Raise your hand if you love to celebrate for any reason and in any season! It could be a much-awaited get-together with your loved ones or an exotic food festival in your town. Fairs and festivals are events that everyone looks forward to year round, regardless of their age or background. Exciting competitions, colorful parades, carnival rides, and fried treats tend to lift your soul and help immerse you in the local culture.
Every state has at least one spectacular event on the calendar that attracts people from around the world and offers opportunities to meet like-minded adventurers. Another notable thing about these annual events is their rich history; most of the harvest festivals and winter and summer solstices we celebrate today have been celebrated for thousands of years!
Each state has its own culture, identity, and traditions and it influences the local holidays and celebrations as well. If you want to see communities come together to honor art, music, food, historical figures, and other aspects of a particular state, attending these fairs festivals is a great idea.
With that, we have compiled a list of the most popular state festivals in the US where you can enjoy the best of what the local community has to offer.
Novato Festival of Art, Wine, and Music in Novato, California
This summer festival is held in downtown Novato between Seventh Street and Redwood Boulevard. It’s a family-friendly affair with something to do for everyone, no matter how old you are. For children, there are face paintings, games, and a dedicated play area.
Adults can have their own good time with an extensive variety of local beers and wines, including the award-winning beer from Moylan’s micro-brewery. You can accompany it with gourmet artisan fares like pulled pork sandwiches and calamari or traditional festival treats such as corn dogs and kabobs. There are always plenty of booths filled with handcrafted jewelry, apparel, inspired artwork, and other unique treasures.
Los Altos Arts and Wine Festival in Los Altos, California
Downtown Los Altos throws a 2-day event showcasing the distinctive handcrafted works of artisans and artists from over 13 states. You’ll also get to choose vintages from local wineries along with a variety of food cuisines including Mexican, Chinese, Thai, and All-American favorites like roasted corn, hot links, sausages, various sweets, and more. Local bands and singers perform free concerts throughout the festival. They also have pretty exciting carnival rides and entertainment for kids inside the Kidzone.
Cotati Accordion Festival in Cotati, California
The annual Cotati Accordion Festival is a quite popular event held over 2 days in La Plaza Park in downtown Cotati. The multi-generational, multi-cultural accordion extravaganza plays music from many genres, including western, zydeco, classical, rock, Venezuelan, Irish, jazz, folk, and more. They have two main stages which also feature a Zydeco Dance Party, a Jam Tent, and Ray’s Deli Stage.
More than 60 vendors come to Cotati Accordion Festival to sell accordions, crafts, food, beer, and wine. As we said, this is truly a multi-cultural event which means they serve food to appease every palate – be it a vegan, vegetarian, kosher, or something else.
Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama
Started in 1703, the Mardi Gras carnival in the port city of Mobile is the oldest fair in America. It runs from mid-January to February and features dozens of grand balls, parades, arts and craft shows, food booths, live music, and all-around revelry. Over 850,000 people attend this legendary event every year.
Mount Marathon Race in Seward, Alaska
This is the tenth oldest footrace in the country and has been held every 4th of July since 1915. Both amateur and elite trail runners race up the side of Mount Marathon through waterfalls, along cliffs, and with spectacular vistas of southeastern Alaska. If you don’t want to climb up and down the treacherous mountain, don’t worry, you can still partake in the fireworks, scrumptious street food, and handmade crafts offered by the local artisans.
Spring Training Cactus League in Glendale, Arizona
This pre-season baseball camp has become one of the most popular events in Arizona in the last few years. Held in the month of March (sometimes, April), you can watch your favorite team play in the greater Phoenix area and gorge on as many smoked BBQ sandwiches and mac and cheese helmets as you want.
Riverfest in Little Rock, Arkansas
The 3-day annual music festival is held on Memorial Day weekend along the Arkansas River and brings some of the biggest rock stars to downtown Little Rock. There’s live music, arts, food, drinks, and a whole lot of fun to be had over the course of a long weekend at the end of May.
West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval in Los Angeles, California
On October 31st every year, the City of Angels hosts the world’s biggest Halloween-themed street party, drawing hundreds of thousands of people and completely shutting down main thoroughfares. The event includes patio parties, costume contests, musical concerts, drag-queen shows, and more. If you like Halloween, this is an absolute must-attend festival for you.
Great American Beer Fest in Denver, Colorado
The Brewers Association hosts GABF every year – either in late September or early October – which represents the largest collection of American beer. More than 800 breweries serve thousands of people with the most extensive collection of beers. But keep in mind that the event usually sells out within a few hours so make sure to book your tickets in advance.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Norwich, Connecticut
Nobody celebrates St. Paddy’s Day like Norwich. Hundreds of thousands of people come to the town every March for the mile-long parade, food trucks, and live music. If you’re hankering for some Irish food and culture, this is the place to be.
Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware
While this festival is not very old – it only started in 2012 – it has already become one of the most renowned music festivals in the world. It’s a 3-day event usually held in September at the 105-acre festival ground in the woodlands of Dover.
Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida
In 2020, the Strawberry Festival in Florida was the fourth most-attended event in the country with over 500,000 visitors. This 10-day fair occurs each spring – at the height of the strawberry season – and features live entertainment from popular bands, carnival rides, and of course, many kinds of strawberry delicacies.
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival in Atlanta, Georgia
The ultimate fest for foodies, this food and wine festival takes place over four days in August or September. It is an excellent place to learn about southern food delights through all-inclusive tasting tent experiences and intimate chef dinners. More than 150 chefs, bartenders, sommeliers, and vendors participate to give visitors a wonderful time.
Aloha Festivals in Hawaii
What started in 1946 has now become a world-famous series of annual fairs and festivals to celebrate the local Hawaiian and Polynesian culture. Aloha Festivals are a month-long treat held in September throughout all the Hawaiian Islands. The events range from floral parades to block parties to buffet-style feasts and much more. If you’re looking for trip ideas before the holiday season begins, Hawaii in September is an excellent idea.
Boise Music Festival in Boise, Idaho
What’s a better way to welcome summer than a full day of carnival rides, games, musicians, and art performers? The Boise Music Festival is held in June and attracts the biggest crowds of the year to town for a day full of fun. If you’ve ever wanted to attend a major music festival that also combines the vibes of a good old-fashioned state fair, head over to Boise this summer.
Taste of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois
Who else can host the largest food festival in the world but Chicagoans who are known for their love of great food? Nearly 100 restaurants set up shop in Grant Park along the scenic lakefront, allowing visitors to taste food from well-known local vendors (like Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria) to award-winning chefs. The event is held in July and also features live music performances.
Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, Indiana
What is it about fried foods that Indiana does sooo well? Head over to the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center that’s spread across 250 acres and find out for yourself! The fair begins in the last week of July and lasts throughout most of August. The deep-fried sugar cream pie and deep-fried chicken and waffle sandwich are favorites among the visitors.
Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa
Another oldie, but goodie, the Iowa State Fair has been held annually since 1854 as an agricultural and industrial expo. With an abundance of concerts, rides, and food, this 11-day festival is a good way to familiarize yourself with Midwestern hospitality.
Wichita Riverfest in Wichita, Kansas
The first week of June sees the Wichita community come together along the Arkansas River to compete in kickball games, kayak races, dodgeball tournaments, human foosball, cardboard regatta, and much more. As if that wasn’t enough, the 9-day extravaganza also features hot balloon rides!
Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky
Even those who have no interest in horses have heard about the most prominent horse race in the country since 1875. It’s one of the three triple-crown races that are known to feature the best horses in the world. The Kentucky Derby has become popular for its parade, parties, and fashion contests. For the best experience, consider booking a ticket that includes food and drinks. The cheesecake-on-a-stick and Mint Juleps here are legendary.
Mardi Gras in Louisiana, New Orleans
New Orleans Mardi Gras is all about spectacular parades, music, dancing, floats, picnics, and excitement. And did we say costumes? The most unbelievable, magnificent, and wildest costumes you’ll see anywhere! While major parades take place in the Mid-City and Uptown districts, most tourists center their celebrations on Bourbon Street.
Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland, Maine
For those looking for an opportunity to stuff their face with freshly caught, buttery-soft lobster must attend this annual summer festival in Rockland. You’ll not only be treated to non-stop lobster dinners, but also cooking contests, Ferris wheel rides, lobster crate races, musical performances, and a giant parade. Not a bad idea for your next trip!
Mayfair in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Each spring, the entire Harvard Square turns into a street carnival for the annual Mayfair celebration. There’s live music, dancing, street art, crafts, food, and entertainment for all ages. The live music covers pretty much every genre you can think of – rock, jazz, R&B, indie, reggae, and more.
Detroit Jazz Festival in Detroit, Michigan
This Labor Day tradition welcomes some of the biggest names in jazz music to Motor City. It has been happening for over 40 years and continues to be the perfect event to wrap up the summer season. In addition to world class jazz music performed on multiple stages, the festival also has special events like jazz talks for music enthusiasts who want to learn more about the history and legacy of America's greatest music contribution.
Musikfest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Held since 1984, Musikfest is the largest non-gated, free music festival in America; you’ll still need to buy tickets for certain big-name shows. Beyond the music, there are free art installations, dance performances, and comedy shows that are sure to be the highlight of your summer.
Don’t see your state in this list? Don’t worry, we have a dedicated web page for various states on our website, describing some of the most popular fairs and festivals held in each state.