Dillo Day is an annual festival at Northwestern University which takes place on the last Saturday of May. Begun in 1972, and organized by the Mayfest student group, the day is characterized by an all-day music festival and special events on the Northwestern Lakefill, as well as a spirit of celebration.
Alternatively, Armadillo Day is celebrated the second Friday in September in Texas to determine when cooler weather will prevail.
The contemporary armadillo day has its roots in May Day, or Mayfete. Mayfete was a time when students would celebrate the "renunciation of the May Queen of the temporal world for a spiritual one," according to a 1951 history of the event. Although little is known about the early days, May Day was originally a celebration of the women of Northwestern. The crowning of the May Queen was the central event, and the pomp included a Maypole dance and cotillion. May Day expanded to May Week in 1946 to accommodate a women's sing, men's sing, and an honors ceremony. Ultimately this event evolved into a month long celebration known as Mayfest which includes the event known today as "Dillo Day."
Armadillo Day began in 1972 when Northwestern students from Texas held a small celebration in honor of the armadillo. More than 25 years later, "Dillo Day" is the culmination of Mayfest with an all-day Saturday event on the lakefront featuring national and locally known bands, games and vendors. Northwestern University lists Dillo Day as one of its most notable traditions.
- A DJ set by Northwestern University alumnus William Butler, member of Arcade Fire
- Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
- A DJ set by Flosstradamus
- Broken Social Scene
- Third Eye Blind
- The Cool Kids
- Clash Gordon
- DJ Sicarii
Past headlining bands include The Roots, Cake, and Lupe Fiasco in 2007, and Robert Randolph and the Family Band and Ben Folds in 2006. Performers from previous years include George Clinton, Yellowman, Third World, The Wailers, The Crystal Method, Outkast, and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones.
In a nod to the school's "Midwestern Ivy League" reputation, some call it the only day of the year that the university resembles a state school. Jay Pridmore writes, "'Dillo Day was an exultation of music and art, a moment 'when the freaks come out and mingle with the preppies,' as the Daily put it. Freedom from authority was key: The chief of the Northwestern police force was the star attraction in a dunking booth in 1974." He quotes Daily Northwestern columnist Kathy Castillon in 1988, "Armadillo Day is the one time many future-minded career-conscious yuppies-in-training throw caution (and the results of future drug tests) to the wind and live for the moment."
- "Northwestern Traditions", Northwestern University Office of Undergraduate Admissions
- Matt Connolly, "Week in Review May 26: Dillo Day, lacrosse and coupon apps", North by Northwestern, 26 May 2011
- "Full Dillo Day lineup posted", The Daily Northwestern, 25 May 2010
- Liz Coffin-Karlin, "Third Eye Blind will headline Dillo Day lineup", North by Northwestern, 25 May 2008
- "Task Force Stresses Student Safety for Dillo Day". Retrieved 2007-05-27.
- Jay Pridmore, Northwestern University: Celebrating 150 Years (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2000) p. 247.
- Youtube video of Colbert's commencement speech at Northwestern University, 2011: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6tiaooiIo0