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Summer Festival Season Returns to Lake County 2021

Pardon our French, but the summer festival season in Lake County is lit AF (of course, we’re talking about atrial fibrillation) because these box socials can make your heart get jumpy).

Get the fam and them together to achieve squad goals.

Many have done their part during the pandemic in social distancing and staying in place. As capacity numbers at facilities are rising and COVID-19 restrictions are easing, everyone is ready to party as if it were a pandemic-less 2019.

What’s so good about summer festivals in Lake County? The sun is out, the streets are over-saturated with humans dancing to live Spotify, exploring their palate with enchanting eats and drinks, seeking thrills on carnival rides and so much more.

Go ahead and peruse through the summer festival season guide and see all of what the land of lakes has to offer.

Park on Park Cruise Night in Mundelein (June 9, July 14, August 11, September 8 and October 13)

 

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“Riding around in my automobile. My baby beside me at the wheel.” – Chuck Berry. Classic cars pre-1977, live entertainment and delicious eats round out this Mundelein staple, make for a fantastic summer weekday treat. The long-running event attracts over 400 vehicles and more than 1,000 car junkies. Park on Park Cruise Night occurs the second Wednesday of each month throughout the summer and into early fall.

CarFun on 21 in MainStreet Libertyville (Wednesdays June 16-Sept. 15)

“Get your kicks on Route 21.” While many will be hitting the roads to travel, people may be singing “Car Fun on 21, where are you?” (in the stylings of the 1961 theme song of Car 54, where are you? – that reference is much too old for this blogger, but, here we are). Much like its Park on Park Cruise Night neighbor to the west, Car Fun in MainStreet Libertyville is for the vintage car aficionado and those looking for a fun weeknight out. The classic whip showcase is highlighted by cars, trucks and motorcycles aged 23 years or older. The second-Friday of the month evening festivities also features live music. For the four events, bands Big Cat, Ace Music, Kev and Matt as well s School of Rock, will grace the stage. The eats are provided by Chicagoland staple Rosati’s. Feel free to peruse one of the many world-class eateries located on Milwaukee Avenue.

Grayslake Arts Festival Wine Walk (June 19)

Fine wine and fine arts are just what the doctor ordered. The Grayslake Arts Festival and Wine Tasting features the work of over 60 juried artists. The vino will be provided by Irene’s Vineyard from Oblong, Illinois. Admission to the event includes a keepsake glass and five tasting tickets. There will also be fare vendors offering hot dogs and burgers.

ArtWauk in Waukegan (June 19, July 17, August 21 and September 18)

 

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Fill your artistic void with the ever-extravagant monthly ArtWauk in Downtown Waukegan. Experience a plethora of talented individuals showcasing their work in utilizing a slew of different art mediums. In addition to the portraits, sculptures, live jazz music and other artistic vibes, munch on some delicious dining options at various downtown Waukegan locations like La Casa de Samuel, Green Town Tavern, Win Win Restaurant, Nightshade and Dark’s Pandemonium Brewing Co., Oppidan Spirits. Jerk N’ More and others via carryout, curbside pickup as well as indoor and outdoor dining. Saturday makes for a great pizza and beer night as Zümbier and Quonset Pizza provide edibles and drinkables outside of the downtown area.

FairyTale Festival Brothers’ Field in Long Grove (June 19)

“Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, gonna help our Cinderelly. Got no time to dilly-dally
We gotta get a-goin’.”Whatever Disney slap resonates with you, hum the tune along to Long Grove’s FairyTale Festival. Dress up like Elsa, Moana, Jasmine or some other princess fav in a safe outdoor show. The event features group games, singing, dancing, photo Ops with the princesses themselves and a Q&A session.

Blarney Island Festivals in Antioch (Select Days through the Summer)

Blarney Island is the premier summer party located a mile offshore on the Chain O’Lakes. The unique Antioch bar hosts events, fests, live entertainment, Thunder on the Chain and many others. Take the Blarney shuttle boat out from Port of Blarney, and in just a few minutes, you will be living on island time. Blarney Island is open through Labor Day weekend. Blarney Island isn’t just a weekend destination. Thursday’s Thunder on the Chain is a must-see event!

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  • 90s Party Weekend (July 30-August 1) INFO»
  • 80s Weekend (August 13-15) INFO»
  • Fantasy Fest Weekend (August 19-22) INFO»

Long Grove’s Strawberry Festival (June 25-27)


“And nothing to get hung about. Strawberry fields forever!” Experiencing summer in Historic Downtown Long Grove is always a treat. Long Grove Strawberry Fest is a ‘berry’ wonderful celebration that offers everything from chocolate-covered strawberries, strawberry martinis and …well, more strawberry-fused foods. The festival features live music all day on three different stages, unique shopping, impressive fare and kid-tivities for the entire weekend. The fruit frenzy features live performances from a full lineup of your favorite local bands and musicians.

Midsommar Party at North Shore Distillery (June 26)

North Shore Distillery in Green Oaks throws their Midsommar Celebration on Lake County’s longest day of the year featuring succulent spirits and other festivities alfresco style. Don your flower crown around the fire pit and their Midsommar pole. The Swedish Glee Club will be on hand to provide live tunes.

Taste of Grayslake, Family Picnic & Fireworks (June 26)

 

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“The rocket’s red glare” and ‘the bombs bursting in air’ appear early in Grayslake. The Taste of Grayslake festivities includes live entertainment, carnival rides and local eats. Performers at this park district event include Vinyl Gold Mind and the GOOROOS. The June 26 fireworks show begins at dusk.

Ravinia Festival 2021 in Highland Park (July 1-September 24)

 

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Ravinia Festival, the eldest outdoor festival in the United States, kicks off its season with an all-star cast. The showcase is a staple of Lake County. Since 1905, the Highland Park fest has featured the top musicians in a variety of genres. Some marquee performers include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cynthia Erivo, Wynton Marsalis, Gladys Knight, Woody Nelson, Lady A, Ben Folds,  Train, and more.

Mundelein Community Days (July 3-5)


The Kracklauer Park fest includes musical performances, food, drinks, arts and crafts, a car show, a carnival, a parade, activities for kids and adults, and much more. There will also be a parade. The Independence Day Fireworks Show is held on July 4 at 9:30 p.m, while the parade steps off at 2 p.m on July 5. The Mundelein Community Days musical entertainment lineup includes

Red White & Boom in Lincolnshire (July 4)

Yankee Doodle went to Lincolnshire riding on a pony. His adventure to the Lake County village ended when he arrived at the Red, White and Boom Fest (sans the cap, feather and macaroni). This annual celebration has yet to release its details but has been trimmed down to just one day. The renowned event is highlighted by live entertainment, a stunning firework extravaganza, a parade, a classic car show, a carnival for the kiddies and more.

Other Fourth of July Celebrations

“Hurrah for the flag of the free. May it wave as our standard forever” (cue the wicked piccolo solo). You’ll be humming everyone’s favorite Sousa “smash single” (Stars & Stripes Forever). Here are your Independence Day parties in the land of lakes.

  • Independence Day Celebration in Antioch (July 4) INFO»
  • Waukegan July 4th Celebration (July 4) INFO»

Bristol Renaissance Faire (July 10-September 6)


Even if you don’t own a DeLorean, you can take a trip back to the past to experience the 16th-century English Elizabethan era just over the Wisconsin border. The renowned Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha features sword fighters, maidens, minstrels and jesters. There are many photo opportunities for having the chance to meet and greet with legendary celebrities such as Queen Elizabeth and Robin Hood. The Faire also offers games, rides, arts and crafts, eats, live music and one-of-a-kind encounters with a spectacular cast of characters. Bristol, like many of the other festivities, makes its most triumphant return after a 2020 hiatus.

Citadel Theatre’s Annual Gala “Hollywood Illumination: 2021” (July 10)

The Lake Forest theatre that stages inspiring show throws their annual gala affair entitled “Hollywood Illumination.” The event is hosted at the Adler Arts Center in Libertyville.

HarborPalooza 2021 at Harbor Brewing Co. Lakefront Craft Biergarten (July 10)

Leave LollaPalooza to the city slickers. Lake County Libation Trail partner Harbor Brewing Co. is throwing their second installment of the Lakefront Craft Biergarten’s HarborPalooza. North Point Marina will be where the party’s at as two stages will be moving with stellar bands, fare vendors will be on-site and of course, the Winthrop Harbor suds makers will be serving its delectable craft adult drinks. The music schedule includes artists Ben Mulwana, Brecken Miles and Talkin’ Trash. Come by land or by boat as the Biergarten is located on Lake Michigan!

Fox Lake Bloody Mary Fest (TBD in July)

Everyone’s favorite Sunday brunch tomato libation has a fest in the “Heart of the Chain O’ Lakes.” The Fox Lake Bloody Mary Fest admission includes adult beverage samples, voting tickets to indicate who served the best beverage in the show and a mini mason jar. The downtown Fox Lake event is also highlighted by live tunes, eats and several participating taverns and bars. Stay tuned as Fox Lake is still in the planning stages of this libation party. The fest will run on multiple weekends in July. Stay tuned for more details.

92nd Annual Lake County Fair (July 30-August 1)

 

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Do you wake up nights in a cold sweat after a nightmare with the aroma of funnel cakes? That’s either a serious medical condition or you have withdrawal from the Lake County Fair. Your wait is over as the Grayslake, nearly century-old fest comes back. Although a little scaled back due to COVID-19, your favorite elements are still attainable, like livestock, a carnival, live music, outrageously delectable fare. Stay tuned to the website to see what additional components they add to the annual county fair.

MainSweet Libertyville Dessert Walk (August 7)

Before or after filling your artistic appetite at the Adler Arts Center Festival of the Arts occurring the same weekend, pamper your sweet tooth with a stroll down the MainSweet Dessert Walk. The dessert makers participating in this saccharine event will be announced closer to the event. To kick off your weekend, head to First Fridays on MainStreet for a wine tasting, live tunes, exceptional deals, a book signing, fortune-telling and eats from award-winning restaurants.

Harbor Day’s Festival & Venetian Night in Winthrop Harbor

Walk the plank to North Point Marina’s Harbor Days Festival and Venetian Night this Saturday. The boating party will feature the “GHOST SHIP, HAUNTED MARINA” Lighted Boat Parade, a slew of kiddie activities, a vendor fair, live music, an open swim in the marina’s new swimming pool, tons of eats and beverages, pyrotechnics and more. Stop by Lake County Libation Trail partner Harbor Brewing Co. Lakefront Biergarten for their legendary suds. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs for the parade following at dusk.

Adler Arts Center’s 40th Annual Festival of the Arts at Cook Park in Libertyville (August 7-8)

Invest your fest feels on a festive festival-infested Friday through Sunday in Libertyville. The Adler Arts Center has showcased some of the most exceptional work from artists across the country. A ton of talented individuals will have their work on display. This event hosted by the 100+-year-old facility will also feature a youth art division to celebrate children’s talent. Besides the unique artwork on display, attendees will experience live music, divine fare and plenty more at the Libertyville festival in Cook Park.

Libertyville Days Festival “Let’s Give it a Shot!” (August 12-15)

It’s the party of the year in Libertyville! Libertyville Days is a staple in the community and the 2021 theme is “Let’s give it a shot.” For three memorable days, beautiful downtown Libertyville provides a weekend full of activities, including a parade, pageant, carnival rides, Church Street eats, beer garden, an arts and craft fair, eating competitions, car show, live entertainment and so much more

Grayslake Summer Days (August 20-21)

Grayslake Summer Days are one of the last festivals of the season in Lake County. This family-fun festival features live entertainment, carnival games, bingo, beer tents, arts & crafts, food vendors, a business booth area and go-cart races. Don’t forget to find a good spot on Whitney Street for the Bike and Pet Parade and Summer Days Parade later that night.

Grayslake Color Aloft Fest (August 28)


Look in the sky – it’s a bird, it’s a plane. Is it a plethora of hot-air balloons? The Annual Grayslake Color Aloft Balloon Festival allows attendees to witness the inflation and competition as aircraft experts contend in a ‘Fox and Hounds Contest.’ After the sun sets, the sky will light up with the balloons’ burners that illuminate the night. The event includes live music, family activities and different food and beverage vendors.

Potawatomi Trails Pow Wow in Zion (August 28-29)

 

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Receive a taste of the Native American heritage to heighten awareness of their history at the Annual Potawatomi Trails Pow Wow. Join the celebration as you listen and witness the history, traditions and customs of the Native Americans. Other festivities occurring at this Zion fiesta include live demonstrations, music and dance presentations, educational sessions and a trade area. The Grand Entry is a must-see experience where members of the tribe will present the Potawatomi flag as well as perform the traditional dances.


For more information on the summer festival season, click here. To find your own adventure in the land of lakes, continue here.

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