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Bitter Jester Music Fest

Bitter Jester Music Festival 

BJMF Circle Logo Purple_Transparent_Lot-2023

Founded in 2006 right here in Highland Park, the Bitter Jester Music Festival is now the Midwest's largest professional "battle-of-the-bands" style festival and concert series featuring up-and-coming bands and solo performers from multiple states. The seasonal festival is a great opportunity for residents and visiting families to enjoy a wide variety of high-quality musical acts each week right in beautiful downtown Highland Park. Concerts and parking are both FREE and food and drinks are available at every show!

The 2023 Preliminary Concerts take place on June 2, 3, 9, and 10 from 6:00-10:30 PM at Port Clinton Square. The Grand Finale Concert will be held on Sunday, June 25, starting at noon and wrapping up at 8pm. The Finale event accompanies the Taste of Highland Park at The Lot that weekend and will feature a wide variety of food and drinks vendors all day long as well as a dozen musical acts. The winning bands will be announced at the end of the night and a $2,0000 cash prize will be given!

Applications for bands and solo artists are accepted by Bitter Jester on their website (typically early February through late April). At least half of the participants must be 21 years of age or younger in order to apply but other performance opportunities exist through Bitter Jester. Learn more at

About the Bitter Jester Music Festival

This summer-long music competition and concert series is produced by the Bitter Jester Foundation for the Arts, NFP, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organization based in Highland Park.

With an unparalleled amount of educational feedback provided to participants plus opportunities to perform additional Bitter Jester Showcase Concerts at both Ravinia Festival in Highland Park and Navy Pier in Chicago, this festival isn't just fun for audiences, it's great for musicians, too! Follow BJMF on their Instagram @bitterjester_musicfestival or email for more information or to apply.

The City of Highland Park has been a proud sponsor of this non-profit free concert series since its inception.