Memorial Day Weekend in Lake County 2024

By: Jonathan Jones 05/13/2024

Embrace the sunshine, light up your sparklers and remember those who died protecting our freedoms in the U.S. Memorial Day is also a splendid three-day weekend, but it's also the kickoff to summer in the land of lakes. 

Memorial Day celebrations are Lake County's specialty. Duty, Army, country! Non-sibi sed patriae. Aim high…Fly-Fight-Win. Semper Fidelis. Semper Paratus. Memorial Day is the time of year that we celebrate and remember the men and women of this great country who have fallen in battle to maintain our freedom. To those of our readers that have been or currently are in the military; we thank you for your service.

The original Memorial Day in the U.S. was called Decoration Day first becoming a day of observance after the Civil War in 1868. The day’s inception was planned by the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of the Union veterans founded in Decatur, IL (Who’da thunk this day of observance was created in our the Land of Lincoln?).

Today, Lake County also is home to one of the country’s oldest naval bases and is the United States’ only naval boot camp: Naval Station Great Lakes. Plan your extended time off from May 24-27 in the land of lakes where we truly know how to throw a Memorial Day weekend soiree.

Parades, Ceremonies and Remembrances in Lake County

Things To Do Memorial Day Weekend in Lake County

While we commemorate those in battle, we also celebrate having a Monday off. Here are some of the top things to do during Memorial Day weekend.

National Museum of the American Sailor (May 24-25 and 27; open year-round)

@visitlakecounty The National Museum of the American Sailor’s mission is to collect, preserve, and interpret the history of the United States Navy’s enlisted sailor for the benefit of the U.S. Navy and the people of the United States. ⚓️ Explore such exhibits as Sails Unfurled: The Dawn of the U.S. Navy and Marked by the Sea: Tattoos in the U.S. Navy. #navy #tattoos #museummoment ♬ ✻H+3+ЯД✻7luCJIo0T6... (Super Slowed) - vyrval

One of the most perfect places to visit on Memorial Day weekend. In the heart of Naval Station Great Lakes, the National Museum of the American Sailor recently hosted a captivating exhibit, "Sailor Ink: Tattoos and the U.S. Navy." Tattoo historian Dr. Anna Friedman guides attendees on a mesmerizing journey through the intricate history of naval tattoos, unveiling the deep-rooted connections between ink and maritime heritage. Through a rich array of historical images, attendees explore the symbolism and significance behind iconic naval tattoos, such as pigs, chickens and the renowned "Hold Fast" knuckle tattoos. The event not only delves into the mysteries behind these inked artworks but also celebrates the unity, protection and tradition represented among sailors. "Sailor Ink" became a poignant tribute to the enduring legacy etched into the skin of sailors, emphasizing the profound impact of tattoos on naval identity and tradition.

Lake County Food Truck Festival (May 24)

Fare fanatics will go on a Food Truck Frenzy as the event returns to the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center after a few years the College of Lake County. Whether you are considering hiring a food truck for your wedding, office, party at home or you just want to make your taste buds dance; this Grayslake family-friendly event is for you. The foodie festival features food trucks serving, wood-fire pizza, seafood, sliders, confections and more.

"The Music Man" at Marriott Theatre (select days through June 2)

Get ready to tap your toes and sing along because the infectious melodies of Meredith Willson's six-time, Tony Award-winning "The Music Man" returns to the Marriott Theatre from April 10-June 2. This timeless musical comedy is a charming tale for all ages, perfect for sharing with the whole family. Join the fast-talking traveling salesman Harold Hill as he works his magic on the unsuspecting folks of River City, Iowa. His smooth talk and promises of a boys' band soon have everyone whipping out their wallets for instruments and uniforms – even though Harold wouldn't know a trombone from a teacup! Experience the magic of "The Music Man," a timeless tale that has enchanted audiences for generations. Dust off your dancing shoes, and prepare to march into Lake County with "76 trombones in the Memorial Day parade."

#LetsSnapLakeCounty Photo Contest (through June 20)

The phrase, "take a picture it'll last longer," takes new meaning as you take your impressive imagery of Lake County. The land of lakes invites you to submit your phenomenal pictures in the third installment of the #LetsSnapLakeCounty Photo Contest. There is an abundance of beautiful, scenic, historical, adventurous, heritage, character and just downright #InstaGood shots of Lake County. Maybe your submission will be the happenings at Memorial Day parade? The world is your oyster for a chance to win the $100 grand prize or in the following categories: Outdoor photos, Family-people Imagery, Dining/Libations, Lake County Events, Video and Other Travel Culture. 

Beer Garden at Independence Grove (through late fall)

Lake County summers have a unique taste, as do the local suds at the Beer Garden at Independence Grove Forest Preserve. Experience this Lake County Forest Preserve District's beer flights for sippers ages 21 and older while viewing the area's natural beauty. The beer garden highlights Lake County Libation Trail partners.

Lake County  Libation Trail (year-round)

Speaking of which, the land of lakes is renowned for its breweries, distilleries and wineries. From beer and wine to vodka and whiskey, our locally grown, crafted and distilled adult beverages are designed to dazzle and educate the most discerning tastes. More than 25 stops to enjoy for tours, tastings and specialty cocktails.

Memorial Day Bash at Harbor Brewing Co. Lakefront Biergarten (May 27)

Further speaking of the Lake County Libation Trail, visit North Point Marina resting along scenic Lake Micighan for a Memorial Day Bash to remember. The festivities include craft brew, sunshine (hopefully!), live tunes by the incomparable Judson Brown Trio and more. Bring the entire fam and them. 

Illinois Brass Band at the Round Lake Beach Cultural and Civic Center (May 26)

The winner of six North American Band Association Awards, the prestigious Illinois Brass Band graces the stage at Round Lake Beach Cultural & Civic Center. This free admission concert will be on the RLBCCC outdoor stage (will move indoors if there is bad weather), so don’t forget a lawn chair or blanket. Of course, you’ll hear some fantastic U.S. traditional tunes in honor of Memorial Day. 

The Brushwood Center Events (May 18-June 2) 

Receive eye candy as you view the artwork of "The Art of Convergence;" a response to health equity and climate change at the Brushwood Center. Five artists: Natashna Anderson, Kelley Clink, Laura Horan, Lokosh and Naimah Thomas give a brush stroke a natural vibe with their nature works. The Brushwood Center also provides a soundtrack to Memorial Day as pianist Julia Siciliano tickles the ivory with works from Beethoven and Schubert. The "Honoring Our Heroes" concert series occurs on May 26, while "The Art of Convergence" exhibit runs through June 2.

The 90th Annual Art League at College of Lake County

The 90th annual Lake County Art League isn't actually annual, but a special exhibit celebrating the league's 90th year. Held at the College of Lake County's Robert T. Wright Community Gallery of Art, it showcases artwork by league members and runs through May 29th. Admission is free and open to the public during gallery hours, offering a chance to see local talent and celebrate the land of lakes' artistic heritage.

Beer Bazaar Events (May 25-27)





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Beer Bazaar is a suds lover's haven, offering a diverse selection of brews in a boutique setting, boasting a taproom with 20 taps pouring many beers. The Grayslake facility is a community engagement hub, offering various events catering to different interests. Let's take a look at what they got going on for Memorial Day weekend. 

Other Happenings During Lake County Memorial Day Weekend





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For more things to do during Memorial Day weekend in the land of lakes, continue here. To see where you can stargaze in Lake County, click here. For May's tippy top 10, continue here. 


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