Posted June 26, 2017

5 Midwest Festivals for the Summer


Chicago and Minneapolis go all out when it comes to summer festival season, drinking in any opportunity for activities and outdoors-y events. From artsy music to a barbecue bash, here are five summer festivals to check out this summer in these two Midwestern metropolises.

Country’s biggest stars hit the stage (Photo credit: Windy City Smokeout)

Dragon Festival, Minneapolis: Early July

Considering Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” it makes sense that some of Minneapolis’ best fests are lakeside. One example is the Dragon Festival, a celebration of Asian Pacific culture along the shores of Lake Phalen. Here, attendees partake in the always-popular dragon boat races, where teams of rowers gather in long dragon-shaped boats and paddle across the water. Meanwhile, guests on land can indulge their senses with music, dance parades, martial arts demos and games.

A classic dragon boat glides through the water (Photo credit: Dragon Boat Festival)

Windy City Smokeout, Chicago: Mid-July

Year after year, Chicago’s Windy City Smokeout gets bigger, better and beefier. Considering the vast amount of barbecue, country music and beer, it’s easy to see the crowd-pleasing appeal. The festival is back July 14-16, with a whopping 30 acts set to take the stage with performances from Kip Moore, Jake Owen, the Eli Young Band and more. Come hungry, because this year’s roster includes restaurants from Chicago and across the U.S., including Texas’ famed Salt Lick, Phoenix’s Little Miss BBQ and Atlanta’s Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q. To drink, 45 beers will be poured from 21 different breweries across the country.

A BBQ feast fit for kings and queens (Photo credit: Windy City Smokeout)

Rock the Garden, Minneapolis: July

Combining music, art, food and drinks, it’s no wonder Rock the Garden is acclaimed as one of Minneapolis’ quintessential summer shindigs. Taking place at the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden on July 22, the event runs all afternoon and evening, providing ample time to fuel up on food and booze, while grooving to performers like Bon Iver and Benjamin Booker.

Take to the open air at Rock the Garden (Photo credit: Nate Ryan/Minnesota Public Radio)

Uptown Art Fair, Minneapolis: Early August

Art enthusiasts come to meander Minneapolis’ beloved Uptown Art Fair every year, and rightfully so. The al fresco event brings together a miscellany of artists displaying their wares across a spectrum of mediums, including sculpture, jewelry, mixed media, painting and everything in between. Altogether, more than 350 artists from across the globe will be in attendance, plus a Youth Art Fair, 25 food vendors, beer gardens and musical performances.

Northalsted Market Days, Chicago: Mid-August

The Midwest’s biggest street festival, this two-day spree is a joyous gathering of dancing, singing and eating in Chicago’s colorful Boystown. A celebration of the Midwest’s LGBTQ community, Northalsted Market Days, features three music stages, where performers run the gamut from Gloria Gaynor and Olivia Newton-John to Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue. Local vendors line Halsted Street with food, drink and merchandise as well.

Bringing down the house (Photo credit: Northalsted Market Days)

Where to stay: in Minneapolis, there’s no place like The Kimpton Grand Hotel Minneapolis. In Chicago, you have four Kimpton hotels with Midwest charisma to choose from.


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  1. Jing Zhao says:

    International Festival of Burnsville, 3-9 pm (FREE)

    Jul 15, 2017 3:00 PM – 9:00 PM


    Nicollet Commons Park 

    12600 Nicollet Ave Burnsville, MN 55337


    all ages, families




    Celebrate all corners of the world at the International Festival of Burnsville. There will be a variety of entertainment, food, and festivities. Join in family activities such as face-painting, balloon art, and cultural art projects.

  2. Jackson says:

    Hey…Cool Place! Maybe I’ll Move There!