Seven events you can't afford to miss this summer

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You didn't move here yesterday. You have a pretty good handle on the sports teams, the outdoor concert venues, the parks, the pools and the places with the best air-conditioning in our little river town. But from time to time, you need a gentle reminder about some of the summer's other goings-on — the stuff that doesn't happen every day. There's more to St. Louis than Cards games and happy hour at your neighborhood bar, after all. Wouldn't you love to have a guide to this summer's top events, all in one handy-dandy place?

You're looking at that place right now. Just read on. And have fun out there — you deserve some good times after that winter and spring.

First up, we have a don't-waste-a-moment-and-get-out-there event happening only through the first weekend of June: The St. Louis Renaissance Faire (www.renstl.org) is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through Sunday, June 5, with a Memorial Day bonus (Monday, May 30). At this living-history step back in time, held at Rotary Park (2577 West Meyer Road, Foristell), expect to see, hear and taste a sampling of sixteenth-century France, thanks to jousters, period artisans, animals from a rescue shelter available for adoption, food booths and plus d'amusements. Admission to the faire costs $7.95 to $14.95 — and costumes, thank God, aren't mandatory.

Keeping things classy, we move on to the opera. Specifically, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. From now through Sunday, June 26, the company stages Don Giovanni, The Daughter of the Regiment, Pelléas and Mélisande and The Death of Klinghoffer, all performed beautifully in English at the Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves). Dine on pre-purchased or self-packed snacks before the show outside the theater, and prep your ears for a treat of their own. Performance days and times vary; visit www.opera-stl.org for a full schedule. Tickets range in price from $25 to $120.

And, of course, we can't forget about the Muny in Forest Park (www.muny.org) with its breezy outdoor stage productions, thanks to those Willy Wonka-size fans. Cool out under the stars during one of seven shows this summer, including Legally Blonde and Little Shop of Horrors. Tickets cost $10 to $68, or you could always stake out 1 of the 1,500 free seats — just be sure to get there early. All musicals begin at 8:15 p.m., and the season runs from Monday, June 20, to Sunday, August 14.

Now, after all that sitting still and offering your rapt attention to performers, you need to stretch your legs and run around town — and that means you need to sign up for the CitySolve Urban Race St. Louis beginning at noon on Saturday, June 25. This all-over-St. Louis scavenger hunt is a qualifier for a national race held in Las Vegas, so pick your clever partner wisely, and get to solving those clues! Participation costs $50 to $60 per person; sign up and learn more at www.citysolveurbanrace .com.

For a more leisurely trip around the area, try the TREEmendous Great St. Louis Tree Hunt, a local celebration of the United Nations-declared International Year of Forests. From now until Friday, September 30, folks are invited to find pre-selected and marked trees, chosen for their size, age and other unique characteristics. Clues and a map of all of the trees' locales — from Tilles Park to Bellefontaine Cemetery to Pere Marquette State Park in Illinois — can be downloaded for free from the Missouri Botanical Garden's website (www.mobot.org). A prize awaits those who locate and identify at least 15 of the 30 special trees and turn in their tree-hunt journals. Good luck!

Speaking of good fortune, St. Louis certainly has some on its side this summer, musically speaking. Just look at the lineup of LouFest for proof. Held in Forest Park beginning at noon on Saturday and Sunday, August 27 and 28, the festival builds upon last year's successful start and features Cat Power, the Hold Steady, the Roots, TV on the Radio and many other acts. One-day-only tickets will set you back $38, and an all-weekend pass costs an affordable $64. Visit www.loufest.com for tickets and more information.

And finally, PrideFest 2011 happens from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 25 and 26, in Tower Grove Park (4256 Magnolia Avenue). The parade itself struts down South Grand toward Tower Grove Park beginning at noon on Sunday in the same nabe (along South Grand Avenue), but throughout the weekend, the fest features plenty of fun, live music, performances, a commitment ceremony and more. Check out the details at www.pridestl.org.

 
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