Editor's note: Due to remaining closures and precautions in St. Louis, most of the city's Memorial Day festivities and have been canceled or postponed this year.
Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer and the chance to remember those who have served our country. In 2020, Memorial Day is May 25. The St. Louis area has plenty of festivals and performances on Memorial Day weekend, but also parades and military services to honor our veterans.
Built by famed army general Ulysses S. Grant, Grant's Farm is now a fun attraction home to exotic animals, a garden, and free-flowing domestic brews from Anheuser Busch.
Memorial Day marks the arrival of local food trucks serving up entrees, snacks, and sweets in the Tiergarten. You can also expect live music, carousel rides, and other family-friendly activities throughout the weekend.
Mississippi Nights Festival
Laclede's Landing hosted an incredible new event during Memorial Day weekend in 2017 called The Mississippi Nights Festival. The festival featured live music performed by dozens of local artists, and many of the concerts were free.
Since that first event was such a success, The Landing decided to make this an annual event in St. Louis each Memorial Day weekend to come.
The St. Louis County Greek Festival, held in the St. Louis suburb of Town and Country, is a Memorial Day tradition for many area families. Thousands of visitors attend the four-day festival, which features Greek music, dancing, gifts, and plenty of authentic Greek food.
The festival runs Friday night through Monday of Memorial Day weekend at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church at 1755 Des Peres Road in Town and Country. The best part? Admission and parking are both free.
Editor's note: This year, the Missouri River Irish Fest will take place September 18 – 20, 2020.
Memorial Day weekend at Frontier Park in St. Charles takes on an Irish twist. Don something green then watch the impressive Celtic dancers, jam to the live Irish music, or sample some traditional Irish food and drinks.
There's also a Kids Village filled with art, crafts and other children's activities, so you bring the whole family. This festival is open to the public and admission is no charge. It bills itself as the largest free Irish event in the Midwest.
Thirty dance companies from around the country perform during a three-day festival dedicated to dance at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.
This annual event brings in top dancers showing off talents in everything from ballet and hip-hop to modern and jazz. Tickets are required and can be purchased in advance.
Editor's note: This year, Schlafly's Art Outside will take place September 4 – 6, 2020.
Schlafly's Art Outside is a three-day celebration of local artists at Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood. The festival features the works of St. Louis' best alternative artists, as well as live music, food, and, naturally, plenty of Schlafly beer on tap.
The festival runs from Friday through Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and is a free event.
Memorial Day means the start of extended weekend hours at the St. Louis Zoo, as well as the kickoff of the Jungle Boogie Friday Night Concert Series.
Featuring a very wide range of music genres, including rock, disco, soul, and even a Beatles' cover band, this concert series runs all summer long and is free for guests of the zoo.
Bargain hunters can look for deals at the Grafton Riverside Flea Market, which is held each weekend from April to October. But one of the most popular times to visit the market is during Memorial Day Weekend. Dozens of vendors will be selling antiques, glassware, tools, furniture, and more along Front Street.
Editor's note: Currently, only Eckert's Country Store is open for curb-side grocery pick-up.
Eckert's Orchards in Belleville, a 175-year-old family-run farm, celebrates Memorial Day with a three-day festival complete with live music and food. There is plenty of fun to be had for the kids at this one-day event, including pony rides, a petting farm, carnival rides, and inflatables. There's also a summer concert series that kicks off on Memorial Day Weekend.
Admission to picking fields costs one dollar per person, but parking is free. You can also bring your dog here, as long as he/she is on a leash.
The St. Louis African Arts Festival is held at the historic World's Fair Pavilion in beautiful Forest Park. The three-day celebration includes live music and entertainment, an African marketplace, and a food court.
There's also a children's village with crafts and other art-themed activities for the kids. Admission to the entire festival is free.
As Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start to the summer season, it's time to get your swimming on. You can expect most local water parks and public pools to open on the Saturday prior Memorial Day.
So, don't miss your first chance to enjoy a day in the water at Raging Rivers, Hurricane Harbor, or any of the community pools across the area.
Though it may be a bit of a drive (it's about 22 miles from downtown St. Louis) the Memorial Day Parade in Alton, Illinois, is definitely worth the trip.
This parade is the oldest consecutive running Memorial Day parade in the nation, dating all the way back to 1868. The parade honors American veterans and celebrates the history of this small Mississippi River town. The parade route begins at the intersection of College and Washington Avenues before coursing throughout the town.
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery is an impressive sight any day of the year, but even more so on Memorial Day. Each year, local boy scouts place small flags at each of the nearly 190,000 headstones on the cemetery grounds. There is also a special service at 10 a.m., in the cemetery chapel honoring all those who have served.
The Compton Heights Concert Band has been performing free concerts in St. Louis since 1976. The band's summer season kicks off every year with a Memorial Day Concert in Tower Grove Park in South St. Louis.
Everyone is invited to bring a blanket or lawn chair and gather around the bandstand for an afternoon of patriotic music.