Riot Fest Chicago is an event that prides itself on welcoming the angsty and sarcastic type that never grew out of their punk rock youth. You’ll find lots of early 2000s mall goth style, “Make America Emo Again” hats, mohawks of incredible variety, and of course, rock music. Lots of it.
Riot Fest is one of the few remaining independently-owned large U.S. festivals and, aside from being known for its potent punk- and rock-centric lineups, it’s carved a unique niche on the live-music landscape as a host to exclusive reunion sets. This year’s lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but last year saw Y2k emo faves like My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday, punk rock legends Bad Religion and Nine Inch Nails, and hip hop stars like Ice Cube and Run the Jewels to balance out the rock a bit. The festival does a good job showcasing acts that don’t get as much love in the mainstream, too, like Night Spice and Surfbort.
If your love for the festival is only topped by your love for another person, you can marry them at the Riot Fest. The venue has a wedding chapel where 32 couples tied the knot in 2022. If you’re not interested in getting married but do have a really bad tattoo, you can enter to win a free cover up by posting a photo on the wall of bad tattoos.
The venue also has a ferris wheel, lots of vendors, and apparently a supreme lack of shade, so drink lots of water.
- Around 40,000 people attend over the course of three days.
- Sign up to be notified when tickets go on sale.
- Riot Fest offers complimentary entry to residents living near the venue and employees of adjacent hospitals. Additionally, you can join the street team to promote the festival in exchange for free entry.
- Check out this guide for other fun things to do in Chicago.