Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington, D.C.

Great Summer Festivals in All 50 States

View Slideshow
Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington, D.C.

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.

Monica Beyer contributed to this story.

Secret Stages Music Discovery Festival, Alabama
Courtesy of

Alabama: Secret Stages Music Discovery Festival

The Secret Stages Music Discovery Festival runs Aug. 2-3 in Birmingham. Because of its meticulously curated collection of indie and regional bands, the festival has been mentioned along with the likes of Next Big Nashville and SXSW. Day passes start at $35 and weekend passes start at $40 for the festival, which is gaining traction as a top Southeast music festival by filling seats without booking acts that have already made it big.

Midnight Sun Festival, Alaska

Alaska: Midnight Sun Festival

The Midnight Sun Festival in downtown Fairbanks is in its 38th year — and the surreal, nature-bending spectacle now draws 30,000 people. This year, they'll party from noon to midnight on June 23, which is the Sunday closest to the 2019 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.

Flagstaff Blues and Brews, Arizona

Arizona: Flagstaff Blues and Brews

Flagstaff Blues and Brews is all about great music and great wine and beer in a picture-perfect outdoor setting. Catch acts like Innocent Joe & the Hostile Witnesses and the Jeremiah Johnson Band at the event, which runs from June 7-8. General admission tickets start at $30, and brews include Sierra Nevada, Mother Road, and Odell Brewing Co.

Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival, Arkansas

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 63rd 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, turtle races, a tomato-packing competition, and a carnival are just some of the events packed into the June 14-15 festival.

Riviera Village Summer Festival, California

California: Riviera Village Summer Festival

The Riviera Village Summer Festival in Redondo Beach doesn't cost a dime to attend. For this year's 42nd annual party, crowds will be treated to constant live entertainment for all ages, carnival rides, an international food court, and more than 200 booths featuring a wide variety of high-end arts and crafts — plus free parking and free shuttle service. The festival runs June 29-30.

Scandinavian Midsummer Festival, Colorado

Colorado: Scandinavian Midsummer Festival

Celebrate Scandinavian culture and tradition at the 25th annual Scandinavian Midsummer Festival in Estes Park June 21-23. Music, Viking reenactments, dance groups, craft tents, and traditional folk art are just some of the family-friendly offerings. Kids and adults can paint a Swedish Dala horse and make a flower crown wreath in the cultural tent. Anyone wearing traditional Viking garb is invited to strut their stuff in the daily fashion show.

International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Connecticut

Connecticut: International Festival of Arts & Ideas

For more than two decades, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven has brought together world-class music, dance, theater, spoken-word, and circus performances. The festival offers more than 200 events, at least 80 percent of which are free, for 15 days between June 8-22 in New Haven's historic downtown.

Firefly Music Festival, Delaware

Delaware: Firefly Music Festival

Some of the biggest names in music will perform at the Firefly Music Festival in the Woodlands of Dover from June 21-23. Headliners include Panic! At the Disco, Travis Scott, and Post Malone, who will perform live at what has become the East Coast's biggest music and camping festival.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington, D.C.

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 29-30. 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.

Key West Pride Week, Florida

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 5-9, 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.

AthFest Music and Arts Festival, Georgia

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 20-23 at no charge to the public. Those who choose, however, can purchase a pub crawl bracelet, which gains you entry to 14 top Athens music venues. The sprawling event includes dance parties with DJs and proceeds benefit the nonprofit AthFest Educates, which supports music and arts education.

Pan-Pacific Festival, Hawaii

Hawaii: Pan-Pacific Festival

Celebrating the vibrant history and culture of Hawaii, the Pan-Pacific Festival takes place June 7-9 in Honolulu with a number of free events. The festival strives to bring people together with demonstrations, amazing food booths, a performing arts showcase, a hula festival, and a parade.

Festival at Sandpoint, Idaho

Idaho: Festival at Sandpoint

Jackson Browne and Kool & the Gang are just two of the big-name acts performing Aug. 1-11 at the Festival at Sandpoint. The nonprofit festival has been going strong since 1983. There are two full bars and 13 vendors, but you're welcome to bring your own food and beverages, including alcohol, from home. Grab a lawn chair and park yourself in the field or grab a general admission seat in the grandstand. Either way, you're in for 11 days of music, food, fun, culture.

Chicago Blues Festival, Illinois

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 7-9 this year, and the music goes all day.

Crawfordsville Strawberry Festival, Indiana

Indiana: Crawfordsville Strawberry Festival

The Crawfordsville Strawberry Festival runs from June 14-16 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.

Hawkeye Downs Summer Festival, Iowa

Iowa: Hawkeye Downs Summer Festival

The Hawkeye Downs Summer Festival hosts an interesting array of activities and events, from yoga and barre to the Damsel in Defense workshop, which teaches gun safety and self-defense. There's also entry to the Tavern on the Mall VIP section, live music, and even massages. Tickets to the event, which takes place in Cedar Rapids on June 15, cost $20-$30.

Festival on the Trails, Kansas

Kansas: Festival on the Trails

Festival on the Trails in Gardner packs free entertainment, music, a car show, a color run, and crafts into just a single day — Saturday, June 8. The event features a Chat-Fest, giving attendees an opportunity to talk to distinguished citizens about the area and family history. More than 10,000 people are expected to attend this year, making it a hot, but not ticketed event.

Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Kentucky

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. 18-22, with an event that includes a bourbon steward class, a mixed drink challenge, a barrel selection, barrel-making demonstrations, and the Magic Bourbon Dinner. Last year, Bardstown was flooded with 50,000 visitors from 36 states and 10 countries.

Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, Louisiana
Courtesy of

Louisiana: Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival

The Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival has been a Southern Louisiana tradition since 1960, the year after Breaux Bridge was declared the crawfish capital of the world. Famous Cajun musicians from around the region and the world flock to the festival every year, where not just Cajun, but Creole, swamp pop, and zydeco music dominate the lineup of 30 bands that perform live while you eat your fill of mudbugs.

Old Port Festival, Maine

Maine: Old Port Festival

Seven stages of live entertainment and a parade join plenty of food, craft, and art vendors — and all things Maine — for the Old Port Festival on June 9. The city of Portland's biggest one-day event, the festival has everything from a Ferris wheel to a rock climbing wall.

Ocean City Air Show, Maryland

Maryland: Ocean City Air Show

The Ocean City Air Show features none other than the world-famous U.S. Navy Blue Angels, not to mention the Canadian Armed Forces Snowbirds and the F-16 Viper Demo Team. An aerial enthusiast's dream, the festival runs from June 15-16 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.

Dragon Boat Festival, Charles River - Boston
Dragon Boat Festival, Charles River - Boston by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (CC BY-ND)

Massachusetts: Dragon Boat Festival

Boston brings back the Dragon Boat Festival for its 38th year June 8-9. In addition to giving attendees a chance to watch the Hong Kong-inspired dragon boats race for free, the festival features dances, performances, demonstrations, food, and fun for all ages.

Jackson Blues Festival, Michigan
Courtesy of

Michigan: Jackson Blues Festival

The Jackson Blues Festival runs June 13-15 at the Jackson County Airport. Not only is it a great way to catch talented blues musicians performing live, but admission is cheap — just $5 for the first day and $10 for days two and three, but kids under 12 are free. As a bonus, the first 100 kids on the second day receive a free T-shirt, harmonica, and sunglasses.

Open Streets Minneapolis, Minnesota

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 2, Lake and Minnehaha on July 21, Northeast on Aug. 4, Franklin on Aug. 25, University of Minnesota and Motley on Sept. 8, West Broadway on Sept. 14, and Nicollet on Sept. 22.

Tupelo Elvis Festival, Mississippi

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. Now in its 21st year, the festival runs from June 5-9. 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. Much of the event is free and kids are welcome to join in the party.

Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival, Missouri
Cindy B./

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. 16-18.

Montana Folk Festival, Montana

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 12-14 event features several themed areas, a family area, arts markets, and six entertainment stages, all of which will showcase talent and products that represent the best in Montana, the region, and the country.

Nebraskaland Days, Nebraska

Nebraska: Nebrasakland Days

Top talent like Jake Owen and Kane Brown draw crowds to Nebraskaland Days in North Platte, which is returning in 2019 for its 54th year. 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. The festival runs June 12-22.

Hot August Nights, Nevada

Nevada: Hot August Nights

Rock 'n' roll and classic cars join forces for Hot August Nights, an eight-day celebration that runs Aug. 2-3 and 6-11 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.

Stratham Fair, New Hampshire

New Hampshire: Stratham Fair

Established in 1967 to celebrate the town's 250th anniversary, the Stratham Fair has taken place every year since and maintains the feel and vibe of an old country fair. Fair attendees enjoy a lobster bake, horse pulls, midway rides, a pie-eating contest, 4-H exhibits, fireworks, entertainment, a beer tent, and more July 18-21. $10 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6-12 and adults ages 65 and older — kids under six get in free.

Festival of Ballooning, New Jersey

New Jersey: Festival of Ballooning

Soar high at the annual Festival of Ballooning in Readington, where thrillseekers gather for North America's largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival. Activities include concerts, featuring acts like the Beach Boys, fireworks, a 5K run, yoga, and of, course, hot air balloon rides. Early bird tickets to the July 26-28 event are $24 for adults and $10 for kids, although there are fees, and at $240-$295, balloon rides add a significant cost.

UFO Festival, New Mexico

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. More than 20,000 people showed up in 2018. Events include a costume contest, an alien pet contest, guest speakers, presentations by authors, a carnival, crafts, and more on July 5-7. Most of the big events are free.

Great New York State Fair, New York

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, live entertainment, a New York food truck competition, a drone film festival, tasting events, live music on several stages, and much more. The 13-day event runs Aug. 21 through Sept. 2, with discounted admission offered on several of those days.

7th-Inning Stretch Festival, North Carolina

North Carolina: 7th-Inning Stretch Festival

Country superstar Martina McBride 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. 10 in Shelby are the Little Miss American Legion Beauty Pageant, a 5K, and, of course, a performance by Martina McBride. There are also contests, prizes, carnival food, a kids zone, and plenty more.

Mandan Rodeo Days, North Dakota

North Dakota: Mandan Rodeo Days

The Mandan Rodeo Days festival is now in its 140th 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 for adults and $10 for children, although discounts are available.

ComFest, Ohio
Evalyn C./

Ohio: ComFest

The Community Festival, known as ComFest, held from June 28-30 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.

Rush Springs Watermelon Festival, Oklahoma

Oklahoma: Rush Springs Watermelon Festival

Celebrating summertime's most iconic fruit, the Rush Springs Watermelon Festival serves watermelon to more than 20,000 visitors. 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. 10 — it has become one of the most popular summer events in Oklahoma.

Waterfront Blues Festival, Oregon

Oregon: Waterfront Blues Festival

In its 30th year, the Waterfront Blues Festival raises money for hunger relief by featuring up-and-comers as well as musical legends like Karl Denson's Tiny Universe and Shemekia Copeland. Five-day passes start at $50. The fest is July 4-7 at Portland's Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

Big Butler Fair, Pennsylvania
Courtesy of

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 164th 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 $15. It runs from June 28 to July 6.

Blessing of the Fleet Weekend, Rhode Island
Courtesy of

Rhode Island: Blessing of the Fleet Weekend

Every year on Blessing of the Fleet Weekend in Narragansett, decorated watercraft line up to be blessed by local clergy and parade in front of judges and thousands of spectators. The festivities include the festival on the first day, the 10-Mile Road Race on the second, and the Blessing of the Fleet on the third.

Chautauqua History Alive Festival, South Carolina

South Carolina: Chautauqua History Alive Festival

The Chautauqua History Alive Festival shows run from June 14-23 and offer insightful history lessons for the whole family with more than 30 free events performed by historical interpreters. Along the way, you'll meet Andrew Jackson, Alexander Hamilton, Jackie Kennedy, and Malcolm X.

JazzFest, South Dakota

South Dakota: JazzFest

JazzFest, the annual Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues Festival, is free to the public and features two stages of live entertainment plus all the food and craft vendors one can handle. This year, attendees can catch name acts such as Marilyn Scott & the West Coast All-Stars July 19-20.

Music City Hot Chicken Festival, Tennessee

Tennessee: Music City Hot Chicken Festival

Fans of the spicy stuff will want to catch the 12th annual Music City Hot Chicken Festival in Nashville this year. 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. Free samples are limited to the first 500 guests, so arrive early on July 4.

Bat Fest, Texas

Texas: Bat Fest

Not a typical summer festival, the 13th annual Bat Fest in Austin lets visitors watch 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge on Aug. 24. In addition to bats, there are three stages with live music, arts and crafts vendors, and tons of food, too. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the gate, and kids 8 and under are free with an adult.

Days of '47, Utah
Courtesy of

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 12-24. 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, Vermont

Vermont: Festival of Fools

The Festival of Fools is all about comedy — with a side of art and music. From Aug. 2-4, 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, both in the streets and in venues across town. Now a major celebration, the festival is expected to draw more than 100,000 people.

Norfolk Harborfest, Virginia

Virginia: Norfolk Harborfest

The Norfolk Harborfest is an annual event that holds the distinction 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. Watch as more than 200 vessels sail down the Elizabeth River, each one representing one of Coastal Virginia's 200 years of naval history.

Seattle Street Food Festival, Washington

Washington: Seattle Street Food Festival

Between July 6-7, 9th Ave. in Seattle transforms from a street into a block party dedicated to all things delicious. The Seattle Street Food Festival brings the region's best food trucks, carts, and trailers together all in the same place. Among the 150 vendors are not just those slinging unique and original cuisine, but merchants selling handmade and homemade merchandise of all stripes.

West Virginia Blackberry Festival, West Virginia

West Virginia: West Virginia Blackberry Festival

The West Virginia Blackberry Festival offers a variety of family-friendly activities, including a pet parade, a talent show, a baking contest, live music, fireworks, a 5K run, and more. The free event, which got its start more than 20 years ago as a homecoming celebration, is held in the tiny town of Nutter Fort and runs Aug. 1-3.

Waukesha County Fair, Wisconsin

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 17-21. Crafts, food, barnyard animals, a carnival midway, food, and children's activities are all part of the draw.

Cheyenne Frontier Days, Wyoming

Wyoming: Cheyenne Frontier Days

Return to the days of the Old West during Cheyenne Frontier Days, a 10-day celebration (July 19-28) featuring the world's largest outdoor rodeo that draws talent from across the country, competing on horseback for $1 million 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.