When you were BK (before kids), you spent your weekends wandering through summer festivals, glass of wine in hand, bobbing up and down to the sound of an out-of-tune band.
Wipe those tears away. All is not lost now that you have kids in tow. Swap that glass of wine for a bottle of milk—we found some summer festivals that will make you feel right at home with your children.
Printers Row Lit Fest
Kids who can read and those who prefer to nibble their books are welcome at this lit fest, which is fun for all reading levels. Throughout the two-day festival, there will be more than two dozen events for kids and teens, including story times with local authors, panels about reading to children and tiny shows for the tiny set. There’s also face painting, crafts and a whole lot of kids’ books for sale.
Free; June 11-12; Dearborn from Congress to Polk
Square Roots Festival
The Old Town School of Folk Music provides the entertainment, so kids are invited to bang on a drum all day. Seriously. There’s even an interactive rhythmic sound sculpture that’s activated by swings: when your kid swings, the snare bells and sleigh bells play. We can already hear the demands to replicate this in our own backyards. They’ll also have parachute games, a drum circle and a family barn dance. If all that noise stresses you out, you can chill at a Bloom Yoga class, being offered right in the middle of the festival. Smart thinking, Square Roots.
$20 suggested donation per family; July 8-10; Lincoln Avenue between Montrose and Wilson
Southport Art & Music Fest
(Formerly Summer on Southport) You may have remembered this festival’s crazy nightlife scene, where the crowded street is filled with beer-holding couples dancing the evening away. Ahh, youth. But during the day, it’s a lot calmer, and they’ve got a fabulous children’s area with interactive carnival games, a bungee jump and a bounce house. It’s not all about the kids, though. Parents can browse art in all forms at center stage.
$5 suggested donation per person; July 16-17; Southport Avenue from Waveland to Byron
Fiesta del Sol
Head over to the largest Latino festival in the Midwest, where there will be face painting, read-aloud sessions and educational games. The children’s area is great—but the food is the real reason we (and our kids) come back year after year. The churros are as authentic as they get: crispy and hot on the outside, and melt-in-your mouth good on the inside. The tacos are cheap and so much better than what we can find in our local spots, and you can leave without trying their horchata (a sweet rice drink that our kids gulp down like apple juice).
Free; July 28-31; 1400 W. Cermak Road
Taste of Lincoln Avenue
This festival is sprawled over six blocks, and it has more than 250 vendors and more than 30 music acts on three stages. But that probably doesn’t matter to your kids. What matters is that they have pony rides, a petting zoo, art activities, puppets, balloons, a giant slide and children’s entertainment.
$10 per person; Aug. 6-7; Lincoln Avenue between Fullerton and Wrightwood
Danielle Braff lives with her two daughters and husband in downtown Chicago.
See more of Danielle's stories here.
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