A Festival for Every State

These spirited, unique celebrations reflect local culture and capture the true flavor of a family destination. 

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Balloon Night Glow

Photo by Laurie Gossens

Photo by Laurie Gossens

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Balloon Night Glow

July

WaterFire
Providence, RI 

Main Attraction
The fiery event—held on alternate Saturdays through the fall—brings thousands to downtown’s riverfronts, which glow with light from more than 80 bonfires on floating braziers. Also live fire shows, music and performers. 

Don’t Miss
Up-close viewing of the blazes from a gondola.

Minneapolis Aquatennial 
Minneapolis, MN

Main Attraction
Created to pay tribute to the region’s lakes, streams and waterways, this four-day fest is a showcase of Minnesota traditions and culture, including canoe rides and water-skiing shows.

Don’t Miss
The flagship parade in the heart of downtown. It’s the largest nighttime parade in the state. 

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Oshkosh, WI

Main Attraction
Aviation nerds go sky-high with excitement for the world’s biggest fly-in. Some 10,000 aircraft—ultralights, mammoth military transports, drones—come to town for air shows, demos and workshops. 

Don’t Miss
Waterpark haven Wisconsin Dells is just over an hour away—stop at one of
the cheese factories on the way. 

Nordic Fest
Decorah, IA

Main Attraction
For three days, Scandinavian culture and traditions take over, with knife-forging demonstrations, dance performances and a wide array of culinary treats like rommegrot, a warm Norwegian pudding, and lefse, a type of round flatbread with toppings.

Don’t Miss
A detour to Vesterheim, The National Norwegian-American Museum and Heritage Center, for classes and authentic souvenirs. 

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Main Night

Photo by Slocum Scott

Photo by Slocum Scott

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Main Night

August

Glier’s Goettafest
Newport, KY

Main Attraction
The German pork-and-oats breakfast sausage “get-uh” is a regional favorite and the main entrée. Vendors must incorporate it into their offerings.

Don’t Miss
The world’s only goetta vending machine. 

Snowbird Oktoberfest
Snowbird, UT

Main Attraction
There’s plenty on tap beyond beer at this family-friendly (yes!) shindig. Activities like a climbing wall, mountain coaster and ropes course work up an appetite for the Bavarian offerings: bratwurst, spaetzle, apple strudel and, of course, more than 50 different brews from the biergarten—prost!

Don’t Miss
A ride up the Aerial Tram for hiking or mountain biking, and to watch traditional horn blowers blasting from the top of Hidden Peak.

Tomato Art Fest
Nashville, TN

Main Attraction
The fruit-or-veggie debate is just one of the events at this wacky fest. Tomato-inspired art, parade and music. 

Don’t Miss
Avoid lines for the popular artwork by attending the Tomato Art Preview Party on the Friday before the official start. 

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival
Auburn, IN

Main Attraction
Gearheads will rev up their engines for the hundreds of classic cars that roll into town during this nine-day salute to the car industry and its connection to the area. Hosted by the impressive Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum—a destination for any car lover. 

Don’t Miss
Ogling Ferraris, Lamborghinis and McLarens during Fast & Fabulous on the courthouse square. 

September

Acadia Night Sky Festival

Photo courtesy of Acadia Night Sky Festival

Photo courtesy of Acadia Night Sky Festival

Acadia Night Sky Festival

Acadia Night Sky Festival 
Bar Harbor, ME

Main Attraction
Learn about stars, galaxies and celestial happenings from astronomers in the largest expanse of naturally dark sky east of the Mississippi. 

Don’t Miss
Coastal hikes in nearby Acadia National Park.

Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival
Jekyll Island, GA

Main Attraction
Foodies flock to this idyllic island for the beloved southern dish, while chefs vie for bragging rights to the best version. 

Don’t Miss
Exploring the serene landscapes, from Driftwood Beach to salt marshes, by bike.

 

Queen City Mischief & Magic

Photo by Kate Simon

Photo by Kate Simon

Queen City Mischief & Magic Fest

Queen City Mischief & Magic
Staunton, VA

Main Attraction
Wizards and witches flock to Hogsmeade (aka downtown) for Harry Potter–themed activities. Adult Potter-heads will love the butterbeer; teens will love everything else.

Don’t Miss
The Blackfriars Playhouse, the only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre. 

The Big E
West Springfield, MA

Main Attraction
The largest fair on the Eastern Seaboard is a 17-day display of regional traditions, trades and culture. A highlight is the Avenue of States: replicas of New England’s six state capitol buildings with signature foodie fare, like Rhode Island clam cakes and Vermont maple syrup. 

Don’t Miss
The Eastern States Exposition Horse Show, one of the oldest in the country, dating back more than 100 years.

Norsk Hostfest
Minot, ND

Main Attraction
The largest Scandinavian festival in North America honors the culture with traditional and offbeat events, like Maypole  dancing and a Troll Beauty Contest.

Don’t Miss
Live cooking demos at the Nordic Kitchen. 

Mercer County Italian American Festival
Columbus, NJ

Main Attraction
A feast of old-country favorites, from baked rigatoni to sweet zeppole, awaits hungry festival-goers in this popular event brimming with Italian American pride.

Don’t Miss
Homegrown New Jersey talent, which has included a Bee Gees tribute band playing the disco classic “Stayin’ Alive.”

Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup & Arts Festival
Custer, SD

Main Attraction
Cowboys and cowgirls round up nearly 1,300 buffalo—one of the largest herds in the country. This annual event also includes an expansive arts festival, with about 150 vendors and Western-inspired goods.

Don’t Miss
Mount Rushmore, a 30-minute drive away.

Kansas City Renaissance Festival
Bonner Springs, KS

Main Attraction
Relive ye goode olde days at this rowdy festival where the medieval merrymaking includes jousting knights, magic shows and live music.

Don’t Miss
A costume contest on the final weekend.

Midwest Wizard of Oz Festival
Tinley Park, IL

Main Attraction
There’s no place like this film-inspired homage to Dorothy and her faithful friends. Don’t forget your ruby slippers for following the Yellow Brick Road re-creation. 

Don’t Miss
Chicago—it’s an easy drive to all the city’s attractions.

October

Dungeness Crab & Seafood Fest

Photo courtesy of Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce

Photo courtesy of Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce

Dungeness Crab & Seafood Fest

Applefest
Weston, MO

Main Attraction
This apple bash has been going strong for more than 30 years, with apple dumplings, butter and cookies among the sweet offerings. 

Don’t Miss
A hike through the fall foliage at Weston Bend State Park, with its sweeping views of the Missouri River.

Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival
Port Angeles, WA

Main Attraction
Named after the nearby town of Dungeness, the three-day event celebrates the aquaculture and heritage of the Olympic Peninsula and its most prized crustaceans. 

Don’t Miss
A hike in nearby Olympic National Park to burn off the crab dinners and sandwiches. 

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque, NM

Main Attraction
Hundreds of brightly colored hot-air balloons float above the desert at the largest ballooning event in the world. Daily launches at sunrise and lit-up ones at sunset, along with a car show and fireworks. 

Don’t Miss
If a balloon ride isn’t in the budget (you’re unlikely to find one for less than $150 per person), join a “chase crew” (age 18+) that follows the balloons from vehicles and helps with landings.

Bridge Day
Fayetteville, WV

Main Attraction
Watch in awe with thousands of spectators as experienced BASE jumpers leap from the New River Gorge Bridge and  parachute into the gorge below. 

Don’t Miss
A tamer adrenaline rush with adventures like ziplines and white-water rafting.

Woolly Worm Festival
Banner Elk, NC

Main Attraction
Similar to Punxsutawney Phil’s uncanny knack, some 2,000 woolly worm caterpillars race for $1,000 and the right to predict the winter forecast in the North Carolina High Country. 

Don’t Miss
Gazing at the jaw-dropping fall foliage along the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Trailing of the Sheep Festival
Ketchum, ID

Main Attraction
Some 1,500 sheep parade down Main Street on their way to winter pastures accompanied by historic sheep wagons and performers during this quirky five-day festival that includes wool and fiber arts classes as well as sheepdog trials.

Don’t Miss
Outdoor adventures and art galleries galore in nearby Sun Valley, which is spectacular in the fall before the ski set arrives.

Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddlers’ Festival
Rehoboth Beach, DE

Main Attractions
Get into the Halloween spirit with three days of merrymaking that feature a sea witch costume parade, trick-or-treating and live music. 

Don’t Miss
The costumed dog parade, which lets furbabies join in the fun. 

Día de los Muertos Festival

Photo by Slaven Gujic

Photo by Slaven Gujic

Día de los Muertos Festival

Día de los Muertos Festival
Mesa, AZ

Main Attraction
This spirited affair celebrates the joyful Mexican tradition that honors the deceased, with artist-designed altars (ofrendas), musical and dance performances, and traditional sugar skull crafts.

Don’t Miss
Selfies with faces painted in spectacular calavera (skull) designs with intricate patterns, vivid colors and marigold accents.

November

National Peanut Festival 
Dothan, AL

Main Attraction
Get cracking at the nation’s largest peanut festival, which celebrates the harvest and the hardworking peanut farmers. 

Don’t Miss
The 2.5-mile grand finale parade, where the streets are covered with roasted peanuts for the taking.

Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles
Skaneateles, NY

Main Attraction
In splendid Victorian style, local actors bring A Christmas Carol to vibrant life on the streets of this picturesque Finger Lakes town.

Don’t Miss
The World’s Smallest Christmas Parade on opening day, with wagon as well as horse-drawn carriage rides and free roasted chestnuts.

December

China Lights Las Vegas

Photo by Tianyu Arts & Culture Inc.

Photo by Tianyu Arts & Culture Inc.

China Lights Las Vegas

China Lights Las Vegas
North Las Vegas, NV

Main Attraction
Celebrate the Chinese New Year alongside some enormous animated illuminated lantern displays—think dragons and giant koi fish—carefully crafted by Chinese artisans and positioned along trails in a regional park. 

Don’t Miss
On every night of the weeks-long festival, a parade kicks off with traditional Chinese dancing and other entertainment.

February

Whitefish Winter Carnival
Whitefish, MT

Main Attraction
Snow-centric characters like yetis delight crowds during the Grand Parade at this funky festival that was started to ward off winter blues.

Don’t Miss
Penguin Plunge—brave souls splash into the frigid Whitefish Lake.

Queen Mary Scots Festival and International Highland Games 
Long Beach, CA

Main Attraction
Celtic culture take center stage aboard the Queen Mary, which was built in Scotland but is permanently moored in Long Beach. On tap are Scottish music, dancing and, for adventurous eaters, haggis.

Don’t Miss
A day trip by ferry to stunning Catalina Island.

Fur Rendezvous
Anchorage, AK

Main Attraction
Since 1935, Fur Rondy, as locals call it, has proudly represented the pioneering spirit of Alaskans with winter antics. Highlights include Snowshoe Softball and the Running of the Reindeer. 

Don’t Miss
Hilariously bizarre Outhouse Races—competitors atop portable potties strapped to skis barrel down snowy streets.

March

National Cherry Blossom Fest

Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

National Cherry Blossom Fest

National Cherry Blossom Festival
Washington, DC

Main Attraction
The blooming cherry blossoms may be the headliners, but the waterfront fireworks display—a choreographed pyrotechnic bonanza that lights up the Washington Channel—is a perennial show-stealer. 

Don’t Miss
Visiting DC’s world-class museums, including the Newseum, the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African American History & Culture.

World’s Only St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade & Palooza
Mansfield, TX

Main Attraction
Get your St. Paddy’s Day green in a unique way during this tarty party in the pickle capital of Texas, which features pickle- and pie-eating contests, a huge parade and beer keg races involving motorized kegs and their brave riders rolling down Main Street.

Don’t Miss
The pickle-juice-drinking contest, in which gutsy contestants gulp the sour stuff.

Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest
Woodburn, OR

Main Attraction
This month-long festival gives visitors access to 40 gorgeous acres of tulips, arranged in a different pattern each year—a perfect backdrop for a family photo and infinite Insta snaps.

Don’t Miss
Exploring the hipster mecca of Portland, a 45-minute drive away. 

Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest

Photo by Barb Iverson

Photo by Barb Iverson

Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest

April

Merrie Monarch Festival
Hilo, HI

Main Attraction
This weeklong cultural celebration takes place in the charming town of Hilo and pays tribute to the revered Hawaiian king David La’amea Kalākaua, a patron of the arts, and culminates in the world’s most prestigious hula competition. 

Don’t Miss
A visit to spectacular Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, home of two active volcanoes. 

Kite Fest Louisiané
Port Allen, LA

Main Attraction
All eyes are on the skies when professional kite fliers and hobbyists take to the air during competitions, performances and sweet-soaring moments like a kite candy drop.

Don’t Miss
Evening events (weather permitting) brightening up the night with LED-fitted kites.

Light City
Baltimore, MD

Main Attractions
Teens and parents alike will be dazzled by the 1.5 miles of the Inner Harbor transformed by large-scale light art installations, performances and music over three weeks. Experience Neighborhood Lights in 14 communities. 

Don’t Miss
Exploring the quirky American Visionary Art Museum, with its eclectic collection of intuitive artists, in the stately Federal Hill district. 

Love, Peace & Hip-Hop
Columbia, SC 

Main Attraction
Earn major cool-parent points at this kickin’ (and alcohol-free) party celebrating the positive impact of hip-hop and rap culture through DJs, dance, visual art and interactive exhibits.

Don’t Miss
Hip-Hop Family Day, whose previous headliners have included rap luminaries like Kool Moe Dee, Kid ’n Play and MC Lyte.

Arbor Day Celebration
Nebraska City, NE 

Main Attraction
Nebraska may be associated with flatlands, but this festival is how Arbor Day got its roots nearly 150 years ago. Three days of leafy delights include plantings and a top-notch home-and-garden market. 

Don’t Miss
The adults-only (obviously) Nebraska Bloody Mary State Championship.

May

Toad Suck Daze 
Conway, AR

Main Attraction
The World Championship Toad Races is a truly hopping event as the toads take center stage and proceeds benefit local educational initiatives.

Don’t Miss
A gut-busting array of food-on-a-stick, from cheeseburgers to spaghetti and meatballs. 

ElkFest
Jackson Hole, WY

Main Attraction
Every spring majestic animals shed antlers that are gathered by local Boy Scouts to be auctioned off, then turned into furniture, jewelry and other crafts. 

Don’t Miss
A family photo under the famous elk arches in the town square.

Digital Graffiti
Alys Beach, FL

Main Attraction
The whitewashed building facades of the Panhandle’s Alys Beach are the backdrop for light projections by artists from around the world, bathing the streets in an eye-popping kaleidoscope of color—and Instagram photo ops. 

Don’t Miss
The Red Bar and Piccolo Restaurant in nearby Grayton Beach, a longtime destination for tourists and locals, with live music and pop culture memorabilia decor. 

Chuck Wagon Festival
Oklahoma City, OK

Main Attraction
Saddle up for an authentic cowboy experience at this family-friendly hootenanny, with hands-on fun like rope-making and bandanna decorating.

Don’t Miss
The excellent exhibits at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Strolling of the Heifers
Brattleboro, VT

Main Attraction
Inspired by Spain’s running of the bulls, the Strolling of the Heifers Parade is the signature bovine event. More than 100 hat-and-flower-bedecked heifers lead the way, followed by other farm animals, including llamas and alpacas, plus tractors, floats and bands.

Don’t Miss
Biking through the bucolic—yet lively and artistic—farming town. 

June

Hampton Beach Annual Sand Sculpting Classic

Photo by Greg Grady Hampton

Photo by Greg Grady Hampton

Hampton Beach Annual Sand Sculpting Classic

National Cereal Festival
Battle Creek, MI 

Main Attraction
Help yourself to breakfast and a seat at the World’s Longest Breakfast Table, a highlight of this cereal bash in the town that Kellogg and Post call home.

Don’t Miss
Snapping a grrreat photo with Tony the Tiger. 

Avon Heritage Duck Tape Festival
Avon, OH

Main Attraction
You’ll be stuck on this offbeat festival (sponsored by the Avon-based Duck Tape brand) after viewing the clever duct tape masterpieces, especially in the fashion show and parade.

Don’t Miss
Cleveland’s iconic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 

Tupelo Elvis Festival
Tupelo, MS

Main Attraction
Die-hard Elvis fans will savor this pelvis-shaking celebration of the city’s native son, a Tribute Artist contest and, of course, performances honoring the King of Rock ’n’ Roll.

Don’t Miss
A drive down scenic Natchez Trace Parkway, a historic corridor that runs through Tupelo and traverses three states. 

Colorado BBQ Challenge
Frisco, CO

Main Attraction
Colorado’s longest-running barbecue competition is a carnivore’s delight, with more than 70 barbecue pit masters, kids’ activities and even pig races. 

Don’t Miss
Frisco’s picturesque pedestrian-friendly Main Street and the White River National Forest and Dillon Reservoir, with hiking, biking and fishing. 

International Festival of Art & Ideas
New Haven, CT

Main Attraction
Theater performances, thought-provoking discussions and dance come together in an illuminating affair spanning two weeks.

Don’t Miss
A self-guided tour of Yale University’s Old Campus. Legend has it that touching the left foot of past president Theodore Dwight Woolsey’s statue brings good luck.

Hampton Beach Annual Sand Sculpting Classic
Hampton Beach, NH

Main Attraction
Sand-shaping artists show off their skills for $15,000 in prize money in the invitation-only competition. It’s illuminated for night viewing.

Don’t Miss
Strolling along the beautiful boardwalk, which is consistently voted among the best in the country.

Kutztown Folk Festival
Kutztown, PA

Main Attraction
Blacksmithing, basket weaving, wood carving and barn-star-painting demos—plus the nation’s largest quilt sale—give a glimpse into the Pennsylvania Dutch community.

Don’t Miss
Fresh-baked bread rounds and giant iced cinnamon buns from the on-site bake oven.