Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Fri June 05 2015

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  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | June 5, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    Dance to the Beat of These Chicago Summer Music Fests

    Dance to the Beat of These Chicago Summer Music Fests

    You may have heard about an annual summer event in Chicago called Lollapalooza, where thousands converge on the city to listen to alt bands and subsequently cover themselves in beer, mud and flower crowns. Lolla maybe one of Chicago's most notable music fests, but it is by no means the only one. Summer is a sacred time in the Chi, when locals can finally fling off layers of arctic gear and bask in the sun for a few short months.

    During the summer, we use any excuse to be outside, and music fests crammed into every weekend is a very popular option. From the end of May until mid-September, there is always some sort of music fest unfolding every weekend, in some part of the city.  Here are a few of my favorites:

    Chicago Blues Fest

    Even though Lollapalooza manages to steal more buzz, the legendary Chicago Blues Festival is actually the city's largest music festival, with five stages and three days of blues music attracting fans from all over the world. In fact, Chicago Blues Fest remains the largest free blues festival in the world and is worth a special trip just to experience it. The 32nd annual fest kicks off June 12-14 and features an exciting line-up that includes the Taj Mahal Trio, Zora Young, Toronzo Cannon, Syl Johnson and the legendary Buddy Guy, the guitar master who taught a guy named Jimi Hendrix a thing or two about  blues guitar.

    Ravinia Festival

    Another Chicago institution, although not technically within the city borders, Ravinia offers a striking array of music, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, through Sept. 12.  Located in a lovely pavilion in Highland Park, Il, Chicagoans can hop on a train right to Ravinia's gates. Inside, the sprawling lawn is a favorite spot for picnics under the stars while listening to great live music. There are also restaurants, markets and gifts shops inside Ravinia.

    Whether you bring chairs or rent them for lawn seats or spring for pricier pavilion seats, you can hear the music wherever you're located in the park. This year's schedule includes Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, Santana, Aretha Franklin and Harry Connick Jr.

    African Caribbean Festival of Life

    A multi-layered celebration of African and Caribbean culture and music, this vibrant fest opens every 4th of July weekend and features traditional food, crafts and music. Global music lovers come to hear reggae, soca, salsa, calypso, afrobeat, Meringue and dancehall from international acts. A family-friendly event that also includes cultural dance performances, the festival offers discounted tickets for families. The 23rd annual Festival of Life in Union Park features The Voice winner Tessanne Chin.

    Square Roots Festival

    This low-key fest is a charming neighborhood offering that showcases the global and roots music championed by sponsor The Old Town School of Folk Music. It takes place in the trendy Lincoln Square neighborhood, in a blocked off expanse of Lincoln Avenue between Montrose and Wilson. Scheduled for July 10-12, the Square Roots Fest includes food and craft beers from local spots and dance and music demonstrations for kids. Haitian folk singer Emeline Michel headlines along with a fiddle club battle of the bands and a circus arts performance.

    Fiesta Del Sol

    A four-day extravaganza of Mexican culture, including food, dance, art and music, Fiesta Del Sol runs from July 30- Aug. 2 in Chicago's historic Mexican community of Pilsen. Stretching out at 1400 W. Cermak, between Ashland and Morgan, the festival features Latin fusion, Norteno, cumbia, son and Rock en Espanol, to name some of the music genres. A family focused event, Fiesta Del Sol is an alcohol and tobacco -free festival.

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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