April 23, 2024 | Allison Robertson

The Best Festival in Every State

50 States of Fun

Looking for something new to add to your bucket list? America boasts some of the world’s best festivals. From music and arts to comedy and tradition, find out what each state celebrates the hardest.

Festivals In Every State Split Gallery

Alabama: Mardi Gras

Most people associate Mardi Gras with New Orleans, but Mobile, Alabama claims the country’s oldest Carnival celebration—and a more family-friendly version.

Since 1703, you’ll find two weeks of parades and parties, moon pies tossed into the crowds, and an entire day commemorating the founder, Joe Cain—the person responsible for reviving the tradition.

Mobile Alabama - Mardi Gras 2017Unskinny Boppy, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Alaska: Anchorage Fur Rendezvous

Locally known as the Fur Rondy, the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous is a 10-day festival held at the end of February.

The festival includes: the World Championship Sled Dog Race, the Blanket Toss, the Rondy Fur Auction, a brew fest, a carnival, a costume crawl, snow sculpting competitions, outhouse races, and fireworks.

Running With The Reindeer 2014!Fred Rhoades III, Flickr

Arizona: World Championship Hoop Dance Contest

The best hoopers from the U.S. and Canada meet in Pheonix every year for the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest—a two day event that is open to the public.

The event involves Native American hoop dancing—not the same as hula hooping, food and drink vendors, and hoop-themed family activities.

World Hoop dance championship at the Heard Museum Phoenix AZ  - 2005Andre Engels, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Arkansas: Purple Hull Pea Festival

In small town Emerson, Arkansas the Purple Hull Pea Festival isn’t the state’s biggest fest, but it is the most original—making it quite popular.

Beginning in 1990, the town started celebrating purple hull peas with activities like pea-shelling contests, pea and cornbread cook-offs, and a garden tiller race.

Gardening with a rototillerHomeandgardners, Flickr

California: Coachella

Coachella has become one of the world’s most famous music festivals, with over 100,000 people in attendance.

The two-weekend long event attracts celebrities, and hosts a number of famous performers.

Perfect Day at Coachella - 2017Eric Ward, Wikimedia Commons

Colorado: Great American Beer Festival

The Great American Beer Festival is a three-day craft beer extravaganza that highlights the country’s newest brands and varieties.

It started in 1982 and now attracts over 60,000 people who come to taste the 4,000 different brews from 800 breweries.

Great American Beer Festival, DenverLarry Goodwin ,Flickr

Connecticut: Milford Oyster Festival

The Milford Oyster Festival attracts professional oyster shuckers from all across the U.S. and Canada to compete for the title of fastest oyster shucker in the world.

The event is open to the public and many people come to taste test 21 different kinds of oysters from eight East Coast states.

Milford Oyster FestivalJ J, Flickr

Delaware: Firefly Music Festival

The Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware draws in over 100,000 music lovers every summer—making it the largest of its kind on the East Coast.

Plenty of famous folk attend the three-day event too, from indie bands to rock bands. It’s similar to Coachella, with camping and music, but with a more laid-back vibe.

Firefly Music Festival Main Stage, July 2012FireflyMusicFestival, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Florida: Art Basel Miami Beach

Art Basel is known as “the Super Bowl of the art world,” with a four-day contemporary art fair that draws in elite cognoscenti, collectors and a significant number of celebrities.

Held in December in Miami, the event attracts about 70,000 people who come to enjoy more than 250 international galleries, attend private art shows, and of course, rooftop parties.

Art Basel week. Biggest art exhibition in the world - 2016Mia2you, Shutterstock

Georgia: Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

A weekend long event, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival showcases some of the South’s best restaurants with food themed tents as the main attraction.

With over 35 different chefs, more than 60 breweries, and almost 200 wine and spirit companies, tens of thousands of people pass through each day.

Woman Eating BruschettaAdrienn, Pexels

Hawaii: Aloha Festivals

Aloha Festivals started in 1946, and is dubbed the “granddaddy of Hawaiian events.” Held in September, this event celebrates all aspects of Hawaiian culture, with an opening ceremony, hula dancing, live entertainment, food vendors, craft booths, and a three-hour parade.

Often considered Hawaii’s largest block party—and it’s free to attend.

The 91st annual Lei day celebration at Kapiolani Park - 2018Yi-Chen Chiang, Shutterstock

Idaho: Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival

The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival is one of the largest in the U.S. It started in the 1960’s at a university as a way to bring jazz students and professionals together.

Today, both students and professional jazz musicians, like Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and The Lionel Hampton Big Band, perform together throughout the weekend.

Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival In IdahoDr. Andrea Bruce, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Illinois: Taste of Chicago

The Taste of Chicago is a five-day long event involving everything food. It started in 1980 and has since become the largest festival of its kind in the world.

With 70+ dining options, pop-up food tents, food and drink trucks, visitors can sample anything from musubi and kati rolls to deep-dish pizza and Italian beef subs. Concerts will wow you while you eat, and you may even see a handful of celebrities pass you by.

Taste of Chicago-run time.opacity, Flickr

Indiana: 500 Festival

The Indianapolis 500 has been the premier car racing event in the nation since 1957. It is now a month-long event, taking place in May.

There are several different events, like Kids’ Day, mini marathons, and a huge parade that draw in more than 300,000 spectators—and it’s all NASCAR themed.

500 Festival Parade - American Dairy Association Indiana float at the - 2017NaBUru38, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Iowa: Iowa State Fair

The Iowa State Fair is an annual event that offers uncommon food types, like pickle beer and cookie dough spaghetti.

The 11-day festival also includes the state’s largest parade, amusement park rides, a talent show and free bands.

2016 Iowa State FairPhil Roeder, Flickr

Kansas: Dodge City Days

Each year, Dodge City celebrates its era as a notable frontier town in the 1800s—think of the expression “get out of Dodge.”

The 10-day long festival is a family-friendly affair—the biggest in the state—and boasts a rodeo, barbecue contest, cattle drive, carnival rides and more.

Female Cowboy during a Rodeo Event@coldbeer, Flickr

Kentucky: Kentucky Derby

The famed Kentucky Derby horse race is a two-week long party that involves more than 70 events. It starts with fireworks on July 4th and then continues on with concerts, marathons, hot-air balloons, a steamboat race, and a bed race.

The Pegasus Parade is the highlight, featuring celebrity Grand Marshals and many, many horses.

Kentucky Derby - California Chrome - 2014Bill Brine, Flickr

Louisiana: Mardi Gras

Although Mardi Gras originated in Alabama, New Orleans annual Mardi Gras celebration has earned international fame for its massive party that starts on January 6th and ends with the start of Lent in March.

Over 65 parades are held during the main two-week period, attracting more than a million people.

Lafayette Louisiana Mardi Gras - 2012Catherine Roche-Wallace, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Maine: Maine Lobster Festival

The Maine Lobster Fest has been going strong for over 70 years. Tens of thousands of lobster-loving people flock to Rockland for the five-day event.

Foodies indulge in lobster rolls, lobster wontons, lobster mac-n-cheese, corn on the cob, blueberry cobbler, and so much more. Aside from food, there is a parade, a pageant, a cooking contest, vendors, and local bands.

Vendor tents in Rockland Lobster Festival in summer, Rockland, Maine, USA - 2015Wangkun Jia, Shutterstock

Maryland: Artscape

Artscape is known as the country’s largest free arts festival, and it boasts impressive numbers with over 150 vendors and more than 350,000 visitors.

The weekend-long event also offers art exhibits and installations, performing arts and live music, a comedy club, and over 30 local food vendors.

Artscape is free arts festival - 2014Ted Eytan, Flickr

Massachusetts: Jacob’s Pillow

Jacob’s Pillow is one of the most prestigious dance festivals in the world, and the longest-running in the U.S.

During the two-month-long festival there are at least 50 acclaimed dance companies from Australia to Cuba, and more than 350 free performances by emerging dancers.

Jacob's Pillow- Becket dancerMassachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism, Flickr

Michigan: Tulip Time

There are many tulip festivals around the country, but the Michigan Tulip Time is the biggest of them all. With half a million people in attendance, the week-long event in May offers more than five million tulips that are planted around Holland.

Aside from tulip gazing, visitors can indulge in a Dutch market, food, cooking demos, and parades.

Tulip Time in Holland - 2003J. Stephen Conn, Flickr

Minnesota: Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Since 1886, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival has been a fantastic winter event consisting of parades, marathons, treasure hunts, ice bars, ice sculptures, a snow park, snow maze, snow golf, snow slide, and various other events.

St. Paul is the hub of the St. Paul Winter Carnival.jpellgen (@1105_jp), Flickr

Mississippi: Tupelo Elvis Festival

Since Elvis was born in Tupelo, they naturally celebrate his birth each year with a five-day tribute event involving contests, performances, a 5K race, pet parade, history scenes and gospel music.

The Elvis Festival has been going on for over 20 years and attracts Elvis fans from all over the globe.

Tupelo Elvis Fest - 2011Thomas R Machnitzki, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Missouri: Fair Saint Louis

Fair Saint Louis is a three-day event celebrating the fourth of July. It offers everything from face-painting and rock-wall climbing to dog performances and food and drink vendors.

Besides attracting major performers (ie. Jason Derulo) each night wraps up with a spectacular firework show.

St. Louis Arch & Fireworks - 2007Timothy K Hamilton, Flickr

Montana: Wild West Winterfest

The Wild West Winterfest is a huge event which celebrates the National Finals Skijoring Races—a Scandinavian tradition that involves being pulled on skis by a horse or a large dog.

Aside from that, visitors can enjoy wagon rides, a chili cook-off, a s’mores station, live music, and western dancing.

Skijoring - man pulled on the ski by dog.Bob Denaro, Flickr

Nebraska: Nebraskaland Days

Nebraskaland Days involves ten days of rodeos, concerts, parades, carvinals, and plenty of food and drink.

The main event is the Buffalo Bill Rodeo, which is more than 100 years old and lasts four days long in itself.

Boddington Rodeo - 2015Glenn Stampalia, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Nevada: Burning Man

The Burning Man festival attracts tens of thousands of people each year. Like-minded creative people spend a week together in a temporary city in the barren desert of Black Rock City.

The overall point is to create a community that’s overseen by 10 principles, ranging from self-expression to radical inclusion.

Attendees bring in everything they’ll need for the week, including food, water, bicycles, etc.

Burning Man Festival - 2015BLM Nevada, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

New Hampshire: New Hampshire Highland Games & Festival

Since 1975, Scots from across North America and around the world converge on Loon Mountain Resort to celebrate their heritage at the New Hampshire Highland Games & Festival.

The weekend-long event hosts a variety of games, athletics, highland dancing, bagpipe playing, and so much more.

Pipe and Drum Corps outside.Casey Bisson, Flickr

New Jersey: Jersey City LGBT Pride Festival

Jersey City has been hosting the Jersey City LGBTQ+ Pride Festival for the past 18 years. The popular downtown event attracts up to 15,000 people from the region each year.

The festival includes day-long performances, acrobatic acts and street fair vendors.

Jersey City LGBT Pride Festival - 2019Belikova Oksana, Shutterstock

New Mexico: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

What started as a party for a local radio station back in 1972 has now become the world’s largest hot air balloon festival.

Almost a million people show up each year for the nine-day event which includes a mass spectacle of more than 500 hot-air balloons launched into the air together, as well as fireworks, and various balloon themed activities.

2017 International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico.Karen Blaha, Flickr

New York: Coney Island Mermaid Parade

One of the most original parades in the country, the Coney Island Mermaid Parade happens every summer and boasts all-things mermaid—including a huge nautical-themed parade.

Aside from the parade, the festival includes various amusement park rides, games, and food vendors.

Coney Island Mermaid Parade - 2015Shinya Suzuki, Flickr

North Carolina: Carolina Renaissance Festival

The Carolina Renaissance Festival is one of the country’s largest of its kind. The grounds contain replica castles and pubs, and more than 100 craft and food vendors.

Renaissance enthusiasts can watch knights joust, falcons fly and peasants sing. There are 14 stages for comedy, circus and music, and an impressive swimming mermaid exhibit.

Carolina Renaissance FestivalSamuel King Jr, Flickr

North Dakota: United Tribes Powwow

The United Tribes Powwow is one of the largest gatherings of its kind as more than 70 tribes assemble for the annual traditional song and dance competition.

The weekend-long event also offers a craft fair, fashion show and buffalo barbecue for the 20,000 or so attendees.

United Tribes PowwowJoe Mabel, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Ohio: Columbus Arts Festival

Since 1962, the Columbus Arts Festival is one of the largest arts fairs in the U.S.

With more than 250 approved professional and emerging artists from across the country, the three-day also offers food vendors, craft beer, and free music.

Columbus Arts Festival 2012.JohnCrider, Flickr

Oklahoma: Linde Oktoberfest Tulsa

The Linde Oktoberfest Tulsa has been going strong since 1979, and strives to recreate traditional German festivities, including vast quantities of brew, bratwurst, polka bands and lederhosen.

The best part is the Dachshund Dash, where over 75 wiener dogs partake in a hotdog bun wearing costume.

Lithuanian Folk music group Poringe gives free concert on Grand Place - 2013skyfish, Shutterstock

Oregon: Portland Rose Festival

The Portland Rose Festival attracts thousands of people each year with its state famous dragon boat races, concerts, Fleet Week, fireworks and carnival rides.

The main event is the Grand Floral Parade and the long-running Rose Show.

Portland Rose Festival, Grand Floral Parade - 2006Chris, Flickr

Pennsylvania: Mummers Parade

The Mummers Parade is held in January every year and is a televised event that celebrates those who wear elaborate costumes while performing musical skits.

It’s a full day of performances ranging from comics to string bands, with the highlight being the Fancy Brigade.

Mummers Parade - 2016GPA Photo Archive, Flickr

Rhode Island: Newport Jazz Festival

The Newport Jazz Festival is a three-day long event that draws in thousands of visitors each year. It has four open-air stages of acts, beer and wine gardens, and various food and craft vendors.

Newport Jazz: Herbie HancockGlen Zazove, Flickr

South Carolina: Euphoria

Greenville’s Euphoria festival includes Michelin-starred chefs headlining a four-day food affair.

Aside from famous and regionally noted chefs, visitors can partake in wine seminars, cooking demonstrations and multi-course dinners. There’s also live entertainment, and a Sunday Supper as the grand finale.

Michel Roux Jr - Group Cooking ExperienceTaylorHerring, Flickr

South Dakota: Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

The Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup involves gathering about 1,300 buffalo. This is done for population control.

At this event, experienced riders can apply for volunteer herder spots, while everyone else watches the main event from the sidelines. It also has various food and drink vendors, live music and a buffalo barbecue.

Annual Custer State Park Buffalo RoundupJoseph Sohm, Shutterstock

Texas: South by Southwest

The annual South by Southwest festival involves parallel film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences organized together into one big event.

It lasts for 10 days, and includes various events related to each category.

SXSW 6th Street, Austin Texas - 2010John Rogers, Flickr

Utah: Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival features viewings of the latest independent films that are hoping to make it big. It draws in celebrities and film buffs of all kinds, over an 11-day period.

Although it is filled with industry-folk on high alert for the next big hit, non-industry folk are also able to attend.

People Walking on Sundance Film FestivalGela delrose, Pexels

Vermont: Vermont Maple Festival

As a Vermont staple, its no surprise the state celebrates with a Maple Festival. The three-day event has been going strong for over 50 years and consists of various maple themed activities, a parade, a pancake breakfast, various contests, and so much more.

Children run alongside the community Mardi Gras parade in the village of Maple Corner, Vermont - 2014Erika J Mitchell, Shutterstock

Virginia: Neptune Festival

Every September more than 400,000 people flock to Virginia Beach for the Neptune Festival—which spans 32 blocks and boasts more than 250 craft vendors.

The festival extends past the boardwalk with over 40 events around Virginia Beach, including a parade, live music, a surfing competition, golf contest and a sand sculpting contest.

Neptune Festival Parade - VMI Regimental Band Atlantic Ave. Virginia BeachWatts, Flickr

Washington: Issaquah Salmon Days

During the Issaquah Salmon Days festival, visitors and locals celebrate the return of the salmon to the remote town of Issaquah.

With a massive parade, and more than 270 craft vendors, the event sees thousands of visitors each year. There is also a carnival, live entertainment, beer garden, and a salmon barbecue.

Crowd at the Issaquah Salmon Days Festival - 2018Rey Rodriguez, Shutterstock

West Virginia: Bridge Day

Bridge Day is heralded as West Virginia’s largest single-day festival. With thousands of people in attendance, people go to Fayetteville to BASE jump—or to watch those that do.

This dangerous sport has been celebrated on this day since 1980, and involves numerous safety precautions for all involved.

Bridge Day 2013, Fayetteville, WVJeremy Markovich, Flickr

Wisconsin: Summerfest

Guinness World Records declared Summerfest the world’s largest music festival in 1999. It’s an annual 11-day marathon that attracts upwards of a million people who go to see some 800 performers on 12 different stages.

The event includes both emerging artists, and some big names, like Ozzy Osbourne and Bon Iver.

People on entrance of Summerfest 2006.Anna, Flickr

Wyoming: Cheyenne Frontier Days

The Cheyenne Frontier Days festival is a rodeo and music concert mashup, where you’ll find bucking broncos and steer roping, along with some of the hottest country names, like Miranda lambert and Keith Urban.

There are numerous events happening during the nine-day event, including: wild horse races, barrel racing, a carnival, a western art show, a chuck-wagon cook-off, and more.

Several wagon and carriage entries in a Cheyenne Frontier Days parade - 2019MLambousis, Shutterstock

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