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The best multicultural summer festivals in Chicago for 2014

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. Each one showcases the ethnic groups that make Chicago so dynamic, so vibrant and so irresistible. One trip to any of Chicago’s ethnic neighborhoods will show you the very essence of what makes Chicago a first-class, multicultural city.

For a taste of the various ethnic groups that make up so many Chicago neighborhoods, you can attend and enjoy one of the many multicultural summer festivals that take place across the city each year. Each festival puts the food, the culture, the traditions, and the people on display for all to enjoy, toast and celebrate.

For this lifelong Chicagoan, there’s nothing like summer in Chicago. And, for me, summer in Chicago is all about the city's multicultural summer festivals.

Here are the top multicultural summer festivals currently scheduled to take place in Chicago this year:

JUNE:

1. May 29 – June 1: Maifest Chicago
Lincoln and Leland Avenues (Lincoln Square)

Held in Chicago's German neighborhood, Maifest Chicago features live music and entertainment - with a healthy dose of food and libations. The event organizers promise the festival will induce the feeling of German Gemütlichkeit - a cheerful mood and peace of mind.  

2. May 30 – June 1: Festival del Taco
2600 S. Kostner Ave. (Little Village)

New this year, Chicago's Little Village neighborhood will celebrate tacos at the Festival del Taco. You can sample a variety of stuffed tacos from local restaurants while enjoying live music, entertainment, and more. Families also will enjoy arts and crafts and carnival rides.

3. June 6 – 8: Andersonville Midsommarfest
Along north Clark St. from Foster Ave. to Catalpa Ave. (Andersonville)

Midsommarfest returns to Chicago's Swedish neighborhood for its 49th year. This year, nearly 50,000 people are expected to enjoy music, ethnic dance troupes, kids’ entertainment, and food at the street festival.

Interested in information on other places to visit in Andersonville? Then, you also should check out my family-friendly virtual tour of the neighborhood.

4. June 6 – 8: Lincoln Park Greek Fest
2701 N. Sheffield Ave. (Lincoln Park)

Organizers of the Lincoln Park Greek Fest invite you to experience the Ancient Greek concept of filoxenia and the famous hospitality of the Greek culture. The Lincoln Park Greek Fest lets you enjoy all that the Greek culture has to offer - food, music, traditions and more.

5. June 12 – 15: Puerto Rican People's Day Parade & Festival
Humboldt Park, Division St. and California Ave. (Humboldt Park)

Now in its 32nd year, the Puerto Rican People's Day Parade and Festival features Latin and Puerto Rican food and music, arts and crafts, and carnival rides. On Saturday, June 14, the People's Parade will travel down Division St., stepping off at Division St. and Western Ave. at 2 p.m.

6. June 13 – 15: Oakley Festa Pasta Vino
2400 S. Oakley Ave. (Heart of Chicago)

The 24th annual Oakley Festa Pasta Vino celebrates Italian food, wine, music, and culture in the Heart of Chicago neighborhood. During the three-day festival, you also can enjoy a Florentine market, hand-crafted goods, and costumed performers, and more.

7. June 15: Swedish Day
Good Templar Park, 528 East Side Dr. (Far west suburban Geneva)

Swedish Day is the Midwest's oldest Midsummer festival. It offers Scandinavian food, live music, an arts & crafts fair, a Maypole celebration, and more. Families also will enjoy children's games, crafts, and races.

8. June 17 - 22: Swedish Days
Downtown Geneva

Swedish Days is a celebration that lasts six days long out in far west suburban Geneva. Throughout that time, families can enjoy a parade, food, carnival rides, live music, and children's games. There's also a street called Sweden Vast, which is "devoted to all things Swedish." The schedule for the six-day event is available online.

9. June 18 – 20: Thai Festival Chicago
Federal Plaza at Adams and Dearborn Streets (Loop)

The Thai Festival is organized by the Royal Thai Consulate-Chicago in collaboration with the Thai-American community. The three-day event promotes traditional Thai dancing, boxing, music, food, and more.

10. June 20 - 21: Scottish Festival & Highland Games
Hamilton Lakes, 1 Pierce Pl. (Northwest suburban Itasca)

Now in it's 28th year, the Scottish Festival & Highland Games celebrates Scottish culture and traditions - right in the Chicago suburb of Itasca. At the all-ages event, everyone can be Scottish for the day, and enjoy Scottish food, fun, and games.

JULY:

1. July 3 – 6: International Festival of Life
Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St. (West Loop)

The 22nd annual International Festival of Life celebrates the lifestyle, heritage, cultures, music and dance of the US, Caribbean, Africa, Mexico, and South and Central America. The "carnival of nations" also features food, arts and crafts, sports, and more.

2. July 11 – 13: Irish American Heritage Festival
Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave. (Irving Park)

The annual event, held at the Irish American Heritage Center, showcases local and international Irish music and dance, food and culture. Families can enjoy plenty of children's activities, a folk tent with demonstrations of Irish instruments, dance lessons, sing-alongs, language lessons, and more.

3. July 14: Bastille Day Chicago
Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St. (Loop)

Chicagoans can celebrate the French national holiday of Bastille Day in the heart of Chicago at Daley Plaza from 5 - 9 p.m. During the event, you can enjoy French food, music, dance, pétanque, and more.

4. July 18 – 20: The Big Greek Food Fest of Niles
Holy Taxiarhai and St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church
7373 N. Caldwell Ave. (north suburban Niles)

The Big Greek Food Fest of Niles serves of a taste of Greece - in north suburban Niles. The event features Greek food and wine, music, dancing, and cooking classes. Families will enjoy a special "kids corner" with crafts, face painting, and more.

5. July 19 – 20: Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival
Centennial Park, Sheridan Rd. at Clark St. (North suburban Evanston)

For the annual Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival, a quiet stretch of lakefront is "transformed into a global village." During the two-day "celebration of global diversity," art from more than 100 countries are put on display. Attendees also can enjoy international cuisine, live music, dance, and spoken word performances. Families can plan to participate in crafts activities, which previously included origami and suminagashi workshops, face painting, and mask and maraca making.

6. July 20: Chinatown Summer Fair
Wentworth Ave. from Cermak Rd. to 24th Pl. (Chinatown)

The Chinatown Summer Fair is the perfect excuse to visit this vibrant, bustling neighborhood and enjoy the best of Chinese culture - right in Chicago. The one-day event features a Dragon and Lion Dance procession, live music, food, Chinese arts and crafts exhibits, shopping, a children's play area, and more.

7. July 31 – August 3: Fiesta del Sol
1400 W. Cermak Rd. (Pilsen)

Fiesta del Sol is billed as the largest Latino festival in the Midwest, typically drawing more than 1 million visitors over the course of the four-day event. Its many offerings include live entertainment, local art, food, carnival rides, a children's area, and soccer games. The family-friendly event offers live entertainment, local art, food, carnival rides, a children's area, soccer games, and more.

Interested in information on other places to visit in Pilsen? Then, you also should check out my family-friendly virtual tour of the neighborhood.

AUGUST:

1. August 2 – 3: Taste of Latin America: Food, Wine & Art Festival
3600 – 3828 W. Armitage Ave., from Central Park Ave. to Avers St. (Logan Square)

The Taste of Latin America celebrates all things Central and South American: food, music, and arts. The two-day festival also features arts and crafts, cooking demonstrations, and more.

2. August 8 – 10: Ginza Holiday
Midwest Buddhist Temple, 435 W. Menomonee St. (Old Town)

The Ginza Holiday is a Japanese cultural celebration. The festival features live music and dance performances, self defense demonstrations, Japanese arts and crafts exhibits, and traditional Japanese cuisine.

3. August 10: French Connection Day
Cantigny Park, 15151 Winfield Rd. (West suburban Wheaton)

French Connection is a one-day salute to all things French in west suburban Wheaton. Families can enjoy a French open-air market, French food, pétanque, French music, arts and crafts, and more.

4. August 14 – 17: Festa Italiana
West Taylor St. between Ashland and Racine (Little Italy)

Festa Italiana celebrates the history and heritage of Chicago’s Historic Little Italy. The four-day street festival features live music, Italian food , bocce, and local artisans - all along the streets of the vibrant neighborhood. Families will enjoy a children's area with rides, games and more. You can check out photos from my family's visit to last year's festival.

Interested in information on other places to visit in Chicago's Little Italy Italy? Then, you also should check out my family-friendly virtual tour of the neighborhood.

5. August 15 – 17: Festival Cubano
Riis Park, 6100 W. Fullerton (Belmont-Cragin)

The 5th Annual Festival Cubano celebrates Cuban culture. The three-day festival features entertainment, merchandise and food from across Latin America. Attendees also can enjoy a carnival ride and game area, domino tournament, and rumba and drumming workshops. Families also will enjoy the festival's Kids Zone, which includes a kids stage with entertainment, a petting zoo,  conga and rumba workshops, and more.

6. August 16 – 17: Albany Park World Fest
W. Lawrence Ave. and N. Kimball Ave. (Albany Park)

The first-ever Albany Park World Fest celebrates the many cultures represented in the diverse Chicago neighborhood. According to event organizers, more than 70 languages are spoken in the neighborhood and its restaurants and store feature food and goods from more than 40 countries around the world. The two-day festival will feature diverse music, ethnic cuisine, global arts and crafts, a kids area, and more.

7. August 23 – 24: Taste of Greece
100 - 400 S. Halsted St. (Greektown)

Fans of Greek food will want to head to Chicago's Greektown for the 25th annual Taste of Greece. The culinary festival features Mediterranean food, offering tastes of food from restaurants located throughout the neighborhood. The two-day festival also features music and entertainment, including Greek bands, belly dancers, and fames for kids and families.

Interested in information on other places to visit in Chicago's Greektown? Then, you also should check out my family-friendly virtual tour of the neighborhood.

8. August 29 – September 1: African Festival of the Arts
Washington Park, 5531 S Dr Martin Luther King Jr Dr. (Washington Park)

The African Festival of the Arts celebrates arts and culture from across the African Diaspora. The festival, billed as the largest neighborhood in Chicago, transports attendees to African villages through drumming, storytelling, dancing, music, and more.

9. August 29 – September 1: Taste of Polonia
Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. (Jefferson Park)

Taste of Polonia features live music, Polish food, and activities for all ages. Attendees of the four-day festival also can enjoy a casino, bingo, and carnival rides and games. There also will be a kids stage and fun zone with inflatables and a climbing wall.

What are your favorite multicultural summer festivals to attend each year? Which new one do you want to try out this year? Please share your favorites in the comments below.

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