Summer Festival Season Returns to Lake County 2021
By: Jonathan Jones 05/28/2021
Pardon our French, but the summer festival season in Lake County is lit AF (of course, we’re talking about atrial fibrillation) because these box socials can make your heart get jumpy).
Get the fam and them together to achieve squad goals.
Many have done their part during the pandemic in social distancing and staying in place. As capacity numbers at facilities are rising and COVID-19 restrictions are easing, everyone is ready to party as if it were a pandemic-less 2019.
What’s so good about summer festivals in Lake County? The sun is out, the streets are over-saturated with humans dancing to live Spotify, exploring their palate with enchanting eats and drinks, seeking thrills on carnival rides and so much more.
Go ahead and peruse through the summer festival season guide and see all of what the land of lakes has to offer.
"Riding around in my automobile. My baby beside me at the wheel." - Chuck Berry. Classic cars pre-1977, live entertainment and delicious eats round out this Mundelein staple, make for a fantastic summer weekday treat. The long-running event attracts over 400 vehicles and more than 1,000 car junkies. Park on Park Cruise Night occurs the second Wednesday of each month throughout the summer and into early fall.
"Get your kicks on Route 21." While many will be hitting the roads to travel, people may be singing "Car Fun on 21, where are you?" (in the stylings of the 1961 theme song of Car 54, where are you? - that reference is much too old for this blogger, but, here we are). Much like its Park on Park Cruise Night neighbor to the west, Car Fun in MainStreet Libertyville is for the vintage car aficionado and those looking for a fun weeknight out. The classic whip showcase is highlighted by cars, trucks and motorcycles aged 23 years or older. The second-Friday of the month evening festivities also features live music. For the four events, bands Big Cat, Ace Music, Kev and Matt as well s School of Rock, will grace the stage. The eats are provided by Chicagoland staple Rosati's. Feel free to peruse one of the many world-class eateries located on Milwaukee Avenue.
Fine wine and fine arts are just what the doctor ordered. The Grayslake Arts Festival and Wine Tasting features the work of over 60 juried artists. The vino will be provided by Irene’s Vineyard from Oblong, Illinois. Admission to the event includes a keepsake glass and five tasting tickets. There will also be fare vendors offering hot dogs and burgers.
Fill your artistic void with the ever-extravagant monthly ArtWauk in Downtown Waukegan. Experience a plethora of talented individuals showcasing their work in utilizing a slew of different art mediums. In addition to the portraits, sculptures, live jazz music and other artistic vibes, munch on some delicious dining options at various downtown Waukegan locations like La Casa de Samuel, Green Town Tavern, Win Win Restaurant, Nightshade and Dark’s Pandemonium Brewing Co., Oppidan Spirits. Jerk N’ More and others via carryout, curbside pickup as well as indoor and outdoor dining. Saturday makes for a great pizza and beer night as Zümbier and Quonset Pizza provide edibles and drinkables outside of the downtown area.
"Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, gonna help our Cinderelly. Got no time to dilly-dally We gotta get a-goin'."Whatever Disney slap resonates with you, hum the tune along to Long Grove's FairyTale Festival. Dress up like Elsa, Moana, Jasmine or some other princess fav in a safe outdoor show. The event features group games, singing, dancing, photo Ops with the princesses themselves and a Q&A session.
Blarney Island is the premier summer party located a mile offshore on the Chain O’Lakes. The unique Antioch bar hosts events, fests, live entertainment, Thunder on the Chain and many others. Take the Blarney shuttle boat out from Port of Blarney, and in just a few minutes, you will be living on island time. Blarney Island is open through Labor Day weekend. Blarney Island isn’t just a weekend destination. Thursday’s Thunder on the Chain is a must-see event!
- Key West Fest (June 17-20) INFO»
- Christmas in July (July 18) INFO»
- Blarney Gras (July 22-25) INFO»
- 90s Party Weekend (July 30-August 1) INFO»
- 80s Weekend (August 13-15) INFO»
- Fantasy Fest Weekend (August 19-22) INFO»
“And nothing to get hung about. Strawberry fields forever!” Experiencing summer in Historic Downtown Long Grove is always a treat. Long Grove Strawberry Fest is a ‘berry’ wonderful celebration that offers everything from chocolate-covered strawberries, strawberry martinis and …well, more strawberry-fused foods. The festival features live music all day on three different stages, unique shopping, impressive fare and kid-tivities for the entire weekend. The fruit frenzy features live performances from a full lineup of your favorite local bands and musicians.
North Shore Distillery in Green Oaks throws their Midsommar Celebration on Lake County’s longest day of the year featuring succulent spirits and other festivities alfresco style. Don your flower crown around the fire pit and their Midsommar pole. The Swedish Glee Club will be on hand to provide live tunes.
"The rocket’s red glare" and ‘the bombs bursting in air’ appear early in Grayslake. The Taste of Grayslake festivities includes live entertainment, carnival rides and local eats. Performers at this park district event include Vinyl Gold Mind and the GOOROOS. The June 26 fireworks show begins at dusk.
Everyone’s favorite Sunday brunch tomato libation has a fest in the “Heart of the Chain O’ Lakes.” The Fox Lake Bloody Mary Fest admission includes adult beverage samples, voting tickets to indicate who served the best beverage in the show and a mini mason jar. The downtown Fox Lake event is also highlighted by live tunes, eats and several participating taverns and bars. Stay tuned as Fox Lake is still in the planning stages of this libation party. The fest will run on multiple weekends in July. Stay tuned for more details.
Ravinia Festival, the eldest outdoor festival in the United States, kicks off its season with an all-star cast. The showcase is a staple of Lake County. Since 1905, the Highland Park fest has featured the top musicians in a variety of genres. Some marquee performers include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cynthia Erivo, Wynton Marsalis, Gladys Knight, Woody Nelson, Lady A, Ben Folds, Train, and more.
MainStreet Libertyville invites one and all to their monthly celebration of First Fridays. The Lake County downtown area, free admission event is highlighted by various delectable drinks, mouth-watering eats, live entertainment and more while you peruse the Lake County local mom and pop shops offering promotional sales.
The Kracklauer Park fest includes musical performances, food, drinks, arts and crafts, a car show, a carnival, a parade, activities for kids and adults, and much more. There will also be a parade. The Independence Day Fireworks Show is held on July 4 at 9:30 p.m, while the parade steps off at 2 p.m on July 5. The Mundelein Community Days musical entertainment lineup includes
Yankee Doodle went to Lincolnshire riding on a pony. His adventure to the Lake County village ended when he arrived at the Red, White and Boom Fest (sans the cap, feather and macaroni). This annual celebration has yet to release its details but has been trimmed down to just one day. The renowned event is highlighted by live entertainment, a stunning firework extravaganza, a parade, a classic car show, a carnival for the kiddies and more.
“Hurrah for the flag of the free. May it wave as our standard forever” (cue the wicked piccolo solo). You’ll be humming everyone’s favorite Sousa “smash single” (Stars & Stripes Forever). Here are your Independence Day parties in the land of lakes.
- Grayslake Fireworks (6/26) INFO»
- Round Lake Area Park District Fireworks (7/3) INFO»
- Village of Barrington Fireworks (7/3) INFO»
- Fox Lake Fireworks (7/3) INFO»
- Six Flags Great America in Gurnee Fireworks (7/3) INFO»
- Libertyville Fireworks (7/4) INFO»
- Lake Forest Fireworks (7/4) INFO»
- Village of Mundelein Fireworks (7/4) INFO»
- Lincolnshire Fireworks (7/4) INFO»
- City of Waukegan Fireworks (7/4) INFO»
- Antioch Fireworks (7/4) INFO»
- Six Flags Great America in Gurnee Fireworks (7/4) INFO»
Even if you don’t own a DeLorean, you can take a trip back to the past to experience the 16th-century English Elizabethan era just over the Wisconsin border. The renowned Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha features sword fighters, maidens, minstrels and jesters. There are many photo opportunities for having the chance to meet and greet with legendary celebrities such as Queen Elizabeth and Robin Hood. The Faire also offers games, rides, arts and crafts, eats, live music and one-of-a-kind encounters with a spectacular cast of characters. Bristol, like many of the other festivities, makes its most triumphant return after a 2020 hiatus.
The Lake Forest theatre that stages inspiring show throws their annual gala affair entitled "Hollywood Illumination." The event is hosted at the Adler Arts Center in Libertyville.
Leave LollaPalooza to the city slickers. Lake County Libation Trail partner Harbor Brewing Co. is throwing their second installment of the Lakefront Craft Biergarten's HarborPalooza. North Point Marina will be where the party’s at as two stages will be moving with stellar bands, fare vendors will be on-site and of course, the Winthrop Harbor suds makers will be serving its delectable craft adult drinks. The music schedule includes artists Ben Mulwana, Brecken Miles and Talkin' Trash. Come by land or by boat as the Biergarten is located on Lake Michigan!
How about a little fun in the sun in Antioch? The Taste of Summer Festival in Antioch features carnival rides for the family, deliciously prepared eats from the village’s top restaurants, splendid merchandise from the area’s sidewalk sale and exceptional live acts in the Brook Bandshell. Some of the bands gracing the bandshell stage include the Dancing Queen, HI INFIDELITY, Rockstar Rodeo, Modern Day Romeos, a patriotic musical light show and more.
The Bitter Jester Music Festival is highlighted by some of the most talented, rising-star, high school and college-aged musicians from across Illinois & Wisconsin. The Bitter Jester Foundation celebrates its 15th anniversary in this year's edition. This ongoing concert (running Fridays July 23-August 13), will entertain crowds at Port Clinton Square. Local Lake County Libation Trail™ favorite, Ravinia Brewing Company, will provide suds for purchase. The festival’s grand finale features the winner of the “battle of the bands”-esque competition and performs at Highland Park’s Labor Day celebration at Wolters Field. The Grand Prize winner takes home $1000, the runner-up notches a bag of $750 and $500 for honorable mention. The fest will also be conducting raffles at every show.
“Gospel music is nothing but singing of good tidings -- spreading the good news. It will last as long as any music because it is sung straight from the human heart,” said by Gospel diva Civil Rights Activist Mahalia Jackson. The Lake County Forest Preserves presents Gospel Fest. The Greenbelt Cultural Center gospel party features powerhouse vocalist Tina Jenkins Crawley. This songstress has shared stages with Mavis Staples, Bad Company, Celine Dion and various other well-known musicians. In 2000, Jenkins Crawley won the Gospel Music Association's Music in the Rockies Award for songwriting. The fest is free, but seating is limited, so seating is limited. Pack a picnic as the event will not have any food or drink beverages. The performance will also be live-streamed on the forest preserve's YouTube channel.
Log from this blog that it's bog day on July 25! International Bog Day celebrates the bueauty and importance of the quaking area around the world. The Land of Lincoln national area event features Bogs in Art, tours around the lone Illinois quaking bog, an artist reception after the auction, arts and crafts and live tunes from Tiny Country Acoustic Trio. The international day began in 1992, and Volo Bog State Natural Area was the first American landmark to celebrate this July observance in 2008.
Do you wake up nights in a cold sweat after a nightmare with the aroma of funnel cakes? That's either a serious medical condition or you have withdrawal from the Lake County Fair. Your wait is over as the Grayslake, nearly century-old fest comes back. Although a little scaled back due to COVID-19, your favorite elements are still attainable, like livestock, a carnival, live music, outrageously delectable fare. Stay tuned to the website to see what additional components they add to the annual county fair.
Before or after filling your artistic appetite at the Adler Arts Center Festival of the Arts occurring the same weekend, pamper your sweet tooth with a stroll down the MainSweet Dessert Walk. The dessert makers participating in this saccharine event will be announced closer to the event. To kick off your weekend, head to First Fridays on MainStreet for a wine tasting, live tunes, exceptional deals, a book signing, fortune-telling and eats from award-winning restaurants.
Walk the plank to North Point Marina’s Harbor Days Festival and Venetian Night this Saturday. The boating party will feature the “GHOST SHIP, HAUNTED MARINA” Lighted Boat Parade, a slew of kiddie activities, a vendor fair, live music, an open swim in the marina’s new swimming pool, tons of eats and beverages, pyrotechnics and more. Stop by Lake County Libation Trail partner Harbor Brewing Co. Lakefront Biergarten for their legendary suds. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs for the parade following at dusk.
Invest your fest feels on a festive festival-infested Friday through Sunday in Libertyville. The Adler Arts Center has showcased some of the most exceptional work from artists across the country. A ton of talented individuals will have their work on display. This event hosted by the 100+-year-old facility will also feature a youth art division to celebrate children's talent. Besides the unique artwork on display, attendees will experience live music, divine fare and plenty more at the Libertyville festival in Cook Park.
It’s the party of the year in Libertyville! Libertyville Days is a staple in the community and the 2021 theme is "Let's give it a shot." For three memorable days, beautiful downtown Libertyville provides a weekend full of activities, including a parade, pageant, carnival rides, Church Street eats, beer garden, an arts and craft fair, eating competitions, car show, live entertainment and so much more