Seize summer by the jorts: 30 must-see festivals that belong on your summer calendar

Looking forward to this summer’s diverse crop of festivals? We’ve got you covered with a roundup of all the incredible music, art, wine, and food events from NYC’s rockin’ Governors Ball to New Orleans’ buzzing Tales of the Cocktail. We’ve even included some of the wackier celebrations around … Avocado Festival, anyone? And after all that excitement—rocking out, digging in, drinking up, appreciating avocados—we’re here to help you find a place to rest après-fest.

Find your summer jam

From NYC to the middle of Tennessee, there’s an action-packed summer music festival for everyone. So shake a tail feather, bang your head, play a lawn game, chow down on impressive grub, or simply sway in the breeze. Your pick!

Governors Ball Music Festival
New York City, NY

Get ready for revelry in Randall’s Island Park June 2–4. Chance the Rapper, Tool, Phoenix, Childish Gambino, and Wiz Khalifa are among the performers playing this year’s annual “Gov Ball.” NYC’s first super-successful music fest has become known for wide-ranging acts, lawn games, art installations, and—because this is the Big Apple—amazing food. Heavily curated by local foodie favorites, the menu is generally as varied as the musical lineup.

Photo credit: The Governors Ball Music Festival and Forest Woodward

Five more rockin’ fests:

Sasquatch – Quincy, WA
May 26–28
Bonnaroo — Manchester, TN
June 8–11
Telluride Bluegrass Festival – Telluride, CO
June 15–18
FYF Fest – Los Angeles, CA
July 21–23
Austin City Limits Music Festival — Austin, TX
October 6–8 and 13–15

Feast on festival season

Summertime is delicious! Dig into the season’s ripe delights by taking a big bite out of the great Midwest, feasting from a food truck, or sampling some superb “street” fare … just for starters, of course.

Taste of Chicago
Chicago, IL

With gorgeous Grant Park as the backdrop for the Windy City’s annual celebration of cuisine, it’s no wonder this food fest is the largest in the world. Chi-town’s far-flung restaurant scene is smoking hot these days, so this year’s lakefront extravaganza should not disappoint. And since this is Chicago after all, there will also be a taste of some great music and a sampling of fun activities for the whole family. Entry is free for the entire fest July 5–9.

Photo credit: City of Chicago

Five other tasty food fests:

Truckeroo — Washington, DC
April–September
Seattle Street Food Fest — Seattle, WA
July 15–16
Epcot Food & Wine Fest — Orlando, FL
August 31–November 13
Feast Portland — Portland, OR
September 14–17
New York City Food & Wine Festival — New York City, NY
October 12–15

Cheers your way into fall

When it comes to summertime libations, what’s not to fest? There’s no shortage of ways to toast this season (and early fall) with regional wines, liquors, and barrels full of sudsy brews from California to Carolina.

Tales of the Cocktail Festival
New Orleans, LA

The international spirit industry’s heaviest-hitting fest is headquartered in the first American city to have its own officially recognized cocktail ... so why not raise a Sazerac this summer in the Big Easy with cocktailing professionals and professional appreciators from all over the world? These global tastemakers and aficionados will converge July 18–23 in New Orleans for 200+ lively seminars, tastings, and events produced by the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society. Cheers to that!

Photo credit: Jennifer Mitchell Photography

Five more highly spirited fests:

Hops in the Hills Beer Festival — Maryville, TN
June 23–24
Denver Taco Festival — Denver, CO
June 24–25
California Wine Festival — Santa Barbara, CA
July 13–15
Oregon Brewer’s Festival — Portland, OR
July 26–30
Brewgrass Festival — Asheville, NC
September 1–30

Weird out with the best

Nerding out is always in season, but summer is the time for trekking to superhero central to see epic icons in the flesh, or even out to Coney Island for a super-famous eating contest. Whatever your flavor, weirdness abounds!

Comic-Con International
San Diego, CA

Ah, SoCal. Home to human prototypes of all stripes, this high-profile neck of the woods goes full force and interstellar July 20–23 when actual costumed comic book heroes and sheroes stride through the San Diego Convention Center to mix and mingle with their devoted fans. This global phenomenon of a festival has accelerated over 48 years from convening simply comic book creators and their fervent admirers to popular arts characters, movie stars, and their Hollywood ilk. Call it an awesomely successful revenge of the nerds.

Photos: fun and funky fests

Five other super-quirky fests:

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Fest — Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY
July 4
Gilroy Garlic Festival — Gilroy, CA
July 28–30
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally — Sturgis, SD
August 4–13
Avocado Festival — Carpinteria, CA
October 6–8
Fantasy Fest — Key West, FL
October 20–29

Get arts and craftsy

Looking for more creative summer fests? From massive folk art displays and Ren Faire-style reenactments to Hawaiian cinema screenings—artistic happenings are all around you this time of year.

International Folk Art Market
Santa Fe, NM

Part market and part community celebration, this hugely popular international folk art extravaganza takes over Santa Fe July 14–16. With vibrant displays of art, dancing, and music, and wares from parts far and wide, the city’s Museum Hill area and its environs truly come alive with global-market-level buzz. Expect booths lined with indigenous goods from Algeria to Zimbabwe, music, demonstrations, and scores of residents taking part in the 14th year of New Mexico’s dizzyingly diverse fest.

Photos: Santa Fe art market

Five other fantastically artistic fests:

Old Town Art Fair — Chicago, IL
June 10–11
Maui Film Festival — Maui, HI
June 21–25
Oregon Country Fair — Veneta, OR
July 7–9
Festival of Arts Pageant of the Masters — Laguna Beach, CA
July 7–August 31
Texas Renaissance Festival — Lake Conroe, TX
September 30–November 26

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