson Memorial Park with two stages and a designated Kid’s Zone where they can listen to family-friendly performances and get their faces painted, jump around in bounce houses, ride ponies and more.

Aug. 3-5; Fri., 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.-9 p.m.
Jefferson Memorial Park
4822 N. Long, Jefferson Park
Cost: $5/person; Free for children under 12 and those named Jeff!

RetroRoscoe_043 copy (1)photo: Retro on Roscoe / Raney Images

Retro on Roscoe
A local favorite because of its family area, Retro on Roscoe fences off its kids’ area from the rest of the fest so you can relax while your little ones rock out to bands on the family stage, bounce in inflatables or create artistic masterpieces. Car and motorcycle fanatics love the classic cars at every turn, and the ‘80s music from six stages is the perfect beat for taking it all in.

Aug. 10-12; Fri., 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Sat. & Sun., noon-10 p.m.
Roscoe St. & Damen Ave., Roscoe Village
Cost: Suggested donation $10

photo: Pilsen Fest

Pilsen Fest
In its 8th year, Pilsen Fest returns with a one village, one sound objective that celebrates and embraces diversity, solidarity and unity. This growing, high-energy music and arts fest reflects the community spirit and creative drive of its eclectic neighborhood. Attendees will be treated to the deep pool of cultural talent that exists in Pilsen and neighboring communities with a blend of live music, food, art, children’s activities and handcrafted goods aimed at highlighting the neighborhood’s Latino heritage.

Aug. 18 & 19; noon-10 p.m.
Blue Island, from 18th St. to 21st St., Pilsen


Homewood Rail Fest
Hey train enthusiasts, check out the Homewood Rail Fest, a train-focused fest that has something for every rail lover (and their families). Explore one-of-a-kind collections of antique trains, train memorabilia, intricate train layouts and kids can participate in train-themed crafts.

May 19; 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
H-F Park District Auditorium
2010 Chestnut Rd., Homewood

railroad-dazephoto: Franklin Park Railroad Daze

Franklin Park Railroad Daze
Franklin Park Railroad Daze is one heck of a choo-choo extravaganza. Explore the interiors of over a dozen trains and check out some classic train memorabilia. Kids can take mini train rides and everyone can enjoy a carnival, live entertainment and food at this train-tastic fest.

Jun. 7-10; train viewing on Sat., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Tower Park
Calwagner St. & Franklin Ave., Franklin Park
Cost: Free but ticket purchase required for rides

Evanston Custer Fair
The Piccolo Theatre leads the organization of this festival so it’s full of surprises at every turn . . . literally! In the past, there have been fire-eaters, comedy troupes and puppet shows throughout. Take the little ones to Eiden Park for the kids’ area with balloon art, story telling, face painting and more. Leave the car at home and take Metra or the El; both stop right at the entrance to the fest.

Jun. 16 & 17, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Custer Ave. & Main St., Evanston
Cost: Free

geneva-swedish-days-credit-kelly-vanderploegphoto: Geneva Swedish Days

Geneva Swedish Days
This classic ode to summer has kid’s events for six straight days. Live music, carnival rides, 5K and tent with everything Swedish are just a few of the can’t-miss activities at this Swedish-inspired fest.

Jun. 19-24
Main St. & First St., Geneva
Cost: Free (cost for some activities)

eyes-skiesphoto: Lisle Eyes to the Skies

Lisle Eyes to the Skies
Here’s your chance to see a hot air balloon up close — or even ride in one! Hot air balloons rise up daily, and tethered balloon rides are available in between. There’s also a carnival and a children’s area with LEGO building, martial arts and dance performances, storytelling, music, games and animal shows. Fireworks that end the festivities every night round out this spectacle.

Jun. 29-Jul. 1; 6 a.m. & 6 p.m. balloon launches
1825 Short St., Lisle
Cost: $8 (children under 6 free); purchase tickets to ride carnival rides

Naperville Ribfest
There’s a reason why this annual, finger-licking extravaganza of BBQ is so popular: Grillers come from all over the country to dish their ‘cue and compete for the festival title and the music lineup is always impressive: Steven Tyler, Melissa Ethridge, Stray Cats, Jake Owen and Pitbull all take to the stage this year. The Family Area is a fest unto itself with a petting zoo, magic shows, inflatables and more.

Jul. 4-7
Knoch Park
West St. & Martin Ave., Naperville
Cost: $15 for a family fun carnival bracelet good for noon-3 p.m. daily

Downtown Tinley Block Party: 125 Amplified
Tinley Park’s annual block party features live music, food and free family fun, including a bean bag tournament, rides and inflatables, KidZone activities and a classic car show.

Jul. 15, noon-7 p.m.
Oak Park Ave., from 171st St. to Hickory St., Tinley Park
Cost: Free

Port Clinton Art Festival/Taste of Highland Park
Little artists will love this fest where they can gaze at artistic wonders (some by budding artists in the dedicated kids’ gallery) and also create their own art. Sample food by some of the area’s best chefs at the Taste of Highland Park, too!

Aug. 25 & 26, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Port Clinton Square
1st St. & 2nd St., Highland Park
Cost: Free

Did we miss one of your favorite family festivals? Let us know in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers & Jen Peterson