Tours of captivating city home gardens? Check. Cool tunes on a summer weekend? Check. Architectural tours of a landmarked and historic Chicago neighborhood? Check. Lots of fun activities for kids and families? Check. A fine arts area? Check. Food, and craft beers? Check.
In a checklist of summer events, it would be hard to beat the green urban showcase and music happening that is the Sheffield Music Festival & Garden Walk. The iconic annual event returns for its 47th year on July 18-19. This year’s event will be held in conjunction with 4th annual Chicago Craft Beer Festival.
Event highlights include two music stages showcasing amazing talent, as well as the wildly popular Kids’ Korner, which includes art activities, a Chicago Herpetological Society showcasing of reptiles and amphibians, pony rides and a kiddie Ferris wheel. New to the festival this year is the Fine Arts Area, with more than a dozen artists showcasing and selling their creative handiwork. In addition, there will be more than 25 merchant and food vendors.
The centerpiece of the Garden Walk is tours (both self-guided and guided) of more than 80 neighborhood gardens. There will also be small, intimate afternoon tours of rowhouses and Victorian-era architecture (much of the neighborhood is a National Historic District) as well as special tours of St. Vincent de Paul Church.
On Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 5:30 pm., you can visit more than 100 beautiful neighborhood gardens on a self-guided tour. Guidebooks, which contain the map and textual descriptions of the gardens, are available at the Garden Center on the lawn in front of St. Vincent de Paul Church. The gardens are located within the boundaries of the Sheffield neighborhood, which extends from Halsted west to the Chicago River, and from Armitage north to Fullerton. Exhibit your garden. Be sure to check out the street planters and vibrant banners installed throughout Sheffield as part of the Sheffield Neighborhood Association’s Beautification Program, funded with Garden Walk proceeds.
You can also enjoy Select Garden Tours at 3:30 p.m. on festival days. Each day Master Gardeners or Landscape Experts will lead two small groups on tours of three selected gardens. During the tour, the Master Gardener will discuss plant material, design style, and challenges peculiar to urban gardens and provide an in-depth analysis of each garden. The tour is free once you have purchased a guidebook or donated at one of the main gates, but space for these intensive tours is limited. Sign up in advance at the Main Information Booth on the lawn in front of St. Vincent DePaul Church. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration for Saturday’s tours begins at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, and registration for Sunday’s tours begins at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Festival-goers can also take advantage of architectural tours on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., and on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Advance registration is required. The tours fill up fast, and the available slots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration for Saturday’s tours will begin at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, and registration for Sunday’s tours will begin at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday at the Information Booth located on the lawn of St. Vincent de Paul Church, just west of Webster & Sheffield.
Much of the Sheffield neighborhood is a National Historic District. Sheffield also is home to four Chicago landmark districts: the McCormick Row Houses, the Armitage-Halsted commercial district, the Fremont Row Houses, and the newly designated Bissell Street Rowhouses. The architectural tour will focus on the development and history of our neighborhood from 1870 to present. Three Chicago landmark areas are included in the tour, along with two churches and several homes. The architectural tour does not include talking about gardens or going into any building or home.
Enjoy a free walking tour of the historic Sheffield neighborhood (once you have purchased a guidebook or donated at one of the main gates) viewing Victorian-era architectural styles dating to 1875 including Italianate, Romanesque, and Queen Anne. These one-hour tours are conducted by the Historic Resources Committee of the Sheffield Neighborhood Association.