With the snow and ice melted away, it’s officially time to play in Chicago. From free family fun to well-known music festivals, The Windy City is well-versed when it comes to celebrating the summer season. Whether you’re looking to make memories with the little ones or feel the love on a romantic getaway, you’ll find endless ways to enhance your escape in the coming months.     

Mark your calendars for some of Chicago’s hottest 2018 events this summer:

Nickelodeon SlimeFest – June 9-10 –  If you’re a ‘90s kid or have kids of your own, you’ll want to go green at this one-of-a-kind music and slime festival. In addition to a star-studded lineup – including performances by Liam Payne, Flo Rida and Zedd – the weekend will include several slime activities for the whole family and appearances by numerous Nickelodeon legends.

Grant Park Music Festival – June 13 through August 18 on select nights – Get serenaded under the stars by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus. For more than 80 years, this 10-week classical music series has featured free concerts for the public. Come witness the stylings of the orchestra’s key members while savoring beautiful skyline views at Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

Chicago SummerDance – June 28 through August 25 – Head to the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park to experience the largest outdoor social dancing event in the country. Whether you’re busting a move, participating in one of the free instructional lessons or simply enjoying the music, you’ll find this festival one worth remembering. 

Fourth of July Shoreline Sightseeing Cruise – July 4 – Spending Independence Day in Chicago? Celebrate the national holiday with a 90-minute boat ride around the city, then sit back and enjoy an up-close view of Chicago’s annual firework show at Navy Pier.   

Taste of Chicago – July 11-15 – As the largest free admission festival in the state, Taste of Chicago welcomes all ages to indulge in the city’s impressive culinary scene at dozens of the area’s leading restaurants. The outdoor festival also features multiple stages with live performances, park rides and pop-up shops overlooking the lake.

Lollapalooza – August 2-5 – Music lovers of all ages and genres won’t want to miss out on this four-day festival. With this year’s legendary lineup of headliners like Arctic Monkeys, Bruno Mars, The Weekend and Jack White, Lollapalooza promises epic shows from sunrise to well-after sunset with the Chicago skyline in the background.       

Chicago Air & Water Show – August 18-19 – There’s a reason a crowd of 2 million people attend the Chicago Air & Water Show every year. Grab a front-row seat at North Avenue Beach and catch daredevil thrills performed by top civilian and military pilots both in the air and on the water.

Chicago Jazz Festival – August 30 through September 2 – A Labor Day weekend tradition, the Chicago Jazz Festival will celebrate its 80th year with an impressive lineup of local, national and international musicians. Pack a picnic and head to Millennium Park for a day of free music and fun in the sun.

Ready to experience summer in Chi-Town? See more of Chicago while spending less when you book a custom travel package from Vacations by Marriott.