For many people in the United States, Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer vacation and the final opportunity for a family getaway before school starts. If you're visiting the St. Louis area this Labor Day, there are plenty of festivals and events to celebrate.
From the St. Louis Greek Festival to the last chance to go swimming at public pools before they close for the fall and winter, there are numerous fun options for Labor Day in Missouri and nearby Illinois. If you plan to stay a little longer, the weekend holiday also kicks off the September and fall events calendars in St. Louis, meaning you'll have many more moments to celebrate even if you miss the Labor Day festivities.
St. Louis Greek Festival
For those who love food, especially homemade pastries, the St. Louis Greek Festival in the Central West End is a must on Labor Day weekend. For over 100 years, this annual event has attracted thousands of visitors who enjoy music, dancing, and some beloved Greek food. The event kicks off Friday night with a special celebration in the beer garden, then continues through Labor Day. The festival takes place at the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in St. Louis, next to the Central West End metro station.
If you like chicken wings, check out the Midwest Wingfest from Friday through Saturday of Labor Day weekend, September 4–5, 2020. This event is free to attend and enjoy, and proceeds from food and drink purchases go to helping disabled veterans and first responders. The wing-eating contest is one of the star events of the weekend, but if you just want to enjoy a reasonable amount of wings you can try them from one of the over 30 vendors who are on-site with their products.
The event is held in the east parking lot of St. Clair Square Mall in Fairview Heights, Illinois, which is just across the state line and only 20 minutes from downtown St. Louis by car.
Extended Hours at the Zoo
Labor Day weekend means the last days of extended hours at the Saint Louis Zoo in Forest Park. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of the holiday weekend, September 5–7, 2020, the zoo opens earlier and closes later so guests can enjoy the final weekend of summer break at this St. Louis institution. See polar bears, penguins, your favorite big cats, and more of the 600 species on display. Admission into the zoo is free, although certain exhibits do incur a small fee.
Guidelines put into place in 2020 require all visitors to have a reserved ticket before entering, which can be done online without any cost. Reservations specify the date and time you can enter the zoo, but once you arrive, you're welcome to spend the entire day there until closing.
The Great Godfrey Maze
The Great Godfrey Maze opens each year on Labor Day weekend in Robert E. Glazebrook Park in Godfrey, Illinois. The 7-acre maze is a tradition in the Metro East and makes for a great day of fun for families. In addition to the maze, there are hayrides, a cow train, a zip line, corn slides, and other activities for the kids. On Labor Day weekend, you can also enter the maze after dark, but you'll have to bring or purchase a flashlight for admittance.
The Gateway Cup Bicycle Race
The Gateway Cup is canceled in 2020 and returns September 3–6, 2021.
Take in four days of bicycle racing in four different St. Louis neighborhoods at the Gateway Cup over Labor Day Weekend. Pro-am cyclists compete for cash and prizes during the annual event in Lafayette Square, St. Louis Hills, Benton Park, and The Hill. There are also recreational and children's rides for amateur cyclists of all abilities.
Harvest Festival at Stone Hill Winery
You can kick off Labor Day weekend in St. Louis by heading out to nearby Hermann in the St. Louis wine country for the annual Harvest Festival at Stone Hill Winery. A tasting ticket is only $5 for adults, but there are plenty of family-friendly activities to keep the little ones entertained as well, such as pumpkin painting and grape stomping. Live performers play music throughout the afternoon and the onsite restaurant has all types of delectable options to pair with your wine tastings.
This year's celebration is on Saturday, September 5, 2020. If you want to eat at the winery restaurant, it's best to call ahead to reserve a table.
Applefest at Eckert's Orchards
Kick-off apple season with Applefest at Eckert's Farm in Belleville, Illinois, just 30 minutes outside of St. Louis. Applefest begins on the Friday of Labor Day weekend and continues every weekend throughout the month of September. Bring a basket to pick your own fruit and bring home a bundle of Red Delicious, Galas, Fujis, Granny Smiths, or one of the many other varieties grown at the farm. And Applefest wouldn't be complete without carnival-themed treats like caramel apples, cider doughnuts, and kettle corn. In between snacks you can take kids to visit some of the farm animals like the resident ponies, petting zoo goats, and more.
Labor Day River Cruise
If you're looking for an activity that's both fun and educational, you can take a river cruise on the Mississippi River this Labor Day weekend. A guide will take you on an hour-long tour on the 49-passenger River Rambler, sharing information about the history of the river and its important geological features. The tour boat has an open-air top level plus a bar with cocktails for adults and mocktails for kids.
This year's cruise is scheduled for Monday, September 7, 2020, from 2–3 p.m. It's a good idea to check the weather forecast and confirm with the boat company in advance, as there can be closures due to weather and river conditions.
The Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden is canceled in 2020.
St. Louis might not be the first place you think of when it comes to celebrating Japanese culture, but each Labor Day weekend, the Missouri Botanical Garden hosts one of the oldest and biggest Japanese festivals in the U.S. The event features traditional music, dancing, and storytelling in the authentic Japanese strolling gardens. Visitors can learn about the art of origami or attend a traditional tea ceremony. Another highlight of the event is the chance to see a real sumo wrestling demonstration.
Live Jazz in Frontier Park
All summer concerts in Frontier Park are canceled in 2020.
Enjoy an evening of jazz at a free outdoor concert along the banks of the Missouri River in Frontier Park. The 18-piece St. Charles Big Band will continue their 20 years of performances. Everyone is invited to bring a lawn chair or blanket and relax under the stars for this free event in St. Charles.
Downtown Labor Day Parade
The St. Louis Labor Day Parade is canceled in 2020.
Thousands of local union members will march through Downtown St. Louis for the annual Labor Day Parade on the holiday weekend. The gathering usually begins at N 13th Street and Olive Street, then the parade makes its way down Tucker Boulevard, past St. Louis City Hall, and west on Market Street to N 15th Street.
Belleville Labor Day Parade and Picnic
Many union members and their families from Metro East (an Illinois region that makes up the eastern suburbs of St. Louis) will honor Labor Day at the annual parade and picnic in Belleville on Monday, September 7, 2020. The parade begins in the morning along First Street in downtown Belleville. There is typically a picnic after the parade in Hough City Park, which is located at W. C Street between North Third Street and North Fourth Street.
Water Parks and Swimming Pools
Labor Day weekend is your final chance of the year to take in the sun and fun at Raging Rivers, Collinsville Aqua Park, Hurricane Harbor, and other local water parks. The holiday is also the last day of the season for many smaller community and neighborhood pools. It's always helpful to check local attraction websites for potential closures or schedule changes due to weather conditions, repairs, and other reasons.
In 2020, many of the water parks require advance reservations in order to enter. Check the website for the park you plan to visit to find out what guidelines are in place and make a reservation if necessary.