12 Must-See Festivals in the US

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

Saggy Bottom Boys cooking up a mess of beans!

The aroma of beans and outhouses fill the mountain air — it’s time for the Bean Fest and Great Championship Outhouse Races.

When: Halloween-ish

Mountain View, Arkansas

Bean cook-off (attendees eat for free!), costumed booths, outhouse races, the best mountain music you will ever hear!
More info

Tulip Time

It's Tulip Time in Holland Michigan!

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.

When: May

Holland, Michigan

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

The Lawn Rangers

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.

When: September

Arcola, Illinois

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

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

Church Point, Louisiana

Dancing on horseback, early morning drinking, chicken chasing, tree climbing, drinking, great Cajun music, parade, drinking. More info


Fulton Texas Oysterfest!

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.

When: March

Fulton, Texas

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

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Wacky celebrity Grand Marshalls, International Order of Irish Elvi, a kazoo marching band, bar hopping. More info

The Manatee Festival

Save the Manatee Club at the Manatee Festival

The Orange City / Blue Springs Manatee Festival has been raising funds and awareness for 28 years.

When: January

Orange City, Florida

Wildlife exhibits, craft booths, music, bus ride to Blue Springs State Park for manatee viewing. More info

Magic Week Festival

Colon, Michigan - Magic Capital of the World

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.

When: August

Colon, Michigan

Magic shows, street magic, tours of magic shops, late night drinking in the bars with magicians. More info

Gullah Celebration

Gullah Breakfest, oyster stew, grits, whole fried fish

Gullah Celebration
commemorates the culture of the Gullah People of the Southeastern US Sea Islands, past and present.

When: March

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Gullah Ooman (woman) Kitchen, Freedom Day Parade, Ol’ Fashion Gullah Breakfast, liturgical dancing, demonstrations, historical lectures. More info

The Dungeness Crab Fest

Crabfest in Port Angeles, Washington

On the northern coast of Washington, the The Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival is definitely the place to be for any decapod-chowing seafood lover.

When: October

Port Angeles, Washington

Grab-a-crab Derby, Crab Feed, food vendors, located in the town where Twilight‘s Bella bought her prom dress. More info

Testicle Festival

Testicle Festival in Clinton, Montana

The Testicle Festival celebrates the Rocky Mountain Oyster, is not for the kiddies, and no doubt could not go on within the city limits.

When: August

Clinton, Montana

Eating Rocky Mountain Oysters, using inappropriate adjectives, drinking, drinking, and a bit more drinking. More info

The Marathon Seafood Festival

The seafood at the Marathon Seafood Fest

The Marathon Seafood Festival features amazing, fresh local seafood slung out of booths on paper plates for dirt cheap.

When: March

Marathon Key, Florida

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?

Did you enjoy what you just read? Then you'll LOVE our book!
Going Gypsy: One Couple's Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All Going Gypsy One Couple's Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All 

- See how it all began!
ORDER NOW - Wherever Books Are Sold!
Amazon - Barnes & Noble - IndieBound - Books-a-Million
Also available as an audiobook from Audible.com

14 thoughts on “12 Must-See Festivals in the US”

  1. 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/.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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?

    1. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.