Local artists, house music, African and Caribbean cultures and limestone are among the many things that Hyde Park festivals will celebrate this summer.

With the unexpected end of Hyde Park Summer Fest and the conclusion of the Silver Room’s annual block party, this year’s selection is slightly diminished. But, organizers of the other events say, they have a host of fresh ideas and activities planned to help fill that void.

Kicking-off the summer, the third annual International Point Day will bring droves of swimmers, picnickers and history buffs out to Promontory Point for the 86th anniversary of the beloved park’s opening on Sunday, May 26. Running from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the event will feature synchronized swimming, free cupcakes, fireworks, walking tours of the park, “Point-y hats” and art on the historic limestone revetment

The event, which also celebrates the 120th birthday of its famed landscape architect, Alfred Caldwell, comes amid community efforts to preserve the park’s limestone and character from erosion and fears of city-proposed demolition and reconstruction.

57th Street Art Fair 3

Stained glass artist Joyan Tang speaks with customers about one of her double-sided stained glass doors during the Hyde Park Community Art Fair on Saturday, June 3, 2023.

The 57th Street Art Fair returns to Hyde Park for its 77th year June 1 through 2.

Attendees can spend the day chatting up artists, exploring nearly 180 stalls of ceramics, digital art, jewelry, paintings and more, and enjoy the tunes of musicians from Buddy Guy’s Legends. Running from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, the free event will also feature six food trucks and a large area of children’s activities.

For Hyde Park Art Fair committee member Mary Anton, the annual sale is a cherished tradition in the neighborhood.

“If you are somewhere between 10 years old and 80, and you grew up in the neighborhood, it’s part of those neighborhood traditions,” Anton said, who herself has been on the committee for more than 36 years.

The fair is organized and run almost entirely by volunteers, Anton said. In the past, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle volunteered at the information desk, and Anton is expecting alderpersons from the 4th, 5th and 20th wards to make an appearance this summer.

Committee member Amy Gelman added that many of the artists who have attended the fair for years have built relationships with the community.

“In the neighborhood we’ve incorporated these artists into our lives,” Gelman said. “They’re only here for two days, but we enjoy their art year round.”

4th on 53rd - bikers

Bikers of the “Bike Brigade” ride west on 53rd Street during the 4th on 53rd parade, Tuesday, July 4, 2023.

Another longtime tradition, the 4th on 53rd Parade will bring its hour-long procession of marching bands, floats, community groups and decorated bikes to 53rd Street this Independence Day. As always, everyone is welcome to march.

The parade will kick off in the Hyde Park Bank parking lot at 11 a.m. and make its way down 53rd Street to Nichols Park, 1355 E. 53rd St., where it will conclude with a free festival.

Running from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., the fest will feature performances, bounce houses, face painting, a petting zoo and other activities.

An International Festival of Life

Arthur Sutton and Gift of Praise perform gospel music at the 29th Annual African and Caribbean International Festival of Life in Washington Park, July 3, 2022.

The International Festival of Life, an annual celebration of African and Caribbean cultures, will take place in Washington park on July 4 through July 7.

Held in the park near 55th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, the ticketed festival was founded in 1993 for the purpose of bringing people together through culture and music.

“Because Chicago is our home, we highlight the fact that Chicago is a wonderfully rich and diverse city, a global choice of destination and we bring all of those experiences and lived experiences together in celebration toward the independence weekend,” said Valerie Hill, the festival’s public relations manager

She added that attendees can expect artists from around the nation and the world, as well as some notable artists from Chicago, including Billy Branch, Maurice Mahon and Lord Soloman. Among the international acts are bands Ready for the World and Slave.

According to Hill, organizers are also partnering with the Chicago Music Awards to hold a songwriting contest about Chicago.

“We like to say, Chicago is looking for its next great song,” she said.

Tickets start at $18 a day. Discounted tickets are available for older adults; children under 12 have free admission. For more information, visit internationalfestivaloflife.com.

The sixth annual Pride South Side Festival will take place July 6 at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center. With the theme “Right to Pride,” this year’s festival aims to celebrate the legacy of LGBTQ+ advocacy, culture and leadership ahead of the November general election. The event will host performances, activations and dancing, as well as opportunities to learn more about “the roles of the Black, Latinx, and LGBTQI+ voting rights and elections in public policy,” according to a festival description.

The free event will run from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. at 740 E. 56th Place. For more information, visit pridesouthside.org.

Chosen few

South Side, West Side, North Side, New York, London and beyond were all represented at the Chosen Few DJs Picnic and house music festival in Jackson Park on Saturday, July 8, 2023.


The Chosen Few Picnic and Festival, the world’s biggest party dedicated to house music, returns to Jackson Park on July 13. Founded by the longtime South Side DJ collective the Chosen Few, the festival – dubbed the “Woodstock of house music” – will feauture performacnes by the 12-member group as well as guest DJs.

Tickets for the event, which will take place near the intersection of 63rd Street and Hayes Drive, start at $50 and can be purchased online at chosenfewdjs.com. Children under 12 get free admission.

The Promontory’s Passport Vibes Afrobeat Street Fest will bring an exciting mix of local and international DJs, food vendors, games and photo installations to the parking lot behind the venue on July 13.

Fusing traditional Nigerian music, highlife, jazz, funk, Caribbean and electronic music, the festival was launched in 2018 to connect wider audiences to the genre.

The festival will run from 12 p.m. until 10 p.m. at 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. W. The free event is open to all ages; registration can be found at bit.ly/3wwOGoA.

Bantu Fest

Celestine Johnson checks out African art for sale at Bantu Fest on the Midway Plaisance on Saturday, July 29, 2023.

Bantu Festival, a family-friendly celebration of African cultures, is back on the Midway Plaisance on July 27 and 28. Entering its eighth year, the event will cater food from 30 countries including South Africa, Haiti, Belize, Jamaica, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Liberia, Senegal, Dominican Republic and more.

Live bands, DJs, artists, dancers and drummers from more than 15 countries will perform throughout the weekend. Other programming includes a fashion show, village showcases for every represented country and a host of activities for children.

Festival founder Silvain Songo said the purpose of the event is to help connect people to the wide and diverse array of African cultures.

“We are about bridging the gap between continental Africans and non-continental Africans,” Songo said. “That’s what the festival is about, educating people about African cultures and understanding that we are all culturally connected.”

Songo said he’s proud of how far the festival has come in a short time.

“We have humble beginnings,” he said. “We started in a parking lot and today we are what we are today.”

The festival will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. both days. Tickets can be purchased online at events.humanitix.com/bantu-fest-2024 and start at $20 for general admission. Discounts are available for children and two-day passes.

Opal Staples lights up Harper Court

Rhythm and blues singer Opal Staples closes out the last concert of the Harper Court Summer Music Series, 5235 S. Harper Ct., on Thursday evening, August 3, 2023.

Other events this summer

The Harper Court Summer Music Series will host a Thursday night concert each month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 5235 S. Harper Ct. The free event is a collaboration between the University of Chicago and Silver Room owner Eric Williams.

Kicking off the series, DJ Eric “ET” Taylor will perform at Harper Court on June 6. His performance will be followed by the first annual Hyde Park Best Steppers Contest.

July 11 will feature Funkadesi, a dynamic group blending Indian bhangra, Bollywood and folk sounds with reggae, funk and Afro-Caribbean grooves. The longtime Chicago group strives to embody its motto, “One family, many children…Insisting we all belong.”

On August 1, Sam Thousand & the Soul Vortex will come to the court. A multi-instrumentalist, singer, writer, producer and composer, Sam Thousand is also the recipient of a 3Arts award and co-founder of the arts organization ChiBrations.

The final installment of this summer’s performances will be on September 5 with the Chicago Windy City Ramblers, a brass band that draws inspiration from the tradition of New Orleans brass band and second line culture. The nonprofit group is dedicated to cultural development of Chicago youth and the incorporation of Chicago music culture and musicianship into their performances.

On the first Fridays of the month throughout the summer, Jazz in the Court will get the weekend started early with a host of afternoon performances in Harper Court. Kicking off the series on June 7 with the reggae band Hurricane, the concerts will run from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Other performers include Tony Carpenter on July 5, Thaddeus Tukes on August 2 and Corey Wilkes on September 6.

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