Chicago Market Days: The Queer Street Festival You Never Knew You Wanted


Chicago Market Days: The Queer Street Festival You Never Knew You Wanted

Northalsted Chicago, colloquially known as the Boystown District, is one of the world’s most out and proud towns. As the first officially recognized gay village in the United States, Northalsted is a hub for LGBTQ+ clubs, events, and celebrations in the local area. When Boystown throws a party, everyone’s invited!
You’d better believe they’ve got something spectacular planned this August because the Northalsted Market Days will be celebrating their fortieth anniversary. The iconic two-day, queer-centered street festival will see DJs, bands, and local businesses stepping out into the street for a party like no other while approximately 100’000 people – both local and from further afield – flock to this unforgettable event.

This Year's Event

From the fantastic food to the outstanding artists, there’s always something for everyone on the market days. This year, the event will take place on the 6th and 7th of August and will feature over 200 unique attractions spanning a half-mile-long stretch of the city. From Belmont to Addison, attendees can enjoy a festival packed with an exciting and diverse range of entertainment.
You won’t miss a moment of this year’s incredible festival featuring performers like Sammy Rae and The Friends, Ginger Minj, Anastacia, and more.

How To Attend

If you want to attend this year’s Northalsted Market Days, you’ve got a real treat. Admission is a suggested donation of $15, while for $40, you can get a VIP PASS allowing you to skip the line with an express entry wristband.
Events will run from 11 am-10 pm and will be open no matter the weather, though attendees are advised that “severe conditions may delay or cancel performances.”
Please also note that, as a security measure, large bags (including backpacks) are not allowed, and any bag you do bring will be inspected. We also advise that you do not attempt to get outside beverages as these are not permitted within the festival.
ChicagoDiner HalstedStreetFair Aug.14.1982

The History of Market Days

The market days began in 1982 when a group of independent local businesses and artists got together to promote their wares.
Mickey Hornick, who owns and runs The Chicago Diner – a local restaurant that’s been proud “meat free since ’83” – was instrumental in organizing the first Market Day event. In his words, it was “a positive way of working with neighbors and the community” while bringing together many non-profits.
Of course, during the 1980s, LGBTQ+ visibility was far less open than it is today. Chicago’s first gay bar – Little Jim’s – was founded in 1975, followed by places like Sidetrack and Roscoe’s. Over the years, a wealth of new places opened up and, along with events such as the Market Days and Chicago Pride, helped to improve queer visibility within the city. Over time, liberal attitudes on LGBTQ+ issues became more prominent and influential.
In 2022 the Northalsted Market Days have grown immensely from their humble beginnings and are now one of the city’s most popular annual events. As Hornick puts it, “people come from all over the country and the world. It was a big party.”
Although times have changed, and the Market Days are far more significant events than they used to be, they remain a fantastic opportunity for Chicago’s businesses and artists, particularly those from the LGBTQ+ community, to come together in celebration.

If you live near Chicago or are looking for an exciting, fun-filled trip, we cannot recommend that you check out this fantastic event. Not only will you have a great time, but you’ll be taking part in a piece of Chicago’s proud LGBTQ+ history.

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