Smile Politely

Get your culture here: Five things to do in May 2023

a long orange picnic table is outside on a sunny day. The table has wooden platters of various desserts including croissants. Some are dusted with powdered sugar.
Bakelab on Facebook

Is it just me, or was April especially brutal this year? I lost track of how many times I had to fight with my kids about whether they needed to wear shorts or winter jackets to school in the same week. I am so happy May is here, while it’s starting off a bit cloudy it is still the best month of the year in my opinion. Here are five things to encourage you to get out and enjoy in Champaign-Urbana this month.  

Two women with short dark hair sit at a red table outside. There are people standing and white tents in the background. The woman on the right is wearing a white kimono with black star shapes, glasses, and is holding a phone and a paintbrush. The woman on the left wears a red shirt with a black collar. Both woman are smiling at the camera.
Diana Liao

Celebrate Matsuri

The Matsuri festival is back May 6th for the first time since 2019 and it is absolutely brimming with vendors. It will start at 12 p.m. and conclude with fireworks at 9 p.m. You will be able to read my interview Diana Liao, the Education and Engagement Specialist at Japan House tomorrow. She will be sharing her favorite memories from past Matsuri festivals and what she is most looking forward to at this years festival.

At night a crowded street is full of people. At the end of the street is a stage with a band performing and orange tents line the street
Toast to Tylor Street

Kick off patio season

The Toast to Taylor Street Block Party series is back for its 2023 season. It will be on its namesake street in Downtown Champaign from 4 to 11 p.m. There is an amazing line up of music, an expanded space for local vendors, and delicious food from Farren’s Pub. You can catch all the action on the first Saturday of the month from now until October 7th.

A close up photo of an Indigo Bunting bird perched on a large plant stem. The bird has bright blue feathers, black eyes, and a silver and black beak. He is beautiful against a blurred green background.
Champaign County Audubon society

Birdwatch for a good cause

The Champaign County Audubon Society is hosting their annual week long bird-a-thon fundraiser. Get your friends together to create a team, gather pledges, and head out to your favorite outdoor spot to see how many different bird species you can find. The fundraiser runs from May 7th to May 13th and all of the money raised will go to the the CCAS Kendeigh Memorial Fund, which supports scientific ornithological research in Illinois. 

a Birdseye view of a table featuring 3 wooden boards full of croissants and pastries with a latte in the middle. There is a vase of yellow, green, and white flowers in the upper left side of the picture.
Bakelab on Facebook

Ride a bike for Mother’s Day

The Anita Purves Nature Center is hosting a mothers day bike ride on May 14th to celebrate moms and those who nurture us. This easy-paced three and a half mile ride will start at the nature center at 2 p.m. and will end at Bake Lab for treats and coffee. League Certified Cycling Instructors will be leading the ride but helmets and a review of the rules of the road are strongly recommended.

Allerton Park and Retreat Center

Have a picnic with the peonies at Allerton

The Allerton peonies are always a unique springtime experience. Turning the corner of the hedges you are greeted by an incredible variety of flowers in beautiful shades of pink and white. Entertain yourself by walking down gravel path and checking out the unique names of each varietal. This year, on May 20th and May 21st you can complete your tour by reserving a table in the meadow, it will include a table for eight, two bottles of wine, and a charcuterie board. A cash bar will also be on site.

Culture Editor

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