Not only is Taste of Chicago the Windy City’s biggest event, it has grown to be the world’s largest outdoor food fest, bar none. Getting its start as a modest food festival on the Fourth of July in 1980, the Taste of Chicago has evolved into something of a cultural phenomenon, and one that likely couldn’t have been engendered anywhere in the world but Chicago, with its particular and peculiar reverence for good food and good times.
Now in its 31st year, Taste of Chicago infuses the city with a holiday spirit, annually attracting more than 2.5 million visitors from all over the city, the U.S. and the world. No wonder it has been called “America’s City Picnic.” In that spirit, many other attractions with family appeal have been added to make the event even more inclusive and accommodating.
Grant Park will be party central for the festival. Decorated tents will surround the outside kitchens of more than 59 Chicago restaurants, including a daily upscale restaurant in the Gourmet Pavilion. No one leaves Taste of Chicago with an empty stomach. All concerts and events are free of charge, acts and times subject to change. Limited seating is available for the concerts at Petrillo Music Shell, on a first come, first serve basis. It opens 30 minutes before showtime, so arrive early. The Petrillo Music Shell’s “Jumbotron” makes sitting in the lawn a decent option—you’re allowed to bring chairs.
The five-day festival will be anchored with a performance by local superstar Jennifer Hudson on Wednesday, July 11. Indie-rock band Death Cab for Cutie performs on Thursday, July 12. Legendary Chaka Khan—with opener Raphael Saadiq—takes the stage on Saturday, July 14 and Dierks Bentley closes the festival on Sunday, July 15.
Grant Park—north/south between Monroe Avenue and Balbo Drive, east/west between Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. Come one, come all.