It’s May! And it doesn’t get much better than May in Indiana. The weather is warming up. Big and showy peonies are blooming just about everywhere. Cardinals and finch are singing their hearts out. And the city comes alive with festivities and fun.
This year is the 100th running of the Indy 500 and the month of May is just chocked full of events practically every weekend in the lead up to the big race on Memorial Day weekend.
Oh, and did I mention all of the individual porch parties and backyard gatherings with friends and family? Count those in and the city is in full swing!
As the drivers, their families, the teams, and fans start to arrive in the Circle City I thought I would highlight a few of our favorite 500 Festival events happening before the big race. There is much more detail on all of these events and more on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 500 Festival and Visit Indy websites.
- The 500 Festival Mini Marathon is a 13.1 half marathon. The course will take you on a full loop from downtown Indy around the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway racetrack and back. Along the way you will stay entertained with garage bands, cloggers, square dancers, line dancers, jazz musicians and more. As you circle the 2.5 mile race track, don’t forget to stop and kiss the iconic bricks in front of the Pagoda. Don’t think you are up for the half? That’s ok, there is a 5k option too.
- Kids Day and the Rookie Run. The folks over at the IMS know how to race but did you know that they know how to throw a great party for kids too? This year’s Kids Day is on May 14 and it’s Indiana’s largest free outdoor festival for kids. The downtown Indy event features mini car races, bouncy houses, crafts, and a concert by Carly Rae Jepsen and more. And, if that’s not enough there’s the Rookie Run. This non-competitive fun run is specially designed for kids ages 3-10 and each group is assigned their own designated course length. The littlest runners can join a two-block course while the oldest join a 1/3 mile course. Runners get a bib with the #1, t-shirt, goodie bag, and bragging rights to boot!
- Carb Day. Carb Day offers something for everyone in your family. This day-long event at the track includes the final day of practice before the running of the Indy 500, the racing of the Indy Lights series, and a concert by the legendary band, Journey. And, if that’s not enough, the wildly popular pit competition takes place on this day too. Kids of all ages will have a blast watching each race team compete to see which is the fastest in all of Gasoline Alley.
- 500 Festival Parade. Are you ready for the parade? The streets of downtown Indy will be jam-packed with families and friends enjoying one of the nation’s best and largest parade. Floats, balloons, marching bands, local and national celebrities, artists, and of course, Indy 500 drivers and their families are all part of the line up. There are bleacher tix still available if you want to reserve a seat. Otherwise, arrive early and get those lawn chairs and blankets set up for a free seat along the parade route.
- Race Day. What can I say other than it’s race day! Hooray! And, we have waited oh so long for it. This year my father and mother-in-law are driving cross-country from Colorado to Indiana to attend. It’s their first time going to the race and we are really looking forward to experiencing it with them. Stay tuned for a future posts about our experience and lessons learned.
Let’s say racing isn’t your cup of tea? No problem! There are plenty of other terrific things lined up this month that are on our family go-to list.
- Mini Golf at the IMA. The IMA is debuting an original art mini golf course on the Alliance Sculpture Court. The course is part of the IMA Artx Series and includes custom created golf holes by local and regional artists in honor of Indiana’s 2016 Bicentennial. The course opens to IMA members on May 6th and to the public on May 10th.
- Intersections at the Indiana State Museum featuring contemporary artist Anila Quayyum Agha’s shadow art installation, Intersections. Intersections is inspired by the Moorish architecture of the Alhambra Palace in Spain. It is on display through May 8th. And you can even meet the artist on May 1st from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- And, don’t forget to head out to cheer on your favorite local sports teams who are back in action including the Boys in Blue Indy Eleven soccer team. Sit in the west bleachers and you can sing along with the super fans of the Brickyard Battalion. Or, you can pack a picnic and head over with the family to Victory Field to catch an Indianapolis Indians. What are you waiting for? Go and get ready to cheer on the hometown teams!
Did I mention there the free outdoor concerts dotted throughout the city? Why not get a babysitter and head out for a date night with your sweetie?
- Happy Hour on Georgia Street kicks off Thursday, May 5. This even features live music and specials from neighboring restaurants from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- Fountain Square Third Friday Music starts on May 20th. This monthly Thursday event is a regular celebration of local artists.
- Concerts on the Canal. The first concert is Memorial Day weekend – May 26 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. There is free seating on the grassy area of the Canal Walk.
Stay tuned throughout the next few weeks as I share stories from the past and stories of our new experiences as we get ready and go to the Indy 500.
Dorothy Hoffman is the creator of the travel blog, Squirts and Seniors. She is a Gen X-er who writes about traveling at home and abroad with her young son and aging parents.