April’s showering of rain, snow and hail is paving the way for fun to blossom in May! We’ve gotten a tiny taste of the warmth and we’re raring to go. Read on for our Editor’s picks for guaranteed perma-smiles  — dragons lighting the city to an explosive kick-off to summer at Navy Pier. Grab your shades and get out there!

photo: Dragon Lights Festival courtesy of Travis Schoening

(1) Chinese Dragon Lights Festival
Wowsers! See Soldier Field in a whole new light at the Dragon Lights Festival transforming Chicago’s skyline. More than 40 larger-than-life hand-made lanterns covered with hand-painted silk and illuminated by more than 1,000 twinkling LED lights create a wonderland of brilliant color and culture designed to fill your senses. Two 200-foot dragons guard the exhibition that also includes nightly performances of amazing acrobatics, ancient music and dance, and Chinese artist demonstrations.

When: Now through May 6
Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m.; Stage performances: Sun.-Thurs., 6:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 6:30 p.m., 8 p.m. & 9 p.m.
Where: Soldier Field, 1410 Museum Campus Dr., Museum Campus
Cost: $20/adults, $13/children, $35/VIP package
Online: dragonlightschicago.com

(2) Heart & Seoul: Growing Up in Korea 
Take a trip to Korea, but leave the passport at home with this temporary exhibit that brings modern-day South Korea to Chicago. Designed with input from five real-life South Korean kids, visitors can explore Korean food in the restaurant, perform with K-Pop stars in the music studio, explore an ancient martial art in the Taekwondo Studio, see what school and home life are like for their Korean peers and celebrate universal themes like diversity, tradition and the global community.

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When: Now thru May 6
Hours: Mon.-Wed., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Chicago Children’s Museum, 700 E. Grand Ave., Navy Pier
Cost: $14.95/person; free for children under 1
Online: chicagochildrensmuseum.org

(3) Disney Junior Dance Party Tour
Your high-energy toddlers have met their match with the equally charged Disney Junior Dance Party Tour. Inspired by Disney Junior favorites, this interactive concert includes songs from Mickey and the Roadster RacersSofia the FirstElena of Avalor, Doc McStuffins, The Lion Guard, as well as newest hit series Vampirina and Puppy Dog Pals. The live concert will also include a brand-new interactive experience featuring Disney Junior’s highly-anticipated series, Muppet Babies.

When: May 4
Hours: 4 p.m.
Where: Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Rd., Rosemont
Cost: $32.50-$52.50
Online: disneyjuniortour.com

(4) Chicago Fire Home Games
Root for your hometown soccer team by taking in a Chicago Fire home game. But, first, pregame at FireFest with an inflatable soccer field, soccer pool (billiards in soccer format), a speedshot competition and street soccer games. The park also offers new culinary treats, think ice cream nachos for the kids and brisket sliders for the finer tastes, to enjoy when cheering on the Men in Red.

When: May 5, 9 & 20
Hours: May 5 & 9, 7:30 p.m.; May 20, 3 p.m.
Where: Toyota Park, 7000 Harlem Ave., Bridgeview
Cost: $29+,$20/car parking
Online: chicago-fire.com

(5) Walk Now for Autism Speaks
This no-pressure, three-mile downtown walk takes you leisurely by the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium and along the lakefront. Strollers — and even Radio Flyer wagons — are welcome. And, that’s right: no registration fees. You won’t get a T-shirt unless you raise at least $150 for Autism Speaks, but anyone is welcome to participate, whether or not you choose to fundraise. Now in its 13th year, the event will also feature an after-party featuring kid lures like inflatable bouncers, sensory sensitive activities and a petting zoo.

When: May 12
Hours: Registration opens at 8 a.m., Walk beings at 10:15 a.m., After-Party from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Where: Soldier Field, 1410 S. Museum Campus Dr., Museum Campus
Cost: Free to walk; minimum of $150 raised to get a t-shirt
Online: autismspeaks.org

(6) Mayfest Chicago
This fest officially kicks off the summer outdoor festival season (yippee!). Mayfest celebrates spring and all things outdoors. At Saturday’s Kids Day, kids will learn about health, safety and wellness while crafting or burning energy in one of the activity areas. On Sunday, families can dance together to live music.

When: May 18-20
Hours: Fri., 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Sat. & Sun., noon-10 p.m. (Kids Day: Sat., 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.)
Where: Ashland Ave. & Barry St., Lakeview
Cost: $10 suggested donation
Online: cityofchicago.org

(7) Move for the Kids 5K Walk/Run
Move for the Kids 5K Walk/Run is Lurie Children’s annual signature 5K. In past years, there have been nearly 27,000 participants and the event has raised millions for the patients and families of the hospital. The funds from the event support the hospital’s areas of greatest need to ensure patients receive the best care possible to help them live a bright, healthy future. After finishing the walk/run, everyone can enjoy complimentary refreshments, live music and entertainment for the whole family.

When: May 20
Hours: 9 a.m.
Where: Soldier Field Stadium Green, 1410 Museum Campus Dr., Museum Campus
Cost: $35/adults, $5/ages 4-12, free for ages 3 & under
Online: foundation.luriechildrens.org

(8) Welcome The Chicago Dogs to Town
There’s a new independent baseball team in town and their paying homage to Chicago’s favorite street food, HOT DOGS! Welcome The Chicago Dogs for the inaugural season at the new and beautiful Impact Field.

When: May 25, 26 & 27
Hours: May 25 & 26, 7:05 p.m.; May 27, 1:05 p.m.
Where: Impact Field, 9850 Balmoral Ave., Rosemont
Cost: $9+
Online: thechicagodogs.com

(9) Emerald City Theatre’s Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
Join in on the hunt for your dearest stuffed animal, Knuffle Bunny, in this comedic musical adaptation of the Caldecott Honor Book by Mo Willems! After losing the beloved toy rabbit at the laundromat, a desperate dad, a merry mom and toddler Trixie learn the power in communicating, even when there are no words. With stage design inspired by illustrations straight from the book, this treasured tale is an Emerald City Theatre audience favorite.

When: Now through May 27
Hours: Showtimes vary, check the calendar
Where: Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Park
Cost: $19+
Online: emeraldcitytheatre.com

(10) Kick-Off to Navy Pier’s Summer Fireworks
You know it’s officially warm-weather season in Chicago when you see the bright lights of Navy Pier’s Fireworks. Keep the kids up a tad later on Wednesdays and Saturdays this summer to experience the fireworks display synchronized to music at Navy Pier. Make it extra special by viewing from the Observation Deck at 360 CHICAGO, 94 floors up!

When: May 26 & 30
Hours: Wed., 9:30 p.m.; Sat., 10:15 p.m.
Where: Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Streeterville
Cost: Free
Online: navypier.com/fireworks

Big plans for May? Shout about it in the Comments below!

—Maria Chambers

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