Chicago Blues Festival

The Chicago Blues Festival is an event that brings lovers of the musical genre together. Head there to enjoy some great music and the incredible vibe.

Event information

Chicago Blues Festival is among the most popular, world-renowned music festivals and features performances by the best Blues musicians. It is held annually in Chicago and takes place over three days.

The event is organized by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Festival attendees will be treated to music by stalwarts of the genre as well as up-and-coming new artists. The first venue for Chicago blues was Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park. In more recent years, it has been moved to Millennium Park which is nearby.

Past performers include Albert King, Bill Doggett, Etta James, John Lee Hooker, Otis "Big Smokey" Smothers, Lil' Ed Williams and the Blues Imperials, Eddie Taylor Jr, Jimmie Lee Robinson, and Eddie Cusic. The festival has always featured a diverse line-up with a focus on showcasing the evolution of Blues music.

Chicago Blues Festival also aims to shed light on the contributions of the genre to various other types of music like hip-hop, soul, and R&B. The Chicago Blues Festival has truly become an institution and an essential part of the city’s heritage. Since its early beginnings, it has grown to become the largest free concert of its kind in the world.

Tickets

Admission to the Chicago Blues Festival has been free in the past. All of the amazing performances are open to the public and completely free of charge. You can support the organizers by buying food and drinks from the various vendors that are a part of the event. There will also be tents set up by non-profit organizations where you can make donations.

Transportation

Driving

Driving an RV through a crowded city like Chicago means that motorists will want to leave a bit of extra travel time. Be as prepared as possible by looking up traffic information and recommended routes. You may also need to navigate a few tunnels to get to the city center. It’s a good idea to find an RV park on the outskirts of the city and get to the venue using public transport.

Parking areas

Driving to the venue on the day of the event might be a bit stressful. You will find a few large parking garages near Millennium Park where paid parking spots are available. Remember to check the height of your rig if choosing garage parking. These sell out fast, so make sure you purchase your pass in advance. You can also get an early bird discount if you buy them before the event.

Public Transportation

Public transportation options well connect the City of Chicago. You can take the subway or elevated lines and get off at a stop near the venue if you’re up for a short walk. There are also plenty of bus routes that will get you there. The other alternatives are rideshare apps and taxi service providers.

Where to stay

Onsite

Camping on the event grounds is not permitted at the Chicago Blues Festival. Fortunately, there are many comfortable RV parks and campgrounds in and around the city from which to choose.

Nearby

Chicago has some well-equipped RV parks and campgrounds, although you’re likely to find the larger ones towards the outskirts of the city. If you’d prefer to stay closer to the festival venue, you can dry camp on one of the large parking lots near Millennium Park, but be sure to check for regulations and permission information on the lot you choose.

Getting around

Guests will need to get around the venue on foot. Bicycles, scooters, or motorized personal vehicles of any kind will not be allowed on the festival grounds. The best way to get to the event from your campground is by using public transport. You may also want to check if the RV campground where you’re staying offers a shuttle service to Millennium Park.

What to pack

Clothing

It’s best to keep your attire comfortable and casual at the Chicago Blues Festival. Most people around you will be in shorts and t-shirts. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes since you’re likely to be on your feet all day. Sunglasses and a hat will give you some added protection from the sun.

Gear

You will be allowed to carry a backpack with all your essentials into the venue. It’s a good idea to pack, sunscreen, a sealed water bottle, a hat, a lightweight blanket, sunglasses, and a portable phone charger. Professional photography, video or recording devices will not be allowed onto the grounds.

Health & Safety

Since you’re likely to be walking around a lot through the day, make sure you stay hydrated and wear comfortable shoes. If you do end up losing something, you can contact a number provided by the Chicago Blues Festival organizers. Make sure you’re not carrying any alcohol, weapons, or illegal substances of any kind for easy check-in.

Where to eat

Cooking

Most RV parks and campgrounds in the area allow cooking on the stove associated with your camper. However, there may be some restrictions when it comes to open flames or large barbecue pits. Remember to check the regulations for your camping location if you choose to dry camp within city limits.

Restaurants

Chicago has a truly vibrant food scene that may tantalize your taste buds as you enjoy the sights. The best restaurants in the city come in many forms—from fine dining options to popular pizza joints. Be sure to check out the great coffee shops and sandwich trucks for a quick bite on the go.

Vendors

There will be plenty of food to choose from at the Chicago Blues Festival. In addition to the usual carnival type food, you’ll also come across some gourmet food options. There will be some delicious desserts on offer as well. Alcoholic beverages including beer and wine will be available for purchase.

Safety

Security

Security personnel will be operating the entrances and also making rounds throughout the venue. Bags and backpacks will be checked upon entry for any prohibited items, and you may also be searched TSA-style upon entry. Anyone who is seen to be violating any festival rules will be escorted out of the venue immediately.

Weather

Chicago Blues Festival typically takes place at the beginning of summer, so it is likely to be sunny and pleasant. There is a certain level of unpredictability involved when it comes to the city’s weather. Rain gear or a small umbrella are okay, but large umbrellas will not be allowed into the venue. Due to the sun and any wind, you may prefer a light rain jacket for coverage instead of anything that may blow away easily.

Medical

The venue is fully accessible to patrons with disabilities. There are also wheelchair accessible restroom facilities on the venue and service animals will be allowed in with certifications. Trained EMTs and festival personnel will be able to jump in if an emergency occurs. You can flag them down if you require assistance.