Chicago and Other Venetian Nights Around Lake Michigan - Updated. Road Trip!

Venetian Night Parades are Everywhere!  Historically, the Venetians (Venice, Italy) held the Venetian Festival on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday that begins Christian Lent.   Considering how cold it is around Lake Michigan in early March, it makes sense that our Venetian Night Parades are held in warmer summer months.

Being a Chicagoan at heart, I presumed before I wrote this article that the Chicago Venetian Night Parade was the one that everyone else copied.  This is so far from the truth, Chicago started in 1959 and the earliest reference I found was the University of Wisconsin – Madison, held their first in 1911.

The Chicago Yachting Association created Chicago’s Venetian Night Parade in Monroe Harbor.  Little by little through the years it gained in popularity to the point that 600,000 people were coming to the lakefront to see it, and the spectacular fireworks show at the end.

Then the economy went south, and the City of Chicago pulled the plug on the event in 2010 and 2011 saving police and fireworks cost.  In 2012 it re-started, though in the new 31st Street Harbor that is off the beaten path, rather than the convenient downtown harbor with easy access for everyone.

The 57th Venetian Night in Chicago 2016 Cancelled

With the festive party atmosphere, Venetian Nights have been a tradition around the Lake Michigan.  A sailing buddy of mine took his Mazda Miata (nicknamed “Green Destiny”) to each of the Capitol Buildings in all 50 States (shipping it to Hawaii and back).   Who would like to make a Road Trip and visit as many Venetian Nights as possible?

Interestingly in researching this piece, these Venetians Nights are clearly a Lake Michigan phenomenon.  The idea hasn’t spread across the country, hasn’t spread to the other Great Lakes and has only spread as far as two in Iowa.  This is special to Lake Michigan, so party like a Venetian!

Lake Carroll Yacht Club, Lake Carroll, IL  August 2, 2014

North Point Harbor Days Venetian Parade, Winthrop Harbor, IL, August 2, 2014
+ Dog Show, Band, and Fireworks

Venetian Night on Pistakee Lake, Fox Lake, IL August 2, 2014
+ After Party With Dancing and Fireworks

Touchstone Energy Venetian Lights Boat Parade, Castle Rock Lake, Juneau County, WI, August 2, 2014
+ Decorated Bicycle Parade and Fireworks

Hammond Marina’s Venetian Night, Hammond, IN August 9, 2014
+ Children’s Games, Concert, and Fireworks

Lilly Lake, Burlington, WI August 9, 2014
+ Movie Night (one boat competed in 2013)

Oconomowoc Lake Boat Parade, WI August 16, 2014
+ Legion Band Concert, Fireworks

Lake Geneva Jaycee’s Venetian Festival, Lake Geneva, WI August 13 – 17, 2014
+ Bands, Beer Tent, Craft Fair, Brat Stand, Carnival, Water Ski Show, and Fireworks

Town of Dixon, IL August 23, 2014

Madison Venetian Festival, Lake Mendota, Madison, WI August 31, 2014
+ Fireworks

Cedar Boat Club Venetian Night, September 6, 2014
+ Fireworks

Chicago Yachting Association’s Venetian Night at Navy Pier, this year’s theme “Once Upon a Time” – September 12, 2015

Lima Lima WWII Flight Team at Chicago’s Venetian Night


Hustisford Lions Club Venetian Night Date TBD
+ Music, Water Ski Show and Fireworks

Venetian Night Boat Parade, Escanaba, MI Date TBD

Long Lake Venetian Night Boat Parade, Hartland, WI June 27,2014

Wonder Lake Yacht Club’s Venetian Night, Wonder Lake, IL July 5, 2014.
This year’s theme: America the Beautiful

Fish Creek Harbor Venetian Night, Fish Creek, WI July 5, 2014

Wheeler Lake Association Venetian Boat Parade, Lakewood, WI July 5, 2014

Browns Lake Venetian Night Festival Burlington, WI July 15, 2014
+ Waterski Show + Fireworks at 9:30

Charlevoix Venetian Festival , Charlevoix, MI July 19 – 26, 2014
+ Music, Sports, Battle of the Bands, Street Parade, Boat Parade, Two Nights of Fireworks

Saugatuck Venetian Festival, Saugatuck, MI July 26, 2014

Tower Harbour Yacht Club’s Venetian Boat Parade, Douglas, MI July 26, 2014

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