Chicago Blues Festival
Friday-Sunday at Grant Park; free
Despite the absence of marquee names like Keith Richards and Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings - both of whom have graced its stages in years past - and budget cuts that have slimmed the event down from four days to three, the fest is still the largest of its kind in the world. And it's still absolutely free. Centerstage's Blues Fest picks include Big George Brock & The House Rockers, Rev. K.M. Williams and Guitar Shorty.
Friday-Sunday at Lincoln and Irving Park; $5 donation
The annual BBQ celebration in North Center gets even messier this year, with an eating contest planned. Otherwise, expect more of the same: mounds of the city's top ribs (you'll get to vote on who wins) and indie music from the likes of Califone, The Whigs, Langhorne Slim, Bottle Rockets and more. Don't forget the wet naps.
Drinking & Writing Festival
noon-6 p.m. Saturday at Hopleaf; $20-$25
Want to feel better about your drinking habit? This 6th annual event at the Hopleaf, organized by the Drinking & Writing Brewery, celebrates the connection between creativity and alcohol, and there will be plenty of both on hand. Expect brews from several local breweries, a writing contest and appearances from esteemed writers and thinkers. This year's featured writer: Mike Royko (his son, David, will be there to read from his new book).
Saturday-Sunday at Milwaukee and Armitage; free
This second-year fest is totally focused on the music, with multiple stages of performers including Akron/Family and Pegboy. There will also be arts and crafts vendors, 20 restaurant booths, a family playground and more. Want to enjoy free beers and burritos on Sunday? Enter Centerstage's wristband giveaway.
Old Town Art Fair
Saturday-Sunday at Lincoln and Wisconsin; $7
It's not just about the art at this renowned fair (although with all the nationally acclaimed artists, it could be). From the Garden Walk to the popular Children's Corner, there are plenty of distractions. If you really need something for your wall, be sure to make a second stop at the nearby Wells Street Art Festival.