Yearly Events in Champaign Urbana

What’s happening this weekend in CU?

Current stuff happening around the area abounds and these pages will give you an overview of some of the best.

Here is a good overview of current events in CU from the Champaign Public Library.

Here is another fromthe WCIA TV Hometown Calendar site.

And here is yet another from The Daily Illini calendar.

Annual Events

There are many festivals and events in this community that go way beyond its size. All year around something is buzzing in this place to keep you entertained. One of the best collecting points for info is the 40 North site from the Champaign County Arts, Culture and Entertainment Council. Here are s few of the local favorites.


Roger Ebert at Virginia
The Roger Ebert Film Festival comes to the Virginia Theatre in Champaign every April.

This annual film festival features a local guy- yes Roger Ebert grew up right here. Of course Roger Ebert passed away a few years ago, but the event goes on strongly.

Every year for 15 years now Roger Ebert’s Film Festival has come to Champaign Urbana and this film gala is now hosted at the Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign. Each year there is at least one major guest and always a great collection of excellent films.

Info on Ebertfest


When do passes go on sale? Will they sell out? Festival passes go on sale November 1, 2013. Get your festival passes early, as they sell out quickly.

How much do passes cost? Festival passes are $145 plus  processing fees of $2.75 per pass + 2.5% credit card fee, and include all screenings.

How can I buy passes? The Virginia Theater has generously offered to maintain a waiting list for those who want to buy Festival passes. In the event additional passes become available, those on the waiting list will be contacted by phone or email, according to the order in which they were added to the list (on a first-come, first-served basis). Those on the waiting list will be given the contact information for those unable to use the passes they’d purchased, and the re-sale of the pass(es) will be conducted directly between the seller and the buyer. Any resale of passes should be done at cost, i.e. no scalping or discounting.

Does buying a pass guarantee me a seat at all screenings? A Festival pass guarantees seating at all screenings. NOTE: Please arrive 15 minutes before each screening, latecomers cannot be guaranteed admittance. Shortly before the film begins, any empty seats will be sold as individual tickets.

How do I exchange my festival pass confirmation tickets for the actual pass? Confirmation tickets must be exchanged for the actual passes — the ones you wear on a lanyard around your neck. Festival passes will be available at the Virginia Theatre box office starting on Monday, two days before the opening of the festival. The box office is open Monday through Friday 12pm-5:30pm. Most people pick up their Festival passes on Wednesday before the opening film.

Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival

Blues Brews and Barbques
The stage is set for the annual Blues festival…now in downtown Champaign.

It comes around each summer- usually June- and it is a great event for the whole family. In 2013 it moved to downtown Champaign from Urbana and the lineup of artists looks great for 2015

 Blues, Brews, and BBQ Festival  features are:

Craft beer tent–cool way to get to know area specialty beers

Lots of food and BBQ–Chinese, smoothies, BBQ out the cazoo

Several stages and an interview tent

Kids play area with inflatables

Boneyard Arts Festival

The annual Boneyard Arts Festival (named for the creek which stretches through the heart of the twin cities) has become a major event featuring many venues and all kinds of art. It is produced annualy by 40 North | 88 West. This is the 13th Anniversary of the BONEYARD ARTS FESTIVAL  and it will take place April 9-12, 2015.

Here is what Kelly White posted recently on the Boneyard blog:

Presented by 40 North | 88 West, the Boneyard Arts Festival is a four-day event showcasing the broad range of creative activity flourishing in our community. Its goal is to bring together local artists, businesses and organizations for a special event showcasing the art of Champaign County.

More than a traditional arts walk, the Boneyard is a unique countywide celebration that takes place in a wide variety of venues (over 100!) – both traditional (clubs, cafes, galleries & museums) and non-traditional (eye clinics & law offices) – and features the work of literally hundreds of artists.

Sculptors, weavers, painters, photographers and other visual artists join musicians, actors, dancers, poets and performers of all kinds in sharing their creativity throughout Champaign, Urbana, UI Campus, Rantoul, Mahomet, Homer and Fisher.

40 North invites artists to partner with local businesses, arts organizations, nonprofits, schools and municipal offices in hosting performances and displays of work…and join the celebration!

There is even an app for the festival…again from
Cruise the Boneyard Arts Festival with the FREE guide-to-the-arts iPhone App by Keyword ’40N’ in the App Store to download today!

The Boneyard festival is usually in the month of April…in 2015 it is April 9-12.

The Illinois Marathon

The Illinois Marathon runs every April on the streets of Champaign Urbana. Photo from Runners World.
The Illinois Marathon runs every April on the streets of Champaign Urbana. Photo from Runners World.

The Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon has quickly positioned itself as one of the premier running events in the crowded marathon scene. It was named one of the top nine new marathons by Runners World in 2014. This springtime weekend run is held on the streets of Champaign Urbana and is a Boston Marathon qualifier.

2015 Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon

This year’s marothon is the 7th annual, and the growth of this event has been amazing. It was even named on of the top nine new marathons in the US by Runners World last year. The races this year are April 23-25, 2015. Registration are surging so it would be prudent to get signed up now.

If you are not a runner, there is always a need for volunteers- for everything from stuffing bags to watching intersections to handing out water along the route.

Illinois Marathon Route

The Illinois Marathon Route runs through the twin cities and ends on the U of I campus.
The Illinois Marathon Route runs through the twin cities and ends on the U of I campus.

The marathon is locally owned and has a true local flavor. In an age when many marathons are run by large companies, this one has kept its CU roots. One of the very nice features of the race is that it runs through both downtowns and ends in Memorial Stadium on the University of Illinois campus. Along the way it winds through many very pleasant CU neighborhoods. The Illinois Marathon route is simple and avoids back loops- nice for runners.

There are other events of course …some of them featured on other pages or blog posts on this site.

The Taste of Champaign


The Taste of Champaign Urbana is a great annual event! Just like the Tast of Chicago but on a bit of a smaller scale 😉  Local area restaurants set up shop for the weekend and offer small of large portions of their favorite items on their menus.  Beyond this, there is an area with games, pony rides and events for kids and the whole family!  There is also an area dedicated to local art vendors.  Shop around the tents for some pottery, paintings, crafts and more!

This event is also referred to as Champaign Taste and here are the details:

  • It is usually in mid June–but in 2014 it moved to August–watch for 2015 dates
  • It always rains- but maybe not this year since they have moved it later

The location the Taste of Champaign is as always, West Side Park in Champaign.

International Guitar Festival

Ellnora, The Guitar Festival happens every two years at Krannert Center. It is a must for music and especially guitar lovers of all kinds. Ellnora returns in the Fall every year.

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