Festival season hits the ground running as soon as the thermometer forsakes winter’s arctic, wintry cold for summer’s blistering, ovenlike swelter. Many events include that summertime staple, beer. What’s more, a number of summer’s heaviest hitters are damn near free, although even the pricier events are worth the asking price. There’s no real reason for not ponying up the meager cash required, unless you’re a hobo. And in that event, you can always use this paper as bedding, or kindling for your trashcan fire. Now that’s a party.
DECATUR ARTS FESTIVAL This year’s fest boasts the usual suspects, including an artist market; a dance festival featuring Brooks & Company Dance and Notchyomama’s Modern Project; a juried multimedia art exhibition; and music performances all weekend long. Free. May 23, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; May 24, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Decatur Courthouse, 101 E. Court Square, Decatur. www.decaturartsfestival.com.
DRAGON*CON The masses get their geek chic on at the sci-fi gathering of otherworldly proportions. The sweet siren song of fantasy, gaming and comics culminates in a mind-blowing parade of Jedi knights, Klingons and Han Solos. Free-$85. Sept. 4-7. Hyatt Regency Atlanta, 265 Peachtree St. 770-909-0115. www.dragoncon.org.
DRIVE INVASION Campy movies meet rock music and fast cars at the Starlight Six Drive-In. Dates and lineup to be announced. 2000 Moreland Ave. 404-627-5786. www.starlightdrivein.com.
DRUM CIRCLE Lake Claire neighbors gather around the bonfire on the first and third Saturday each month for Community Land Trust’s drum circle. The natural amphitheater’s replete with trees, rollicking hills and wood-chip trails. It’s been nurtured with community TLC, so treat the land — and fellow drummers — with respect. If you get worked up into a tizzy to the beats, veg out in the property’s co-ed sweat lodge. $1-$5 requested donation. Dark-midnight. 280 Arizona Ave. lcclt.org.
EAST ATLANTA BEER FESTIVAL Every year, folks gather to sample from an impressively pedigreed list of more than 120 craft beers, many new to the Atlanta market. This event’s also high on the karma meter: Proceeds benefit community projects, so you can feel good about slugging back a few, or many. No judgment here. $25-$35. May 30, 1-6 p.m. www.eabfonline.com.
BILL MAHER The endearingly smarmy host of “Real Time” and writer of the 2008 film Religulous, a take on the current state of world religion, performs at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. $40.50-$73.50. June 26, 8 p.m. 11480 Alpharetta Highway, Roswell. 800-745-3000. www.livenation.com.
MONDOHOMO 2009 The queer culture and music fest gets down and dirty at Eyedrum this year. DIY and indie are the name of the game. Homo-hop, drag kings and queens, burlesque, radical political workshops, and visual art will all make an appearance. Free-$50. May 21-25. 290 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive S.E., Suite 8. 404-522-0655. www.mondohomo.com.
REYNOLDSTOWN WHEELBARROW FESTIVAL Reynoldstown takes it to the streets with a wheelbarrow parade, silent auction, open-air arts market and health fair, and music acts including power-poppers Young Antiques and folkers Little Country Giants. Free. June 13, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. 100 Flat Shoals Ave. wheelbarrowfestival.com.