It’s June! To celebrate, I offer you an alternative to Alex’s Stay In and Watch Some Stuff suggestion. Get our there and live your lives, readers! We didn’t collectively survive a polar vortex just so we could remain indoors during the precious weeks this city doesn’t feel terrible outside.
I’m just going to say it: I am kind of let down by this year’s line-up for the Downtown Sound music in Millennium Park series. Maybe I was spoiled by previous years featuring Iron & Wine and the Head and the Heart, but 2014’s list lacks a big name draw — with the exception of The Both, made up of Aimee Mann and Ted Leo. They hit the park July 21. As for the other weeks — regardless of who’s playing, free music in a gorgeous downtown park where you can bring your own picnic dinner of cheese, hummus, and wine sounds like a great Monday night out to me.
The summer music festival line-ups have also been announced, including a formidable, stellar list of bands playing Riot Fest Sept. 12-14, but the only one I might spring for is the Hide Out Block Party/AV Fest Sept. 5-6, where Death Cab for Cutie will headline. A new favorite of mine, Sylvan Esso, will also perform.
Bonus: I’ll be catching Saintseneca Sunday, June 15 at the Empty Bottle. This folk rock band has ties to my tiny Ohio hometown, and they’ve been getting a lot of love lately, especially from NPR Music. Tickets are $12.
If the music series feels underwhelming to me, maybe it’s just because of how amazing this year’s summer movies in the park offerings are. Check Time Out Chicago’s listings for dates for gems like “Ghostbusters,” “Top Gun,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “The LEGO Movie,” and many more.
This past weekend, one of my favorite neighborhood events, Maifest, kicked off the start of summer festival season with day drinking and brats, with perfect weather as the backdrop. May the rest of this summer’s weekends be so gorgeous for these upcoming events.
Rib Fest has all the trappings I need in a summer event: It’s close to my house, there’s live music, and there’s delicious, messy BBQ. That’s this weekend, running June 6-8, at the crux of Lincoln, Damen, and Irving Park. This is an extremely popular event every year, with good reason.
In August, the inaugural Albany Park World Fest will take over Lawerence Avenue at Kimball in a celebration of one of the city’s most ethnically-diverse neighborhoods. Sponsonored by the Albany Park Neighbors, the August 16-17 event will feature tons of delicious food and live world music.
I’ve taken up running in recent months, and I’m excited to run in the PAWS 8K with a friend June 21. Registration is still open — look how cute the race shirt is!
After a good run, I hope to relax on Gene’s Sausage Shop’s rooftop beer and wine garden, now open for the season. Hours are Thurs-Sat, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Food service stops one hour prior to close though, so plan ahead to get one of the German deli’s smoked brats.
The 45th annual Pride Parade will be Sunday, June 29, starting at Broadway and Montrose. Seeing this parade is still an uncrossed item on my Chicago summer bucket list, so I can’t wait to experience it this summer.
And finally, if you live in Chicago but don’t own a bike, you might be depriving yourself of some awesome opportunities. I’m a city-riding newbie this spring, but getting around on two wheels has changed the way I see some parts of great neighborhoods. If you’re timid about riding in the streets at first, try starting out on one of Chicago’s gorgeous bike trails. The North Shore Channel Trail starts in Lincoln Square and takes you all the way to Evanston — a surprisingly easy 15-mile ride, round-trip.
No matter what’s on your bucket list, just remember we live in an amazing, cultural city with tons of inexpensive (or free) events happening all around us, especially in the summer. Get out there and enjoy.