Chicago events, festivals, things to do – May 2018

May 2018
best events in Chicago

Films about Palestine

May 1 - 3, 2018 (begins April 21)

0.5 mile SW

The Chicago Palestine Film Festival exhibits and promotes films by Palestinian directors as well as films about Palestine at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Cinco de Mayo dance

May 4, 2018

4.6 miles NW

Cinco de Mayo Dance Party is a beginner salsa dance class for singles and couples with Mexican refreshments at Duet Dance Studio for age 21+. You can bring your own alcohol.

Film festival

May 4 - 10, 2018

6 miles north

Billed as the first film festival to be created and curated entirely by film critics, Chicago Critics Film Festival is held at the Music Box Theatre.
CityPass Chicago

Polish parade

May 5, 2018

1.3 mile south

Polish Constitution Day Parade celebrates ratification of the Polish constitution in 1791 and is billed as the biggest Polish parade outside Poland, on S. Columbus Drive (from Balbo Street to Monroe Street). Free.

Kids’ kite festival

May 5, 2018

6 miles north

Children can fly free paper kites, run around outdoors, get their faces painted, and do crafts at Chicago Kids and Kites Festival at Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park. Free.

Hobbies on display

May 5, 2018

8.2 miles NW

Share creative hobbies and ingenious do-it-yourself projects at the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire at Carl Schurz High School. Free.

Beer festival

May 5, 2018

33 miles NW

A ticket to Ballpark Brew Fest includes 25 samples of beer (3 ounces) from 50 breweries, with food for sale at Schaumburg Boomers Stadium.

Elmhurst Art in the Park

May 5 - 6, 2018

17 miles west

Art in Wilder Park is a juried show of fine art, craft, and design, which is held rain or shine in Elmhurst. Free.

Urban arts festival

May 11, 2018

1 mile south

Manifest is a full day of student art, poetry, music, and culture in and around Columbia College. Free.

Small art fair

May 12, 2018

16 miles NW

Arts & Crafts Adventure is a friendly juried show at Hodges Park in Park Ridge. Repeats in Sept. Free.

Meet the authors

May 12 - 20, 2018

13 miles north

Evanston Literary Festival includes a dozen author readings and workshops on its schedule. Free.

Mother’s Day restaurants

May 13, 2018

Chicago locations

OpenTable lists restaurants that offer special brunch, lunch, and dinner menus on Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day house walk

May 13, 2018

12 miles north

Tour five historic homes, two coach houses, the Dawes House, and Levere Memorial Temple on the annual Mother’s Day Housewalk in North Evanston.

Mother’s Day garden brunch

May 13, 2018

24 miles north

Treat Mom to an elegant Mother’s Day Brunch followed by a walk through the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

Wine in the garden

May 17, 2018 (6 to 8 p.m.)

24 miles north

Try wines from eight wineries and light fare at Grapevines & Wines in McGinley Pavilion at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe for age 21+.

Antiques show

May 17 - 20, 2018

1 mile west

The Chicago Antiques + Art + Design Show promises 100 vendors of fine antiques and decorative & fine arts at Chicago Merchandise Mart.

German party

May 18, 2018 (7:30 p.m.)

7 miles north

Celebrate spring and the arrival of Maifest at the Stammtisch Open Haus with traditional white asparagus and Maibock beer at Dank Haus. Free admission, with food and drinks for sale.

Small press festival

May 18 - 19, 2018

2.5 miles west

A zine is a cheap, self-published, underground publication. Chicago Zine Fest offers panel discussions Friday, plus exhibitions by 200 writers, artists, and publishers Saturday on the Near West Side. Free.


May 18 - 20, 2018

5 miles NW

Mayfest features bands in a giant tent, festival food, pretzels, and beer at 3100 N Ashland Ave. Saturday includes a kids’ day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Anime convention

May 18 - 20, 2018

16 mile NW

Anime Central (ACen) is billed as the largest Midwest anime, manga, and Japanese popular culture convention, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare and the convention center in Rosemont.

Architectural tour

May 19, 2018

Greater Chicago area

Tour innovative homes and buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on the Wright Plus Housewalk.

Running music festival

May 19, 2018

2.7 miles south

Night Nation Run is a 5K run/walk to multiple stages that have EDM dance music, lights, lasers, and glow sticks at Soldier Field.

Baseball pub crawl

May 19, 2018

5 miles north

TBOX Baseball Bar Crawl is a baseball-themed pub crawl starting at Murphy’s Bleachers. You get a T-shirt printed with a baseball field, and then cover the bases with stickers from bars you visit.

Street fair

May 19, 2018

10 miles west

What’s Blooming on Harrison offers arts and crafts, artist demos, live music, and dance in Oak Park. Free.

Wine tasting

May 19 - 20, 2018

4 miles north

Taste 80 wines at Lincoln Park Wine Festival, which has tented wine and food pavilions, live music, and crafts at Jonquil Playlot Park.

Riverside Arts Weekend

May 19 - 20, 2018

12 miles SW

Riverside Arts Weekend (RAW) has a juried arts fair with live music, a children’s corner, and a food court at Guthrie Park in Riverside. Free.

International festival

May 19 - 20, 2018

15 miles NW

Experience ethnic folk music and dance, exotic food, unique arts and crafts, international children’s games, beer tasting, a bazaar, and cultural exhibits at the Skokie Festival of Cultures in Oakton Park. Free.

Civil War event

May 19 - 20, 2018

33 miles west

See a Civil War encampment, meet actors in costume, watch a battle at 2:30 p.m., buy food, and shop from vendors during Civil War Days at Naper Settlement.

Wine tasting

May 20, 2018

9 miles north

Andersonville Wine Walk has two different routes with a dozen retail shops serving wine to adults.

Elmhurst Museum Day

May 20, 2018

19 miles west

Elmhurst Museum Day includes the museums of art, history, and minerals, plus the plant conservatory, with a free trolley connecting them all. Free.

Rhubarb Festival

May 20, 2018

62 miles south

The Rhubarb Festival features rhubarb and strawberry pies and jams, a baking contest, kids’ games, and historic tours at Kankakee County Museum. Free entry.

Puppet show for grown ups

May 24 - June 30, 2018

26 miles NW

Humans and puppets live on Avenue Q in a shabby neighborhood, entertaining mature audiences with sassy songs and funny antics at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights.

Discount tickets $20.

Mexican food festival

May 25 - 27, 2018

5.2 miles SW

Mole de Mayo features “mole” and other foods, a crafts market, two stages of entertainment, and a wrestling ring in historic Pilsen (at Ashland & 18th Street).


May 25 - 27, 2018

23 miles west

Billed as the state’s largest BBQ competition, Red, White, and Bar-B-Q has live music, craft vendors, a carnival, beer tent, and barbecue in Westmont. Free.

Big music festival near Peoria

May 25 - 27, 2018

144 miles SW

Summer Camp Music Festival typically attracts 20,000 fans watching 100 bands on 7 stages in Chillicothe.

Irish festival

May 25 - 28, 2018

26 miles south

Chicago Gaelic Park Irish Fest offers music, theater, storytelling, dancing, and family entertainment on five stages, and free carnival rides in Oak Forest.

Memorial Day Parade

May 26, 2018

0.5 mile SW

A wreath laying ceremony is 11 a.m. at the Eternal Flame on Daley Plaza. The Memorial Day Parade at noon has high-school marching bands, drum and bugle corps, veterans’ groups, and active duty military on State Street (from Lake to Van Buren). Free.

Belmont-Sheffield music fest

May 26 - 27, 2018

5 miles north

Celebrate Memorial Day weekend with local bands, food, drink, and street vendors at the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival on N. Sheffield Avenue (from Belmont to Roscoe). Donation.

Art fair in Barrington

May 26 - 27, 2018

38 miles NW

Barrington Art Festival features 130 juried artists, live music, food, and children’s activities. Free.

St. Charles art show

May 26 - 27, 2018

45 miles west

St. Charles Fine Art Show is billed as an award-winning show by 100 juried artists with live music in downtown St. Charles. Free.

Spectacular bike ride

May 27, 2018

1 mile south

Register to ride your bike on 15-mile Lake Shore Drive when it closes to vehicles during Bike the Drive, and join the after festival until noon at Butler Field.

Art festival in homes

May 2018 (undated)

Chicago locations

Chicago Home Theater Festival transforms 10 homes into neighborhood sites for art, performances, and films. It has a pre-party and a closing-night event.

Bach festival

May 2018 (undated)

Chicago locations

Bach Week Festival is a series of three classical music concerts in North Chicago and Evanston.

Craft beer week

May 2018 (undated)

Chicago locations

Chicago Craft Beer Week features hundreds of craft beer events in the greater Chicago area, from special tastings of rare beers to beer dinners. It’s sponsored by the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild.

BBQ tasting

May 2018 (undated)

0.5 miles south

A ticket to Smokin’ Pork In The Park gets you unlimited baby back ribs from competitors, plus macaroni & cheese, cornbread, and coleslaw outside the Park Grill.

Beer & music fest

May 2018 (undated)

0.5 miles west

Local Brews Local Grooves features craft beer from 18 breweries and 10 bands on two stages at House of Blues for age 21+.

Short play festival

May 2018 (undated)

0.5 miles west

See dozens of locally written short plays at The One Minute Play Festival at The Den Theatre.

Battle of the Bands

May 2018 (undated)

0.8 miles NW

Arrive early to see four local bands compete in Battle of the Bands at the Hard Rock Cafe for all ages. Free.

Science talks

May 2018 (undated)

1 mile west

Hear eight experts talk about the science of cannabis, sleep research, gene therapy, prosthetics, and more at Chicago Science Fest, with exhibits about solar power, electric cars, and edible bugs at the Merchandise Mart.

Tasting event

May 2018 (undated)

1.7 miles west

The Chicago Tribune Dining Awards promise you a taste of “Chicago’s best restaurants, food trucks, and breweries” at Venue One.

Chicago Beer Classic

May 2018 (undated)

2 miles south

Chicago Beer Classic has hundreds of beers, food vendors, and seminars on the grass at Soldier Field for age 21+.

Dog walk

May 2018 (undated)

2.5 miles south

Walk a 5K along the lakefront with your dog during Bark in the Park, followed by games and activities on the green near Soldier Field.

Food trucks at the zoo

May 2018 (undated)

2.5 miles north

The Food Truck Social features dozens of trucks selling food and beverages, activities, live music, and an opportunity to wander Lincoln Park Zoo after hours.

Art party

May 2018 (undated)

4.4 miles SW

The Crystal Ball is a “colorful event” that includes food, drink, art, live music, performances, workshops, a silent auction to support artists, and an after-party at Chicago Art Department in Pilsen.

Beer at the conservatory

May 2018 (undated)

5 miles west

Enjoy craft beer and food trucks at Beer under Glass indoors and outdoors at Garfield Park Conservatory.

Cinco de Mayo

May 2018 (undated)

15.4 miles SW

Viva Cinco De Mayo Festival has live music, food, arts & crafts, a carnival, and family activities outdoors at Toyota Park.

Lilac festival

May 2018 (undated)

27 miles west

Enjoy lilac-themed events at Lilac Time in Lombard, including concerts, plant sales, tours, a formal ball, a stroll through Lilacia Park, beer and wine tasting, 5K, and an art & craft fair.

Alternative-rock concert

May 2018 (undated)

31.8 miles south

PIQNIQ is an all-star lineup of alternative-rock bands headlined by English synth-pop band “The 1975” at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park.

Doggie dash

May 2018 (undated)

37 miles NW

Dash for the Dogs is a 5K run/walk and a one-mile family walk, followed by awards and food to benefit Animal House Shelter in Barrington.

Mother’s Day Brunch - zoo

May 2018 (undated)

14 miles SW

Make a reservation for a champagne Mother’s Day Brunch at the Brookfield Zoo.

Mediterranean wine

May 2018 (undated)

2 miles SW

The Greek & Mediterranean Wine Festival promises European wine, food from Greek restaurants, Greek bands, dancers, and DJs on Halsted Street (from Van Buren to Jackson).