Make Plans Now For These (Non-Lollapalooza) Chicago Festivals

02.21.19 4 months ago


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Our mistake hit us as soon as the train doors started to close. Or at least the stench did. Same difference. The point is that we immediately knew we were amongst people who had spent all day roasting in the sun. Imagine an action movie where the heroine has to leap through an automatic door before calamity strikes. Doors shut. Insane explosion. Crisis averted.

Only we didn’t make it out. The calamity was unavoidable. The heroine was unable to escape her fate. In seconds, I was wedged against so many scantily clad men and women that it felt like a Roman train orgy without the sex. All the grunting, none of the fun.

This was Lollapalooza. Chicago’s most famous festival.

I have great memories of Lolla, truly. But with well over a hundred thousand people pouring into Grant Park per day, and nearly 400 thousand visitors in total, it’s an insanely crowded summer fest. And it’s not the only option in the Chi. Not even close. The city is a literal embarrassment of riches for street festivals. Which is why — as Uproxx embarks on a month of bypassing mainstream attractions for lesser-known highlights — I knew I wanted to shout out some of the cooler, smaller festivals in the city. Festivals that embrace the omnipresent block party vibe that takes over Chicago the second winter ends.

Pilsen Taco Fest

2019 Dates:

June 15th & 16th


Pilsen (1000 W. Cermak Road, between Racine and Morgan*)

*Stay tuned for more info — organizers say they’re looking at a larger location this year to accommodate the demand from last year.

Why It’s Awesome:

Pilsen Taco Fest is set in Pilsen, a traditionally Mexican neighborhood that has exploded over the past few years. Transplants have taken root in the area — drawn to its affordable housing, great food, and thriving art scene. This means that there’s concern about losing the longterm residents in service of new construction. Gentrification is on everyone’s minds.

Taco Fest allays these fears. It’s a point of connection for Pilsen — highlighting the amazing Mexican foodway (a mix of food trucks, taquerias, street vendors, and dine-in restaurants) that the area has to offer. Organized by the group, Inner City Culture, Taco Fest will be in its third year this summer and proceeds from the event go to help people in the community. Last year this meant scholarships for DREAM Act recipients.

The festival is free to enter and includes musical performances, art, and of course, tons of tacos. Delicious food in a cool, diverse neighborhood (Forbes named Pilsen one of 12 coolest neighborhoods in the world last year) with tons of street art dating back to the 1970s, cool bars, studios, and an extensive Mexican Art Museum? Yep. That’s a win.

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