Festival season runs all year long in North America. In any given month, each state comes alive with thrilling food, music, and art festivals. While you might be familiar with some of the biggest music festivals in the world, like Coachella, Burning Man, and Pitchfork Music Festival, the fun doesn’t end there. Discover holiday celebrations, film competitions, feasts, genre-spanning music festivals, and events for every interest. Plan your 2023* vacation with these events and festivals in mind for a unique way to sightsee your way through the United States and get a true feel for the cultures and characteristics that make each city one of a kind.
Check out what’s happening from coast to coast, make your travel plans, and enjoy a full year of festivals.
*Dates referenced throughout are for 2023.
After New Years, get a start on your travel resolutions with a trip to Colorado. Aspen’s annual Wintersköl runs from January 12-15, and is a fun way to enjoy the snow. The event celebrates the area’s alpine lifestyle through on-mountain activities, snow sculptures, fireworks, a torchlight descent down Aspen Mountain, and more.
Later in the month, head over to Park City for one of the most esteemed film competitions in the U.S., the Sundance Film Festival. The event runs for ten days (January 19-29) and showcases the year’s most competitive independent films, spanning short films to full-length feature movies. Catch screenings (and celebrity sightings) across Park City, Salt Lake City, and throughout the Wasatch Mountains. In between movies, hit the slopes, shop downtown, and enjoy mountain views from your Vacasa cabin.
If you’re a NASCAR fan, plan to make a pit stop along Daytona Beach for the Daytona 500 on February 19. The event is one of the most prestigious races in the NASCAR calendar and typically draws around 150,000 racing fans in attendance.
Mardi Gras is one of the United States’ biggest annual festivals. The carnival-style event, big on music and food, is also called “Fat Tuesday,” the last feast before the Lenten period of fasting. Mardis Gras is observed 47 days before Easter, typically falling in February and while you’ll find cities that celebrate all over the country, New Orleans is the place to be.
Tech, film, music, and education come together for the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) event, beginning March 10, in Austin, Texas. The 9-day festival serves as a convergence of creatives for conferences, exhibitions, networking, live music, and film screenings. Rub shoulders with some of the industry’s best, reignite your inspiration listening to featured speakers, and kick back at the end of the day with comedy shows, film festivals, and great food.
After a long winter, it’s time to live it up at the beach. Grab your tickets to ULTRA Music Festival, known as the world’s premier electronic music festival, hosted in Miami, Florida. ULTRA runs from March 24-26, and features spectacular performances by some of the best artists and DJs like Zedd, David Guetta, and Grimes.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated music festivals of the year, Coachella is back in action. Known for its music and art, and famous for its fashion, Coachella Music Festival creates an oasis of renowned headliners, art exhibits, food, and fireworks in southern California. From April 14-23, meet up with friends, groove to your favorite sets, and explore Palm Springs or nearby Joshua Tree National Park between shows. (If you’ve got your sights set on Stagecoach Music Festival, head over to the same Coachella Valley Reserve April 28-30.)
What better way to bring in spring than New Orleans’s JazzFest? From April 28-May 7, tap your feet along to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Enjoy several stages of shows and an exciting lineup of musicians big and small. Past festivals have included performances from The Who, Stevie Nicks, Willie Nelson, and more. With delicious food and fantastic music, JazzFest makes the ideal time to visit The Big Easy.
BottleRock Napa Valley, a music festival that combines notable headliners with the area’s best cuisines, wines, and craft brews, is not an event to miss. Alongside its music shows, BottleRock also features a silent disco, a culinary stage, and spa treatments. The festival runs May 26-28, so grab tickets to enjoy the perfect pairing of music, food, and a chance to rock out in California wine country.
Portland, Oregon’s Rose Festival brings an end to the month with a parade, floats, carnival games, and amusement park rides. From May 26-June 11, the Tom McCall Waterfront Park transforms to host fairground-style fun, with an array of food vendors, music stages, local art, and stunning floral arrangements. Kick off Memorial Day weekend in the City of Roses.
Let the summer fun begin. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival brings together more than 150 musical performances in Manchester, Tennessee — about an hour's drive from both Nashville and Chattanooga. From June 15-18, the Bonnaroo campgrounds come alive with music, comedy, cinema, food, and different barns for entertaining activities.
Happy Pride month! June is chock full of Pride events, with parades, fairs, music, marches, and dancing. Join in on the celebrations in cities that do it best. San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Miami, and the San Francisco Bay Area are all known for having incredible Pride festivals, which typically take place in the last two weeks of June.
Keep your eyes peeled for more events in June, like the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana, ProvTown Film Festival in Provincetown, Massachusetts, the Lilac Festival in Northern Michigan, the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival in Estes Park, Colorado, and E3 in Los Angeles, California.
There is more to Michigan than stunning lakes and snowy winters. In the summer, the state celebrates its abundant harvest of tart cherries with the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City. From July 1-8, dig into this riveting food festival that features carnival rides, live music, food vendors, cherry wine and beer tents, pie eating contests, family-friendly activities, and a Cherry Queen pageant.
Heat up your summer plans with a trip to California. The San Diego Comic-Con (July 19) sparks the excitement of over 100,000 fantasy fans, dressed in creative cosplay and homemade costumes, to enjoy everything comic book and pop culture. As the largest comic convention in the United States and a staple to San Diego’s summer events, the San Diego Convention Center regularly fills to capacity. Get your costume ready, meet some of your favorite authors and new friends, and purchase original art pieces to take home.
Bonney Lake’s Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire is the perfect place to celebrate the end of summer — where pirates, elves, fairies, and knights join together for some time-old fun. Lace up your corset, toast some ales, watch professional jousters, and stroll the grounds, turkey leg in hand. The all-age event, just outside of Tacoma, runs the first three weekends of August.
In between stops on your summer road trip, plan a visit to South Dakota. The Sturgis Motor Rally brings a crowd of over 500,000 people for the largest motorcycle rally in the world. From August 4-13, have a roaring time watching tricked-out motorbikes, attending concerts, and filling up on street food favorites.
Summer isn’t over just yet — at least not in Virginia Beach. Make the most of the season’s last beach trip at the Neptune Festival (September 30-October 2). The beach festival joins together free concerts, seaside wine tasting, pier treats, and art shows in a 30-block-long celebration of coastal living.
While the name might throw you off, most Oktoberfest celebrations begin at the end of September, and with so much to see, do, and eat, you won’t want to miss out. The food festival stems from Munich’s first Oktoberfest in 1810, a tradition that has since gained roots all over the world. For the best in German ales, music, and food, plan a trip out to a Bavarian town, like Leavenworth, Helen, or Fredericksburg. Prost!
Embrace amazement with a getaway to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Head southwest and watch the wide blue skies fill with colorful hot air balloons. Every year, thousands of visitors travel out to New Mexico for music, food, and the enchanting scene of 500 hot air balloons floating up in the world’s largest hot air balloon festival. With accessible shuttle, bus, and train services to Albuquerque from Santa Fe, you can easily enjoy the festival while sightseeing. This year’s festival runs October 7-15, so start planning your getaway ahead of time.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the music festivals. Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) has grown to 2 weekends, 9 stages, and over 100 musical performances. Catch incredible shows, savor mouthwatering food, and make unforgettable memories either weekend on October 6-8 and 13-15. While this year’s current lineup isn’t available yet, Austin City Limits’s past acts include some of the most recognizable names in music, such as Lil Nas X, Paramore, and Diplo headlining the 2022 festival.
After dancing away a few music festivals, you’re sure to work up an appetite. The Austin Food & Wine Festival is an early November three-day celebration in the heart of the city’s renowned culinary scene. Local Texas chefs cook up more than barbecue in this scrumptious showcase of top-rated dishes, both from Central Texas and nationwide. Among other delicacies, enjoy organic fine dining, pit-roasted barbecue, savory tacos, authentic German cuisine, and wine country spirits.
Next, stop by the Florida Seafood Festival in Apalachicola, Florida, for a feast of delicious catch-of-the-day fish, shellfish, and oysters. The event includes two nights of seafood bliss, with live music, arts and crafts exhibits, blue crab races, and an oyster eating contest. Not a big seafood fan? No problem. The festival brings together over 20 local food vendors of all varieties, so you’re sure to find something tasty.
End the year on a merry note, with plenty of winter holiday events to choose from. For something unique, check out the Dickens on the Strand event in Galveston, Texas. December 1-3, 2023 will mark the 50th anniversary of Texas’s coastline transforming into 19th-century Victorian London. Dust off your petticoat and enjoy four stages of entertainment, Tiny Tim’s Play Land, Shopkeeper Skills Village, as well as various Victorian wares and fares.
There is plenty of traditional celebrating as well, like the Village of Lights Festival in Leavenworth. Every year, visitors from all over the world stop by this famous Christmas town to watch over 500,000 string lights sparkle against the snow. Of course, the holiday fun doesn’t stop there. Listen to carolers, shop the German-style Christmas markets, tour the Nutcracker Museum, and if you’re traveling with kids, the reindeer petting zoo and sleigh rides are sure to add some magic to your vacation.
The Albuquerque Balloon Festival is set for October 7-15, 2023. Enjoy the world’s largest hot air balloon festival with live music, delicious food, and the enchanting scene of 500 hot air balloons taking to the sky.
This year’s Cherry Festival is set to take place from July 1–8, 2023, in Traverse City, Michigan. Join in on celebrating with food vendors, cherry wine and spirits, a pie-eating contest, and family-friendly activities.
The Essence Music Festival is back for 2023, from June 29-July 3. Come celebrate the largest African-American culture and music event in the United States, with some of the best in R&B, soul, funk, gospel, hip-hop, and non-stop live music in New Orleans.