Dozens of summer festivals, concerts, events will return to Chicago, Mayor Lightfoot announces

Thursday, May 6, 2021
Summer festivals, concerts, events set to return to Chicago
From the Old Town Art Fair to the Grant Park Music Festival to open-air yoga in Millennium Park, the city outlined dozens of events scheduled to come back to Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday the return of summer events as part the "Open Culture" phase of the city's efforts to reopen.

The announcement came one day after Lightfoot announced the return of the Chicago Auto Show in July as well as the goal of fully reopening the city by July 4.

RELATED: Navy Pier welcoming back visitors as Open Chicago plan loosens restrictions for restaurants, theaters, festivals, more

From the Grant Park Music Festival to open-air yoga in Millennium Park, the city outlined dozens of events scheduled to come back to Chicago over the coming weeks and months.

The last time a concert was held at Pritzker Pavilion was September 2019. And while things may look and feel a bit different than they did back then, the important bits - the music and the people - are about to come back.

WATCH | Mayor Lightfoot announces return of cultural events

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces the return of summer events as the city aims to fully reopen by July 4.

"First to close. Last to open. That's been the fate of too many of our arts and culture music venues. And today I'm happy to announce that is finally starting to change," Lightfoot said.

"We can't wait to safely welcome audiences back this summer to one of the first major live music events at the Pritzker Pavilion since September 2019," said Paul Winberg, Grant Park Music Festival.

An Independence Day celebration concert on July 2 will mark that return. Included in the long list of events announced are: Grant Park Music Festival, Taste of Chicago-To-Go, Old Town Art Fair, Pride in the Park, Printers Row Lit Fest, Chicago SummerDance, Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Chinatown Summer Fair.

"We've all had just a tough year, and I think it brings back some hope to us that we can start to have some joy again," said Anne Giffels, chair of the 2021 Old Town Art Fair.

MORE | View the full list of summer events scheduled in Chicago

City officials also announced a new, month-long citywide music festival called "Chicago In Tune."

"Everyone loves music and this festival will embrace all of our neighborhoods and will embrace all of the genres of music in Chicago from classical to hip hop and jazz," said Mark Kelly, Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Chicago's popular farmers markets, including Maxwell Street, are also returning, along with the Chicago Symphony, the Lyric Opera, Broadway in Chicago and various indoor theatre performances.

"They are the rewards for our persistence over this last year. Your commitment. Your dedication. Your sacrifice," Lightfoot said.

Reservations will be required for some events, including the Grant Park Music Festival and the Old Town Art Fair, which will expand its footprint to accommodate booths 6 feet apart.

"There's so many things that make Chicago great, but having the arts and the culture back just puts that over the top," Giffels said.

The city won't be requiring proof of vaccination to attend these events, but is planning to bring mobile vaccination units to many of them.

WATCH: Legal Analyst Laura Washington discusses Chicago reopening

Legal Analyst Laura Washington discussed Chicago reopening Thursday.

"We'll probably be using Johnson and Johnson for obvious reasons," Lightfoot said. "It's one shot, but we will be advertising the opportunity to be vaccinated on-site."

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is currently reviewing applications for outdoor festivals, street and art/craft fairs and athletic events.

The list will be added onto as more events are approved. The Air & Water Show and Lollapalooza are two of the big ones that are still pending.

Chicago launches concert series for fully-vaccinated residents

On Wednesday morning, the city announced the launch of the Protect Chicago Music Series, a monthly series of music events exclusively for fully COVID-19 vaccinated Chicagoans. It will include a variety of musical events taking place all across Chicago as an incentive and benefit for Chicagoans who receive a COVID-19 vaccine to protect their families, communities and themselves, the mayor's office said in a statement.

The kickoff event will take place on May 22 in Hyde Park. DJ Ron Trent and Duane Powell will perform. The Silverroom is a partner in the first concert.

Attendees must have received the final dose of a two-dose vaccine or a single-dose vaccine two weeks prior to each event to be eligible to attend. Each event will be ticketed, and attendees must also bring their CDC vaccination card as proof of vaccination and matching photo ID. Tickets will be distributed for each event via Eventbrite, designated vaccination sites, and will call.

For the first event, Saturday, May 8 is the last date to receive a single-dose vaccine, or the second dose of a two-dose vaccine, to be eligible to attend. Tickets will be made available first to those who attend a special vaccination event between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at Apostolic Faith Church, 3823 S. Indiana Ave. Anyone who is vaccinated at this event with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be offered a free ticket to attend the May 22 concert. Appointments are preferred, but not required, and can be scheduled at

Individuals who are already fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are also eligible for the music series. Tickets for the May 22 event will be released at noon next Monday when The Silverroom goes live with an Eventbrite RSVP portal at

Additional dates and artists in the Protect Chicago Music Series will be announced in the coming weeks throughout the summer.

Music returns to Millennium Park

The Grant Park Music Festival will return to Millennium Park this summer.

"We're still working out the details of exactly what the capacity is going to be at the Pritzker Pavilion for our concerts this summer, so that's gonna be a little bit different," said Paul Winberg, president and CEO of Grant Park Music Festival. "Another thing that's going to be really different is that even though all of our concerts and events are free, they will require reservation.

He said you will need to reserve a spot online or talk to a patron service representative, either in the seating area or on the Great Lawn.

Visit for more information.

Chicago Auto Show returns to McCormick Place in July

The Chicago auto show's GM gave details on the show's return Wednesday.

The abbreviated Auto Show will take place July 15-19, which is shorter than the normal nine-day run in February, bringing back jobs and an economic boost.

The show will move into Hall F in the West building with 470,000 square feet of indoor space and 100,000 square feet of outdoor space along Indiana Avenue, where test drives will be conducted. There are also plans for a street festival that will feature cars, food and entertainment.

Face masks will be required at all times. There will be contactless delivery for tickets. Temperatures will be scanned and a medical questionnaire must be filled out before entering. A vaccine will not be required.

The show will be smaller, limited to 10,000 people at a time, and shorter, but it is in on nonetheless.

McCormick Place was temporarily turned into an alternative care facility in case hospitals became overwhelmed.