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Chicago Summer Is Back: Concerts, Festivals And More Are Planned After A Year Of COVID Cancellations

The newest changes: bringing back cultural events like Taste of Chicago To-Go, the Maxwell Street Market and concerts at Pritzker Pavilion, among others.

Lollapalooza in 2017.
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CHICAGO — Concerts, festivals and cultural events will return to Chicago this summer as the city reopens, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday.

Lightfoot is pushing for Chicago to be fully reopened by July 4 — and she’s announced baby steps toward that reopening along the way. The newest changes: bringing back cultural events like Taste of Chicago To-Go, the Maxwell Street Market and concerts at Pritzker Pavilion, among others.

Lightfoot announced the return of summer cultural events at a Wednesday news conference.

The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is reviewing applications for outdoor festivals, street and arts and craft fairs and athletic events. Those events will have to follow state safety guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

RELATED: Festivals Are Returning This Summer. Here’s A Peak At What’s Back

Most city-organized events will also have a limited capacity and will require people to register in advance, according to the Mayor’s Office.

And officials are urging people to take safety precautions — like staying socially distant, wearing a mask and getting vaccinated — to slow the spread of COVID-19 and make it safe to reopen.

Here’s what to expect this summer:

Chicago Presents

The city’s events department will provide up to 100 grants for $5,000-$30,000 to cultural programs in the neighborhoods for this summer. Organizers can submit proposals for free live, in-person concerts and events.

The organizers can also pick up to two solo musicians and/or bands from the Chicago Band Roster to perform at their event as part of Chicago Presents. The Band Roster has more than 200 Chicago-based musicians.

Applications for July 1-Aug. 14 events are due by Friday. Information is available online.

Chicago In Tune

This citywide festival will run Aug. 19-Sept. 19, celebrating Chicago’s music scene. There will be free and ticketed events in various neighborhoods, with music of all genres and forms.

As part of the festival, there will be four events at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. All those events will run 5:30-8:30 p.m.:

  • Gospel music: Sept. 3
  • Jazz: Sept. 4
  • House: Sept. 11
  • Blues: Sept. 18

Millennium Park Programs

There will be pop-up music, theater and dance performances throughout the park starting in June.

The 2021 season of the Grant Park Music Festival will run Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays July 2-Aug. 21, with 21 classical music concerts at Pritzker Pavilion.

There will be 10 “genre-defying concerts” Mondays Aug. 2-Sept. 13 and Thursdays Sept. 2-16 for the Millennium Park Summer Music Series.

Pritzker Pavilion

Besides the music events at Pritzker Pavilion, the famed location will host the American Ballet Theatre July 8 and Dance for Life Aug. 26.

There will also be summer workouts July 3-Aug. 28 on the Great Lawn.

SummerDance

SummerDance will return for August and September in various city parks. Dancers of all ages and skills will be able to take dance lessons, and there will be live music and casual dancing. Details will be announced in coming weeks.

RiverWalk

Five large banners will be placed along the Riverwalk near Michigan Avenue in late May. The banners are from artist Andrea Carlson’s “You are on Potawatomi Land” series.

Art on theMART will continue, with light-up designs displayed on Merchandise Mart in the evenings.

The RiverWalk itself is open, and some vendors have begun selling.

Chicago City Markets

City Markets will return, with the first event planned for May 15 on Division Street. Vendors will sell seasonal produce, flowers, prepare food and locally made products, among other wares.

The farmers market at Daley Plaza, the Maxwell Street Market and other city markets in Austin, Bronzeville, Englewood, Pullman, Roseland and West Humboldt Park will return as part of the program, as will dozens of independent markets.

A complete schedule for the market is available online.

Taste Of Chicago To-Go

Taste of Chicago To-Go will return with events in July, August and September. The series features cooking demonstrations, a community meals program and more.

Events And Festivals

The Mayor’s Office released a partial list of events, including festivals, that have already been OK’d and are expected to be held this summer.

  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts will return to the Symphony Center starting May 27.
  • The Hyde Park Art Center’s Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden will run through July 24.
  • Rosa’s Lounge will host host Melvin Taylor & the Slack Band on Friday.
  • The Pivot Arts Festival will host a multi-arts experience May 21-June 5.
  • The South Side Jazz Coalition will host Jazzin’ On the Steps May 23.
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art will host Tuesdays on the Terrace starting June 1.
  • The Old Town Art Fair will be held June 12-13.
  • The Art Institute will host the Obama Portraits June 18-Aug. 15.
  • Pride in the Park will be held June 26-27.
  • Goodman Theatre will reopen “School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls” in August.
  • Court Theatre will perform July 8-Aug. 8.
  • The Southport Art Fair will be held July 10-11.
  • The Smart Museum of Art will host Toward Common Cause July 15-Dec. 19.
  • The Chinatown Summer Fair will be held July 17-18.
  • The Jazz Institute of Chicago’s Latin Jazz Festival will be held July 23-24.
  • The Printers Row Lit Fest will be held Sept. 11-12.
  • The Hyde Park Jazz Festival will be held Sept. 25-26.
  • The Lyric Opera of Chicago will host is 2021-22 season, with an opening night set for Sept. 17.
  • Broadway in Chicago will return with “Six” Oct. 5-Jan. 30.
  • More events will be listed on the city’s website.

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