Dillo Day

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Lupe Fiasco performing at Dillo Day in 2007

Dillo Day is an annual all-day music festival at Northwestern University that takes place at the end of spring quarter on the Lakefill. Started in the 1972/73 school year, it is organized by Mayfest Productions, a Northwestern student group, and is the largest student-run music festival in the country. Northwestern lists Dillo Day as one of its most notable traditions.[1]


The festival 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.[2] 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.

Armadillo Productions was created in 1972 by two students from Austin, Texas, to honor the official animal of their home state and a concert venue there.[3] They held a “I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas Anymore” festival and fair that had costumes, games, a treasure hunt, and special events.[4] It was held every year until 1976 when it was cancelled due to weather and financial difficulties; but returned the following year as Armadillo Day. That same year, a 10-day assortment of campus programming called Mayfest began, which included Armadillo Day, Greek Week and A&O's Spring Festival.[5] The first outdoor Mayfest concerts were produced by A&O featuring Robert Gordon 5.22.81 and Muddy Waters 5.23.81, staged on one lakefront stage and offered at no cost to students. Mayfest Productions eventually formed from A&O Productions, solely producing the Saturday concert event on the shores of Lake Michigan that is known today as Dillo Day. Mayfest Productions has earned a reputation for booking major industry artists, and is annually one of the largest and most competitive clubs at Northwestern.


The festival features a main stage, second stage, food trucks, beer garden, and Dillo Village that hosts art from students and Chicago-area artists, as well as various other games and activities. Dillo Day is open to all Northwestern University students, faculty, and staff. Students are each permitted to bring one additional guest, and a limited number of tickets are reserved for purchase by Evanston residents and Northwestern alumni. The second stage is curated in partnership with an additional campus organization-- currently Northwestern's Black student alliance, For Members Only, who has provided Dillo Day with a historic all-Black lineup on the stage for the past 3 years. In addition to Dillo Day, beginning in 2016, Mayfest Productions hosted annual Battle of the Bands and eventually Battle of the DJs competitions in the weeks leading up to the festival. The winners of these respective events perform on the main stage of Dillo Day that year.

On May 30, 2020, Mayfest Productions hosted Digital Dillo, a virtual replacement for the annual music festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those within the Northwestern community received a link to a livestream where they could watch live artist performances and participate in Q&A sessions with them. The following year, Dillo Day was held as a hybrid festival. This once again featured virtual artist performances and live Q&A's, but also had in-person components across campus the entire week of the festival similar to the original Mayfest. This included Mayfeast, a collection of food trucks outside Deering Library; Mayfit, a thrift shopping event at Norris University Center; Dildo Day, a variety of sex/body positivity events; student art installations on the Lakefill where the festival is traditionally held; a silent disco outside Norris featuring Chicago area DJ's; and screenings of artist performances on and off-campus.

Past lineups[edit]










2008 [6]

2009 [7]

2010 [8]

2011 [9]

2012 [10]

2013 [10][11]


Main Stage

WNUR x IndieU Stage[12]

2015[11] (Note: Dillo Day was canceled in 2015 due to weather)

Main Stage

WNUR Stage


Main Stage

WNUR Stage

Battle of the Bands Winner



Main Stage

WNUR x Nongshim Stage

Band & DJ winner (respectively)

Main Stage
WNUR x Nongshim Stage
Band & DJ winner (respectively)
Main Stage
FMO Stage
Band & DJ winner (respectively)
  • FIZZ
  • Luminosity

Note: due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no student acts during the 2020 livestream.

Main Stage
FMO Stage
  • Azjah
  • Yung Kaygo
  • Mir Fontane
Main Stage
FMO Stage
  • Blxst
  • Brittney Carter
  • Brandon Banks
Band & DJ winner (respectively)
Main Stage[17]
FMO Stage[19]
Band, DJ, and Rapper winners (respectively)
Main Stage
FMO Stage
  • Lil Kayla
  • Zeph France
  • Blvck Svm
Battle of the Artists Winners
  • DJ Lu
  • Muse etc.
  • Tavern


  1. ^ "Northwestern Traditions" Archived 2011-09-27 at the Wayback Machine, Northwestern University Office of Undergraduate Admissions
  2. ^ "The Evolution of Dillo Day". Northwestern Alumni.
  3. ^ "About Us". Archived from the original on 2021-08-02.
  4. ^ "The Evolution of Dillo Day".
  5. ^ "May Celebrations, University Archives, Northwestern University Library". Archived from the original on 2015-02-19.
  6. ^ Liz Coffin-Karlin, "Third Eye Blind will headline Dillo Day lineup"[permanent dead link], North by Northwestern, 25 May 2008
  7. ^ "Mayfest 2009". Archived from the original on 2009-04-04. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  8. ^ "Full Dillo Day lineup posted" Archived 2012-07-16 at the Wayback Machine, The Daily Northwestern, 25 May 2010
  9. ^ Matt Connolly, "Week in Review May 26: Dillo Day, lacrosse and coupon apps", North by Northwestern, 26 May 2011
  10. ^ a b "Lineup". Archived from the original on 2012-05-10. Retrieved 2012-05-25.
  11. ^ a b c "About Us". Archived from the original on 2016-03-31.
  12. ^ Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/1487777954784568. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ a b c "Dillo Day 2018 Lineup". Dillo Day. Archived from the original on 22 May 2018. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  14. ^ "'Digital Dillo' 2020: five things to know". news.northwestern.edu. Retrieved 2023-05-21.
  15. ^ "Dillo Day". www.dilloday.com. Retrieved 2023-05-21.
  16. ^ Editor, Web; Hettleman, Audrey (2022-05-23). "50th Dillo Day brings performances from Dominic Fike, Tinashe, Remi Wolf". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved 2023-05-21. {{cite web}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  17. ^ "Dillo Day is back in person and better than ever". news.northwestern.edu. Retrieved 2023-05-21.
  18. ^ Editor, Web; Fulton, Jacob (2022-05-13). "Dominic Fike announced as Dillo Day nighttime headliner". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved 2023-05-21. {{cite web}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  19. ^ Editor, Web; Hettleman, Audrey (2022-05-19). "FMO Second Stage artists announced for 50th Dillo Day by Mayfest". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved 2023-05-21. {{cite web}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  20. ^ Editor, Web; Villaflor, Beatrice (2023-05-19). "Dillo Day preview: What to know about the out-of-this-world lineup with Offset Dillo Day: What to know for an out-of-this-world lineup". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved 2023-05-21. {{cite web}}: |last1= has generic name (help)

External links[edit]