April showers bring May tires? Well, maybe not, but in Indiana, the calendar turning to May means one thing - the countdown to the largest single-day sporting event in the world is on. 

Each year, the 500 Festival organizes events around the Indy 500 to celebrate the greatest race in the world. In any given year, over 500,000 Hoosiers and visitors will participate in the 500 Festival’s activities throughout May, making it one of the largest festivals in the nation. It’s hard to truly understand the full scope of everything that comes with the Indy 500 until you experience it for yourself. 

The Kickoff to May event gets everything started on Wednesday, May 4, and is the perfect way to feel the energy of race day well before anyone starts their engines. Head to Monument Circle in downtown Indy and see the arrival of the festival cars and Indy 500 pace car. You never know who might show up downtown to help kick things off (or how they’ll help kick things off). In years past, we’ve seen Pat McAfee, the Indy Eleven, and Indy’s loveable mascots all help start the festivities with their own unique flair and style. One year even saw Boomer, the Pacers mascot, dunk a basketball over a festival car. Another fun twist? The Kickoff to May is in the middle of National Travel & Tourism Week, a nationwide celebration that honors events like the Indianapolis 500 for shining a light on local tourism.

Imported ImageFor those 12 and under, the Kickoff to May fun gets started in April with the Kickoff to May Coloring Contest. Grab the markers and colored pencils as you show what the month of May means to you on the official contest coloring sheet. The winning sheets will be selected based on creativity and originality, and two grand-prize winners will receive a $500 scholarship and a free 1-year membership to the INDYCAR Nation Rookie Program. The contest will close on April 28 at noon, and the winners will be announced at the Kickoff to May event on the fourth, so get those coloring sheets submitted while you still can!

Dive even further into the action with the One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. On May 7, start your run on the streets of downtown Indy and wrap it up with a lap around iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Learn more here. 

Imported ImageAs race day approaches, an opportunity to have a breakfast like no other comes in the form of the 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard on May 21. Start your day by driving your car around the IMS track, touring the IMS garages, and enjoying a traditional Hoosier breakfast with fellow racing fans, business leaders, and Indiana mayors. As a bonus, a ticket to the breakfast will also come with a ticket to the Indianapolis 500 qualifications. This is a unique experience that only comes around once a year. For tickets and more information on the event, click here.

Finally, the 500 Festival Parade rolls through the streets of Indianapolis on Saturday, May 28 at 11:45 am and is a must for any Hoosier, race fan, or parade enthusiast. More than 300,000 people will line the streets of downtown Indy to experience the larger-than-life floats, giant helium balloons, celebrities and dignitaries, award-winning bands, and all 33 drivers competing in the Indy 500. While the parade will be broadcasted on WTHR, Channel 13, and nationally on NBC Sports Network, this is something you don’t want to just see on a TV screen. Tickets are not yet on sale, but you can fill out this interest form to be notified when sales open. 

Imported ImageMay is almost here. Do you hear the engines yet?