20 Fourth of July 2012 festivals
These Chicagoland festivals and parades will keep the little patriots busy during daylight hours. Looking for a kid-friendly ka-boom? Don't miss our roundup of area firework displays.
2012 Northwest Fourth-Fest
July 4–8, Wed 4, 11am–11pm. Sears Centre Arena, 5333 Prairie Stone Pkwy, Hoffman Estates (847-781-2610, hoffmanestates.com). Free admission, carnival rides at additional cost.
Reportedly the Northwest Suburbs’ largest Fourth of July celebration, this five-day festival hosted by Elgin, Hanover Park, Hanover Township and Hoffman Estates features a carnival, face painting, a magic show, live music, and a fireworks display each day at 9:30pm. For a little extra fun before the festivities begin, attend the Elgin Parade (Slade and Douglas Aves) or the Hoffman Estates Parade (down Hassell Rd), both at 9am.
4th Fest at Six Flags Great America
Wed 4, 10am–11pm. Six Flags Great America, 542 N Rte 21, Gurnee (847-249-4636, sixflags.com/greatamerica). Included with park admission. $62, kids under 48” tall $42, ages 2 and under free.
Grab a pulled-pork sandwich and a fire-roasted corn on the cob and head to one of the park’s ten stages that feature live entertainment throughout the afternoon, such as the Stuart Winter Band and magician Eric Starkey. Don't miss the championship round of the funnel-eating contest at 2pm or the live wrestling show at 3pm. Then end the day with the firework-packed Glow in the Park parade at 9:30pm.
Antioch Independence Day Celebration
Wed 4, 9am–9pm. Williams Park, 741 Main St, Antioch (847-395-2160, antioch.il.gov). Pay for games with tickets, 20 cents a piece or 25 for $5.
After the Symbols of a Free Nation parade (Main St from Antioch Community High School to Williams Park) at 10:30am, head to the Children’s Fun Fair from 12:00–2:30pm for face painting, a bouncy house and games—everyone will score a prize. New this year: the Mini Olympics where, for a $10 registration fee, kids ages 7 and up compete in contests inspired by the competition’s namesake. Due to extreme heat, fireworks have been canceled.
Frontier Days Festival
July 4–8, Wed 4 from 10am–11pm. Recreation Park, 500 E Miner St, Arlington Heights (847-577-8572, frontierdays.org). Main stage events are free. Carnival ride bracelets $22 each.
This five-day celebration kicks off Independence Day with two parades at 10am; one celebrates 125 years of Arlington Heights (Oakton St and Dunton Ave) and the other is a decorated bike parade for cyclists ages 4–12 (Oakton St and Highland Ave). Don’t miss the free main stage events, $2 pony rides, Frisbee golf, and a Kids Fun Fair from 1–2pm with games for kiddos ages 4–8. All leave with prizes and families can enjoy the rockin’ tunes of Burton Cummings, formerly of the Guess Who, at 7:30pm.
Wed 4, 10am–11pm. Redmond Park, 735 E Jefferson St, Bensenville (312-406-2410, bensenville.il.us). Free.
This is the ideal fest for foodies. You can enjoy some of Bensenville’s best eats, like Mamma Maria’s and Eggroll Crunch, during the July 4th celebrations. The parade embarks at 10am from Town Center (down York Rd) with clowns, dancers, marching bands, and floats. This fest also boasts live music and games all day, pony rides, a petting zoo, a free skate at The Edge Ice Arenas, and magic shows from 2–5pm. Parking at Blackhawk Middle School (250 S Church Rd) and Fenton High School (1000 W Green St) shuttles run from 6–11pm. Fireworks conclude the day at 9:30pm.
CHM Happy Fourth of July Annual Event
Wed 4, 10am–noon. Chicago History Museum, 1601 N Clark St (312-642-4600, chicagohistory.org). Free admission. Illinois residents also receive free museum admission.
At CHM's 53rd annual July Fourth celebration, you can party like it’s 1776 with the fam and “the world’s tallest Uncle Sam” in the morning and still make it home for an afternoon cat nap. Be sure to deck out your history buff in his or her best red, white and blue for the children’s costume parade and enjoy musical performances and a reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Winnetka’s 125th Annual 4th of July Celebration
Wed 4, 10am–10:30pm. Village Green Park, Hibbard and Willow Rds, Winnetka (winpark.org). Free admission.
After the 10am parade (Elm St and Glendale Ave), head over to the Village Green (between Elm and Maple Sts) where medals, ribbons, and bragging rights are up for grabs during foot races for ages 5 and up. There are dashes, relays for parent and child, and even two sack races. The official Fourth Fest festivities start at 6:30pm with plenty of food and attractions—like face-painters, balloonists, moon walks, and a bungee run—to keep any young pyromaniacs occupied until the 9:15pm firework display at Dukes Child Field (Hibbard and Willow Rds). Free buses to the field run every 20-30 minutes between 6:45–10:30pm. Go to winpark.org for routes.
Glencoe 4th of July Celebration
Wed 4, 8am–10pm. Locations vary, Glencoe (glencoeparkdistrict.com). Free admission.
Glencoe Park District is going all out for its 100th anniversary with preschool and family games from 10am–noon at Kalk Park (Park Ave and Green Bay Rd), which include a petting zoo, dunk tank, tattoo station, obstacle course, bouncy houses, egg toss, and more—phew! At 5:30pm move to Glencoe Beach (160 Hazel Ave) for a patriotic treasure hunt, trolley rides, a performance by magician Jeff Bibik at 6:30pm, followed by musical group 28 Days at 7pm and fireworks at 9pm.
Wed 4, 11am–9:30pm. Glenview Park Golf Club, 800 Shermer Rd, Glenview (847-724-5670, warrenville.il.us). Free admission.
This year’s theme at Glenview’s July 4th celebration is “Keeping America Beautiful” in honor of environmental preservation. So come join the eco-friendly minds at the 11am bike parade (Glenview Rd and Church St) for cyclists ages preschool–9. Each kid gets a participation ribbon to show off. Then check out the main parade at 11:30am (starts at 1775 Grove St, going west on Glenview Rd) and the 7:30pm Twilight Concert and Fireworks, featuring a patriotic performance by the 100-piece North Shore Concert Band.
Grant Park Musical Festival
Wed 4, 6:30pm. Jay Pritzker Pavilion, 20 E Randolph St (312-742-7638, grantparkmusicfestival.com). Free.
Grab a picnic and head downtown for a special July Fourth celebration. The Grant Park Orchestra performs patriotic pieces by Gershwin, Copland, Bernstein and more.
Highland Park Fourth of July Celebration
Wed 4, 9:30am. Sunset Park, 1801 Sunset Park, Highland Park (847-926-1004, cityhpil.com). Free admission.
This Fourth bash kicks off with two parades: the Children’s Bike and Pet Parade at 9:30am and the 10am annual Independence Day Parade (Laurel and St. Johns Aves). Following the processions, head to Sunset Park for carnival rides, a petting zoo, pony rides, picnic games, live music, and concession stands. An epic battle of the bands starts at 6pm at Wolters Field (1080 Park Rd), immediately followed by fireworks at dusk.
Hinsdale Independence Day Celebration
Wed 4, 10am–2:30pm. Burlington Park, 19 E Chicago Ave, Hinsdale (630-789-7090, villageofhinsdale.org). Free admission.
The merriment begins at 10am with a parade (6th St and Garfield Ave) and the Arts and Craft Fair featuring more than 100 vendors from 11am–4pm. At the same time is the family festival with free face painting, tabletop carnival games, and inflatables. Another can’t miss event is the turtle racing at 11:30am. Just watch or compete to win one of more than 20 trophies. Will you be the grand turtle racin’ champ?
Lake Forest Festival
Wed 4, 6–10pm. Deerpath Community Park, 400 Hastings Rd, Lake Forest (847-234-6700, friendslfpr.org). Lake Forest/Lake Buff residents $10, non-residents $15, kids 5 and under free.
He brought you the songs “Footloose” and “Danger Zone” and now soft-rock legend Kenny Loggins will headline this July 4th celebration in Lake Forest at 8pm. The field opens at 5pm. Before the main show, catch Sixteen Candles & Blue Sky Riders. Fireworks kick off at 9:35pm.
Lake Zurich Fourth of July Celebration
Wed 4, 9am–10pm. Paulus Park, 200 S Rand Rd, Lake Zurich (847-438-5146, visitlakecounty.org). $2 residents/beach passholders, $7 non-residents. Residents 17 and under and non-residents 3 and under free.
This all-day fest includes live music, children’s games, swimming, inflatable rides, and the Taste of Summer with foods like hot dogs, burgers, pizza, tacos and egg rolls. Wauconda DJ 39 and Holding will be spinning records throughout the day and the fireworks start at approximately 9:15pm.
Mercury Fourth of July Cruise
Wed 4, 8–10:30pm. Chicago River at Michigan Ave and Wacker Dr (312-332-1353, mercuryskylinecruiseline.com). $35 per person.
Mercury cruiselines added two boats to its on-the-lake excursions especially for the Fourth. It will be a late night for tiny tots, so bring your older kiddos and lounge on the Skyline Queen or Chicago’s Fair Lady, where good eats and Navy Pier fireworks abound.
Niles Fourth of July Celebration
Wed 4, 9am–2:30pm. Grennan Heights Park, 8255 Oketo Ave, Niles (847-967-6633, vniles.com). Free admission.
At the Niles Independence Day shindig, a parade kicks off the day (7655 W Dempster St) and ends at Grennan Heights Park, where the real revelry begins. Starting at 10:30am, there will be games, face painting, and pony rides for the tots. The main stage will feature the R-Gang Band from 11am–2:00pm.
Northbrook Fourth of July Celebration
Wed 4, 7am–9:30pm. Village Green Park, Shermer and Meadow Rds, Northbrook (847-291-2960, northbrookjuly4th.org). Free admission.
Start your Independence Day off right with syrupy pancakes at 7am then move on to the live music and family games until 11am. Let your kids ward off the heat with a dive—not literally—into one of the Northbrook Park District’s pools, such as the Northbrook Sports Center Pool (1730 Pfingsten Rd). Dry off during the 2:00pm bike parade or 2:30pm mile-long parade (both begin at Cherry Ln and Western Ave).
Oak Lawn Fourth of July Celebration
Wed 4, 10am–9:30pm. Centennial Park, 93rd St and Nashville Ave, Oak Lawn (oaklawn-il.gov). $5 wristbands for ages 3 and up, parents free, $2 pool admission fee.
The 95th Street Parade blasts off at 10am sharp (51 St westbound on 95th St) and the Star Spangled 4th Family Festival at Centennial Park—featuring a treasure hunt, bingo, obstacle course, inflatable slides, a free play area, pony rides, and kid’s tats—is sure to be a Yankee-Doodle-good-time. Free evening entertainment at Richards High School (106th St and Central Ave) starts at 7:30pm and the fireworks display is at dusk.
Skokie Fourth of July Celebration
Wed 4, 12–9:30pm. Niles West High School, 5701 Oakton St, Skokie (847-674-1500, skokie.org). Free admission.
The Skokie Fourth of July Parade starts at noon (7701 Lincoln Ave to Oakton St)—tumblers, clowns, and vintage autos will forge onward rain or shine. Migrate to Niles West High School at 5pm for the evening activities, including live bands and a 3-D Fireworks Fest at dusk. The first 10,000 patrons receive a free pair of 3-D glasses. To add an extra bang to your Fourth, stop by Aw Yeah Comics (4933 Oakton St) from 12–4pm where comic book artists Art Baltazar, Renee Castellano, and David Gruba will be sketching.
Tinley Park-Park District’s 4th of July
Wed 4, 4–9:30pm. Joe McCarthy Park, 16801 80th Ave, Tinley Park (708-342-4200, tinleyparkdistrict.org). Free admission.
This Fourth festival features games like tug-o-war, sack races, water balloon toss and wacky relays and a penny carnival until 7pm with face painting and glitter tattoos and free helium balloons from clowns Loopy and Cazoo. Cool off with a Sno-Cones and listen to the main stage band, Sugar High, or, for a fun history lesson, check out Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln in the theater presenting "An Evening with the Lincoln's" from 5:15-6:15pm. The merriment ends with a fireworks display at 9:15pm.