I love Spring Quarter for so many reasons. The weather is warm, the beaches on campus are open, some professors hold class outside, and there’s that one week where flowers are blooming all over campus but my allergies haven’t yet launched a full-frontal assault on my head. But the thing I look forward to most in spring is Dillo Day, one of my favorite campus traditions.
Dillo Day, or Armadillo Day, so named because two Northwestern students from Texas started the tradition and the Armadillo is Texas’ state animal, is a student-run, all-day music festival that takes place toward the end of the quarter. It’s a carefree day of listening to live music on the sunny Lakefill (the field that sits next to Lake Michigan on campus), eating from food trucks, and generally blowing off steam with the rest of campus.
Though the festival includes many different aspects, the most important part of Dillo Day (referred to colloquially as “Dillo” around NU and Evanston) is the music. Mayfest, the student group that organizes Dillo, tends to book artists that are right on the cusp of getting super famous, or, alternatively, “throwback” artists we can all appreciate. Nelly, Ben Folds, and Regina Spektor have all performed; Smashmouth, Walk the Moon, 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa are some of the Dillo artists I’ve seen as an undergrad, and Mayfest just announced Charli XCX as one of the main performers for this year’s festival! There are a handful of diverse artists that perform throughout the day and one main headliner at night, so no matter the music taste students leave the Lakefill happy. Student music groups also have a place at Dillo — Mayfest runs a Battle of the Bands competition in which the winner gets a spot on the Dillo Day main stage.
In addition to music, Dillo also features your typical carnival/festival activities such as tie-dying and henna tattoos and there’s free food throughout the day. The entire Lakefill is transformed into a kind of spring wonderland with hammocks set up everywhere and students just sitting and chilling out. Dillo Day is the best for that reason: Everyone clears their schedules for one whole day of non-stop fun. Almost all students on campus participate, so Dillo is also a great communal experience. Finally, though you’re not generally thinking about this during the day, Dillo is the perfect demonstration of the power of student groups. All in all, it’s a day that celebrates music, creativity, friendship and frivolity. Just don’t forget your sunscreen.