Note: We hope you’re gearing up for a fun Memorial Day weekend! This post was written in 2016. Please click here to see our 2018 post.
Memorial Day stands for the unofficial start of summer, a long weekend, and an extra day to spend time with the family. But above all, it is a significant holiday designated to honor the lives lost while serving in the country’s armed forces.
This is also a celebration of the freedom we have because of the selfless sacrifice of veterans. There are several things you can do in Omaha and Council Bluffs this Memorial Day weekend to celebrate, have fun, and most importantly, honor and remember those brave men and women.
2016 Big Ten Baseball Tournament
Wednesday, May 25 – Sunday, May 29
The 2016 Big Ten Baseball Tournament is becoming a staple on Omaha’s annual calendar of events since its debut in 2014. This is a prequel of sorts to the Collegiate Baseball Championship, in which the legendary Big Ten compete to return in June. In fact, the tournament takes place in TD Ameritrade Park — the very same stadium where the Collegiate Baseball Championship will be held a few weeks later!
Visit the Farmers’ Market
Saturday, May 28 & Sunday, May 29
Many say that Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. It is, in fact, the day you can legally start wearing white pants, according to the Fashion Police! So what better way to welcome summer than with a visit to a local farmers’ market?
Check out the many farmers’ markets in Omaha and Council Bluffs throughout the spring and summer — paying special attention to the ones that fall on Saturdays and Sundays. To simplify this list a bit, let’s draw your attention to a couple of our favorite weekend markets. With an extra day added to your weekend, Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to gather fresh produce and make a farm-fresh, homemade meal for the entire family!
Visit the Omaha Farmers’ Market at the Old Market on Saturday between 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. This is one of the more popular markets in the area, as it located in a central and bustling area within Omaha and features 100+ vendors to shop from! This market is actually considered the best farmers’ market in all of Nebraska.
If you sleep in on Saturday and miss out on produce shopping at the Old Market, you’ll have another chance on Sunday! The Omaha Farmers’ Market at Aksarben Village is happening from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., featuring over 100 vendors in one of the most happening areas around.
Photos Courtesy of Omaha Farmers’ Market
Take the Kids to the Zoo
Saturday, May 28 – Monday, May 30
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is hosting a special Memorial Day weekend celebration. Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the whole family can experience wild entertainment, including bounce houses, airbrush tattoos, and special animal presentations for all ages. All of the Memorial Day activities are completely free for zoo members and free with regular paid admission.
Make sure to get there early! Not only will you beat the crowds and get a headstart on the festivities, but the first 1,000 people to walk through the gates will receive a special patriotic gift from Oriental Trading Company.
This is a fun way to kick off summer, enjoy the best zoo in the world, and spend time appreciating nature with the family!
Photos Courtesy of Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium
Go to Loessfest 2016 in Council Bluffs
Saturday, May 28 – Sunday, June 5
If you don’t remember one thing we suggest, remember this: Loessfest 2016. This annual festival celebrates all of the great things happening in Council Bluffs, the unique landscape of the Loess Hills alongside the Missouri River, and the unofficial start to summer on Memorial Day weekend.
This event was established in 2013, and attracted more than 66,000 people from all over the region in its first two years. The week-long festivities take place at Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park on the Iowa side near the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. This festival has a large number of events happening from Saturday, May 18 all the way through Sunday, June 5.
The weekend kicks off with the Run Loess Half Marathon and 5K on Saturday at 8 a.m. Register in advance to be a part of this exciting run starting and ending in Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park!
The fun continues at the Riverfront Block Party that afternoon. This family block party on the river features a live concert performance by Imagination Movers, food, music, bounce houses, and a screening of Disney Pixar’s “Inside Out” at dusk!
On Sunday night, enjoy a free concert at the park with headliners Kool and the Gang, a jazz, R&B, soul, funk and disco group that has influenced generations since 1964.
On Memorial Day, head back to the park for a special concert performance called “Fireworks for Freedom” from The Omaha Symphony, honoring America and its veterans. The concert will be followed by a beautiful fireworks display. Admire the spectacular artwork in the sky and the Omaha skyline on your lawn chairs and blankets.
The party continues the day after Memorial Day with Bike the Bluffs on Tuesday, May 31. Grab your bikes and meet up at Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park at 6 p.m. to enjoy a fun ride through the park to beautiful Council Bluffs trails and back again. This is a fun opportunity to take in the gorgeous and ever-changing landscape of Council Bluffs via bike with hundreds of fellow bikers. And the best part? This ride is completely free and requires no registration!
Check out the full event schedule for Loessfest to see what other fun activities are happening throughout the week! This is a celebratory and festive community event you and your family will not want to miss.
Photos Courtesy of Loessfest 2016
Witness the Special Ceremony at Memorial Park
Monday, May 30
Each Memorial Day, there is a special ceremony that takes place at Memorial Park to honor our veterans. This year is no different. Head to Memorial Park to witness this inspiring ceremony at the park created as a memorial for all men and women from Douglas County who have served in the armed forces. The service starts at 11 a.m. and is hosted by the Heroes of the Heartland Foundation.
Photo Courtesy of Panoramio
An Omaha High School Band is Marching in the D.C. Memorial Day Parade!
While this won’t be held on Omaha soil, this is certainly worth mentioning. The marching band at Omaha South High Magnet School is heading to Washington, D.C. to march in the Memorial Day parade! The band reached their goal on their GoFundMe campaign, raising a total of $127,000 — including donations from two competing bands. We are so proud of these students and thankful that the community rallied around their campaign to help them have the experience of a lifetime at the nation’s capital!