Summertime in Chicagoland is excellent no matter how you spend it, but we can’t wait for the gradual return of something we were robbed of in 2020: outdoor festivals and events. You’ve seen the headlines — dates, locations, and formats have changed as event planners scramble to get it all together, but the bottom line is that as vaccination rates continue to climb, outdoor fun will be had this summer. Here are six confirmed events to mark on your calendar.
June 16-20: Rotary Fest, Elk Grove Village
One of the first major events of summer kicks off on the weekend of Father’s Day. Rotary Fest features a classic carnival atmosphere with funds going toward the Elk Grove Rotary Club. Admission and parking are free and attendees will just pay one price for all carnival rides. Live music will be featured on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. A car show that typically accompanies this event has been cancelled for this year.
June 24-27: Swedish Days, Geneva
Known as “The Granddaddy of Illinois Festivals,” Swedish Days is back, with some modifications. A parade and craft show that are normally main features of this festival will not take place this year. However, many live music events and a new Chocolate Crawl are planned. Most details are still to be announced but we do know that a breakfast at the Geneva Golf Club will kick things off on June 24, Kids’ Day will be June 25, and the Chocolate Crawl will be on June 27. Keep checking this page for the latest details as they are released.
July through October: Ravinia Festival, Highland Park
Many were thrilled to hear of the 2021 return of Ravinia, which organizers said had not had to remain closed for a season since the Great Depression. The modified schedule for this year kicks off in July and continues for six weeks. Make sure to get your tickets early because while the spacious open-air venue is relatively pandemic-friendly, it remains restricted to limited capacity. Ravinia donors of various levels will get access to presales ahead of the general public.
July 1-4: Ribfest, Romeoville
The meats are back. The crowds are pleased. Tickets have not yet been released for Ribfest, which is being held in Romeoville’s Deer Crossing Park rather than Naperville for the first time, but you’ll want to snag them quickly once they are. Ribfest is known for a great selection of musical artists as well, and the lineup will be announced soon. Some announced headliners from the cancelled 2020 show are expected to be in the mix for this year. Remote shuttles Proceeds support child abuse and domestic violence prevention through the Exchange Club of Naperville.
July 4: Independence Day fireworks, many locations
Independence Day fireworks are a quintessential summer experience. With plans subdued last year, they’ll be a welcome sight this year. You may need to get a little creative if your hometown still isn’t planning anything, but luckily an increasing number of suburbs are. Find one near you on a live-updating list here.
July 13-18: Festival of the Lakes, Hammond
If you haven’t yet been to one of Northwest Indiana’s biggest events, this year is the perfect time. Festival of the Lakes is a go for 2021 at Wolf Lake Memorial Park right off I-90. All kinds of events are already planned including a golf scramble, fishing derby, fireworks, kids’ activities, and musical acts with more to be announced, but one headliner is already attracting attention: REO Speedwagon, playing on Friday, July 16. There will also be a classic array of carnival games and rides.