15 Best Festivals in the US to Add to Your Bucket ListPin

15 Best Festivals in the US to Add to Your Bucket List

These are the best festivals in the US you’ll want to add to your bucket list. To make it easier to plan your year, we put them in the order of when they happen.

Festivals are an amazing way to experience something special among thousands of people and yet still have personal memories to take away.

As a shorty, festivals don’t tend to appeal to me especially if involves huge crowds and my face being smeared against sweaty backs.

This past year, however, we made a few exceptions, and I’ll have to admit that I can see why people find these shared experiences so magical.

Note: Keep in mind, many of the dates have changed from typical years due to cancellations in the pandemic. Double-check the sites we linked in case dates change again.

15 Best Festivals in the US to Add to Your Bucket List - Music Festival in USA + Upcoming Music Festivals / localadventurer.comPin

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Last Updated: August 29, 2021

Park City, UT, map

WHEN: January 20-30, 2022

Every January, Park City, Utah is filled with filmmakers, actors, and patrons at the largest independent film festival in the US. With many different awards being given, it has become one of the premier film festivals for both feature length and short films.

Sundance Film Festival UtahPin

photo: PureRadiancePhoto / Shutterstock

New Orleans, LA, map

WHEN: March 1, 2022

Mardi Gras falls on February 25 but there are events celebrating it throughout the month. The most popular time to visit New Orleans is the extended weekend before Mardi Gras so you can catch the parades and celebrations.

Mardi Gras New Orleans FestivalsPin

Austin, TX 78746, map

WHEN: March 11-20, 2022

South by Southwest is an annual festival in mid-March that takes over the city of Austin, TX. It’s a film festival, conference, and music festival all in one. It focuses on up and coming music, films, and emerging technology.

South by Southwest Austin SXSW - Best Rock Festivals + Largest Festivals in the US / localadventurer.comPin

794 Cherry St, Macon, GA 31201, map

WHEN: March 18-27, 2022

If you love Cherry Blossoms, head over to Macon, GA for the largest cherry blossom festival in the world celebrating love, beauty, and international friendship. With over 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees, the 10-day festival turns the city pink. There are also concerts, shopping, food, and more.

International Cherry Blossom Festival Macon GAPin

81800 51st Ave, Indio, CA 92201, map

WHEN: April 15-17 & 22-24, 2022

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is one of the biggest music festivals in the US and World. It draws some of the hottest and biggest names in music. It’s held over 2 weekends every year with the line up announced sometime in January with over 750,000 people attending.

Coachella Photo + 15 Best Festivals in the US to Add to Your Bucket List - Empire Polo Club and Art Installations / localadventurer.comPin

1751 Gentilly Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70119, map

WHEN: April 29 – May 8, 2022

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest is held in the middle of New Orleans, and it celebrates music, food (they have a “no carnival food” policy), and art of the area.

Beyond the official shows, many of the unaffiliated New Orleans nightclubs also have performers during the weekends.

7000 Las Vegas Blvd N, Las Vegas, NV 89115, map

WHEN: Oct 22-24, 2021

The Electric Daisy Carnival is the largest electronic dance music festival in North America. Every year, people flock to Las Vegas to hear their favorite electronic dance producers and DJs.

In addition to music, there are huge 3D structures, glow-in-the-dark environments, and LED-infused flora and fauna.

EDC in Las Vegas + 15 Best Festivals in the US to Add to Your Bucket List - Electronic Music Festival / localadventurer.comPin

1201 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814, map

WHEN: August 21, 2021

The Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaii is held every year on Memorial Day and brings roughly 50,000 people together on the south shore to honor loved ones.

It’s a beautiful event reflecting and remembering those who have gone before us while being surrounded by love and understanding of the community around you.

Floating Lantern Festival Hawaii + 15 Best Festivals in the US to Add to Your Bucket List - American Music Festival + Biggest Festivals in the US / localadventurer.comPin

Randall’s Island Park, New York, NY, map

WHEN: September 24-26, 2021

The Governors Ball Music Festival is one of NYC’s most popular events every year. They typically have a great line up and it’s easy to get there from the city. Besides music, there are food stalls, brand activations, and more. We got to go last year while living in NYC.

Local Tip: Unfortunately, it’s common for it to rain that weekend, so prep some rain gear.

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Best Musical Festivals USA - Best Music Festivals in the US + East Coast Music Festivals / localadventurer.comPin
Governor Ball Music Festival in NYC + 15 Best Festivals in the US - Best Music Festivals and Festival Music / localadventurer.comPin

Great Stage Park, TN, map

WHEN: September 2-5, 2021

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is held every year on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee. Although it started with a focus on jam bands and folk rock, it now draws musicians from all genres to fill its impressive line up each year.

Beyond the music, there is food, experiences, art, and they continue to strive to become the greenest festival.

5900 S Water Rd, Rothbury, MI 49452, map

WHEN: June 23-26, 2022

The Electric Forest Festival is a 4-day event focusing on electronic and jam bands and takes place at Double JJ Ranch. The natural beauty of the venue is amplified with colorful interactive installations while you camp, RV, rent a log cabin or home, or stay in a hotel on the festival grounds. 

There’s also a 60,000 sq foot indoor water park, 18-hole golf course, and more.

Black Rock Desert, Nevada, map

WHEN: August 29 to September 5, 2022 (estimated dates)

Imagine a temporary city built up in the desert with no traces of it 9 days later. Burning Man is one that’s harder to explain but started off as an art festival known for its massive temporary sculptures. It still has art, but you now it involves dance, yoga, creating, connecting and more.

We know people who attend annually who still can’t explain it in a concise way. All we know is that they love it, and they say it’s life-changing.

Sloan, NV 89054, map

WHEN: October 1-2, 2021

The RiSE Festival is the largest lantern release in the world. It happens in the Mojave Desert 25 miles south of Las Vegas. We attended this past year and ended up going both nights. It was truly a magical experience seeing so many lanterns release at the same time. They also have an amazing clean up crew that goes out to pick up all the lanterns afterward.

Pro Tip: Be patient when releasing your lantern. If you let it go too early, it will struggle to take off.

Rise Festival Las Vegas + 15 Best Festivals in the US to Add to Your Bucket List - Festival Near Me / localadventurer.comPin
Rise Lantern Festival Las Vegas + 15 Best Festivals in the US for Your USA Bucket List - USA Music Festivals / localadventurer.comPin

2220 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78746, map

WHEN: October 1-3 & 8-10, 2021

Austin City Limits is an annual music festival held over two weekends in Austin. With eight stages and a great line up, people fly in from all over the country to attend.

9401 Balloon Museum Dr NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, map

WHEN: First full week of October (Oct 2-10, 2021). It’s an annual nine-day event. 

WHY YOU SHOULD GO: The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest balloon festival in the world with over 500 hot air balloons that fly each year. Last year we finally made it out to witness a mass ascension, and it was so beeeautiful! If you go up in a balloon, you also learn to appreciate the amount of work that goes into flying one.

We’ll put together a full guide to the festival soon.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking for the best time to go, the largest mass ascensions happen during the first weekend, but it is also the most crowded time. Be sure to arrive early to enjoy the takeoffs.

Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon FestivalPin

Map of The Best Festivals in the US

More Notable American Festivals

US Music Festivals

Best Food Festivals in the US

Cultural Festivals in USA

Essential Tips for Attending Festivals in the US

Each festival has its own set of tips, but we’ll go over some overall rules that we use in any group events.

  • Dress in Layers. Festivals usually last all day (if not longer) and temperatures change. Layers help you adjust easily to stay comfortable.
  • Stay Charged. Don’t let your phone die. We love this charger because we can charge both our phones at the same tie.
  • Prepare for Any Weather. We’ve been at multiple festivals where it rained. If there’s a chance of rain, have a raincoat with you. This jacket is great for warmth and rain.
  • Check the Rules Ahead of Time. Each festival will have rules for what you can bring in. Don’t get caught bringing something that’s not allowed.
  • Get Tickets Early. The festivals we listed here are extremely popular and will sell out quickly, a lot of times on the date the tickets go on sale. Sign up for newsletters to know when tickets go on sale.
  • Arrive Early. No matter how organized a festival is, it still takes a lot of time to park with all the crowds. 
  • Check Back. Be sure to check their websites for the most up-to-date information multiple times in case anything about the festival changes.

What to Pack

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Are there any missing from our list of best festivals in the US? Which ones are you hoping to go to next?

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Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

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