There’s no doubt last year was one for the books.
We kicked off 2019 by welcoming hockey fans from all over the country to Notre Dame Stadium as the Chicago Blackhawks faced off against the Boston Bruins in the Winter Classic. It was the second-most attended Winter Classic in history at the time.
Several other notable events followed over the next 12 months – a USA Hockey national championship, IDEA Week, a presidential announcement, the Midwest League All-Star Game, the U.S. Senior Open, an international soccer friendly and so much more.
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Then, of course, there’s Notre Dame football. The Fighting Irish went 7-0 at home en route to an 11-2 season with a win over Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl.
With all that in the rearview mirror, we now dive into 2020. What’s in store over the coming year? Here are 20 reasons to visit The Bend in 2020.
Restaurant Weeks in South Bend
It’s a year of food around The Bend. We dove into the theme with our visitors guide with a special 16-page section dedicated to some of our best foodie stories. We’ll continue to explore even more throughout 2020, starting with Winter Restaurant Weeks in downtown South Bend from Jan. 27-Feb. 9. Summer Restaurant Weeks returns in July.
Disney’s The Lion King
The world’s most popular musical makes its long-awaited debut in The Bend from March 4-20. Stunning costume and set design, dazzling choreography and wonderful music combine for what’s sure to be an unforgettable run of shows at the Morris Performing Arts Center in downtown South Bend.
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Oliver Exhibit at The History Museum
The History Museum invites visitors into 38-room Oliver Mansion for tours all year. But in 2020 it’s going to a new level – there will be an in-depth exhibit on the Olivers inside the museum starting in March and running into 2021. “World Famous: The Olivers and the American Dream” will take a deep dive into the family and its legacy.
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St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations
As home to the Fighting Irish, you might guess The Bend throws a pretty big St. Patrick’s Day celebration. You’d be correct. Festivities kick off March 13 with the Downtown South Bend St. Paddy’s Day Party and Pub Tour. The next day there’s a parade, followed by the greening of the East Race Waterway.
South Bend Cubs Baseball
South Bend Cubs baseball returns April 9. Four Winds Field, considered one of the finest ballparks in Minor League Baseball, is home to family friendly fun all season long. There’s a kids play area, splash pad and some seriously good eats for everyone.
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This innovation and entrepreneurship festival’s third edition takes place from April 19-25. Fascinating sessions and competitions around the region will be complemented by a OneRepublic concert and a standup show by world-renowned comedian Trevor Noah.
A Milestone for the Civil Rights Heritage Center
In May, the IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center will celebrate its 10th anniversary at the former Engman Public Natatorium. Engman was a “public” swimming pool built in 1922 and segregated for the first 28 years of its existence. The CRHC reclaimed it in 2010 as a symbol of the local civil rights struggle and commemorates that history every year with exhibitions and events.
Golf Around The Bend
South Bend made its mark as a major golf destination last year when the Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame hosted the U.S. Senior Open. Warren is the crown jewel in a group of golf courses that bring together great landscapes, playability and value.
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One of Northern Indiana’s biggest running events takes place June 6. Participants start in downtown South Bend and finish with style – at the 50-yard line of Notre Dame Stadium. There’s a 5K fitness walk, 5K run, 10K run and half marathon.
Billy Joel in Concert
Notre Dame Stadium will be the epicenter of entertainment (again) June 20 when the Piano Man takes the stage. It marks a return to Notre Dame for Joel, who previously played here in 1996 at the Stepan Center and in 1984 at what is now Purcell Pavilion. But this is sure to be a concert unlike any other.
Red Bud Motocross
All eyes in the motocross world turn to Redbud MX on July 4 as the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship swings through nearby Buchanan, Mich. Redbud is the most popular race on the circuit, bringing in about 28,000 spectators with many choosing to spend their overnights in The Bend.
St. Joseph County Fair
Parades, exhibitions, vendors, animals, games, rides, live music, fireworks, food – the fair has a little something for everyone and has become of cornerstone of summers in The Bend. This year’s fair kicks off July 3 and runs until July 11.
Concours d’Elegance at Copshaholm
There are classic car shows, then there are classic car shows. Concours is the latter, bringing in beautiful automobiles that double as works of art July 11 and displaying them on the Oliver Mansion grounds. It’s an event fit for car enthusiasts but worth seeing no matter your hobbies.
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20 Years of Notre Dame’s Shakespeare Festival
Notre Dame’s Shakespeare Festival is celebrating 20 years in 2020 with several events in July and August. Lovers of The Bard can see a professional production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” or a bawdy community production called Shakespeare After Hours, among other options.
One of our biggest events of the year returns Aug. 15 as local and regional artists line downtown South Bend’s streets to showcase and sell their pieces. It’s a festive day of art, music and food as summer draws to a close.
Notre Dame Football
Notre Dame’s home schedule in 2020 is highlighted by a Nov. 7 matchup against Clemson, a game that’s sure to draw all eyes in the college football world. Other home games include Arkansas (Sept. 12), Western Michigan (Sept. 19), Stanford (Oct. 10), Duke (Oct. 31) and Louisville (Nov. 21).
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Speaking of Notre Dame…
You don’t have to visit for a football game to take in the iconic college campus. Notre Dame’s most-visited landmarks – the “Word of Life” mural (better known as Touchdown Jesus), the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Grotto of Our Lady Lourdes – are absolutely timeless.
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Unveiled last year after a massive renovation, Howard Park bustles with activity all year. But it’s in winter where the park really shines. A state-of-the-art ice skating trail is accompanied by a massive playground, fire pits and more to make it an ideal winter destination for the whole family.
Potato Creek + Mishawaka Parks
Located about 20 minutes south of South Bend, Potato Creek is a four-season destination for outdoor adventure. Lake Worster is the parks centerpiece at 327 acres in area. You can glide along the water via kayak, canoe or paddle, all while viewing plentiful waterfowl. Visitors can also hike or bike miles of trail and fish. Snow brings tubing, cross-country skiing and ice fishing into play. There’s also an area for campers to bring in their horses and trails to ride.
Mishawaka’s parks system is well known throughout the region – many of them sit along the St. Joseph River and offer wonderful walking, running and biking, among other things. Shiojiri Niwa Japanese Garden is a hidden gem, especially during spring when the blossoms begin their bloom.
Birding Around The Bend
Five sites around The Bend were included this year on the Indiana Birding Trail: Bendix Woods County Park, Beverly D. Crone Restoration Area, Potato Creek State Park, Spicer Lake Nature Preserve and St. Patrick’s County Park. Avid birders will find these parks wonderful areas to explore with their binoculars in all seasons.