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TRAVEL: Getting Out: LGBTQ events and mainstream treats

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Chicago is not just a city of neighborhoods—it is also a city of festivals, from major downtown venues to local street fairs, block parties, and other special events through the city and suburbs, and across the state of Illinois each year.

2017 has been designated the Year of Public Art in Chicago, and the area is also celebrating Wright 150, the anniversary of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's birth. The Architectural Biennial runs Sept. 16-Jan 7.

For LGBTQs, some of the biggest events are the International Mr. Leather weekend over Memorial Day, with Bear Pride that same time period, United Latinx Pride ( June, ), followed by the Andersonville Midsommarfest ( June 9-11 ) and Pride Fest ( June 17-18, 2016 ), the Backlot Bash in June, Dyke March June 24, the Pride Parade the last Sunday of June ( June 25 ), and lots of related Pride events, Black Pride Weekend in early July, the Northalsted Market Days weekend in August—this year Aug. 12-13, and the Miss and Mr. Continental pageants Labor Day Weekend in Chicago, hosted by Baton Show Lounge.

Throughout the year there are many LGBTQ events, benefits, sports tournaments and more. Some events are planned just weeks or days in advance, thus they can't be listed in an annual guide. So check the Windy City Times calendar.

The Park at Wrigley debuted in April 2017 as Wrigleyville's town square and plays host to community festivals, farmers markets, music and dining throughout the year, see .

Chicago SummerDance shows off the incredible diversity of Chicago from June 23-Sept 10, in the Spirit of Music Garden, 601 S. Michigan Ave., in Grant Park, which transforms into an urban dance space. Dance to the sounds of 44 live bands and get into step with dance lessons beforehand. Glide across the restored 4,900-square-foot, 100-percent recycled, open-air dance floor designed by Chicago artist Dan Peterman. Fridays and Saturdays dance lessons 6-7 p.m. music and dancing: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Sundays dance lessons 4-5 p.m., music and dancing: 5-7 p.m.

The Chicago Air and Water Show is also free, held at North Avenue Beach Aug. 19-20, 10 a.m.-3 pm., weather dependent. You don't have to be at that exact location to see the planes and boats participating in the weekend along Chicago's North Lakefront.

Throughout the summer, usually from end of May thru early September, enjoy Navy Pier Summer Fireworks, synchronized to music, weather dependent, Saturdays at 10:15 p.m., Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m.

There is an annual Bike the Drive that is a nice kick-off for the summer, with bikes taking over the famous Lake Shore Drive along Chicago's gorgeous lakefront. See for details on the May 28 event.

Also in May each year is the Chicago Kids and Kites Festival. It is held at Cricket Hill at Montrose and the Lake, May 6, 2017.

Enjoy the culture of Chinatown with the annual Chicago Dragon Boat Race for Literacy. The Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce will host the 17th Annual Dragon Boat Race for Literacy June 24 at Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chinatown. The Chinese dragon boat race dates back more than 2,000 years and is a popular sport among Chinese and Asian communities all over the world. In 2015, more than 10,000 visitors watched 30 dragon boat teams race on the Chicago River. See

The Garfield Park Conservatory is beautiful all year round, with special spring flower and other events, .

What follows is a list of more highlights for 2017 in Chicago. See for updated lists, and for 2018 events. Plus check out the calendar page for LGBT-related events.

June 2017

— Fireworks at Navy Pier, through Labor Day

— United Latinx Pride/Orgullo Latinx Unido, June ( )

— Maifest June 1-4

— Chicago Gospel Music Festival June 2-3

— Do Division June 2-4

— Lincoln Park Greek Fest June 2-4

— 57th Street Art Fair June 3-4

— Andersonville Midsommarfest June 9-11

— Ribfest Chicago June 9-11

— Chicago Blues Festival June 9-11

— Spring Awakening Music Festival June 9-11

— Pilsen Food Truck Social June 10-11

— Wells Street Art Festival June 10-11

— Brew to Be Wild June 16-17

— Chicago Pride Fest June 17-18

— Gold Coast Art Fair June 17-18

— Millennium Park Summer Film Series June 13-Aug. 29

— Back Lot Bash lesbian parties, June ( )

— Chicago Ale Fest June 23-24

— Country LakeShake Music Festival June 23-25

— Craft Beer Festival at The Morton Arboretum June 24

— Ravenswood on Tap June 24-25

— Proud to Run Chicago June 24 ( )

— Dyke March June 24

— Chicago Taco & Tequila Fest June 24-25

— Chicago Pride Parade June 25

— Montrose Rocks post-Parade event, Montrose and the Lake

— Pride North June 25

— Randolph Street Market Festival June 24-25

— Windy City Ribfest in Uptown June 30-July 2

July 2017

— Chicago Black Pride early July ( )

— Chosen Few Picnic: House Music Festival July 1-2

— African/Caribbean International Festival of Life July 1-4

— Windy City RibFest in Uptown July 1-3

— Fourth of July Fireworks at Navy Pier July 4

— Taste of Chicago July 5-9

— Millennium Art Festival July 7-9

— Ruido Fest July 7-9

— West Fest July 7-9

— Irish American Heritage Festival July 7-9

— Ride for AIDS Chicago July 8-9 ( )

— Chicago Margarita Festival July 8-9

— Roscoe Village Burger Fest July 8-9

— Bastille Day 5/8K Run & Walk July 13

— Windy City Smokeout July 14-16

— Pitchfork Music Festival July 14-16

— Chicago Open Air Music Festival July 14-16

— RUN! To End Homelessness July 15

— Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac July 15

— Southport Art & Music Fest July 15-16

— Chinatown Summer Fair July 16

— Dearborn Garden Walk July 16

— artfest Michigan Avenue July 21-23

— Taste of River North July 21-23

— Sheffield Music Festival & Garden Walk July 22-23

— Chicago Craft Beer Festival July 22-23

— Fiesta del Sol July 27-30

— Tour de Fat July 29

— Taste of Lincoln Avenue July 29-30

— Wicker Park Fest July 29-30

— Randolph Street Market Festival July 29-30

August 2017

— Wrigleyville SummerFest August

— Lollapalooza August 3-6

— Jeff Fest Aug. 4-6

— Edge Fest Aug. 5-6

— Reggae Fest Chicago Aug. 11-12

— Chicago Hot Dog Fest Aug. 11-13

— Ginza Festival Chicago Aug. 11-13

— Retro on Roscoe Aug. 11-13

— Bud Billiken Parade Aug. 12

— Northalsted Market Days Aug. 13-14

— West Loop Art Fair Aug. 16-17

— Clark After Dark Aug. 17

— Festa Italiana Aug. 18-20

— Edison Park Fest Aug. 18-20

— Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest Aug. 18-20

— Windy City Carnival Aug. 19

— Oak Park Microbrew Review Aug. 19

— Chicago Air & Water Show Aug. 19-20

— Taste of Greektown Aug. 25-27

— Randolph Street Market Festival Aug. 26-27

— Transamerica Chicago Triathlon Aug. 27 ( Team to End AIDS competes, )

— Chicago Fringe Festival Aug. 30-Sept. 10

— Chicago Jazz Festival Aug. 31-Sept. 3

September 2017

— Miss Continental and Mr. Continental pageants weekend, Sept. 2-4, hosted by Baton Show Lounge ( )

— Reeling Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival September ( )

— Chicago Jazz Festival thru Sept. 3

— Chicago Fringe Festival thru Sept. 10

— Great American Lobster Fest Sept. 1-3

— North Coast Music Festival Sept. 1-3

— African Festival of the Arts Sept. 1-4

— Taste of Polonia Sept. 1-4

— Windy City Wine Festival Sept. 8-9

— Throwback Music Festival Sept. 8-10

— Festival de La Villita ( aka Little Village Fest ) Sept. 8-10

— World Music Festival Chicago Sept. 8-24

— Out in the Park at Six Flags Great America Sept. 9 ( )

— Lakeview East Festival of the Arts Sept. 9-10

— EXPO Art Week Sept. 13-17,

— Race Judicata Sept. 14

— Riot Fest & Carnival Sept. 15-17

— Ravenswood ArtWalk Sept. 16-17

— Sam Adams' Lakeview Taco Fest Sept. 16-17

— Chicago Architecture Biennial Sept. 16-Jan 7, 2018

— West Loop Art Fest Sept. 17-19

— Chicago Gourmet Sept. 22-24

— Logan Square Food Truck Social Sept. 22-24

— AAHH! Fest by Common Sept. 23-24

— Randolph Street Market Festival Sept. 23-24

— Oktoberfest Chicago at St. Alphonsus Sept. 29-Oct. 1

— Fulton Market Harvest Fest Sept. 29-Oct. 1

October 2017

— AIDS Run & Walk Chicago Oct. 1

— West Town Food Truck Social Oct. 6-7

— Rocktober Beerfest Oct. 6-8

— Chicago Marathon Oct. 8 ( Team to End AIDS runs, )

— Columbus Day Parade Oct. 9

— Chicago International Film Festival Oct. 12-26

— Open House Chicago presented by Chicago Architecture Foundation Oct. 14-15

— Chicago Ideas Week Oct. 16-22

— The Halloween Gathering Festival & Parade Oct. 21

— Randolph Street Market Festival Oct. 28-29

— Northalsted Business Alliance hosts their Northalsted Halloween Parade Oct. 31 ( )

November 2016

— SOFA Art + Design Fair Nov. 2-5

— Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Millennium Park Nov. 17

— Christkindlmarket Chicago Nov. 17-Dec. 24, Daley Plaza

— Randolph Street Holiday Market Nov. 18-19

— The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Nov. 18

— Transgender Day of Remembrance, an observance Nov. 20 around the world to honor the memories of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. There are usually several Chicago-area events with tributes.

— Thanksgiving Day Parade Nov. 23

— ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo Nov. -Jan. 1, 2018

— McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink in Millennium Park Nov.-March

December 2016

— World of Chocolate is an annual fundraiser for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, held each December. See .

— McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink in Millennium Park thru March

— Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo December

— Christkindlmarket Chicago thru Dec. 24, Daley Plaza

— ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo thru Jan. 1, 2018

— Chicago Architecture Biennial thru Jan. 7, 2018

— Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier Dec. 1-Jan. 7, 2018

— One of A Kind Show and Sale Dec. 7-10

— Randolph Street Holiday Market Dec. 16-17

— New Year's Eve Fireworks at Navy Pier Dec. 31

— Chi-Town Rising: NYE Celebration Dec. 31

If you're coming to Chicago in 2018, check back closer to the end of 2017 for exact dates for these annual events:

January: Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, Rhinoceros Theater Festival, Tomorrow Never Knows Festival, Chicago Boat/Sports/RV Show, Chicago Cubs Convention, Fillet of Solo Festival, SoxFest, Chicago Restaurant Week, IKC Dog Show, Randolph Street Market Festival.

February: Snow Days Chicago at Navy Pier, Chicago Theatre Week, University of Chicago Folk Festival, Chicago Auto Show, Chicago Chinese New Year Celebration, Lunar New Year Parade.

March: St. Patrick's Day Downtown Parade and River Dyeing, Chicago Flower & Garden Show at Navy Pier, Southside Irish Parade, Northwest Side Irish Parade, C2E2: Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, Good Food Festival, Macy's Flower Show.

April: Chicago Dance Month, River North Beer Fest, CHIRP Record Fair, CIMMfest: The Chicago International Movies & Music Festival, Chicago Zine Fest, Baconfest Chicago.

May: Chicago Improv Festival, James Beard Foundation Awards, Chicago Kids and Kites Festival, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Spring Festival, Chicago Craft Beer Week, Mayfest, Frank Lloyd Wright Trust presents Wright Plus Housewalk, Lincoln Park Wine Festival, Chicago Memorial Day Parade, Randolph Street Market Festival, Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival, Mole de Mayo, Maifest. And don't forget International Mr. Leather, held every Memorial Weekend. See .

TRAVEL IN ILLINOIS Great River Road, National Forest, Wine Country, Indian Mounds, Eclipse .

OUT! Chicago, Illinois LGBTQ Visitor's Guide available .

TRAVEL with Cory Jobe: Trying to be 'amazing' Advertising campaign reaches out to LGBTs .

TRAVEL in ILLINOIS LGBTs in Oak Park and Western Cook County .

TRAVEL IN ILLINOIS Oak Park: The Village Wright Built .

TRAVEL IN ILLINOIS Four towns in DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS well worth the time .

Getting Out: LGBTQ events and mainstream treats .

And here is a PDF of the entire Windy City Times with pull-out section inside: .

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