Everything you need to know for Chicago Pride Fest 2021

Fri. October 1, 2021 9:05 AM by GoPride.com News Staff

2019 chicago pride fest

photo credit // steven koch

Back for the first time since 2019, the 20th annual festival runs Friday, October 1 - Sunday, October 3

After skipping a year due to COVID-19 constraints, Chicago Pride Fest is back in 2021 - albeit delayed until October. 

This weekend Chicago's Northalsted neighborhood - commonly referred to as “Boystown” - will be filled with spectacular live entertainment, delicious food, endless shopping and plenty of people-watching.

Opening at 5 p.m. on Friday, the three-day street festival turns N. Halsted St. into one enormous Pride party with 2 entertainment stages, plus a dance music stage featuring some of Chicago's favorite DJs and drag queens.  

Where's the party?

One word: Northalsted (or “Boystown” if you prefer). Once there, follow the herd of excited revelers or the gaggle of drag queens - or just follow the music. But seriously, Pride Fest is located on N. Halsted St. between Addison and Grace. Gates open at 5 p.m. on Friday, then Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Is there a charge for admission?

Not officially, but a $15 donation is suggested. Your donation helps pay performers, festival workers, and funds community programs in the north side neighborhood. The event is produced by the Northalsted Business Alliance. (Northalsted.com)

What acts are performing?

Festival organizers recently added Sunday after the 2021 Chicago Pride Parade was canceled. With the additional day comes even more live music and entertainment. Among them Debbie Gibson, Jamila Woods, Katie Kadan, Nina Sky, and Mila Jam.

Mýa, Shangela, VINCINT, Crystal Waters, Kristine W, Brooke Eden, and St. Panther are the other featured headliners. 

We can't forget Chicago's own bands who will represent, including the all-girl band Catfight plus local favorites 16 Candles, and Boy Band Review. Other performers include Chicago Gay Men's Chorus, and the Chicago Spirit Brigade.

And of course, what's a festival without drag queens, female impersonators and DJs. Plus, Miss Foozie's annual Pride Pet & Family Parade.

Is there's a complete schedule that I can look at?

Yes, check it out here!

Are there other things to do or see?

If people-watching is your thing, grab a refreshment and watch the throng of festival attendees. With over 50,000 people expected to attend, there will be no shortage of eye candy for sure.

In addition to the live entertainment, Pride Fest will include over 100 arts and craft vendors, as well as sellers of unique merchandise tailored to the LGBTQ community.

Also, the neighborhood bars have plenty of Pride events, so be sure to check the calendar here

Where is the Chicago Pride Parade?

The annual Pride parade was canceled in 2019 due to COVID-19. It was rescheduled in 2021 to October 3, but later canceled due to ongoing safety concerns. Hopefully, the parade will return for its 51st year on Sunday, June 26, 2022. 

What should I wear?

It's officially autumn, so dress accordingly. There is also rain in the forecast. The festival is open rain or shine, but keep in mind severe conditions may delay or cancel performances. Check the forecast before heading out.

I want to tweet and post festival photos on Instagram. Is there a hashtag for the event?

Yes, use #ChicagoPrideFest2021. Be sure to tag @GoPride and @Northalsted (the festival organizers). 

How do I get there? Should I drive?

Pride Fest is easily accessible by public transportation, and attendees are encouraged to take CTA to the festival.

CTA Red Line stops Addison and Sheridan are a short walk from the festival, as is Belmont, which is served by the Red, Purple and Brown lines.

CTA buses 8 Halsted, 22 Clark, 36 Broadway, 77 Belmont, 80 Irving Park, 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express, 151 Sheridan and 152 Addison all serve the area of Pride Fest.

N. Halsted between Addison and Grace will be closed from 9 a.m. Friday, October 1 to 4 a.m. October 4. And there are numerous parking restrictions throughout the neighborhood, so watch where you park.

What is the COVID-19 protocol?

The same protocols that were in place for Northalsted Market Days will be repeated: attendees of Chicago Pride Fest should be fully vaccinated or wear a mask. Many establishments on Northalsted require proof of vaccination for entry or a recent negative test.

Free Rapid testing will be available at the Pride Fest main gates during the festival with results in under 15 minutes.

The Northshore Clinical Labs vaccination booth inside the festival will be offering the Pfizer vaccine. Second doses, testing, and vaccinations are available to the public at the NSC laboratory at 4751 N. Kedzie.

Anything else I should know?

No large bags/backpacks are allowed, all bags will be inspected prior to entry. No coolers or outside beverages. Clear plastic sealed bottled water is allowed.