Illinois – Music

When it comes to music in Illinois, there’s no limit

The icons of Illinois:
  • Kanye West
  • Smashing Pumpkins
  • Chance the Rapper

Where to visit:

When it comes to music in Illinois, there’s no limit. Catch your favourite artist or someone new, with symphonies, jazz and metal bars, outdoor music festivals and more.

Chicago can't claim to be the birthplace of jazz, but it's undeniably a city where the genre is thriving and evolving. Whether you prefer swing, bop, acid or free jazz, you'll find something to tap your foot along to at Chicago's best jazz clubs.

The epitome of America’s music festival scene, Chicago’s Lollapalooza packs 100,000 fans a day into Grant Park, where crowds rock out to more than 100 bands over four August days, including past headliners like Radiohead and Paul McCartney. The predominantly young crowd makes it feel, at times, like a wild college party. If you love music, it’s a party you don’t want to miss.

The Grant Park crowds are mellower at June’s Chicago Blues Festival, better known as Blues Fest. As you’d expect in a city famous for its blues, the line-up features some of the genre’s best acts. Admission is free, so the pavilion fills with fans who nod their heads to the slow tunes and dance to high-energy blues funk. Don’t be surprised if legends like Buddy Guy (who has a blues bar down the street) make a guest appearance.

Get more thrills dancing in Grant Park during Chicago SummerDance, a free outdoor summer dance party. Each weekend night features a different dance style, like swing, salsa, waltz or Bollywood. After a group dance lesson, a live band plays as you try out your moves on the basketball-court-size dance floor.

For rocking music in a slightly calmer setting, pack your finest picnic gear and head to tree-covered Ravinia Festival on the North Shore in Highland Park. Set up your lawn chairs or sit in the pavilion during the months of June through September, and uncork your wine while listening to classical music or popular acts like James Taylor and Santana.