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Your ultimate guide to Chicago Blues Festival

Chicago Blues Festival is a vibrant celebration that has become the center of a long-time tradition of blues music. Originated in the Windy City of Chicago, the electric blues is all set to offer rich history, soulful symphony and lively atmosphere to visitors from all over the world. Chicago Blues Festival is the largest blues festival held during the month of June every year at multiple locations including Millenium Park. It attracts more than five million people each year from all around the world.  

Chicago Blues Festival

Know the Past of Chicago Blues Festival

Blues music itself is literally written in the history of the Chicago Blues Festival. Originating in the 20th century, blues sprang from black communities in America’s Deep South and found its first home in urban Chicago. As African Americans moved from the rural South to northern cities like Chicago, they brought with them their music, their stories, and their struggles. In the smoky bars and clubs of Chicago’s South Side, the blues found fertile ground to evolve and flourish. 

In 1984 the first Chicago Blues Festival was held at the Mayor’s Office of Special Events. The reason for this was to pay respect to the city’s rich blues tradition. Since then, it became the world’s biggest blues festival, attracting hundreds of thousands of fans each year free of charge. Usually held in June and July, the major outdoor event takes place at Almeda Park over three or four days with multiple stages hosting performances. Stars of blues both old and new can be heard here. 


The festival pays tribute to those who were at black blues men and who used to reside in Chicago, such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, and Buddy Guy. Their influence permeates the tributes and performances at this festival, reminding people that their place in music history will not be forgotten by future generations. 

From an economic and cultural perspective, the Chicago Blues Festival is something not to be missed. However, in addition to the immediate revenue brought in by tourism and local businesses throughout festival weekends, it also helps maintain Chicago as a major center for music of any kind. The festival draws a crowd of blues fans from and beyond all parts of the earth. It binds everyone interested in this antique form of music. This outreach contributes to the diverse mix that defines the city of Chicago, spurring on a real and powerful sense of community among blues fans everywhere. 

Blues Festival 2019

Admission and Schedule

This year the Millenium Park celebrates its 20th year anniversary and Chicago Blues is a part of this celebration. Hence, this year the experience is going to be extraordinary. The main performances will be held at the Millenium Park and other historic places of Chicago and the admission to all the series of events is free. 

The four-day event will be from June 6-9, 2024. This year will be celebrated with more than 40 performances and approximately 250 artists. The line-up to the festival is as follows: 

Thursday, June 6 

Ramova Theatre 

  • Ronnie Baker Brooks 
  • Shemekia Copeland 

Friday, June 7 

Jay Pritzker Pavilion 

  • Centennial Tribute to Jimmy Rogers featuring Kim Wilson Jimmy D. Lane, Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, Bob Margolin, Sebastian Lane, Felton Crews, and Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith 
  • Mr. Sipp 
  • Corey Harris 

Visit Mississippi Juke Joint Stage (South Promenade) 

  • Big A & The Allstars 
  • J’Cenae 
  • Keith Johnson & The Big Muddy Band 
  • Nora Jean Wallace 

Rosa’s Lounge (North Promenade) 

  • Last Call with WDCB Radio and Carlos Johnson 
  • Sheryl Youngblood 
  • Luke Pytel Band featuring Laretha Weathersby 
  • Ivy Ford 
  • Lil’ Jimmy Reed with Ben Levin 

Saturday, June 8 

Jay Pritzker Pavilion 

  • Southern Avenue 
  • Vanessa Collier 
  • Centennial Tribute to Dinah Washington featuring Dee 
  • Alexander, Bruce Henry, Miguel de la Cerna, Jeremiah Hunt, Charles Heath IV, and Melody Angel 

Visit Mississippi Juke Joint Stage (South Promenade) 

  • Dexter Allen 
  • Ra’Shad The Blues Kid 
  • Melvin Taylor 
  • Mzz Reese and The Reese’s Pieces 

Rosa’s Lounge (North Promenade) 

  • Last Call with WDCB Radio and Ivan Singh 
  • The Mike Wheeler Band 
  • Jamiah "Dirty Deacon" Rogers and the Dirty Church Band 
  • Vino Louden 
  • Al Spears & The Hurricane Project 

Sunday, June 9 

Jay Pritzker Pavilion 

  • Buddy Guy 
  • Cash Box Kings 
  • Centennial Tribute to Otis Spann featuring Johnny Iguana, Roosevelt Purifoy, Rie “Miss Lee” Kanehira, Sumito “Ariyo” Ariyoshi, Oscar Wilson, Bob Stroger, Billy Flynn and Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith 

Visit Mississippi Juke Joint Stage (South Promenade) 

  • Jaye Hammer 
  • Anissa Hampton 
  • Jonathan Ellison & The RAS Blues Band 
  • Southern Komfort Brass Band 

Rosa’s Lounge (North Promenade) 

  • Last Call with WDCB Radio and The Stephen Hull Experience 
  • Melody Angel 
  • Omar Coleman Westside Soul 
  • Joey J. Saye Trio 
  • Nate Manos Band with Alicia “Ya Yah” Townsend 
Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Location and Travel Options

Chicago Blues Festival is hosted by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events every year. It is mostly held at the Lakefront Millenium Park. Millenium Park is one of the most important attractions of Chicago and reaching there is quite an easy task. You can opt for any of the below options to reach your destination: 

  • By Flight: If you are coming from another city or country the fastest way to reach Chicago is by flight. Chicago boasts 3 international airports all within 25 miles of downtown. You can choose any of them as per your convenience. 
  • By Car: If you like to travel long and short distances at your own comfort, going by car must be your best option.  
  • By Bus: If you are environmentally conscious or low on budget, try the different bus options that Chicago has to offer.  
  • By Train: Both Amtrak and Metra train services are available at many stations all over Chicago.  
  • Walking or biking: If you are staying nearby Millenium Park, we suggest you simply walk or bike to your destination. 
Millemium Park location of the festival

The Chicago Blues Festival is more than a music festival; it is a tribute to resilience, creativity, and the lasting appeal of blues music. This spirit is the essence of a city that is still a light for musicians and fans alike, its native blues holds forth at home amidst changing popular taste. So, now this is your chance to experience historic music. 

You can also read: Carnaval San Francisco 

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