Seize the Days

A dozen things you just can't pass up this summer

July 30 is Hill Day, and you're definitely going to want to head straight to St. Louis' great Italian neighborhood, located in a quiet area south of Forest Park and west of Kingshighway. There'll be plenty of Italian food, wine and music. Bocce ball? Maybe! The Hill's restaurants (far too numerous to mention) are some of the finest authentic Italian spots in the city, and this is a great way to get to know the neighborhood that spawned Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola -- as well as some legendary St. Louis hangouts. The merriment lasts from noon until 9 p.m.

For full German flavor, check out Bevo Day in the Bevo Mill neighborhood (so named for the giant mill). The festival convenes at the intersection of Morgan Ford Road and Delor Street on August 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Like the other neighborhood parties, this one features traditional food and music, albeit of the Deutsch persuasion. But unlike the other fests, Bevo Day comes replete with amusement rides and a flea market. Don your lederhosen and head to the south side! For more details, call 314-352-0141.

For a clear look at the ever-changing ethnic makeup of St. Louis (as well as more unbelievable food) may we recommend the Festival of Nations? In Tower Grove Park on Saturday and Sunday, July 23 and 24, the International Institute presents live music on two stages and more than 50 booths featuring wares from around the world in a free multicultural extravaganza. Here you'll see music and dancing from Bosnia, Russia, China, Vietnam, Mexico, Brazil, India -- the list goes on. Now that you've seen old St. Louis, why not greet the new? Take in the parade down Grand Boulevard at 10 a.m. Saturday, and let the party begin. Visit www.iistl.org for more information.

Jennifer Silverberg

The Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden is a grand St. Louis tradition, and the three-day celebration over Labor Day weekend is well worth experiencing. What is it? It's the supernatural boom of taiko drumming, the tea ceremony, the food, the dancing, the music -- and the meticulously crafted Japanese garden, one of the most spectacular in the nation. Come feed the fish in the koi pond. Tickets are $3 to $10, and the festival runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, September 3 and 4, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, September 5. See www.mobot.org for details.

If you've been in a cave, you might not know that Washington Avenue is the club center of St. Louis. Beat Fest is a multi-venue superparty that begins at 9 p.m. Sunday, September 4. The fest spans five clubs and features around a dozen local and national DJs who spin mercilessly into the night -- until 3 a.m., when the clubs are legally obligated to kick you out. Washington Avenue itself has been newly remodeled to meet sci-fi standards, what with lights coming out of the street and future-retro streetlamps. It's also host to gorgeous loft space, high-end restaurants and, of course, dance clubs. Come out of that cave and shake it at Beat Fest (wristbands are $10 in advance, $15 day of event). Visit www.wabf.net for more details.

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