Attending a festival, parade or other annual event can certainly add a different level of experience to your vacation, no matter where you decide to go. You can even plan your whole trip around some of festival, so you’ll be sure you won’t miss it. So let’s find out which are the most most popular festivals in the United States.
You can find festivals and fairs for just about anything, from food, music and film festivals to events dedicated to flowers, books, and anything medieval. Here are 10 festivals you should add to your Bucket List.
New Orleans Mardi Gras
Held over two weeks to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is very well-known the world over. The carnival features several parades, masquerade balls, and parties all over New Orleans. The city is home to about 384,000 citizens and it is said that the number of people in the city doubles during the Mardi Gras season. Celebrations are prepared by different crewes, or social clubs, and each one is as grand as the other. So get your beads, costumes and masks and enjoy the celebration!
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
A yearly festival held over two full weekends in April, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival brings together a variety of music genres from hip hop, EDM, indie, and rock as well as several art exhibits and installations. There are several stages where you can catch live musical performances such as the Coachella Stage, Mojave Tent, Sahara Tent, Gobi Tent, Outdoor Theatre, and the Yuma stage.
Some of the biggest names have performed at the festival, including Amy Winehouse, Paul McCartney, Coldplay, Radiohead, Madonna, Eminem, The Cure, Gorillaz, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, Jay-Z, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
But don’t forget the art side of the festival. Over the years, there are several awesome interactive installations and sculptures that debuted on Coachella grounds. In 2015, around 198,000 tickets were sold, earning some $84 million.
This unique event happens every year at Black Rock City in Nevada. It is usually held around the last Sunday of August through the first Monday of September. It promotes different ways of expressing yourself through art, including interactive sculptures, performances, art cars, and other pieces of art. Attendance has been rising over the years, with around 70,000 people attending in 2015.
The event has espoused ten principles that have guided the community over the years: radical inclusion, immediacy, decommodification, gifting, radical self-expression, radical self-reliance, leaving no trace, communal effort, Civic responsibility, and participation. Learn more about these values when you attend the Burning Man, it’s really worth the trip!
South by Southwest (SXSW)
Bringing together film, music, and interactive events and conferences, this annual festival in Austin, Texas, is one of the most visited in the United States. The festival’s size varies yearly, with an estimated 28,000 people attending the music conferences, more than 30,000 attending the interactive events, and more than 16,000 going to the film events.
The days also vary. For example, in 2011 the music festival ran for 10 days, while the music and interactive events ran for 6 and 5 days. In 2015, the SXSW screened more than 140 feature films, and some 2,000 acts performed. It brings close to $200 million to Austin’s economy.
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
Held on the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May, the New Orleans Jazz Festival has seen the likes of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck, Erykah Badu, and Mahalia Jackson on its stage. On top of the music, you can also enjoy the craft booths, the alligator pie, food stalls and exhibits that focus on the state’s culture, history and heritage. You should also check out the parades that happen during the event. The festival brings to New Orleans’ treasury around $300 million every year.
Sundance Film Festival
Held in the waning days of January and on to early February, the Sundance Film Festival is the biggest event in Park City, Utah. The city has a population of only 7,500 residents, but around 50,000 people come to the film festival every year. It is regarded as the most important film fest in the country and it is usually compared to the Festival de Cannes.
Manchester, Tennessee’s Bonnaroo is one of the most noteworthy summer music festivals in the country. It takes attendees to the middle of a farmland where you will have to sleep in a tent with more than 90,000 other people who came to attend the festival. Bonnaroo means a good time in Cajun, and that is what you should expect going there. You get to see the best bands on stage, view interestinf art exhibits, buy unique handmade crafts and even check out the comedians who provide a break from the music performances.
New York Fashion Week
Welcome to the Big Apple’s twice-yearly fashion event. It is one of only four fashion weeks in the world and lasts from seven to nine days. This is when fashion houses and designers unveil their latest fashion collections to the press, the buyers and the public. Fashion Week gives New York City close to $900 million every year.
Head out to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for Summerfest, and check out the biggest names on stage. The festival features at least 800 acts in a span of 11 days and is credited as the biggest music festival in the United States. It draws close to 900,000 people every year and features music from different genres.
The Henry Maier Festival park really comes alive for this yearly event, which features several stages including the Marcus Amphitheater, Uline Warehouse, US Cellular Connection, the Potawatomi/Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, Miller Lite Oasis, among many others that host such big names as Linkin Park, Stevie Wonder, Bob Hope, the Beach Boys, Willie Nelson, Alanis Morrissette, Whitney Houston, and Prince!
Other major festivals that you should not miss are Austin City Limits, Indianapolis 500, The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Gilroy Garlic Festival, and the Professional Bull Riders World Finals.