The Taste of Chicago is a food festival held in Chicago yearly since 1980, and was inspired in part by ChicagoFest, a summer music festival that was held for the first time in 1978. Today the Taste of Chicago is known as the world’s largest food festival, lasting an impressive 10 days in the summer and attracting millions of Chicagoans and tourists each year. The festival dates will change slightly each year, but this celebration begins on the Friday before the Fourth of July, so it is easy to plan a vacation in advance if you’d like to visit the festival.
The first Taste of Chicago was not nearly as elaborate as the modern festival. The 1980 event was held on Independence Day and was only a day long festival. Popularity of the event was high though, and the next year, organizers decided to expand the festival into ten days and move the location to Chicago’s famous Grant Park. In addition to providing fantastic food tasting opportunities from many local vendors, the Taste of Chicago does incorporate some elements of ChicagoFest, and very well known musicians delight crowds.
All music shows are free, but food and wine tastings require taste tickets. There are other ways to spend money too with various rides and activities that may cost a little bit. Another free event though is the annual July 3rd Fireworks Show, which consistently earns praise as one of the best fireworks displays in the nation. Lake Michigan provides an impressive backdrop for some of the most advanced fireworks in the business.
A festival called the Taste of Chicago wouldn’t be awe-inspiring if it didn’t provide excellent food. Some people are drawn solely by the chance to taste Chicago classics like Chicago-style pizza or hot dogs prepared the Chicago way. While the festival features regional cuisine, there are plenty of cuisines reflecting the diverse heritage of residents of the US. It’s hard to walk away from such a festival without finding something that will appeal. Though in general the festival has gone well, there was an unfortunate salmonella outbreak in 2007. The cause was quickly discovered and affected less than a percent of people in attendance that year.
It’s a good idea to plan carefully if you want to attend the Taste of Chicago. Traffic is notoriously a nightmare, and parking fees are exorbitant. Most people recommend relying on buses or trains to get there. Plan on wearing comfortable shoes, and clothing suited to Chicago summers. Don’t forget plenty of sunscreen.
Concerts are free, but some arenas have limited seating, and big name acts draw huge crowds. Plan to get to concerts in advance. This is especially the case if any of the acts you would like to see are performing at the Petrillo Music Shell.