Ten cool things to do in Chicago in July | Summer Guide | Chicago Reader

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Ten cool things to do in Chicago in July

What to do now that summer is officially here


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It's July, which can mean only one thing: summer is in full swing. With concerts, street fests, and art events galore, there's no shortage of activities to keep you distracted from the overwhelming heat. Here are ten can't-miss events, and be sure to check out our Summer Guide for a complete rundown of midwest road trips, beer gardens and alfresco restaurants, and everything else that's happening.

Jamie Abelson and Anthony Fleming III - LIZ LAUREN
  • Jamie Abelson and Anthony Fleming III


Lookingglass Theatre's dazzling adaptation of Herman Melville's novel runs through late August. The Reader's Zac Thompson says "the poetry of bodies moving gracefully through space makes an ideal theatrical analogue to Melville's lyrical passages about life on the ship."

Through 8/28, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Water Tower Works, 821 N. Michigan, 312-337-0665, lookingglasstheatre.org, $50-$60.

Tourists from Edmonton, Canada, enjoy their first time at the festival. - MICHAEL SCHMIDT/SUN-TIMES
  • Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times
  • Tourists from Edmonton, Canada, enjoy their first time at the festival.

Taste of Chicago

Maybe you've heard of it? Part concert, part music fest, Taste of Chicago unites the city's diverse food options with a mix of local and big-name artists. Pair your favorite Chicago hot dog with a set by Spoon, or choose between 15 different food trucks while listening to Weezer.

Wed 7/8-Sun 7/12: Wed-Fri 11 AM-9 PM, Sat-Sun 10 AM-9 PM, Grant Park, Columbus and Jackson, cityofchicago.org, $25-$50 for music.

Todd Glass - JESSE GRANT
  • Jesse Grant
  • Todd Glass

The Comedy Exposition

The second annual comedy festival returns with a massive lineup of stand-up comics, including Todd Glass, James Adomian, Baron Vaughn, Kate Berlant, Phoebe Robinson, Rebecca O'Neal, the Puterbaugh Sisters, and Danny Kallas, plus special performances of the Blackout Diaries, Late Late Breakfast, and It's All True.

Fri 7/10-Sun 7/12: Fri-Sun, times vary, various locations, comedyexposition.com, $5-$20, $60 weekend pass .

Art and shopping collide on Michigan Avenue. - SUSAN SMITH VIA FLICKR
  • Susan Smith via Flickr
  • Art and shopping collide on Michigan Avenue.

Michigan Avenue Art Festival

Featuring artwork from more than 100 different artists across eight city blocks, this festival changes the meaning of window shopping on the Magnificent Mile.

Sat 7/11, 10 AM, Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan, artfestival.com, free.

Gorilla Tango's Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and Cersei Lannister - CHRISTOPHER NESEMEN
  • Christopher Nesemen
  • Gorilla Tango's Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and Cersei Lannister

Game of Thongs: A Game of Thrones Burlesque

This weekly HBO-inspired burlesque takes place, unavoidably, on the fictional continent of Breasteros, where—according to GTT—"you strip or you die." We'll take those odds.

Open run: Fri 10:30 PM, Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee, gorillatango.com, $28.

The Pitchfork Music Festival remains a summer staple. - COURTESY COLUMBIA CHRONICLE
  • Courtesy Columbia Chronicle
  • The Pitchfork Music Festival remains a summer staple.

Pitchfork Music Festival

Now in its tenth year, Chicago-based music publication Pitchfork hosts its annual three-day music fest in Union Park. Catering to the indie-music crowd, this year’s headliners include Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper and Wilco, plus punk band Sleater-Kinney.

Fri 7/17-Sun 7/19, Fri 3 PM-10 PM, Sat-Sun noon-10 PM, Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph, pitchforkmusicfestival.com, $65 daily.

Items for sale at the Green City Market - TOM CAMPONE VIA FLICKR
  • Tom Campone via Flickr
  • Items for sale at the Green City Market

Green City Market

The big kahuna of farmers' markets draws dozens of vendors, celebrity chefs, massive crowds (and their dogs), and a parking nightmare on Saturdays in Lincoln Park (the Wednesday version is more chill). All worth it for the top-quality produce and food vendors, carefully chosen as rigorously local (not so much as a chocolate chip in a scone can come from outside the area) and certified organic.

Through 10/31: Wed and Sat 7 AM-1 PM, 1750 N. Clark, 773-880-1266.

Pyongyang City Marathon, 2012 - ARI HATSUZAWA
  • Ari Hatsuzawa
  • Pyongyang City Marathon, 2012

North Korean Perspectives Opening Reception

Artist Hyounsang Yoo and guest curator Marc Prüst attend the opening reception of "North Korean Perspectives," the MOCP's latest exhibit. The show runs through 10/4 and features propaganda images from the North Korean government alongside work by international photographers in the Hermit Kingdom.

Thu 7/23, 5 PM, Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S. Michigan, mocp.org, free.

Street fests don't get much better than Wicker Park Fest. - KYLE LAMERE
  • Kyle LaMere
  • Street fests don't get much better than Wicker Park Fest.

Wicker Park Fest

One of Chicago's premier street fests is back for another summer. With musical acts such as soul singer Charles Bradley and heavy-metal band Deafheaven, plus many others, there's sure to be something for everybody. A kid-friendly zone keeps the little ones occupied while you enjoy the music.

Sat 7/25-Sun 7/26, North and Damen, wickerparkbucktown.com/fest, $5 donation.

Kevin Hart - JON HILL
  • Jon Hill
  • Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart

The pint-size actor (This Is the End, Get Hard) and virtuoso stand-up comic stops by Chicago on his 45-city What Now? tour. Nobody commands a stadium-size crowd quite like this guy.

7/30-7/31: Thu 7 and 11 PM, Fri 7 PM, United Center, 1901 W. Madison, kevinhartnation.com, $59.50-$150.

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