Fourth of July aficionados, take note: Lisle’s Eyes to the Skies gathering encompasses pastimes conventionally found at Independence Day celebrations and pairs them with county fair diversions such as fireworks, carnivals, craft displays, magic shows, temporary tattoo booths and music. The added benefit? Everything is focused around hot-air balloon flights that occur during the day and night.
June 27-July 1, Lisle Community Park, 1825 Short St., Lisle; 630-541-6095 or eyestotheskies.org; free-$5()
Adults who want to pretend they are 12 again, and families with kids cannot go wrong at the Naperville Ribfest. Consider: Mechanical bull riding, big slides, jousting, a Euro bungee and magic shows complement more than a dozen rib vendors and various other concessions. A fireworks display closes out the affair, and myriad acts -- including classic-rock favorites ZZ Top, the Steve Miller Band and Joe Walsh, plus country artist Joe Nichols and jam-band moe. -- provide the tunes.
June 29-July 3, Knoch Park, 724 S. West St., Naperville; 630-779-2702 or ribfest.net; free-$25 (headliner-dependent)()
What happens when cutting-edge music venue Empty Bottle resides in the ‘hood? You get the advantage of having the veteran club book the acts at one of the city’s most intimate street fairs. Emphasizing the local angle -- a majority of food, crafts and services come from the area -- West Fest also caters to wee ones, with a Kid Fest, and brings the noise with a dedicated DJ stage staffed by many Chicago names (Flosstradamus, Derrick Carter, Justin Reed) and a main platform helmed by the Black Lips.
July 7-8, 2000 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-850-9390 or westfestchicago.com; $5()
Trends come and go, but Irish dancing -- fancy dresses, jig shoes and flowing wigs included -- never goes out of style. A reminder that Irish heritage isn’t limited to one day of the year (or to pubs’ overcharging patrons in St. Patrick’s honor), this annual Irving Park institution counts music on no fewer than six stages, a Folk Tent with hands-on demonstrations of Irish instruments, matchmaking events and, yes, dancing courtesy of students from multiple academies and troupes.
July 13-15, 4626 N. Knox Ave.; 773-282-7035 or irishfestchicago.com; free-$15()
It’s the year of the dragon, and to celebrate, a procession of vibrant mythical creatures (as well as some lions) and folk dancers will march through the heart of Chinatown and past a throng of gift shops, restaurants and merchants prepared for the occasion. A special children’s area with a petting zoo, martial-arts demonstrations and live music ensure that the fete doesn’t stop once the parade ends.
July 15, 2200 S. Wentworth Ave.; 312-326-5320; free()
It’s hard to ever go wrong with organization. Dividing attractions into three hubs -- the center location focusing on art exhibitions, music and gourmet food trucks; the south end touting a family activity tent and art market; the north claiming performance art and film screenings -- this Logan Square happening maximizes the space at hand. Promising a “full-blown gallery district” on the street, the celebration also includes handmade goods, Revolution Brewing beer and sangria from Lula Cafe. Yum.
July 20-22, 2600 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-278-4257 or milwaukeeavenueartsfestival.org; free()
This is the one to watch. Taking over for the Old Town School of Folk Music’s Folk and Roots Festival, Square Roots seeks to transform the street festival by retaining an array of world-music artists but spreading out along Lincoln Avenue and collaborating with craft breweries and restaurants. Given the explosion of interest in microbreweries and the move toward higher-quality cuisine, Square Roots could be the model that summer gatherings emulate in the near future.
July 20-22, 4400 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-728-6000 or squareroots.org; $5-$10()
Blue skies, bright sunshine, vibrant flowers, striking designs and peaceful walks seem a natural mix. Which explains why the Sheffield Garden Walk, now in its 44th year, never loses its allure. Self-conducted tours of more than 100 gardens and guided architectural tours of the neighborhood’s four Chicago landmark districts await, as do entertainment by bands such as Gomez and the Ike Reilly Assassination and a kids corner complete with petting zoo.
July 21-22, 1000 W. Webster Ave; 773-929-9255 or sheffieldgardenwalk.com; $7-$10()
The self-professed largest festival in the Midwest doesn’t take place on the North Side. It occurs in Pilsen and involves traditional Latino art, food, crafts and more. Attracting more than a million visitors, the community-minded event incorporates educational booths related to immigrants’ civil rights, health and exercise, and educational opportunities. A soccer tournament, carnival rides and live music (schedule TBA) round out the family-targeted party.
July 26-29, 1400 W. Cermak Road; 312-666-2663 or fiestadelsol.org; free()
Once again, Wicker Park Fest represents a fine alternative for people who either cannot attend or don’t feel like shelling out larger sums for Pitchfork. It’s also geared to parents. Anchored by Cursive, Budos Band, Lucero and the Drums, the indie-skewed music lineup is abetted by new arts installations by Redmoon Theater and Defibrillator Gallery, with the latter contributing large-scale inflatable structures. Highlights of the built-in Kids Fest include face painting, cookie decorating, a bounce house, a nature tent and various performances.
July 28-29, 1600 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-384-2672 or wickerparkbucktown.com/events/festivals; $5()
The hopeful prospect of seeing Olivia Newton-John rear back and deliver an attitude-rich rendition of “You’re the One That I Want” supplies sufficient incentive to hit Halsted Street during the dog days of summer. Add in the Pointer Sisters, Sheena Easton and the all-girl Led Zeppelin tribute group Lez Zeppelin, and the karaoke meter might just explode. No fewer than 400 food, arts and crafts vendors should keep you busy when you’re not rocking out.
Aug. 11-12, 3200 N. Halsted St.; 773-883-0500 or northalsted.com; $8()
Foodies, look no further. Rather than appearing at random spots, more than a dozen food trucks will assemble in one location, tendering goodies ranging from cupcakes to macaroni and cheese. Full details are still being worked out, but the Empty Bottle will book the music and several of Chicago’s better-known chefs will make sporadic appearances to dish special concoctions from “pop-up” trucks.
Aug. 25-26, 1200 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 312-850-9390; $5()
Find all the Labor Day holiday excitement you can handle under one roof. Whether you’re interested in running a race, trying your hand at the dunk tank, taking a whirl on carnival rides, watching a parade, meeting Disney Channel personalities or introducing your children to farm animals, Naperville’s family-first Last Fling has it all. Pat Benatar and Blue Oyster Cult headline the concert lineup.
Aug. 31-Sept. 3, 440 W. Aurora Ave., Naperville; 630-961-4143 or lastfling.org; $TBD()