Music festival
Music festival Via Pexels

Latin Music Festivals are having a moment. Just two days ago, the lineup for the third edition of the Bésame Mucho Festival was released, featuring names like Shakira, Enrique Iglesias and Los Tigres del Norte who, will be bringing in the crowds to Dodger Stadium in December. Los Angeles, however, might be seeing competition for the title of biggest ticket for Latin Music lovers in the U.S.

Chicago is expected to play host to more than 65,000 people a day this weekend as Sueños festival kicks off its third edition at Grant Park. The event, organized by the same folks behind the hugely popular Baja Beach Fest in Mexico, features some of the most popular acts in reggaeton and urban music, including Rauw Alejandro, Peso Pluma and Maluma.

"Chicago was the goal," co-organizer Aaron Ampudia told Billboard. "It has the infrastructure to host festivals like Lollapalooza, one of the largest in the country, and the Mexican and Latino market, which we consider the second largest after Southern California."

Census data from 2020 showed an increase of more than 300,000 Latinos in Illinois compared to 2010, growing the Latino share of the state's population from 15.8% to 18.2%. And the figure is sure to be higher in 2024. In fact, a recent study indicated that 1 in 5 Chicagoans identify as Mexican.

Sueños is by no means the only music festival catering to Latin music lovers in the windy city. In fact, it follows a long list of initiatives that have varying degrees of success. The first massive effort was put forward by Ruido Fest in 2015, focusing on alternative Spanish rock. During its 6 editions (so far) the festival managed to book legendary acts like Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Café Tacvba and Caifanes.

Although it encountered problems after the pandemic, Ruido Fest laid out the blueprint for what a Latin Music fest could look like in Chicago. Miche Fest emerged a few years later and will be hosting it's sixth edition in July at Oakwood Beach, featuring the likes of Kali Uchis, Los Ángeles Azules, Junior H and Chino Pacas, among many other acts.

Karina González, whose company Zamora Live is co-organizing Miche Fest, is excited about the possibilities behind this spike in Latino Music fests across the country: "Latin artists deserve the best attention and can get lost in a lineup like Lollapalooza or Coachella. But when there's a local festival where you can exalt them in that way, it's great and was missing in the market. It's missing in the lineup of festivals across the country, so it's good to be part of that and elevate the talent that gets lost in the weeds at other festivals."

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