Where to See the Marching Illini in Champaign-Urbana (and not just at football games)
Hey Champaign-Urbana, we have a confession to make: we are OBSESSED with the Marching Illini. We’re proud to say that we might even be considered Marching Illini groupies.
We know that one of the best places to see the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign marching band in action is at a football game, during the traditional pre-game, halftime and post-game performances. But we’re here to tell you that the Marching Illini transcend the Memorial Stadium football field.
(For more on how to enjoy Illini athletics, see 10 Reasons Families Win with Illini Sports )
Here are ways to see the Marching Illini perform, as it celebrates its 153rd season this year:
1) Did you know? You can watch the Marching Illini practice.
The Marching Illini (MI) rehearse Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday from 5:00-6:30 p.m. The Marching Illini practice field is located on the corner of First and Gregory in Champaign. If it rains they typically stay out and the rehearsal continues, but in the event of lightning, they will return to the band building. Best part: it’s free. They also practice Thursday nights from 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. generally in Memorial Stadium.
2) The Marching Illini host an annual marching band championship, with high school bands from all over the state.
This year it will be held on October 23, 2021. Have the marching band day of your life! It’s a full day of performances, starting at 8:30 a.m. and finishing up around 9:30 p.m. with two exhibitions by the MI. Admission is charged, but kids 5 and under are free. This year, Monticello High School, Champaign Central, and Unity are among the local bands competing.
3) You don’t have to go into the game to see the Marching Illini on game day. Don’t have tickets? Can’t stay for the game? Just head to Grange Grove, the tailgate area right in front of Memorial Stadium, about 2.5 hours before game time, for a short concert (for an 11 a.m. game, typically 8:30 a.m.). If you don’t want to go to Grange Grove, about 45 minutes before game time the band parades out of the Armory as it marches to Memorial Stadium. Keep an eye on the Marching Illini Facebook page where the game day schedule is typically posted, or sign up for the MI email newsletter to be in the know.
4) If you go to the game to see the Marching Illini, be prepared to go early and stay late. Everyone knows that the Marching Illini perform at halftime. But they also play on the field before the game (pregame performance) and do a short postgame. After the game, they march back to the Education Building where they conclude the day with a musical performance that highlights the major pieces of that game’s show. (When there’s a night game, that concert sometimes gets cancelled.) Again, check the game day schedule.
5). Are you a night owl? Check out Friday Night Hype at the Alma Mater, corner of Wright and Green. Generally around 10 p.m. Friday nights before home games.
6) Don’t like to be outdoors? The Marching Illini typically performs at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, which means no shivering outside or waiting in the rain. This year’s annual MI concert hasn’t yet been announced, but there is a Homecoming concert at Krannert for all of the Illinois bands, and the MI play part of the program.
7) Don’t want to leave your house? Check out the Marching Illini in various forms on its fabulous YouTube channel.
BONUS: The Marching Illini traditionally march in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign HOMECOMING PARADE. (In 2021, this is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 9.)
Did we miss anything? Email us – email@example.com.