The Chicago Market Days, also known as the Northalsted Market Days, is rolling around this year for its 39th annual celebration. Established in 1982, the Market Days did not occur last year for the first time in its history due to COVID-19-related concerns. However, this year, the two-day festival will be back more vital than ever, taking place from August 6-8 in Chicago’s landmark Northalsted/Lakeview district.
The Market Days is easily the Midwest’s largest street festival, annually averaging over 300,000 attendants. Thirty-nine years ago, it began amongst local business owners to celebrate the city’s culture, art, and music. The ½ mile-long festival stretches from Belmont Avenue to Addison Avenue, on North Halsted Street. The Northalsted neighborhood is America’s first recognized gay village and a Chicago LGBTQ+ historic landmark.
Since its creation, the Market Days has been a symbol of progress for city residents. Mickey Hornick, owner of Chicago Diner in Halsted and a co-founder of the festival, said for the festival’s 30th annual celebration that it “has always been a major force for gay rights.”
He recounts that in the 1980s when a police officer brutally arrested a festival-goer for spraying a water gun into his cruiser, the officer was accused of being homophobic. Residents rallied to the street, and the incident resulted in riots on Halsted Street.
The festival is primarily targeted towards the LGBT+ community, with performances from various queer artists and drag queens every year. This year, Trixie Mattel, Todrick Hall, and Greyson Chance are just a few names in the shining line-up. In addition, the festival will be equipped with six stages, 250+ unique vendors, arts, crafts, food and drink, DJs, and much more.
Festivities begin at 11 A.M. and end at 10 P.M. Saturday and Sunday; however, local bars and restaurants typically stay open much later. While admission is free, a suggested $15 donation goes towards supporting local non-profits and fund community projects, such as the Chicago Pride Crosswalks. In 2019, the Chicago Pride Crosswalks installed 14 rainbow paved intersections, making up the most extended pride installation in the world.
Admission: $15 Suggested Donation – All Ages – Donations make Market Days possible, support local non-profits, and fund community projects like the Chicago Pride Crosswalks.
Location: Halsted Street from Belmont to Addison, Chicago IL
Hours: Friday, August 6th: 5pm-10pm, Saturday-Sunday, August 7-8th: 11am – 10pm
Public Transportation: A short walk away from the CTA Belmont Red/Brown/Purple Line Station or the CTA Addison Red Line Station
Weather: Open rain or shine, please be advised that severe conditions may delay or cancel performances
Security: No large bags/backpacks allowed, all bags will be inspected prior to entry. No coolers or outside beverages. Keep cell phones & valuables out of reach. Exit festival via Main Gates at Belmont or Addison.