Nestled in the heart of Will County, Joliet, Illinois is a lively and bustling city that boasts a rich history, a thriving arts scene, and a warm and welcoming community. With a range of diverse cultural offerings and endless opportunities for entertainment, Joliet is a city that truly stands out. This guide provides a glimpse into some of the many free events that Joliet has to offer throughout the year, giving visitors and locals alike a chance to explore the city’s unique character and engage with its vibrant culture. From festivals to art exhibitions, Joliet’s upcoming events offer a window into the city’s deep connection to its history, its commitment to the arts, and its strong sense of community.
This guide showcases twelve free events that take place throughout the year, providing visitors with the opportunity to experience what living in Joliet is like. So whether you’re a local, a visitor, looking to rent an apartment, buy a home, or maybe just checking out the market in Joliet, be sure to mark your calendars and get ready to immerse yourself in all that Joliet has to offer – you won’t be disappointed.
January: Joliet Area Historical Museum
One of the best ways to learn about Joliet’s rich history is by visiting the Joliet Area Historical Museum. The museum, which is open year-round, offers free admission on Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Here, visitors can explore exhibits that showcase the city’s diverse past, including displays on the city’s significant contributions to the steel and prison industries. The museum also features interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, and special museum events throughout the year. A visit to the Joliet Area Historical Museum is a must for anyone interested in learning more about the city’s fascinating history.
February: Lunar New Year Celebration
The Lunar New Year Celebration is a beloved event held at the Joliet Public Library every February. This free celebration welcomes visitors to participate in traditional Chinese New Year festivities, including dragon and lion dances, calligraphy, crafts, and a sampling of Chinese cuisine. Additionally, the library offers educational workshops and lectures to share Chinese culture with visitors. Whether you’re familiar with Chinese New Year traditions or not, this celebration is a great opportunity to experience the fun, food, and culture of the holiday.
March: St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Joliet’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, held annually in March, is a beloved tradition that brings the community together. The parade features colorful floats, marching bands, bagpipers, and Irish dancers, all winding their way through the streets of downtown Joliet. Visitors can enjoy festive music and dance performances, and indulge in traditional Irish fare from food vendors throughout the parade route. The parade is a great way to experience the city’s festive spirit and enjoy the coming of spring.
April: Easter Egg Hunt
The annual Easter Egg Hunt at the Pilcher Park Nature Center in Joliet is a delightful event that takes place every April. The event is free to the public and welcomes children of all ages to search for hidden Easter eggs throughout the park’s picturesque grounds. The park’s natural beauty is an ideal backdrop for the egg hunt, and visitors can also participate in other seasonal activities such as crafts, face painting, and photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny.
May: Memorial Day Parade
Joliet’s Memorial Day Parade is a moving tribute to those who have served in the armed forces. The parade features marching bands, patriotic floats, and service organizations, and culminates in a ceremony honoring fallen service members. Visitors can enjoy the festive atmosphere and show their support for veterans and active duty military personnel. The Memorial Day Parade is a great way to connect with the community and honor service members.
June: Taste of Joliet
The Taste of Joliet is an annual festival that celebrates the city’s diverse food and music scene. Visitors can sample dishes from local restaurants, enjoy live music, and participate in fun activities for all ages. The festival is a great way to experience the local culture and connect with the community, all while enjoying delicious food and music.
July: Fourth of July Fireworks
Joliet’s Fourth of July Fireworks is a spectacular display of color and sound that lights up the night sky over the city. The free event draws visitors from all over the area to watch the stunning pyrotechnic display. Spread out on your blankets or chairs in one of the many Joliet’s parks throughout the city to enjoy the show, while food vendors and other activities add to the festive atmosphere.
August: Joliet Jazz Fest
Joliet Jazz Fest is an annual free event that celebrates the best of jazz music. Held every August, the festival features live music performances from local and national jazz artists. The event is held at the Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park, which is the perfect setting for a summer night of jazz. Visitors can bring chairs or blankets and enjoy the cool summer breeze while listening to some of the best jazz music around.
September: Downtown Joliet Farmers Market
The Downtown Joliet Farmers Market is a weekly event held every Sunday throughout September, and it offers visitors a chance to support local farmers and artisans. Visitors can browse through a wide selection of fresh produce, flowers, and handmade goods, all while enjoying the bustling atmosphere of downtown Joliet. The market also features live music and other activities, making it a fun outing for all ages.
October: Haunted Trails at Pilcher Park
The Haunted Trails at Pilcher Park is an annual event that takes place every October, and it’s a must-visit destination for thrill-seekers. Visitors can walk the haunted trails at night and experience spine-tingling scares around every corner. The park is transformed into a haunted forest, and visitors can expect to encounter creepy creatures, ghostly apparitions, and other terrifying surprises. This event is not for the faint of heart, but it’s the perfect destination for those who enjoy a good fright.
November: Veterans Day Parade
The Veterans Day Parade in Joliet is an annual event that honors the brave men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. The parade features marching bands, military organizations, and veterans’ groups, and culminates in a ceremony to commemorate the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes. Visitors can show their support for the military and veterans by attending the parade and joining in the celebrations. The Veterans Day Parade in Joliet typically starts at the corner of Jefferson and Des Plaines Streets, and then proceeds down Jefferson Street to the Joliet City Center. The exact route may vary from year to year, so it’s best to check the City of Joliet’s website or contact the city directly for the latest information on the parade’s route and starting location.
December: Holiday in the Park and Christmas Lights
Holiday in the Park is an annual festival that takes place every December and transforms Joliet’s Central Park into a winter wonderland. The festival features a variety of holiday-themed activities, including ice skating, carriage rides, a petting zoo, and visits with Santa Claus. The park is decorated with colorful lights, and visitors can enjoy live music and other entertainment. The festival is a great way to celebrate the holiday season and get in the festive spirit, all while enjoying the beautiful winter scenery of Central Park.
Christmas Lights in Joliet is another annual event that takes place throughout December, and it’s a holiday tradition that shouldn’t be missed. Visitors can take a self-guided tour through Joliet’s residential neighborhoods, where homes are decked out with dazzling Christmas lights and decorations. Some of the most popular neighborhoods to visit include Cathedral Area, Old Joliet Prison, and Millbrook Estates. It’s the perfect way to get in the holiday spirit and admire the festive decorations that make Joliet such a special place to be during the holiday season and a meaningful way to wrap up the year.