Blues Festival takes over Chicago this weekend

Drawing new and returning fans each year, the Chicago Blues Festival – a popular summertime staple – is back in the Windy City!

Known as the ‘World's Largest Free Blues Festival,’ it has captivated audiences for the last 40 years – and with each passing summer, it gets bigger and better.

The four-day festival kicked off Thursday at the Ramova Theatre in Bridgeport while Blues musicians will hold court in Millennium Park beginning Friday through Sunday.

"This is one of the preeminent events of the year," said Corey Harris, Blues musician.

"Oh, it’s big time," said Lloyd Whitley, festivalgoer.  

Across three stages – Rosa’s Lounge, the Visit Mississippi Juke Joint Stage, and Jay Pritzker Pavilion – there is no shortage of rhythm, tunes, and talent.

"As a visitor, I have been overwhelmed with how great Chicago is," said Lynn Mimms, festivalgoer.  

"I always come to the Blues Festival, you know, it's part of the highlights for the summer for me to come here," said Henry Dickerson, festivalgoer.

Throughout the weekend, the festival is expected to draw roughly 250,000 attendees, about half of whom are from out of state.

"I’m from St. Augustine, Florida," said Mimms.

"I am from Colombia," said Alejandra Saavedra, festivalgoer. 

"I’m from California, Santa Cruz to be exact," said Whitley.

Friday's main stage lineup included Corey Harris, Mr. Sipp, and a centennial tribute to Jimmy Rogers featuring seven artists.

"Over 250 artists are performing this weekend, so a lot of talent coming through," said Carlos Tortolero, lead programmer, Chicago Blues Festival.

Hailing from Virginia, Corey Harris kicked things off at the Pritzker Pavilion on Friday.

"It’s like a family reunion of sorts when you get to these festivals," said Harris.

This Sunday, the legendary Buddy Guy will close out the festival in a highly anticipated performance.

"It’s going to be a historic evening," said Tortolero. "At this juncture in his career, we found it’s paramount to celebrate him."

A celebration for all to juke, jive, jam – relax, unwind, and enjoy the start of summer.

"Such amazing vibes from everyone," said Saavedra.

"Everybody’s so nice and they’re here to have a good time, it’s a free festival so everybody can come," said Steve Malouf, festivalgoer.

Performers will take the stage beginning at noon Saturday and Sunday.

To view the full schedule of performances, CLICK HERE.