Celebrations planned in Chicago and beyond to mark 420 — the unofficial cannabis holiday

Four years into cannabis legalization in Illinois, celebrations of the April 20 informal weed holiday known as 420 are getting bigger and more widespread.

Named for the time of day a group of friends met to get high, 420 has become a chance for marijuana users to publicly share a previously illegal drug and the counter-cultural atmosphere surrounding it.

The main event in downtown Chicago likely will be the second annual 420 Sesh Fest, at Green Rose Dispensary. The party will include live music, a magic show, carnival games, food trucks, pop-ups and product discounts. It also will feature Grammy-nominated rapper, activist and Chicago native Vic Mensa and his 93 Boyz line of cannabis products.

Mensa won’t perform, but will be there for a meet and greet from 3:30 to 4 p.m.

“It’s definitely continuing to grow,” Green Rose manager Ross Morreale said. “There’s more people who aren’t afraid to celebrate something like this. It’s more socially accepted.”

Last year’s event drew about 500 people, and this year’s is expected to attract a few hundred more.

Sesh Fest 2024 is open to the public age 21 and older outside the dispensary, at 612 N. Wells St. General admission is free with a $42 purchase at Green Rose Dispensary on the day of the event, or $20 without a purchase. Live entertainment includes DJ Papa G, BG the DJ and DJ Thoti.

Elsewhere in the Chicago area, Dispensary 33 will host Cirque du SO-LIT, featuring music by DJ Kinky P, Shazam Bangles, Lester Ray and Afroqbano, acrobat performances, how to roll a joint, festival hair braiding and glitter, tooth gems, and a sampling station, with cannabis consumption throughout. The sold-out event will run from 2 to 8 p.m. at Pizza Lobo at 5457 N. Clark St. in Andersonville, though extra tickets may be available at the dispensary Saturday morning.

Spark’d Dispensary, 2114 S. Wabash Ave. in the South Loop, will start things early with its Kick Back parking lot bash from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday featuring local vendors, a sesh bus for consumption and music from Future Rootz.

On Sunday, from 1-5 p.m., the Spark’d, 935 N. Sheridan Road in far north suburban Winthrop Harbor, will have music, food trucks, and a Stoned Olympics, with contests for rolling the most joints, the biggest joint, the most unique joint and who can blow the biggest “O” smoke ring in the consumption lounge.

Unladylike will host a Puff, Paint and Pass Black Light event at High-Minded Events studio, 6615 N. Clark St. in Roger Park, from 7-10 p.m. Sunday. All skill levels are welcome, but tickets are limited.

—In downstate Lincoln, food, music and cannabis vendors and consumption are encouraged at the Illinois 420 Festival, at the Logan County Fairgrounds. Tickets are $50. The weekend-long event is schedule to run from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday.