12 Festivals That’ll Make You Want to Move to Illinois

By Beth Williams,

Think “summer in Chicago” and famous festivals like the Taste of Chicago or the Chicago Air and Water Show are bound to come to mind.  But Chicago isn’t the only city in Illinois that loves to have a good time–here’s a look at 12 Illinois festivals outside Chicago that will make you want to move to the Prairie State.

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Satisfy your chocoholic cravings
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Long Grove Chocolate Festival
Photo by the Long Grove Tourism Board

Long Grove Chocolate Festival May 2nd – 4th
Indulge yourself with chocolate at the Long Grove Chocolate festival. Satisfy your sweet tooth with chocolate covered fruit, fudge, brownies, donuts, sundaes and other goodies at this spring festival in the historic village of Long Grove.

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Strawberry everything
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Long Grove Illinois Strawberry Festival
Photo by Carissa Rogers 

Long Grove’s Strawberry Festival June 20th – 22nd
As a community that loves to eat, Long Grove has a lot to celebrate food, including the strawberry festival. As one of the oldest festivals in Long Grove, this festival offers visitors sweet strawberry products, all which have been made locally. From kid crafts to a rowdy strawberry pie-eating contest, there is plenty of sweet family fun at this festival.

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Blues, brews and BBQ
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Champaign Illinois BBQ Festival
Photo by Sodanie Chea

Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival | June 27th – 28th
When summer starts to heat up, Champaign, ironically enough, keeps it cool with beer and barbeque! This two-day free event is filled with a variety of national and local bands blasting blues music, delicious food vendors and plenty of beer.

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Peachy Keen For Cobden
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Cobden, IL peach festival
Photo by Ewan Traveler

Cobden Peach Festival | August 1st – 2nd
The Cobden Peach Festival located in southern Illinois celebrates the local peach harvest. Enjoy freshly picked peaches from local farmers as well as carnival games. Be sure to stay for the crowning of the festival’s pageant, Miss Peach Queen.

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Treats, cows and thrills
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Illinois State Fair
Photo by Anne Hornyak

Illinois State Fair August 7th – 17th
This 10-day long fair is the 13th largest state fair in the United States, with each day carrying its own theme. Come explore the various agriculture and livestock competitions, as well as the thrilling demolition derby. Of course, like all State Fairs, the food is another main attraction so be sure to come hungry!

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Epic Mississippi tug of war
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The Great River Tug Fest Port Byron IL.
Photo by Toffehoff

Great River Tug Fest August 7th – 9th
Fairs are always more fun when a little rivalry is involved. On one side is the town of Port Byron, Illinois and on the other, Le Claire, Iowa. Come to this festival and see teams of twenty battle it out across the Mississippi River in this intense massive tug of war event.

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Celebrate the greatest product from Illinois
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Urbana Sweetcorn Festival Illinois
Photo by David Dennis

Urbana Sweetcorn Festival August 24th – 25th
The Urbana Sweetcorn Festival features one of the main crops of Illinois — corn. Through popcorn, sweet corn on the cob, buttered corn, fried corn and other fun corn-themed foods, you can be sure that you won’t go away hungry.

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Wine and dine in Geneva
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Geneva festival of the vine
Photo by Jinx

Geneva’s Festival of the Vine September 5th – 7th
Enjoy great wines and food from all over the world in Geneva. This highly rated long-standing festival full of flavor and fare is a must for wine enthusiasts from the Midwest. There is also a flower market, arts and crafts show, and a kid’s corner for those looking for additional things to do.

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Colorful balloon rides
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Illinois-festivals-flickr

Photo by Dan CC BY


Quad Cities Hot Air Balloon Fest September 26th – 28th
This festival allows visitors to experience what it is like to be in a hot air balloon with its tethered rides. Enjoy multiple balloon launches and beautiful “balloon glows” that take place each morning and early evening during this popular autumn event. If you do attend, a great hotel to call home is the Radisson Hotel in Moline.

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All apple everything
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Long Grove Apple Festival
Photo by Net_Efekt

Long Grove’s Apple Fest September 26th – 28th
What better way to ring in autumn than with an apple festival? The village of Long Grove’s Apple Fest is a perfect way to spend a crisp fall day with your family while indulging on various apple products like apple cider, jams, pies, and even apple donuts.

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The spirit of fall
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Mount Vernon Fall Festival
Photo courtesy of IL Tourism

Mt. Vernon Fall Festival | October 17th – 19th
This town’s fall festival offers food, music and fun for the whole family. This great fall festival gets you into the season spirit with its pumpkin contest and chili cook off. The carnival, parade and children’s area is sure to make your kids leave with a smile!

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Thousands of pumpkin heads
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Sycamore Pumpkin Festival
Photo by Jassen 

Sycamore Pumpkin Fest October 22nd – 26th
This DeKalb County festival started in 1956 when one local man started displaying pumpkins on his front lawn. Since then, this festival has evolved into a fun Halloween weekend activity with thousands of decorated pumpkins on display, fun fall activities and a pumpkin parade.

Which of these festivals is first on your to-do list?