Between its numerous live music venues, cutting-edge dining and drinking spots, and funky shops, the Bucktown and Wicker Park areas would hardly seem to need much in the way of formal community events. Yet, Chicago’s hippest neighborhoods still manage to roll festivals that further enhance the community’s edgy, eclectic vibe.
Check out these:
Bucktown Arts Fest – Started in 1985 by four neighborhood artists, this free, all-volunteer fest proudly claims to have some of the lowest exhibitor booth fees in the city and is known for collector-friendly prices. Roughly 190 juried artists and more than 30,000 visitors typically attend the fest, which this year is set for Aug. 24-25. After covering expenses, proceeds go to support arts programs at Holstein Park and local schools.
Wicker Park Fest — A self-proclaimed “music-first festival,” this event prides itself on booking up-and-coming indie darlings (curated by legendary Chicago music club Subterranean). More than 50 bands perform on four stages over three days. Beyond the respected musical roster, Wicker Park Fest showcases the character of the area from its acclaimed restaurants to local artists. The 2019 fest is scheduled for July 27-29.
Bucktown Garden Walk and Block Party – There’s live music, a beer garden and food trucks, plus a petting zoo and other children’s programming. But the real stars are the neighborhood gardeners. This annual summer event of the Bucktown Community Organization produces a self-guided walking tour of 95 gardens, along with trolley rides for easier viewing.
Wicker Park Green Music Fest — The dates bounce around from year to year, but since 2009 Green Music Fest has embraced environmentally conscious technologies to stage what is billed as the must sustainable music festival in the world. Its stage is literally pedal-powered by volunteers on stationary bicycles hooked up to amps, spotlights and more. In addition to the music, the festival showcases green vendors and products. Zero-waste, organic and sustainable lifestyles are highlighted. In recent years, fest attendees have been offered trees to adopt and bring home for planting.
Chillfest Chicago — This might be the event that most captures the vibe of the Bucktown/Wicker Park area. Taking place on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30), Chillfest invites you to rock, shop and, of course, chill in many of the neighborhood’s independent shops. Basically, it’s a pop-up acoustic music festival in which more than 60 musicians set up in various storefronts across Bucktown and Wicker Park. Last year’s combinations included a folk duo at a grocery store, burlesque rock at a barcade, and R&B at a salon and spa.
Do Division Street Fest — Another of Chicago’s heavyweight music venues, The Empty Bottle, joins Subterranean in booking acts for this fest. Beyond the more typical local food and drink vendors, Do Division also features Do Fashion, with local designer runway shows and DJs. The 2019 edition of the fest runs for three days, starting May 31.
Thinking This Looks Like Home?
The festivals and community events spotlighted here reflect the friendly, aware, curious and creative attitude that infuses the Bucktown and Wicker Park neighborhoods. If you’re interested in making this area your home, see our available rentals here.