Ten alternatives to the Chicago Jazz Festival

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Maybe you’re no jazz fan. Or maybe you are but just don’t feel like battling crowds at this year’s Chicago Jazz Festival, which runs from Aug. 28-31. Whatever the case, here are ten potential alternatives to the annual extravaganza. While none are jazz-oriented, all involve crowds.




When: Aug. 28 through Sept. 7

Where: Milwaukee Avenue between Fullerton and California

Tickets: $10-$175

Info: chicagofringe.org; info@chicagofringe.org

Fifty boundary-pushing theatrical shows in five venues around Jefferson Park include everything from an exploration of “body image, sexuality, nostalgia and the annoying trope of the ‘modern millennial woman’” (Ankle Boots: Absurd Miniature Memoirs) and “a dramatic poem about the terror of loving someone” (Chicago After Dark — A Heart of Tweed) to the story of “the last woman left on earth after an apocalyptic event occurred during her wedding” (The Bride) and “a collection of classic jokes, stories and rants by [a] libertarian activist” (Indefinite Articles: A Libertarian Rage).



When: Aug. 30-31

Where: Milwaukee Ave between Fullerton and California

Tickets: Admission is free

Info: remixchicago.com; (773) 433-8048; info@ravenswoodremix.com

This new two-day art bash features works made from repurposed materials (clothing, jewelry, etc) by artists encompassing the indie, intuitive, folk and craft realms. Participants include A Mechanical Mind, Fair Earth, Mistura Timepieces and many more. There’s also a plethora of food and music on which to gorge — orally and aurally. Among the bands scheduled to jam are Dark Fog, The Boxers and Velcro Lewis.




When: Aug. 29-31

Where: Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph

Tickets: $279 (only VIP 3-day passes remain)

Info: northcoastfestival.com; info@northcoastfestival.com

In this, NCMF’s fifth year, the roster is bursting as ever with bands aplenty. There’s Action Bronson and Showtek, Orchard Lounge and Sun Stereo, KiD CuDi and Nicky Romero. Oh, and Snoop Dogg (aka Snoop Lion)! A collaborative venture from indie producers in and around Chicago, NCMF aims to celebrate “the merging of all music and walks of life.”


When: Aug. 29 to Sept. 1; hours vary

Where: Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence

Tickets: Admission is free

Info: topchicago.org; (773) 777-8898

A brimming buffet of music, food and fun featuring the World’s Honkiest Polka Band, Squeezebox Band, Dixieland Jazz Cats, Kick the Sky Band and lots more. Plus folk dancing/singing, theatrical shows and a bunch of stuff for the kiddies such as clowns, a karate demonstration, disco and children’s entertainer Mary Macaroni.


When: Aug. 29 to Sept. 1; hours and performance times vary

Where: Naperville Riverwalk

Tickets: Prices vary depending on event

Info: lastfling.org; (630) 961-4143

Put on by the not-for-profit Naperville Jaycees, this farewell to summer blowout has a carnival (complete with dunk tank) and a “Family Fun Land” replete with petting zoo, crafts, pony rides and Bounce Town Bouncies. This year, FFL will host a concert by teen singing sensation Shealeigh as well as a meet-and-greet with Disney star Dove Cameron of the Disney Channel’s “Liv and Maddie.” There’s also dancing, magic and a sing-along. On the main stage, Junkyard Groove, Smash Mouth and 7th Heaven will rock out along with several other performers.


When: Aug. 30 to Oct. 19

Where: Public parks around Chicago

Tickets: Prices vary

Info: midnightcircus.net

Catch shows at Grand Crossing Park on South Ingleside, Ogden Park on South Racine, Independence Park on North Springfield, Welles Park on West Sunnyside, and a great many more. Performers at the various locations include clowns, trapeze artists, jugglers, jump-ropers and an acrobatic bicyclist. Born out of an excursion to Europe by its organizers, Midnight Circus recreates the “intimate theatrical circuses we saw in the small parks and piazzas in Italy and France” all over Chicago.


When: Aug. 29-30

Where: 1501 N. Kingsbury

Tickets: $35-$50

Info: ioimprov.com

After nearly 20 years in Wrigleyville, the just-reopened iO Theater has sprawling new digs on North Kingsbury just off North Avenue. In honor of its grand opening, lots of successful alums are scheduled to return for two-day blowout that’s taking place in the Del Close Theater, the Chris Farley Cabaret, the Mission Theater, The Harold Cabaret and elsewhere in the 40,000-square-foot building. Some of the biggest names include “Anchorman” star David Koechner, “30 Rock” standouts Scott Adsit and Jack McBrayer, “Mad Men’s” Joel Murray (of the Wilmette Murrays) and “SNL’s” Tim Meadows.


Where: Ravinia Festival, 200 Ravinia Park Rd., Highland Park

When: Aug. 28, 6:30 p.m.

Tickets: $38-$250

Info: ravinia.org

Bitchin’ beards, hit songs and killer guitar riffs from rock ‘n roll veterans. If it’s nice night and the weather holds, spread out a blanket on the lawn and enjoy summer while it’s still here.



Where: First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, 19100 S. Ridgeland, Tinley Park

When: Aug. 29, 3:30 p.m. (doors open at 3)

Tickets: $45-$120

Info: livenation.com

Formed in 1996, the California-rooted alt-rockers (“In the End,” “Numb,” “One Step Closer”) are still going strong after nearly two decades of delivering tunes infused with metal, rap, hip-hop, electronica and other styles. Together with the band Thirty Seconds to Mars, they’re touring throughout August and September and will appear on the same bill at Tinley Park.


Where: Soldier Field, 1410 South Museum Campus Dr.

When: Aug. 31, 6 p.m.

Tickets: $55-$105

Info: ticketmaster.com

The country superstar and composer of “Crash My Party” and “That’s My Kind of Night,” among many other hits, brings his tour to Chicago’s Soldier Field for one night only. In preparation, as Bryan might suggest, Roll down the windows/turn it on up/Pour a little Crown in a Dixie cup/Get the party started. Or not.

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