Wondering how your family can enjoy the Pygmalion Festival together? Our friend Seth Fein, Champaign dad and founder of Pygmalion, helped us curate this listing. Because Pygmalion touches all of us. Many of these events have FREE admission and are open to the public.
1 Try new foods: September 16-17, starting at 4 p.m. in Downtown Champaign
Five local restaurants, all of them super legit. One super delish popsicle shop on wheels. It’s just a glimpse into what this could be. You can eat cheap here, actually. Dishes are priced $4/$8 and the portions make sense for a shy kid, obsessed with pizza, nuggets, and fries. I mean, hey — we all are. Hard to blame them.
Check out the menus here.
2. Stay up (a little) late and check out a big festival concert: September 23-24
Bedtime is real. But exceptions can and should be made. Kids 12 and under get in free to the outdoor music festival. It’s all ages. And there are a ton of lights. And the music is fun. Poster Children, Wolf Parade, Aloha, Mother Nature, and Future Islands will all impress if you want to show them what music looks like these days. (Passes/tickets needed for grownups).
3. Shop at The Made Fest: September 23-24
A day market, a night market — one like you’ve never seen in Champaign-Urbana, The Made Fest is a space to find all sorts of interesting handmade wares, wears, and more. Now in its fourth year, the hours have shifted to include the evening, all shops open in the darker hours. 4pm – 10pm on Friday and 12pm to 8pm on Saturday. No admission charge.
4. Check out a book at the Human Library: Thursday, September 22, Krannert Center, 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The University of Illinois Library is testing the limits of what a good book can look like. In this case, it’s a person. Select a title — it’s literally a human — and sit down. They are going to tell you a story. Listen. Respond. Pay attention. Fall in love with a character. It’s a modern take on oral tradition. That type of thing is still important, we think. FREE.
5. Check out the Planetarium: Tuesday, September 20, 7 p.m.
If you’ve never been to Staerkel Planetarium, this is a good moment to do so. The new short film by Donna Cox from NCSA is called Solar Superstorms, and it’s simply stunning. If you are going to let your kid get swallowed by a screen, let them experience a big, BIG one that physically envelopes them. $6 general admission.
6. Try out virtual reality, video games, drones, and more at Krannert Center: Thursday, September 22, 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The lobby at Krannert Center takes center stage in a showcase of the latest innovations in technology, most of which were developed, right here under our noses. Spend a moment living inside virtual reality, check out the latest video game from Volition’s studios, learn more about Wolfram, fly a drone, ask some questions. It’s like a science fair. But you can order a drink (grownups). And check out a great show, a talk, a reading. It’s a carnival for your mind. (Age recommendation: depends on your kid, but middle school and up most appropriate.) FREE
If there’s anything you can be proud of in Champaign-Urbana, let it be how integral we’ve been in developing and managing technology that essentially runs the world. Blue Waters is one of the world’s fastest supercomputers, and while you may not fully understand what’s happening when you go inside, the physical scope of the operation is completely mesmerizing. It’s a tour. They will explain it to you. FREE
8. Buy a book; buy an album: September 24
There’s just nothing like buying a paperback, or a vinyl record. Upwards of 20 independent presses will be on site for BookFort from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be readings, as well. Poetry. New fiction. Essayists. Inside the festival site, Exile on Main St. will be selling all kinds of records, including ones from the bands performing. FREE admission.