Great Summer Festivals in All 50 States

Chicago Blues Festival

Chicago Blues Festival by tomanouc (CC BY-NC-ND)

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Chicago Blues Festival
Chicago Blues Festival by tomanouc (CC BY-NC-ND)

Get Festive

There are plenty of reasons to look forward to summer, not the least of which is the endless variety of festivals that take place in every state in the country. From music and film festivals to celebrations of aviation and automobiles, the summer is teeming with block parties and lawn concerts, street fairs and food trucks. It's festival season, and here are some of the very best themed gatherings from across the United States.

Related: Where to Go for a Budget-Friendly Summer Vacation in All 50 States

Spectators at Open-Air cinema

Alabama: Southern Fried Film Festival

The Southern Fried Film Festival runs June 9-12 in Huntsville, showcasing international films at a handful of local venues. On opening night, attendees can catch an opening film at the Orion Amphitheater, while additional screenings and live music during the remainder of the festival take place at 3rd Circle Cellars and Salty Nut Brewery. While a film lineup has yet to be announced, past categories have included Feature Narrative, Short Narrative, Feature Documentary, Short Documentary, and Science/Technology.

Related: Best Gifts for Movie Buffs

Midnight Sun Festival
Midnight Sun Festival by beadwoman (CC BY-NC-ND)

Alaska: Midnight Sun Festival

The Midnight Sun Festival in downtown Fairbanks is a surreal, nature-bending spectacle that draws in more than 30,000 people. This year, they'll party from noon to midnight on June 18, which is the Saturday closest to the 2022 summer solstice. Vendors line the streets hawking Alaskan cuisine, crafts, art, jewelry, pottery, and clothing. All of this takes place in broad daylight, which burns bright for nearly 24 hours.

Related: Best Vacation Rentals for Seeing the Northern Lights

The Flagstaff Blues and Brews

Arizona: Flagstaff Blues and Brews

Flagstaff Blues and Brews is all about great music, wine, and beer in a picture-perfect outdoor setting. Catch acts like Miller and the Other Sinners, the Wesley Pruitt Band, and Mr. Sipp at the event, which runs from June 10-11. General admission tickets start at $45, and brews include Sierra Nevada, Four Peaks Brewing, and Another Road Brewing Co.

Minnesota State Fair - Sweats and Treats

Arkansas: Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival

One of the oldest continuously running festivals in Arkansas, the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival in Warren will be celebrating its 66th anniversary this year. The event has become a state tradition, having welcomed every Arkansas governor since 1956. Live music, fireworks, an all-tomato luncheon and street dance, comedy, a tomato-eating competition, and a carnival are just some of the events packed into the June 10-11 festival.

Gilroy Garlic Festival 11 2018-08-06
Gilroy Garlic Festival 11 2018-08-06 by Fastily (CC BY-SA)

California: Gilroy Garlic Festival

An entire festival dedicated to garlic? We're in. The Gilroy Garlic Festival celebrates its 42nd anniversary this year, returning with a golf tournament, concert, and farm-to-table dinner. Events are spread throughout the year, with the tournament taking place June 24, a concert featuring Nashville songwriters Wendell Mobley and Lee Thomas Miller on July 13, and a garlic-centric dinner in the fall. 

Lot of people ring dancing around the midsummer pole

Colorado: Scandinavian Midsummer Festival

Celebrate Scandinavian culture and tradition at the  Scandinavian Midsummer Festival in Estes Park June 24-26. Music, Viking reenactments, dance groups, craft tents, and traditional folk art are just some of the family-friendly offerings. Kids and adults can witness the raising of the Midsummer pole, check out the Scandinavian market, and walk through the Fjellborg Viking Village. Anyone wearing traditional Viking garb is invited to strut their stuff in the daily fashion show.


Connecticut: Milford Oyster Festival

Bivalve lovers, take note: The Milford Oyster Festival will return to downtown Millford on Aug. 20, shucking 30,000 oysters in celebration of its 48th anniversary. Attendees can wash down their local oysters (and other street food!) with beer and wine, then catch the festival concert, featuring headliner Scott Stapp of Creed. Catch a car show, a canoe and kayak race, and slurp down oysters to your heart's content.

2012-07-20 Firefly Music Fest 537
2012-07-20 Firefly Music Fest 537 by Melissa (CC BY-NC-ND)

Delaware: Firefly Music Festival

Some of the splashiest names in music will perform at the Firefly Music Festival in the Woodlands of Dover from June 22-25. Headliners include Halsey, Dua Lipa, Green Day, and Weezer, who will perform live at what has become one of the East Coast's biggest music and camping festivals.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2014
Tim Brown/istockphoto

District of Columbia: Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Every year, visitors flock to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., a free event held outdoors along the National Mall June 22-27 and June 30-July 4. An homage to global heritage and culture, the festival showcases the world's oldest and most interesting living traditions through crafts, music, demonstrations, and food from around the world.

Toronto Gay Pride Parade large multi-coloured flag

Florida: Key West Pride Week

Key West is home to one of America's most vibrant LGBTQ communities, and the Pride shows every June during Key West Pride Week. From June 1-5, Key West will be buzzing with street fairs, talent shows, pool parties, play readings, cabaret shows, foam parties, and more. It's all capped off with one of the most famous Pride parades in the country.

Related: 12 Small Towns Known for Being LGBTQ-Friendly

Cracker by Julian Bravo (CC BY-NC)

Georgia: AthFest Music and Arts Festival

The college town of Athens is one of the coolest cities in the Southeast, and the AthFest Music and Arts Festival is proof of that. More than 100 bands grace three outdoor stages from June 24-26 at no charge to the public. Those who choose, however, can purchase tickets to club shows at Georgia Theatre and the 40 Watt Club, two prominent Georgia music venues. The sprawling event also  includes a block-long artists market, beer gardens, and various food vendors.

Marquesas Dancer 2
Marquesas Dancer 2 by glennia (CC BY-NC)

Hawaii: Heiva I Kauai

Celebrating the vibrant history and culture of Hawaii, Heiva I Kauai takes place Aug. 6-7 in Kauai. Now in its 20th year, the festival invites performers of all ages to showcase their Tahitian dancing and drumming skills in a spirited competition. Artists offer craft demonstrations, while attendees can peruse vendors selling Pacific Island gifts, food, jewelry, art, clothing, and more.

Festival at Sandpoint
The Festival at Sandpoint/Yelp

Idaho: Festival at Sandpoint

The Revivalists and Chris Janson are just two of the big-name acts performing at the Festival at Sandpoint, a summer concert series running May 26-Aug. 7. The nonprofit festival has been going strong since 1983. Grab a lawn chair and park yourself in the field or snag a general admission seat in the grandstand. Either way, you're in for a fun few weeks of great music.

At the Chicago Blues Festival
At the Chicago Blues Festival by Chris Gallevo (CC BY-NC-ND)

Illinois: Chicago Blues Festival

The Chicago Blues Festival is the largest music festival in Chicago and one of the biggest free blues festivals in the world. The event, which draws more than 500,000 fans, is the culmination of a long tradition of Chicago as a blues hub since the days of the Great Migration. Legendary artists perform at the open-air concert from June 9-12 this year, and the music goes all day.

082 by Kevin Shockey (CC BY-NC-ND)

Indiana: Crawfordsville Strawberry Festival

The Crawfordsville Strawberry Festival runs from June 10-12 and draws in crowds with tractor shows, a kids area with bounce houses galore, music, food, arts and crafts, car shows, pageants, and, of course, strawberries. Known as the Athens of Indiana, Crawfordsville also hosts a softball tournament, a 5K, a golf scramble, and a tennis tournament as part of the festival.

National Balloon Classic
Michael Rolands/istockphoto

Iowa: National Balloon Classic

Look to the skies during Iowa's National Balloon Classic, held this year July 29-Aug. 6. More than 100 hot air balloons fill the sky with vibrant colors, including balloons lit up as the sun goes down. Fireworks, live music, and a parade are also featured, and for those getting antsy hanging out on the ground, balloon rides are available for purchase every morning and evening of the festival.


Kansas: Amelia Earhart Festival

Held every year on the third weekend of July, the Amelia Earhart Festival in Atchison honors the celebrated aviator with music, food, readings, and a "Concert in the Sky" fireworks show. Participate in an Amelia Earhart Fun Run, marvel at aerobatic performances, and dive into Earheart research and literature. 

Kentucky Bourbon Festival
Craig M./Yelp

Kentucky: Kentucky Bourbon Festival

Kentucky is famous for a lot of things that are uniquely American, not the least of which is the state's famous bourbon. The annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival honors that tradition — this year from Sept. 16-18 — with samplings from over 40 Kentucky distilleries. Enjoy live music, panels with bourbon experts, local food, and the annual bourbon barrel relay. 

Related: 15 Drinking Pilgrimages You Need to Make

Essence Festival of Culture

Louisiana: Essence Festival of Culture

The Essence Festival of Culture returns to New Orleans this year with a four-day music festival featuring some of music's biggest names. From June 30-July 3, catch sets by Nicki Minaj, Janet Jackson, Jazmine Sullivan, the Isley Brothers, and more. Pop into the Beauty Carnival to discover new beauty brands and hear from beauty experts, or head over to the wellness house for self-care tips and exercises. 

Maine Lobster Festival

Maine: Maine Lobster Festival

The Maine Lobster Festival is an ode to the state's favorite crustacean. Held in Rockport, the event offers lobster lovers the chance to participate in a seafood cooking contest, race across a string of lobster crates floating on the Rockland Harbor, or watch Maine's largest parade. Of course, eating lobster is the main focus, and attendees can nosh on lobster bisque, lobster mac'n cheese, and lobster rolls. This year the festival runs Aug. 3-7. 

Related: 20 Amazing Seafood Shacks Across America

Ocean City Air Show 2018

Maryland: Ocean City Air Show

The Ocean City Air Show features the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, along with the Navy Legacy Flight and the F-18 Rhino Demo Team. An aerial enthusiast's dream, the festival runs from June 11-12 in Ocean City. Come for the sonic boom created by the low-flying jets, but stay for the live music, food, and sprawling beach party.

2013 08 94th St. Anthony's Feast in Boston's North End
2013 08 94th St. Anthony's Feast in Boston's North End by North End Waterfront (CC BY-SA)

Massachusetts: Saint Anthony's Feast

Boston's North End is a bastion for Italian feasts, including Saint Anthony's Feast, an Italian street festival held Aug. 25-28. Visitors can choose from more than 100 vendors that line the neighborhood's main thoroughfare, opting for calamari drizzled with lemon, slices of authentic Italian pizza, freshly-made pasta, and decadent cannoli. The festival culminates in the ten-hour procession of the Statue of Saint Anthony, complete with live music, confetti, and floats.

Jackson Drive at Chicago Blues Fest 2009
Jackson Drive at Chicago Blues Fest 2009 by wisley (CC BY)

Michigan: Jackson Blues Festival

The Jackson Blues Festival runs June 9-11 at Jurassic Golf. Not only is it a great way to catch talented blues musicians performing live, but admission is cheap — just $10 per day, and kids under 12 are free. As a bonus, the first 100 kids on the second day receive a free T-shirt, harmonica, and sunglasses, along with a short harmonica lesson.

Open Streets Minneapolis Lake Street
Open Streets Minneapolis Lake Street by Fibonacci Blue (CC BY)

Minnesota: Open Streets Minneapolis

Forget what your parents said — in Minnesota, you can play in the street. Open Streets Minneapolis is a series of non-consecutive festivals that take place on different summer days throughout different parts of the city. They all have the same theme, however: the streets are closed to motor traffic and instead are filled with merchants, artists, musicians, vendors, residents, and visitors, all of whom come to eat, drink, sell, buy, mingle, and party. Lyndale gets in on the action on June 5, Franklin on June 10, East Lake on Aug. 13, West Broadway on Sept. 10, and Minnehaha on Oct. 1.

Big Elvis & Little Elvis
Big Elvis & Little Elvis by Tom Wicker (CC BY-NC-ND)

Mississippi: Tupelo Elvis Festival

The Tupelo Elvis Festival celebrates the life, legacy, and music of Tupelo's favorite native son: the King himself, Elvis Presley. This year's festival runs from June 18-20. While the music, of course, focuses on Presley, his many hits, and the legions of covers and impersonators he spawned, there's also a significant portion dedicated to the music that inspired Elvis, like country, Southern gospel, and blues.

Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival
Melinda H./Yelp

Missouri: Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival

The Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival is held annually near the entrance of historic Swope Park. The internationally themed festival features food, crafts, dancing, and performances from more than 60 different cultures around the world. Kids 12 and under get in free to the event, which runs Aug. 19-21.

Montana Folk Festival 2017

Montana: Montana Folk Festival

The three-day Montana Folk Festival in Butte showcases performances and demonstrations by more than 200 musicians, craftspeople, and dancers in one of the most significant folk festivals in the country. The July 8-10 event features folklife demonstrations, a family area, arts markets, and multiple entertainment stages, all of which will showcase talent and products that represent the best in Montana, the region, and the country.

Tim McGraw
Tim McGraw by WEZL Charleston's Best Country (CC BY)

Nebraska: Nebrasakland Days

Top talent like Tim McGraw and Miranda Lambert draw crowds to Nebraskaland Days in North Platte, which returns in 2022 from June 15-25. Miss Rodeo Nebraska will be on hand for several of the events, which include rodeo competitions, barbecues, horsemanship presentations, a quilt show, speech competitions, and much more. 

Hot August Nights 34th Anniversary
Hot August Nights 34th Anniversary by Thank You (22 Millions+) views (CC BY)

Nevada: Hot August Nights

Rock 'n' roll and classic cars join forces for Hot August Nights, an eight-day celebration that runs July 29-30 and Aug. 2-7 in the Western Nevada cities of Reno, Sparks, and Virginia City. Much more than just a car show, the combined events feature drag races and burnouts, a vintage trailer revival, vehicle competitions, and live bands performing rock music from the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and '80s.

Prescott Park Arts Festival

New Hampshire: Prescott Park Arts Festival

Now in its 45th year, the Prescott Park Arts Festival is a summer-long music, film, theater, dance, and special events series that includes more than 80 events. Held at Prescott Park, a waterfront greenway on the banks of the Piscataqua River, this year's festival features a production of "Footloose," a chowder cook-off, and concerts from Josh Ritter, The Brothers Comatose, Deer Tick, The War & Treaty, and others. 

100 Hot Air Balloons
Thomas Kloc/istockphoto

New Jersey: Festival of Ballooning

Soar high at the annual Festival of Ballooning in Readington, where thrill seekers gather for North America's largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival. Activities include concerts, featuring acts like Collective Soul, fireworks, a 5K run, yoga, and, of course, hot air balloon rides. Early bird tickets to the July 29-31 event are $28 for adults and $10 for kids, although there are fees, and at $250-$315, balloon rides add a significant cost.

Annual UFO Festival in McMinville Oregon

New Mexico: UFO Festival

Roswell is the UFO capital of the world, if not the universe, and for those who think the truth is out there, the UFO Festival in Roswell just might be the find of the season. This year's festival takes place July 1-3, and marks the 75th anniversary of the Roswell incident. Events include a costume contest, a laser show, guest speakers, presentations by authors, a carnival, concerts, and more.

Great New York State Fair

New York: Great New York State Fair

The Great New York State Fair in Syracuse is one of the most significant fairs in the world and the main attraction for the more than 1 million people who pass through the New York State Fairgrounds every year. The event boasts an impressive midway full of rides, competitions, tasting events, live music on several stages, and much more. The 13-day event runs Aug. 24 through Sept. 5.

All American Marathon starting line

North Carolina: 7th-Inning Stretch Festival

Country singer Josh Turner headlines this year's 7th-Inning Stretch Festival, a baseball-themed event hosted by the American Legion World Series. Among the free events scheduled for Aug. 6 in Shelby are the Little Miss American Legion Beauty Pageant, a 5K, and, of course, a performance by Turner. There are also contests, prizes, carnival food, a kids zone, and plenty more.

Riding cowgirl

North Dakota: Mandan Rodeo Days

The Mandan Rodeo Days festival is now in its 143rd year. Enjoy three days of bulls, broncos, lassos, and the best in Western entertainment from July 2-4, including nationally ranked PRCA rodeo. There's also concerts, dancing, baseball, the Arts in the Park showcase, and the biggest fireworks display on the Northern Plains. Tickets start at $25; kids three and under are free.

Comfest 2010 - Bush League All Stars
Comfest 2010 - Bush League All Stars by Allan Foster (CC BY-NC-ND)

Ohio: ComFest

The Community Festival, known as ComFest, held from June 24-26 in Columbus, is a large, non-corporate arts and music festival with free admission that celebrates the community's artists, volunteers, activists, and entertainers. The organizers focus on bringing the community together and raising funds for local organizations dedicated to the cause.

Giant Watermelon

Oklahoma: Rush Springs Watermelon Festival

Celebrating summertime's most iconic fruit, the Rush Springs Watermelon Festival serves watermelon to more than 20,000 visitors each year. The free event boasts an interesting range of watermelon-themed activities, an arts and crafts fair, classic car show, carnival rides, and live music. Held annually since 1948 — this year it's Aug. 13 — it has become one of the most popular summer events in Oklahoma.

DSC04171a by Sam Churchill (CC BY)

Oregon: Waterfront Blues Festival

As Portland's longest-running music festival, the Waterfront Blues Festival raises money for hunger relief by featuring up-and-comers as well as musical legends like Taj Mahal & The Phantom Blues Band, Grace Potter, and The Wood Brothers. Four-day passes start at $105; kids 12 and under are free. The fest is July 1-4 at Portland's Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

Big Butler Fair Show
Big Butler Fair Show by sk (CC BY-ND)

Pennsylvania: Big Butler Fair

Held each year over the Fourth of July, the Big Butler Fair is the largest fair in western Pennsylvania, drawing crowds from four states. Now in its 166th year, the fair's events include midway games, stunt driving, tractor and truck pulls, a demolition derby, animal shows, concerts, harness racing, carnival rides, fireworks (on the Fourth), and much more. General admission tickets are $8, but you can add an all-day ride band for $25. It runs from July 1-9.

Newport Folk Festival 2009
Newport Folk Festival 2009 by SWIMPHOTO (CC BY)

Rhode Island: Newport Folk Festival

For over 60 yers, the Newport Folk Festival has shone a spotlight on up-and-coming and established indie and folk bands over a three-day festival. This year, the event takes place July 22-24, with a lineup featuring Dinosaur Jr., Clairo, The Ballroom Thieves, and Sylvan Esso. Located at Fort Adams State Park, the festival's backdrop includes stunning panoramic views of the Newport Harbor. 

Chautauqua History Alive Festival
Caroline M./Yelp

South Carolina: Chautauqua History Alive Festival

The Chautauqua History Alive Festival shows run from June 9-19 and offer insightful history lessons for the whole family with events performed by historical interpreters. Along the way, you'll meet Harry Houdini, Dwight Eisenhower, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Pauli Murray. 

Barrel Racing

South Dakota: Days of '76 Rodeo

Buckle up: The Days of '76 Rodeo is back for its 100th year, featuring a week of impressive rodeo events. Catch steer roping, barrel racing slack, rodeo slack, and other competitions, along with a Days of ‘76 Historic Parade. This year's event runs July 24-30. 

2009 Music City Hot Chicken Festival - IMG_0566
2009 Music City Hot Chicken Festival - IMG_0566 by Stephen Yeargin (CC BY-SA)

Tennessee: Music City Hot Chicken Festival

Fans of the spicy stuff will want to catch the 16th annual Music City Hot Chicken Festival in Nashville on July 4. Free to attend, this fun summer fest not only serves up some of Nashville's finest famous hot chicken — never to be confused with Buffalo chicken — but also offers entertainment, an amateur cooking contest, and a fire truck parade. Wash down some of that fiery chicken with a cold beer.

Bat Fest, Texas

Texas: Bat Fest

Not a typical summer festival, the annual Bat Fest in Austin lets visitors watch 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge on Aug. 27. In addition to bats, there are three stages with live music, arts and crafts vendors, and tons of food, too. Tickets are $25 in advance, $25 at the gate, and kids eight and under are free with an adult.

Inspiring Us to Bee...

Utah: Days of '47

Days of '47 in Salt Lake City is a series of free, unique events that celebrate the state's early pioneers. While festivities began in March, the main cluster of festival events runs July 14-25. Different days include events like the Pioneers of Progress, a Pops concert, cowboy games and rodeo, the Days of '47 Parade, and the First Encampment Hike.

Festival of Fools – Brent McCoy (Northeast Kingdom, Vermont)
Festival of Fools – Brent McCoy (Northeast Kingdom, Vermont) by Don Shall (CC BY-NC-ND)

Vermont: Festival of Fools

The Festival of Fools is all about comedy — with a side of art and music. From Aug. 5-7, more than 100 music and comedy acts are scheduled to perform, as the street performance festival takes over most of Downtown Burlington. Fostering a truly festive atmosphere, the event is complete with circus acts, acrobatics, and other lively performances, most of which take place on Burlington's historic Church Street. 

USCGC Eagle arrives in Norfolk for Harborfest.

Virginia: Norfolk Harborfest

The Norfolk Harborfest is an annual event that holds the distinction of being the largest and longest-running free maritime festival in America. Live performances, festival food and drinks, the Parade of Sails, three days of tall ships, and one of the biggest fireworks displays on the East Coast are just part of the fun from June 10-12. Watch as more than 200 vessels sail down the Elizabeth River, each one representing one of Coastal Virginia's 200 years of naval history.

Related: 30 Boat Tours That Take You Back in Time

Medieval horseback jousting and sword fighting with knights in shining armour
Callum Hamshere/istockphoto

Washington: Washington Midsummer Renaissance Fair

Held over three weekends in August — Aug. 6-7, 13-14, and 20-21 — the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Fair ignites imaginations and brings attendees into a world of knights, princesses, and pirates. Each weekend has a theme, including Masked Marauders, Fairytales and Fantasy Adventures, and Across the Multiverse. Come dressed in your finest costumes and ready to eat plenty of turkey legs. 

Mountain State Art and Craft Fair
Karen W./Yelp

West Virginia: Mountain State Art and Craft Fair

The Mountain State Art and Craft Fair celebrates craftsmanship and creativity in West Virginia. From July 1-3, the fair will ring in its 60th anniversary with shopping opportunities, family fun, and entertainment over three days. Past exhibits have included glass blowing, a cast iron cooking demonstration, and traditional vegetable dyeing. 

Sky Wheel
Sky Wheel by Anna (CC BY)

Wisconsin: Waukesha County Fair

Running annually since 1842, the Waukesha County Fair is the oldest fair in the state of Wisconsin, which runs this year from July 20-24. Crafts, barnyard animals, a carnival midway, food, and children's activities are all part of the draw.

Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo
Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo by Larry Jacobsen (CC BY)

Wyoming: Cheyenne Frontier Days

Return to the days of the Old West during Cheyenne Frontier Days, a 10-day celebration (July 22-31) featuring the world's largest outdoor rodeo that draws talent from across the country, competing on horseback for millions in cash and prizes. Other features include an old frontier town, saloon, a chuck-wagon cook-off, pancake breakfast, and much more, all set against a background of the picturesque southern Wyoming landscape.

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