The Chicago Memorial Day Parade is an event to remember, and watching it is surely one of the high points of spending Memorial Day 2016 in Chicago. On this holiday weekend, the Windy City gets all decked out in the patriotic colors of red, white, and blue, in one of the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation. In addition to the historic parade, Memorial Day in Chicago is a day of festivities and celebration, with numerous Chicago festivals on the city streets. Visitors to Chicago can join the locals as they bike along the waterfront, gorge themselves on snacks at the various festivals, listen to musical performances and shop at the street market.
The Chicago Memorial Day Parade has a long history, dating from 1870. One of the largest parades of its kind in the nation, the Chicago Memorial Day Parade features marching bands from local schools, a drum and bugle corps, and other musical attractions. The parade commemorates veterans and fallen soldiers, often with ceremonies honoring veterans who have returned from wars as heroes. To kick off the annual event, a wreath-laying ceremony is held at the Eternal Flame on Daley Plaza, followed by the rest of the parade.
If you're looking for more festivities after the parade, make sure you check out some of the Chicago festivals that make Memorial Day in Chicago so lively. The Belmont and Sheffield Music Festival is hosted annually by the city, and features popular entertainers and musicians from around the country. In addition to popular bands, the festival also gives an opportunity for independent and underground bands to perform. Food and drinks abound and shopping is also available, with stands full of quirky clothing, arts and crafts, and other knick-knacks.
If you are at all interested in antiquing, you can't miss the Randolph Street Market Festival, a market full of unique antiques, vintage items, and collectibles from over 200 vendors. You are sure to find a one-of-a-kind item at the Randolph Street Market, which is one of the most popular Chicago festivals. A gourmet food market offers an array of fancy baked goods, spices, and more. Tickets are available online before the event on Memorial Day Weekend or at the door.
For those with a more athletic bent, Memorial Day in Chicago may be your best chance to bike freely along the beautiful Lake Michigan lakeshore at the annual Bike the Drive event. From 5:45 am to 9:45 am, the Lakeshore Drive will be open to bicycles but closed to cars and other traffic. Don't miss this opportunity to enjoy the early lakeside air on this rare occasion. After the invigorating bike ride, have breakfast with fellow bikers at Butler Field in Grant Park at the post-ride festival.
In addition to numerous festivals held in Chicago on Memorial Day Weekend, there is always time for more laid-back activities such as taking your family to the beach on the shores of the lake. Alternatively, more traditional Memorial Day 2016 celebrations include decorating the graves of fallen soldiers at Chicago cemeteries, such as Lincoln National Cemetery, and observing a moment of silence for the country's heroes.