This weekend, get ready to brave the masses at two of the biggest weekend happenings of the summer: Taste of Chicago or Pitchfork Music Festival. If you're craving something slightly more low-key, hit up the one-day-only Chinatown Fest, or up your meat intake at the Windy City Ribfest.
Taste of Chicago
When: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. through Sunday
Where: Grant Park
Cost: Free admission, food/drink tickets and concert admission sold separately
Why you're going: The visitors on your couch for the weekend are demanding your attendance. Or you're a glutton for over-crowded gluttony. Or you really, truly love Taste of Chicago. Whatever the reason, you'll need to be prepared—it's messy, it's crowded and it's no place to count calories. If gorging on bites from city restaurants isn't your thing, music acts this weekend include Fitz and The Tantrums on Friday, Chaka Khan and Raphael Saadiq on Saturday and Dierks Bentley on Sunday. Tickets for the shows are $25 for seating at the Petrillo Music Shell, but lawn seating is free.
When: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday
Where: Wentworth Avenue from Cermak Road to 24th Place in Chinatown
Cost: Free admission
Why you're going: If you've never been to Chinatown, consider this your open invitation. The main stage will be situated at 23rd Street and Wentworth Avenue, surrounded by blocks of Chinese arts and crafts booths. You might even find your new favorite dim sum spot while sampling food from neighborhood restaurants. Gates open at 10 a.m., but late sleepers rejoice: The Lion Dance procession and opening ceremonies don't kick off until 12:45 p.m., so you can get in a little extra shut-eye.
Windy City Ribfest
When: 5-10 p.m. Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-9 p.m. Sunday
Where: Lawrence Avenue and North Broadway in Uptown
Cost: $6 suggested donation
Why you're going: You didn't down enough pork over the Fourth of July holiday. The main draw here are the abundant saucy ribs from vendors from across the country. On hand to tempt you: Big Boned BBQ from Hixson, Tenn.; Chicago BBQ Company from Berwyn and Texas Thunder BBQ from Euless, Texas plus others. Gnaw your way to bliss to a soundtrack provided by bands including Smash Mouth (no joke) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
When: 3-10 p.m. Friday, 1-10 p.m. Saturday, 1-10 p.m. Sunday
Where: Union Park
Cost: Daily tickets are $45 while supplies last
Why you're going: Are you kidding? You nailed down a pass before the line-ups were even finalized, bro. If there are any tickets remaining before the fest kicks off (head to pitchfork.com/festivals/chicago/2012 to find out), you're most likely snagging one because there's a can't-miss-favorite band in the lineup. This year's big-talkers include rappers A$AP Rocky and Danny Brown, indie rockers Japandroids and electronic artist Grimes.
Square Roots: July 20-22 in Lincoln Square
Roscoe Village Burger Fest: July 21-22 in Roscoe Village
Taste of River North: July 20-22 in River North
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