The US state of Illinois turns 200 years old in 2018 and is marking the occasion with a year-long celebration. Over 60 exciting events will salute the people, places and moments that make Illinois an amazing place to visit, including a new Bicentennial exhibition honouring Presidential history and a major Birthday Gala at Chicago’s United Centre on December 3, 2018.
Key events planned for this year include:
Celebrate Illinois: 200 Years in the Land of Lincoln, Peoria
February 3 2018
The first and only comprehensive exhibition celebrating the Illinois bicentennial is now open to the public at Peoria Riverfront Museum. “Celebrate Illinois: 200 Years in the Land of Lincoln,” presents the story of the state’s past to present as told through more than 240 historic objects and the narratives of notable Illinoisans, including four U.S. presidents, abolitionists and reformers, farmers and pioneers, inventors and scientists, artists and authors, athletes and celebrities, veterans, Native Americans and immigrants.
From Illinois to the White House, Springfield
March 23 – December 30 2018
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will help celebrate the state’s 200th birthday with a major new exhibit about the four U.S. presidents who called Illinois home.
The exhibit, entitled “From Illinois to the White House: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan, Obama,” will explore the four presidents’ connections to the Prairie State, their political battles, the first ladies who helped them succeed and much more.
Visitors will see amazing documents and artifacts, including Ronald Reagan’s yearbook from his high school days in Dixon, the table where Ulysses S. Grant accepted Robert E. Lee’s surrender during the Civil War, an original draft of Barack Obama’s speech at the 50th anniversary of the Selma civil rights march, and the briefcase Abraham Lincoln used as president.
Illinois Bicentennial Route 66 Motorcycle Ride
August 26, 2018
The Governor of the State will lead a motorcycle ride on Route 66, from Chicago to Edwardsville, featuring stops at Illinois’ Route 66 roadside attractions, museums, and restaurants.
Illinois Bicentennial Plaza Dedication, Springfield
August 26, 2018
On August 26, 2018 – the 200th Birthday of the Illinois Constitution – a new Bicentennial Plaza will be officially dedicated as part of the Illinois Bicentennial celebration. The Bicentennial Plaza will be a pedestrian walkway that connects Lincoln’s Home, the newly restored Illinois Executive Mansion (the third-oldest governor’s mansion still in use which opens on 14 July) and the State Capitol in Springfield.
Illinois Bicentennial Birthday Party
December 3, 2018
The Bicentennial Birthday Gala, at the United Centre in Chicago, will be the culmination of a year-long engagement to commemorate and archive the Illinois Bicentennial Hall of Fame. Celebrities will host the event and celebrate the Bicentennial Hall of Famers, interspersed with musical entertainment from Illinois artists featuring jazz, blues, hip hop and rock.
In addition, a statewide multimedia campaign titled, “Born, Built, Grown” will celebrate Illinois’ influence on the world through music, sports, agriculture, literature, commerce, history, technology and innovation, transportation, and art and architecture.