Outdoor shows for the whole family
Family Fun Festival
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Millennium Park, through September 2. 10am–3pm. Free.
The daily festivities, which include Wiggleworms sing-alongs for little kids and a reading circle, can be found in the park’s Chase Promenade North near Michigan Avenue and Washington Street (close to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and Cloud Gate, a.k.a. “The Bean”).
Every day at 1pm, live music and dance take center stage with kindie-rock artists, world-music acts and kid performers. Our picks: the young musicians of the Intonation Music Workshop (August 1); Chic-A-Go-Go’s kitschy dance party (August 13, September 2); Americana tunes by the Dog Patch Ramblers (August 16, 30); and the globally inspired beats of Gypsy Klezmer Project (August 17, 24) and the Polynesian music and dance of Isla Pacifika (August 25, September 1).
As the main fest’s indie rock floods Milwaukee Avenue from North Avenue to Paulina Street, the family area hosts kid-focused arts and crafts, games, a reptile show and more on a calmer stretch of Wood Street from Milwaukee Avenue to Beach Street.
Japanese Taiko drummers open each day with infectious beats, and No Doubt cover band Don’t Speak closes, inviting kids to a ’90s ska stomp led by a Gwen Stefani look-alike.
Wicker Park, July 28, 29. Family area open from noon–6pm. $5 donation benefitting Jonathan Burr Elementary School.
Temporary tattoos, punk-rock ’dos, drum circles, karaoke and great music abound at the monster music fest’s zone for families. The breezy tree-lined locale just north of Balbo Avenue makes it a favorite retreat for sun-soaked adults, too.
Local faves such as Laura Doherty are joined by bigger touring acts such as Dan Zanes and the Verve Pipe. Each year, a special guest appearance by Lolla founder Perry Farrell has rockers of all ages waiting with baited breath.
Grant Park, August 3–5. The Kidza stage, part of Lollapalooza, is open 11am–5pm. $75–$230, kids 10 and under free.
Rock out (to a reasonable degree) with the wee ones August 7, 14 and 21 in Dawes Park (Sheridan Road at Church Street). On August 9, the fest moves to Twiggs Park (Dodge Avenue at Simpson Street).
North Shore families flock to this free series featuring a lineup of folk, rock, blues and reggae aimed at adults but mellow enough for young ears. We think kids will flip for the buzzy energy of Chicago-based power-pop act Archie Powell & The Exports on August 21. The pastoral park setting provides plenty of room to spread out, wiggle and bounce.
Various locations in Evanston, August 7, 9, 14, 21. 7:30–9pm. Free.
Each year this four-day celebration of African culture and tradition has plenty of fun (and shhh, educational) activities for the whole family when it takes over park grounds at 51st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue.
The fest brings with it a killer and largely kid-friendly musical lineup—last year’s bill included Grammy Award–winner India Arie and funk legend Bootsy Collins—as well as a family pavilion with music, dance and storytelling. The always-popular drum village offers children’s workshops by master drummers Olu Shakoor and Baba Tyehimba Mtu, as well as other interactive music-education sessions rooted in the African tradition.
Washington Park, August 31–September 3. Times TBD. $20 (in advance $15); family admission (2 adults and 4 children): $30.
Every fall, this beloved homegrown venue hosts a party with bands galore. This year, Hideout teams up with the A.V. Club (which previously ran its own fest) to curate the bands playing outside the club’s quirky HQ at 1354 W Wabansia St, in the industrial Goose Island corridor.
This year’s indie-folk-heavy lineup includes favorites such as Iron & Wine and Glen Hansard, as well as soul crooner Lee Fields. It’s the perfect combination of hip-yet-gentle sounds. Many people don’t realize that the Block Party is family-friendly, but it’s even got a Kids’ Corner with arts and crafts.
The Hideout, September 14, 15, 5pm. $40–$50
Wicker Park Fest
Starlight Concert series
African Festival of the Arts
The Hideout Block Party & A.V. Fest