Annual Events & Festivals
No matter the time of year, festivals of all varieties take to the streets of Champaign County. We celebrate soda, Corvette's, blues music and so much more. Here's some annual events to put on your calendar.
Pygmalion Music Festival | September 23-27, 2015
Celebrating its eleventh year, Pygmalion Music Festival returns with a vengeance to Champaign-Urbana taking over multiple venues, SXSW style. Revel in tunes from CHVRCHES, American Football, Panda Bear, Real Estate, Tycho and dozens more. Coinciding with this unbeatable lineup, you’ve got the Made Fest, a two-day curated marketplace featuring handmade and vintage sellers, and the Literature Fest with authors and poets Peter Orner, Audrey Petty, Jamaal May and more. Sounds like a perfectly indie weekend.
C-U Pride Festival | September 2015 | Downtown Champaign
The UP Center of Champaign County brings its sixth annual festival to Downtown Champaign. Celebrate with a parade and plenty of entertainment for the whole family. Downtown bars will have dedicated entertainment for the LGBT community.
Ellnora | The Guitar Festival | September 2015
A prodigious array of the world’s most distinctive and influential guitarists will gather for Ellnora | The Guitar Festival, presented by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois. The internationally recognized event, deemed “one of the world’s most forward-thinking guitar festivals” by Fretboard Journal, has emerged as a favorite destination for musicians and fans from around the world and will host more than 20 performances by artists rooted in the United States and around the world.
C-U Oktoberfest | October 11, 2014
Back for it’s second year, the C-U Oktoberfest features locally brewed beer, food by locally owned restaurants and authentic German festival music from Die Musikmeisters, The Polkaholics and the Bolzen Beer Band. Come dressed in your lederhosen or dirndl and enjoy a specially brewed “bier”, C-U Oktoberfest, just for the occasion!
Chris Cringle Arts & Crafts Show | November 7–8, 2014
Find gifts galore at the Chris Cringle Arts & Crafts Show, one of the Midwest’s largest craft shows featuring over 155 booths with a wide variety of handcrafted items by local and area artists, as well as artists from all over the Midwest. Illinois Heartland Decorative Artists sponsors a raffle featuring a holiday quilt, painted and pieced by their members.
Gifford State Bank Country Christmas Craft Show | November 22–23, 2014
This annual Christmas Craft Show brings together over 300 vendors and 8,000 shoppers! This event offers two days of “shop til ya drop” fun so you can find that perfect gift for everyone on your list.
Parade of Lights | November 29, 2014
Officially launch the holiday season with a Parade of Lights! Marching bands and lighted floats weave their way through the streets of Downtown Champaign with Santa making his grand appearance just in time to light the City Christmas Tree.
Hatch: A Creative Re-Use Art Festival | February 27-March 15, 2015
What happens when you mix artists with unwanted materials destined for the landfill? You get Hatch, a Creative Re-Use Art Festival from the I.D.E.A. Store in Champaign, a marketplace of ideas from recycled materials. In its third year, the event will kick off with a “Trashion” Show on February 27, 2015, where designers use only recycled materials to make the latest in fashion. An exhibit filled with inspired, recycled pieces follows from February 28–March 14 and concludes with an art fair on March 15 where you can purchase the artwork that you just can’t live without.
Engineering Open House | March 13-14, 2015
The annual Engineering Open House at the University of Illinois strives to create a more educated, science-orientated culture by exhibiting the latest in technological advancements. This massive, free event inspires thousands of students every year as the see the role science plays in our everyday life.
Ebertfest: Roger Ebert’s Film Festival | April 15–19, 2015
This five-day festival, held at the historic Virginia Theatre, was created by University of Illinois alumni and Urbana native, Roger Ebert. This festival screens a variety of films chosen by the famed critic and has hosted such talent as Tilda Swinton, Bill Paxton and Oliver Stone.
Boneyard Arts Festival | April 9–12, 2015
More than a traditional arts walk, the Boneyard is a unique four-day, countywide celebration that takes place in over 100 venues and features the work of local sculptors, weavers, painters and photographers, as well as musicians, actors, dancers and other performers, presented by 40 North | 88 West, Champaign County’s Art Council.
Naturally Illinois Expo | April 17–18, 2015
Naturally Illinois Expo invites you to come see, interact, touch, and experience the wonder of our state’s diverse natural and cultural resources. Experience over 50 exhibits, demonstrations and hands-on activities and interact with scientists who work on cutting-edge research and solutions to water, energy, ecosystem, mineral resource, natural hazards, climate, cultural resource and technology issues.
Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon | April 24-25, 2015
The Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, a Boston Marathon qualifier, is the premier running event in the area. Happening every April, over 20,000 runners from 48 states and 10 countries take to our flat landscape to finish on the 50-yard line of Memorial Stadium. With a top-notch Health & Fitness Expo featuring national and local vendors, various races occur over the weekend with a 5K, 10K, half and full marathon, relay and youth run, and the American Family Insurance 27th Mile Celebrate Victory Bash, the weekend is jam-packed with activities surrounding the run. Runner’s World recently named it one of “Ten Fun, Feature-Filled Marathons Launched in the Past Five Years”.
Homer Soda Festival | May 30, 2015
How would you like to try a Dang Butterscotch Root Beer, Cheerwine, Prickly Pear, or an Americana Huckleberry soda? Now is the chance to try the sodas that have intrigued you on the shelf of the Homer Soda Company! Celebrate glass-bottled soda with over 250 different sodas available for tasting at the annual Homer Soda Festival.
Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival | June 26–27, 2015
Downtown Champaign comes alive the last weekend in June as three stages rock all day. This annual festival has featured Blues greats such as Eric Sardinas, Shirley Johnson, Jerry Lee & the JuJu Kings and Shane Dwight. This street festival also features some the nations top and award-winning BBQ so it will be hard to go home hungry.
Historic Farm Days | July 9-12, 2015
The annual Historic Farm Days, held every July in Penfield, looks back at our history with special displays every year. With tractor pulls, square dancing, parades, fireworks, a blacksmith shop and live music, the whole family will enjoy learning a little more about the history of agriculture.
Champaign Music Festival | July 11, 2015
Formally known as the Mariposa Music Festival, the Champaign Music Festival will take its new form this year. With three stages rocking with over 10 bands performing, this family-friendly evening provides the perfect atmosphere for dancing, singing and enjoying a summer evening in the beautiful surroundings of Hessel Park.
Taste of Champaign-Urbana | August 21-22, 2015
The Taste of Champaign-Urbana will aid you on your adventure to culinary discovery with 25 food vendors to tempt your taste buds. More than that, “Taste of C-U” will entertain you with free live music. It will expand your knowledge of hidden artistry within the Champaign-Urbana community. All this in one whirlwind of a weekend at West Side Park in Champaign.
Half Century of Progress | August 27-30, 2015
The Half Century of Progress Show draws nearly 100,000 visitors and over 200 acres of cropland to be harvested and tilled during the show, with equipment from the earliest days of tractor power to the horsepower explosion of the 1970’s.
Sangamon River Music Festival | August 28–29, 2015
Enjoy local music along with three national headliners featuring 80's Rock, Christian Rock and a Country Artist, carnival rides, Crafter's Village and street vendors, beer tent, parade and much more! Bring a blanket or lawn chair and claim a spot in front of the stage and enjoy your favorite music with your family and friends.