Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

School’s back in session but that doesn’t mean that the community isn’t hopping with activity. September brings one of the busiest months of the year with festivals, events, and fun ways to enjoy our community.

At the beginning of each season, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts hosts an incredible Opening Night celebration, and this year it is a part of the ELLNORA Guitar Festival. Friday, September 8, they’ll host a big celebration that includes both free and ticketed events starting with the National Anthem performed by Malina Moye who was the first African American woman to play the national anthem for a professional sport. That night they’ll have kids events and activities, and a variety of performances. On Saturday, plenty more free events and some incredible performers including Ani DiFranco, Emmylou Harris, Andy Summers, and so many more.

That same weekend, the Arcola Broomcorn Festival returns with tons of activities for the family. Make your own brooms, shop from vendors, take part in the 5 or 10K, and don’t miss the big parade with the famous Lawn Rangers!

The following weekend, West Side Arts, returns for its second year at West Side Park, brought to you by the Champaign Park District and 40 North. Dozens of artists will showcase their work so you can pick up something new for yourself or get a jumpstart on your holiday shopping.

In Monticello, Railroad Days returns to the Monticello Railway Museum on the 16–17. You’ll have unlimited rides on their impressive, vintage trains throughout the weekend for the cost of a single fair. Whether you hop on the riding pedal cars, the Caboose, or the motor cars, you’ll get your fill of trains all weekend.

The following week, Pygmalion is back in Urbana bringing live music, book and poetry readings, tech, and the Made Fest. Spread across multiple venues at the Rose Bowl, 25 O’Clock Brewery, Analog Wine Bar, the new Gallery Bar, Canopy Club, and Krannert Center, you’ll find dozens of opportunities to take part in this event. Get a festival pass to make the most of the weekend.

And finally, the last Saturday in September, the 30th is a very busy day! Kicking us off is the new Soul Food Festival hosted by DREAAM at the Vineyard Church, with over 8 soul food vendors, STEM activities, and some soulful performers. That kicks off at 11am. Then the CU Pride Festival is in full force, with the parade stepping off at 2:30pm and heading into downtown Urbana where they’ll have a large vendor fair. Check out their full week of programming. And that night, the CU Oktoberfest makes its return to downtown Champaign for it’s 10th anniversary, with local beers, food trucks, and plenty of polka!

If you just want a fun activity to celebrate fall, check out the corn maze at Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch. The 10-acre maze is a mythical theme this year, which you can explore and find various checkpoints along the way. If you’re really brave, do the moonlight maze with your flashlight!

To connect with Experience Champaign Urbana for a look at everything happening in the community, visit their website HERE.