Irish eye Gaelic Park
It's easy being green at Gaelic Park's Irish Fest in Southwest suburban Oak Forest. One of the nation's largest festivals of Irish culture, the event includes Gaelic football and hurling, dancing, theater and storytelling, a petting zoo, Irish dogs and ponies, import stores and an Irish tea room. For the youngsters, there will be magicians, puppets, jugglers, clowns and unlimited rides on a carnival midway. There also will be a Red Hair and Freckle Face Contest and a Bonnie Baby Contest. Performers include Red Rebel County, The Gothard Sisters, The Fighting Jamesons and Gaelic Storm.
4 to 11 p.m. Friday, May 24; 2 to 11 p.m. Saturday, May 25; 1 to 11 p.m. Sunday, May 26; and 1 to 8 p.m. Monday, May 27, in Oak Forest. Daily pass, which includes all events, shows, parking and unlimited carnival rides, costs $15 for adults ($10 first hour only); $12 for seniors 65 and older and kids 4-12; kids younger than 4 admitted free. Admission discounts for tickets ordered online. (708) 687-9323 or chicagogaelicparkirishfest.org.
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Light up the night
You don't have to wait until the Fourth of July to celebrate summer. End your day in the city with spectacular fireworks displays over Lake Michigan synchronized to music. The summer schedule for Navy Pier fireworks officially kicks off on Memorial Day weekend, and there will be a synchronized show every Wednesday and Saturday through the summer.
9:30 p.m. Wednesdays and 10:15 p.m. Saturdays, May 25-Aug. 31, at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, (312) 595- 7437 or www.navypier.com.
To market, to market
Browse antiques, fancy foods and global crafts, attend the Vinyl Swap Meet with your best LPs or see what's new at the Indie Designer Market. It's all going on the opening weekend of the Randolph Street Market Festival. The European-flavored indoor and outdoor event offers unusual items from more than 200 dealers, gourmet foods, entertainment and a farmers market. Catch a free trolley from Water Tower Place or take advantage of free parking near the site.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 25-26, at 1350 W. Randolph St., Chicago. Admission is $10 at the door or $8 online, students $5 at the gate or $3 online, kids 12 and younger admitted free. www.randolphstreetmarket.com.
The intersection of Belmont and Sheffield avenues is the hub of Chicago's trendy Lakeview neighborhood and the yearly Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival doesn't disappoint. The 29th annual festival kicks off Chicago's outdoor street fest season over Memorial Day weekend. The popular street party showcases the area's favorite tribute bands, food and beverages from neighborhood restaurants as well as artisans offering their handiwork.
Noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 25-26, on North Sheffield from Belmont Avenue to School Street, Chicago. $5 suggested donation. www.chicagoevents.com.
In heaven there is no beer
California may have Napa, but Wisconsin says "cheers" to the fifth annual Kohler Festival of Beer in Kohler, Wis., on tap for the last weekend in May. Sample a broad range of suds from breweries across the country, ask questions and learn about the brewing process and vote for your favorites. Sign up for the festival's Pub Crawl, the 5K Beer Run/Walk event or the Grilling University interactive classes from Brats & Burgers to Beer & Food Pairing.
May 31 to June 2 at American Club Resort in Kohler, Wis. The festival offers free and ticketed events as well as hotel packages. www.americanclubresort.com/events/kohler_festival_of_beer.html.
East Coast, West Coast, Blue Coast
The 24th season of the Blue Coast Artists studio tours has begun and to celebrate, the artists are offering Springfest over Memorial Day weekend. See new works and enjoy the Michigan countryside during the lush, green spring. Enjoy a behind-the-scenes look into the studios of 10 professional artists who work in pottery, wax casting, bronze and jewelry, metal smithing, jewelry, painting and multimedia.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Monday, May 25-27. Studios are located along the Blue Star Highway and back roads between South Haven and Saugatuck, Mich. (269) 236-9260 or www.bluecoastartists.com.