Spread out the picnic blanket, fire up the barbecue grill and open the lemonade stand: Memorial Day weekend is here. The holiday is your green light to kick-start summer fun, and family events and attractions around town ensure there’s never a dull moment. Read on for the scoop on everything from the latest Cirque Shanghai show to a group bike ride through Hyde Park.

cirque shanghai


Cirque Shanghai: Dragon’s Thunder
Tumbling, balancing and juggling feats will have you on the edge of your seat at this glam version of a circus. With the largest cast ever to visit from China, the show features acrobatics and contortion stunts on “The Chinese Flex Bar,” traditional Chinese “Dragon Drums,” daredevil motorcycle troupe “Imperial Thunder” and more. Runs through Sept. 2. Navy Pier. $20-$45. All ages. Event details.

Chicago Memorial Day Parade
Join the big, festive salute to those who have served our country. The procession begins with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Eternal Flame on Daley Plaza. At noon, watch area high schools’ drum and bugle corps, plus other performers, in the parade that proceeds south on State Street, from Wacker to Van Buren streets. Sat., 11:00 am. Kickoff at Washington and Dearborn streets. Free. All ages. Event details.

Ready, Pet, Go!
Chirp, bark and meow your way to the new exhibit dedicated to the special animals in our lives. Kids can pretend to be furry critters by crawling in, out and around a mini pet home, and dressing up in floppy-eared costumes. Everyone learns the benefits of owning a pet and accesses resources for choosing appropriate family companions. Ongoing. Sun.-Wed., 10:00 am-6:00 pm; Thurs.-Sat., 10:00 am-8:00 pm. Chicago Children’s Museum. Included in museum admission of $14; children 1 and younger are free. Event details.

Museum Campus

Stingray Touch
Reach out and caress what are thought to be some of nature’s dangerous creatures: stingrays. Along with learning about different species (including cownose and yellow stingrays) and their wild habitats, you’ll see just how docile and friendly these ocean swimmers can be. Open daily through the fall. Shedd Aquarium. Tickets are a $5 optional add-on ($3 for Shedd members) to the Shedd Pass ($28.95 per adult and $19.95 per child ages 3-11). Tickets are included in the Total Experience Pass ($37.95 per adult or $28.95 per child ages 3-11). All ages. Event details.

Hyde Park

Kidical Mass
Set off on a bike ride with other adventuresome families. This ride loops through Hyde Park and clocks in at around four miles — most of them through quiet neighborhood streets. Trail-a-bikes, child trailers and child seats welcome. Training wheels, too. Monday (Memorial Day), 11:00 am. Ride departs from Harold Washington Playlot. Free. All ages. Event details.


Future Hits
The public schoolteacher-led band combines fuzzy pop with educational values. Songs feature cool instruments like glockenspiel and melodica and are about simple pleasures, like walking to the library and hanging out at grandpa’s farm. Sat., 10:00 am. Wilmette Theater. $10 in advance; $12 at the door. All ages. Event details.

Whatcha doing for the three-day weekend? Let us know in the Comments section below.

— Kelly Aiglon

Photo: Courtesy of Cirque Shanghai