In the mid 1840s, Nauvoo, Illinois used to rival Chicago as the largest city in Illinois. In the present day, it is a sleepy hamlet of about 1000 people in western Illinois on the banks of the Mississippi River. Nauvoo serves mostly as a tourist destination for people interested in early Mormon and American frontier history. One of the capstones of the summer are two free pageants that are put on in Nauvoo. Here are 7 things to know about the Nauvoo Pageant and the British Pageant
When is the Nauvoo pageant?
The Nauvoo and Britsh Pageants are held each summer in Nauvoo Illinois for about 3 weeks in mid-July to early-August. The 2018 dates are July 10th to August 4th – for future year dates you can check the official pageant home
Both the Nauvoo Pageant and the British Pageant are free to attend (donations also not accepted) and you do not need tickets (though you can save seats for the Nauvoo Pageant; see below)
The Nauvoo Pageant is held on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights; The British Pageant is held on Wednesday and Friday nights. No pageants are held on Sunday or Monday nights.
Where is the Nauvoo pageant held?
Both the British Pageant and the Nauvoo Pageant are held in (wait for it), Nauvoo, Illinois. Specifically in the quadrangle bounded by Main, Partridge, Mulholland and White Streets. The stage itself is located approximately where the red circle is in the map below (copyright OpenStreetMap contributors)
What about British and Nauvoo Pageant parking?
Before I arrived, I was concerned about where to park for the Nauvoo Pageant or in Nauvoo in general, but I shouldn’t have worried. There is plenty of Nauvoo Pageant parking. Nauvoo is not a very big town and everything is walkable, so you can pretty much park anywhere. The main parking lot is off of Main and Knight Street – there are signs all around suggesting where to park and security officers (usually senior couple Mormon missionaries) available to help direct you.
One note is that as you cross Mulholland Street from the parking area to the pageant area there are typically people from other churches passing out flyers with their opinions on Mormonism.
On the second night we were there, we got there a little earlier and just parked on Main Street instead which helped us get out of town sooner after the pageant (since we were heading south to our hotel in Keokuk, Iowa)
How long are the British Pageant and Nauvoo Pageant?
Both the British Pageant and the Nauvoo Pageant last about 90 minutes. The Nauvoo Pageant starts at 8:30pm, which is approximately sunset in western Illinois. (Of course, like most things Mormon, it ends up with an actual start time about 10-15 minutes later)
The pageants end about 10:15, and then of course it takes awhile to move through the crowd of people, get back to where you parked, and then to wherever you’re staying for the night.
Can I reserve seats for the British or Nauvoo Pageant?
As I mentioned earlier, admission to the Nauvoo and British pageants are free and there are no tickets needed. However, you can reserve seats if you want.
To reserve seats for the pageants, go to the pageant location near the corner of White and Partridge streets at 2pm.
A worker will help you get twine and a piece of paper to write your name down. Starting at 2pm, you can tie the twine around the number of seats that you need and then return at the time of the pageant to sit in them. If you arrive to save seats for the Nauvoo Pageant before 2pm, you will be given the twine and paper but one member of your party will have to wait until 2pm to place them on the seats. They put the “twine” in line and then you are able to just sit there in the shade until 2
We got there about 1:10 p.m. and were 10th in line. We put ourselves in line and then ate our lunch
At 2pm, they release people to get seats 10 at a time. You take your twine and tie it around the number of seats that you want to reserve. There did not appear to be any maximum of seats you could reserve.
Even if you do not save seats for the British Pageant or Nauvoo Pageant, you’re likely to still be able to just show up and get a seat; here is what part of the seating area looked like when we arrived to take our seats at 8pm
Is the Nauvoo Pageant Country Fair interesting?
Each evening the pageant runs, there is a Country Fair that is held in the same block as the Pageants, starting at 7pm. There are 20 or so different stations where you can do anything from walking on stilts
Pulling a handcart, playing old-time games, sack races, stickball and more
Our first night, we figured we would just come for the end of this since we thought our kids would be bored out of their minds at the Country Fair. We were wrong – the kids had a blast.
On the second night we arrived right at 7pm and had a great time for the full 90 minutes.
Is the Nauvoo Pageant interesting if I’m not Mormon?
I am assuming that if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), as I am, then I am assuming you will find the Nauvoo Pageant and British Pageant interesting.
If you’re not, then if you are interested in mid-1800s American frontier or British history, then I think you may find it interesting as well. It’s something to do, at least! Here are a few videos of the pageant to give you a bit of an idea of what you are in for. First the British Pageant
And the Nauvoo Pageant
You can read reviews of the Nauvoo Pageant at TripAdvisor to get a better idea of whether it’s something you’d be interested in. The British Pageant and Nauvoo pageant really are about the combination of 3 things
- Frontier American history
If you’re interested in at least 2 of the 3, I think you’ll have a good time at the Nauvoo Pageant and British Pageant.
Have you been to either the British Pageant or the Nauvoo Pageant? Leave your experience in the comments
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