Chicago events, festivals, things to do – September 2018

September 2018
best events in Chicago

Jazz festival

September 1 - 2, 2018 (starts Aug. 30)

0.5 miles south

The Chicago Jazz Festival is Labor Day weekend at Millennium Park. No dogs. Free.

North Coast Music Festival

September 1 - 2, 2018 (starts Aug. 31)

2 miles west

North Coast Music Festival [website has sound] is an all-ages music fest that ranges from hip-hop to electronic to indie rock in Union Park on Labor Day weekend.

Oak Brook art fair

September 1 - 2, 2018

19 miles west

The Fine Art Festival features art, artists in action, and music in Oak Brook. Repeats in May. Free.
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African festival

September 1 - 3, 2018 (starts Aug. 31)

7.9 miles south

African Festival of the Arts celebrates African art, crafts, drumming, food, and entertainment at a festival Labor Day weekend in Washington Park.

Polish festival

September 1 - 3, 2018 (starts Aug. 31)

10 miles NW

Taste of Polonia has 30 bands on four stages, food (polska kielbasa, potato pancakes, pierogi, and beer), exhibitors, and carnival rides in Jefferson Park.

Naperville festival

September 1 - 3, 2018 (starts Aug. 31)

34 miles west

Naperville Last Fling is a family event with carnival rides, a children’s area, music stages, food vendors, a 5K, and a parade (Monday 10 a.m.) over Labor Day weekend at Naperville’s Riverwalk Park.

Renaissance fair

September 1 - 3, 2018 (begins July 7)

49 miles north

Watch knights joust, shop an artisan market, mingle with costumed minstrels, play games, and attend shows at Bristol Renaissance Faire in 16th century England (also known as Kenosha, WI).

Yoga festival

September 1 - 3, 2018 (starts Aug. 30)

76 miles west

Sukhava Bodhe Yoga & Music Festival includes yoga classes, music, drumming, chanting, meditation, camping, and fireside ceremonies at Stonehouse Farm in Paw Paw. Kids are welcome but not pets.

Free science museum

September 4 - 27, 2018 (Monday to Thursday)

8 miles south

Show Illinois ID to enter the Museum of Science and Industry free during Free Days. The museum is not free on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, or Feb. 19.

Country fair

September 5 - 9, 2018

62 miles SW

Head to the Sandwich Fair for carnival games, fair food, grandstand shows, and farm animals.

Opera in the park

September 7, 2018

0.5 mile south

Spectacular singing and orchestral music await you at Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park, which invites you to pack a picnic basket. Free.

Wine festival

September 7 - 8, 2018

1 mile south

Sample more than 300 wines at the outdoor Windy City Wine Festival near Buckingham Fountain.

German festival & parade

September 7 - 9, 2018

9 miles north

Chicago German-American Oktoberfest has German music, culture, beer, and food at Lincoln Square (Western Avenue & Leland Avenue). The Steuben Parade is Saturday at 2 p.m. Free.

Mexican independence festival

September 7 - 9, 2018

9.6 miles SW

Thousands attend Festival de La Villita for authentic Mexican cuisine, music, artisans, carnival rides, and family entertainment at 26th Street and Kostner Avenue. Free.

Northwest neighborhood festival

September 7 - 9, 2018

11.8 miles NW

Hear retro tunes at Throwback Music Festival, which also offers arts & crafts, kids’ activities, beverage tents, and classic cars (Sun. afternoon) in Gladstone Park at Milwaukee & Peterson Avenues. Donation $5.

World Music Festival

September 7 - 23, 2018

Chicago locations

World Music Festival Chicago features artists and ensembles from all over the world. No shows on Monday & Tuesday. Free.

Forest Park Ribfest

September 8, 2018

11 miles west

Hear live music, eat great food, visit the beverage tent, and enjoy children’s activities at Ribfest at 7824 Madison Street in Forest Park. For the entertainment schedule, see the poster. Free admission.

Waukegan air show

September 8, 2018

41 miles north

Bring your own chairs to watch planes on the ground and in the air at Wings over Waukegan, with food and non-alcoholic drinks for sale. Wear sunscreen. No pets.

Ukrainian festival

September 8 - 9, 2018

3.6 miles west

Ukrainian Village Fest offers folk dance, music, food (potato pancakes, borsch, pierogi, kabobs, blintzes), beer, wine, and a kids’ area at Superior St. & Oakley.

Bourbon & BBQ

September 8 - 9, 2018

6.6 miles NW

Chicago Bourbon & Barbecue Fest features two music stages, nine barbecue kitchens, a bourbon tasting pavilion, and vendor booths filling the streets at Damen Avenue & Roscoe Street. Donation.

Family festival

September 8 - 9, 2018

11 miles south

The 79th Street Renaissance Festival in Auburn Gresham is a community festival with entertainment, food vendors, a marketplace, and a large kids’ corner on 79th Street (from Racine to Loomis). Free.

Revolutionary War

September 8 - 9, 2018

27 miles west

Get a feel for camp life, experience a battle, and enjoy colonial sights and sounds at the Revolutionary War Reenactment at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Free except parking.

Race at the zoo

September 9, 2018

14 miles SW

ZooRunRun includes a timed 5K and a 1-mile kids’ dash entirely within Brookfield Zoo.

Kite festival

September 9, 2018

68 miles west

Bring a chair or blanket to DeKalb Kite Fest to watch giant inflatable kites, dancing kites, and fighting kites, with free kite making and a candy drop for kids, plus kites for sale at Lucinda Avenue and Kishwaukee Drive in DeKalb. Free except parking.

Oak Park “Oaktoberfest”

September 14 - 15, 2018

9 miles west

Enjoy music, craft beer, wine, pulled pork sandwiches, corn on the cob, bratwurst, and a kids’ root beer garden at Oaktoberfest in Oak Park. Bring cash. Free.

Rock festival

September 14 - 16, 2018

7 miles SW

Riot Fest is a huge outdoor punk, rock, and alternative music festival plus a carnival at Douglas Park for all ages. Read the FAQ about allowed items. No re-entry.

Small art fair

September 15, 2018

16 miles NW

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

Suburban Oktoberfest

September 15, 2018

20 miles north

St. Joseph Oktoberfest has a free antiques market 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a free family festival with games 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For age 21+ also add a beer festival with food trucks 12 to 4 p.m., and a German dinner & beer garden with music 6 to 11:30 p.m. in Wilmette.

Taco festival

September 15 - 16, 2018

5 miles north

Try tacos from a dozen restaurants and vote for the best, taste beer, hear live music on two stages, visit the kids’ area, and watch Mexican wrestlers at Taco Fest on Southport Avenue (from Addison to Roscoe). Donation $10.

Ravenswood Art Walk

September 15 - 16, 2018

7 miles north

Visit 300 artists in tents and shops along Ravenswood Avenue during Ravenswood ArtWalk. Nearby, RAW Street Fest has music stages, food trucks, a beer garden, artists, and kids’ activities. Donation.

Women’s expo

September 15 - 16, 2018

17 miles NW

Hear celebrity speakers, watch chef demos, and shop from 600 vendors of beauty and health products at the Chicago Ultimate Women’s Expo [website has sound] in Rosemont convention center.

Naperville art fair

September 15 - 16, 2018

32 miles west

Riverwalk Fine Art Fair is a juried fair with 140 artists at a scenic park in downtown Naperville. Free.

Dog fashion show

September 20, 2018

0.7 miles north

A $175 ticket to Haute Dog includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a fall fashion show featuring dogs and their owners, a silent auction, a speaker, and a look at canine companion puppies at The Peninsula. No pets.

Gay film festival

September 20 - 27, 2018

Chicago locations

Reeling is Chicago’s LGBTQ International Film Festival.

Craft expo

September 21 - 23, 2018 (preview Sept. 20)

24 miles north

See 140 artisans exhibiting one-of-a-kind museum quality work at American Craft Exposition at Chicago Botanic Garden.

Dutch festival

September 22, 2018

24 miles SW

Elim Dutch Festival features Dutch food, dance, music, and vendors, plus a kids’ carnival, petting zoo, and train rides at Elim Christian Services in Palos Heights. Free admission.

Hyde Park jazz

September 22 - 23, 2018

8 miles south

Hear 35 jazz performances by top artists indoors and outdoors at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. Free.

Half marathon & 5K

September 23, 2018

9 miles south

The Chicago Half Marathon begins in Jackson Park and goes along scenic Lake Shore Drive. Free to watch.

Fall Dinner Crawl

September 25, 2018 (6 to 9 p.m.)

4 miles NW

Buy tickets for one of the routes, and then get samples from restaurants along the way during Fall Dinner Crawl in Wicker Park and Bucktown.

Small-town Oktoberfest

September 27 - 30, 2018

51 miles south

Manteno Oktoberfest has a beer tent, food, a carnival, live music, a garage sale (Fri. to Sun.), a pet parade (Fri. 6 p.m.), and a lighted parade (Sat. 6:30 p.m.). Schedule. Free.

Hamburger party

September 28, 2018

0.5 miles south

Eat gourmet burgers with beer, wine, and spirits when top chefs compete at the $145 Hamburger Hop on the rooftop of Harris Theater, followed at 9 p.m. by a $59 Late Night Gourmet After Party. Both events age 21+.

Chicago Gourmet

September 28 - 30, 2018

0.5 mile south

Chicago Gourmet offers premium food and wine events, with the main weekend events showcasing hundreds of restaurant chefs, vintners, and breweries in Millennium Park.

St. Alphonsus Oktoberfest

September 28 - 30, 2018

5.5 miles NW

Enjoy beer, bratwurst, pretzels, live music, and arts & crafts at Oktoberfest at St. Alphonsus Church. Kids’ fest on Saturday & Sunday (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Free admission on Sunday. Ticketed craft beer tasting on Friday and Saturday (6 to 9 p.m.).

Neighborhood Oktoberfest

September 28 - 30, 2018 (uncertain)

8 miles NW

St. Benedict’s Oktoberfest features German food, beer, and party bands under tents in St. Benedict’s Courtyard, plus a kids’ carnival. Free entry.

Beer festival - west

September 29, 2018

22 miles west

Villa Park Brewfest offers “exceptional beers from local & regional craft breweries as well as tasty food truck cuisine” at Cortesi Veterans Memorial Park, age 21+.

Lisle Ale Fest

September 29, 2018 (4 to 8 p.m.)

27 miles west

Lisle Ale Fest has 80 American craft beers (including Oktoberfest and pumpkin), live music, and local food.

Edgewater art fair

September 29 - 30, 2018

8 miles north

Edgewater Arts Festival (formerly Edgewater Fall Art Fair) features 100 local artists, 3 stages of live music, food vendors, and a beer garden on Granville Avenue (from Broadway to Sheridan). Donation.

Circus in the park

September 2018 (undated)

Chicago locations

Midnight Circus in the Parks [slow website] is a series of daytime shows on weekends at eight parks, which is perfect for families.

Free museum day

September 2018 (undated)


Get a free ticket for two people to visit one of 30 Illinois museums on Museum Day Live.

Bacon and beer

September 2018 (undated)

0.7 miles SW

Enjoy bacon-inspired tastes from local restaurants, craft beer, music, and interactive games at Bacon and Beer Classic in Daley Plaza.

Art for seniors

September 2018 (undated)

1 mile south

Reflections offers lectures, demonstrations, and free entry for seniors and adult chaperones at Art Institute of Chicago, 159 E. Monroe Street. Register for lunch.

Street festival

September 2018 (undated)

1.4 miles west

Fulton Market Harvest Fest promises “cooking demos, live music, booths from the city’s best restaurants, and family friendly fun” at N. Halsted Street & W. Fulton Market. Children age 10 and younger are free.

Beer festival

September 2018 (undated)

1.6 miles west

Beer Mansion promises “an immersive room-by-room journey through the world of beer, complete with food, live music, games, prizes, and a handful of surprises” at Morgan’s on Fulton. Beer and small bites included.

Jazz at the aquarium

September 2018 (undated)

2 miles south

Hear musicians and vocalists, see views from the terrace, buy cocktails & food, and visit the aquarium at Jazzin’ at the Shedd at Shedd Aquarium.

Beer festival

September 2018 (undated)

2.2 miles west

Würst Music & Beer Fest offers beer, bratwurst, and live music at Randolph and Ogden.

Hispanic family festival

September 2018 (undated)

2.5 miles north

Fiesta Familiar features live music, dance, and family-focused activity stations for art, health, gardening, and science at Lincoln Park Zoo. Free.

Party at the zoo

September 2018 (undated)

2.5 miles north

Check out the animals, hear DJ music, and buy beer, wine, and food during Saturday Night at the Zoo at Lincoln Park Zoo for age 21+.

Craft fair

September 2018 (undated)

3.5 miles NW

Shop from hundreds of artisans and chefs at the Renegade Craft Fair in Wicker Park. Free.

Lakeview East art festival

September 2018 (undated)

4 miles north

Meet 150 juried artists selling paintings, sculpture, photography, furniture, and jewelry at Lakeview East Festival of the Arts, and hear music on 2 stages along Broadway Avenue (Belmont to Hawthorne). Donation.

Nerdy comedy

September 2018 (undated)

5 miles north

If you love comedy about nerdy subjects like Star Trek, Dungeons and Dragons, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Jane Austen, then Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival will keep you laughing at Stage 773.

Short film winners

September 2018 (undated)

6 miles north

See the winning films from Chicago 48 Hour Film Project, which locals made in only two days, at Music Box Theatre.

Apple festival

September 2018 (undated)

7 miles NW

Get some apple pie and cider, listen to local music, and visit the kids’ zone at Apple Fest on Lincoln Avenue (from Lawrence to Eastwood). Donation $5.

Vegan event

September 2018 (undated)

9 miles north

Chicago VeganMania includes samples, speakers, live music, and a food court at the Broadway Armory. (Unlike vegetarians, vegans don’t eat eggs and milk.) Free.

Fringe theater festival

September 2018 (undated)

10 miles NW

See 50 weird and wonderful shows by local theater groups at Chicago Fringe Festival in Jefferson Park. The first day usually has a free preview party.

Indian pow wow

September 2018 (undated)

10.6 miles NW

The American Indian Center of Chicago Powwow features songs, dancing, drumming, arts and crafts, and native foods at the American Indian Center.

Englewood Jazz Festival

September 2018 (undated)

11 miles south

Englewood Jazz Festival features 7 performances plus awards in Hamilton Park (auditorium if it rains). Free.

Beer & wine tasting

September 2018 (undated)

12 miles NW

Taste 50 beers or wines with hors d’oeuvres outdoors, and bid in the silent auction indoors during Stems and Steins at Norwood Park Historical Society for age 21+.

Small-town beer festival

September 2018 (undated)

14.9 miles SW

Sample offerings from local craft breweries, cideries, and distilleries at HopStop, which also has children’s art activities, live music, and food trucks in Riverside.

Hungarian festival

September 2018 (undated)

15 miles NW

Eat traditional dishes like goulash, hear folk music, learn folk dancing, play games, and see films about Hungary at Taste of Hungary in Norridge.

Butterfly festival

September 2018 (undated)

22 miles SW

The Monarch Butterfly Festival has a butterfly tent, live animals, an arts & crafts fair, children’s activities, and food vendors at Lake Katherine Nature Center in Palos Heights.

Ravinia music festival

September 2018 (undated)

23 miles north

See nationally known performers at Ravinia Festival, billed as America’s oldest outdoor music festival at Ravinia Park in Highland Park.

Naperville film festival

September 2018 (undated)

30 miles SW

See a wide variety of films during the Naperville Independent Film Festival, which has two seatings per night at Hollywood Palms Cinema. The theater requires you to buy one food or drink item. Awards on last day.

Oktoberfest in Roselle

September 2018 (undated)

30 miles west

Oktoberfest at Lynfred Winery includes a pig roast, grape stomping, cork tossing, a lederhosen contest, wine for sale, and crowds.

Oktoberfest in Glendale Heights

September 2018 (undated)

32 miles west

Glendale Heights Oktoberfest promises good music, a great beer selection, authentic German food, and friendly service at Camera Park in Glendale Heights.

Scandinavian festival

September 2018 (undated)

46 miles NW

Enjoy food, crafts, and entertainment from Northern Europe at Scandinavian Day Festival in South Elgin at beautiful Vasa Park.

Festival of Lebanon

September 2018 (undated)

24 miles west

Enjoy Lebanese food, beer, wine, music, folk dancing, belly dancing, and kids’ activities at the Lebanese Food Festival at Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Lombard. Donation.

Festival in Schaumburg

September 2018 (undated)

33 miles NW

Septemberfest includes an arts & crafts show, a carnival, lots of live music, a beer & wine tent, the Taste of Schaumburg (Sat. & Sun.), fireworks (Sun. 10 p.m.), and a parade (Mon. 10 a.m. on Summit Drive) at Robert O. Atcher Municipal Center. No pets. Free.