We LOVE a festival! Tag the word “fest” on the end of anything and we’re there! Here are 12 of the wildest, wackiest, over-the-top or just plain fabulous celebrations that we’ve seen!
Bean Fest and Outhouse Races
The aroma of beans and outhouses fill the mountain air — it’s time for the Bean Fest and Great Championship Outhouse Races.
Where: Mountain View, Arkansas
Highlights: Bean cook-off (attendees eat for free!), costumed booths, outhouse races, the best mountain music you will ever hear!
Eight decades of tulips. EIGHTY years. This is no amateur operation; this is serious stuff. It’s Tulip Time in Holland (Michigan), and when it comes to festivals, these people don’t mess around.
Where: Holland, Michigan
Highlights: A ridiculous amount of tulips, amazing authentic Dutch Dancing, fatballs, traditional costumes, the Wooden Shoe-Be-Do, street scrubbing, international music acts, three parades. More info
The Broom Corn Festival
We never expected to find a fest dedicated to something that we had never heard of… so there was no way we could pass up The Broom Corn Festival.
Where: Arcola, Illinois
Highlights: The Lawn Rangers precision lawn mowing team, The National Broom Sweeping Contest, broom making exhibit, Broom Corn Festival Parade, bacon dipped in chocolate. More info
The Courir de Mardi Gras
Courir de Mardi Gras, translates to Fat Tuesday Run and traces its origins back to medieval France and the feast of begging.
When: Fat Tuesday
Where: Church Point, Louisiana
Highlights: Dancing on horseback, early morning drinking, chicken chasing, tree climbing, drinking, great Cajun music, parade, drinking. More info
Oysterfest is an oyster-eatin’, beer-drinkin’, music-listenin’-to and two-steppin’ raucous good time. Moreover, Austin’s festivals are also the best to experience such music, food, culture, and other local activities.
Where: Fulton, Texas
Highlights: Raw oyster eating contest, live music, dancing, midway and rides, parade, booths. More info
The World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Where can you have the most fun in the shortest distance? The World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
When: St. Patrick’s Day
Where: Hot Springs, Arkansas
Highlights: Wacky celebrity Grand Marshalls, International Order of Irish Elvi, a kazoo marching band, bar hopping. More info
The Manatee Festival
The Orange City / Blue Springs Manatee Festival has been raising funds and awareness for 28 years.
Where: Orange City, Florida
Highlights: Wildlife exhibits, craft booths, music, bus ride to Blue Springs State Park for manatee viewing. More info
Magic Week Festival
The “Magic Capital of the World” is not where you’d think. Magic Week Festival is in a little burg of 1,200 people – with a surprising history of magical proportions.
Where: Colon, Michigan
Highlights: Magic shows, street magic, tours of magic shops, late night drinking in the bars with magicians. More info
commemorates the culture of the Gullah People of the Southeastern US Sea Islands, past and present.
Where: Hilton Head, South Carolina
Highlights: Gullah Ooman (woman) Kitchen, Freedom Day Parade, Ol’ Fashion Gullah Breakfast, liturgical dancing, demonstrations, historical lectures. More info
The Dungeness Crab Fest
On the northern coast of Washington, the The Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival is definitely the place to be for any decapod-chowing seafood lover.
Where: Port Angeles, Washington
Highlights: Grab-a-crab Derby, Crab Feed, food vendors, located in the town where Twilight‘s Bella bought her prom dress. More info
The Testicle Festival celebrates the Rocky Mountain Oyster, is not for the kiddies, and no doubt could not go on within the city limits.
Where: Clinton, Montana
Highlights: Eating Rocky Mountain Oysters, using inappropriate adjectives, drinking, drinking, and a bit more drinking. More info
The Marathon Seafood Festival
The Marathon Seafood Festival features amazing, fresh local seafood slung out of booths on paper plates for dirt cheap.
Where: Marathon Key, Florida
Highlights: Eating, music, art booths, watching kids crash into each other in giant bubbles. More info
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
YOUR TURN: Have you been to any of these? Which would be first on your list? Any that we’ve missed?
14 thoughts on “12 Must-See Festivals in the US”
Dade City, FL (Pasco County), holds the Kumquat Festival in late January. Here is the link from this year’s festival: https://www.dadecitychamber.org/annual-kumquat-festivalr or a less colorful website at kumquatfestival.org
Love it! Thanks for this Scott.
You missed my all time favorite in Houston, Texas – the Art Car Parade. Each May there are about 300-400 art cars that parade down a major street just outside of downtown Houston. We have politicians go by, live bands on floats, wacky cars, them cars, plus the people watching is by far the best. Even the dogs walk by in multi-color paint. This year it is May 10th, more at http://www.thehoustonartcarparade.com/.
Haven’t heard of that one before, looks great. Thanks for the link. Hope we can make it there sometime.
Wow! You guys have certainly found some wacky festivals. I was near a cheese dip festival earlier this year, but didn’t make it. It’s amazing what towns will come up with for events.
Never heard of the cheese dip festival, where is it?
My favorite festival on the list is the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I have been every year (9 so far, this will be 10) and it just keeps getting better and better. The organizers do a fantastic job.
I also am partial to one not on the list— Riverfest located in Little Rock, Arkansas over Memorial Day weekend. It is a music festival, International faire, food extravaganza, arts & crafts shop, Family Fun site, kids world, Olympic event, and so much more.
Another one not on the list that is awesome— The balloon festival in Albuquerque, NM. Incredible site to see!
We’ve heard about the balloon fest in Albuquerque for years, we have to make it sometime. Thanks.
Okay, I thought I was going to fall out of my chair when I read about the very first one on this list. Beans & outhouses? Who could beat that?! Then I read down to the picture of “Colon…” Oh, man, you guys sure know how to put the festive in festival!
We do love a fest!
These look fantastic! One of my favourites is the ‘Weed and Wild Flower festival’ in a little village in the south of England where for one weekend the inside of the church is transformed in to a woodland glen http://travelwithkat.com/2012/04/12/a-typical-english-fete-with-a-twist/
Wow, looks great! Thanks for the link.
You’ve got a great list of festivals here. I’ve always thought the Testical Festival would be a blast. But where are all the music fests?!
In my opinion music festies are some of the best fun you can have in the US. I prefer the ones that are sizable, but not too massive. Wakarusa in Arkansas was one of my favorites, but it did have a slightly more corporate feel the last time I went in 2011.
The funkier, the better too. I’d love to go to Shambhala or Symbiosis someday. Colorado has some great festivals too: Telluride Bluegrass and Sonic Bloom. Of course there’s Burning Man, but I hear it’s also starting to lose its original funky essence.
What are your favorite music fests?
We haven’t hit any music only festivals lately, but almost all of these include live music of some sort. The oyster fest had some great bands and the bluegrass in Mt. View Arkansas was fantastic.