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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.

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.

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Last Updated: March 14, 2024

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

To make it easier to plan your year, we put them in the order of when they happen.

1. Sundance Film Festival Utah

Park City, UT, map

WHEN: January 18-28, 2024, 2025 TBA

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.

See More: 15 Best Places to Visit in January in the US

Sundance Film Festival UtahPin

2. Mardi Gras, New Orleans LA

New Orleans, LA, map

WHEN: March 4, 2025

Mardi Gras is only one day 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.

See More: How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in New Orleans

Mardi Gras New Orleans FestivalsPin

3. SXSW, Austin TX

Austin, TX 78746, map

WHEN: March 8-16, 2024, 2025 TBA

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.

See More: Best Places to Eat in Austin TX

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4. International CHerry BLossom Festival, Macon GA

794 Cherry St, Macon, GA 31201, map

WHEN: March 15-24, 2024

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.

See More: Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in USA

International Cherry Blossom Festival Macon GAPin

5. Coachella, Indio CA

81800 51st Ave, Indio, CA 92201, map

WHEN: April 19-21, 2024

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 lineup announced sometime in January with over 750,000 people attending.

See More: 11 Amazing Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park

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

6. New Orleans Jazz Fest, New Orleans LA

1751 Gentilly Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70119, map

WHEN: April 25 – May 5, 2024

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.

See More: How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in New Orleans

7. EDC, Las Vegas

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

WHEN: May 17-19, 2024

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.

See More: 101 Things to Do in Las Vegas

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

8. Lantern FLoating Hawaii, O’ahu HI

1201 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814, map

WHEN: May 27, 2024

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

9. Governors Ball Music Festival, NYC

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

WHEN: July 7-9, 2024

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.

See More: 101 Things to Do in NYC

10. Bonnaroo Arts and Music Festival, Manchester TN

Great Stage Park, TN, map

WHEN: June 13-16, 2024

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.

11. Electric Forest, Rothbury MI

Great Stage Park, TN, map

WHEN: June 20-23, 2024

The Electric Forest Festival is a 4-day event focusing on electronic and jam bands 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, an 18-hole golf course, and more.

12. Burning Man, BLack Rock City NV

Black Rock Desert, Nevada, map

WHEN: August 25 – September 2, 2024

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.

See More: What You Need to Know Before Visiting Flying Geyser in the Black Rock Desert

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13. Rise Festival, Las Vegas NV →

Sloan, NV 89054, map

WHEN: October 4-5, 2024

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.

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

See More: Your Ultimate Guide to the Rise Festival in Las Vegas

14. Austin City Limits, Austin TX

2220 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78746, map

WHEN: October 4-6 & 11-13, 2024

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.

See More: 101 Things to Do in Austin TX

15. Albuquerque Balloon FIesta, ABQ NM →

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

WHEN: October 5-13, 2024

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, which was so beeeautiful! If you go up in a balloon, you also learn to appreciate the work that goes into flying one.

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

Local 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.

See More: Albuquerque Balloon Festival – What You Need to Know Before You Go

Map of the Best Festival in the US

More Notable American Festivals

US Music Festivals

  1. Lollapalooza, Chicago IL (August 1-4, 2024)
  2. Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago IL (July 19-21, 2024)
  3. Ultra Music Festival, Miami FL (March 22-24, 2024)
  4. Electric Zoo, New York, NY (TBA 2024)
  5. Afropunk Fest Brooklyn, NY (TBA 2024)
  6. Summerfest, Milwaukee WI (June 20-24, June 27-29, July 4-6, 2024)
  7. Outside Lands Music Festival, San Francisco CA (August 9-11, 2024)
  8. Firefly Music Festival, Dover DE (TBA 2024)
  9. Hangout Fest, The Gulf Shores AL (May 17-19, 2024)
  10. Kaaboo Del Mar Festival, San Diego CA (TBA 2024)
  11. Life is Beautiful, Las Vegas (TBA 2024)
  12. Rolling Loud, Various Locations – Biggest Hip Hop Festival (TBA 2024)
  13. Stagecoach Festival, Indio CA (April 26-28, 2024) – Country Music Festival
  14. Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, New Orleans LA (TBA)
  15. Essence Festival, New Orleans LA (TBA 2024)

Best Food Festivals in the US

  1. Taste of Chicago (September 6-8, 2024)
  2. New York City Wine and Food Festival (October 17-20, 2024)
  3. Los Angeles Wine Festival (June 1-2, 2024)
  4. Portland Dining Month / Now Ticket to Dine (March 2024)
  5. Picklesburgh Festival (July 2024)
  6. San Diego Food and Wine Festival (November 8-12, 2023)
  7. Eat Drink SF (April 2024)
  8. New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (June 5-9, 2024)
  9. Epcot International Food and Wine Festival (TBA 2024)
  10. Hawaii Food and Wine Festival (October 31 – November 3, 2024)

Cultural Festivals in USA

  1. Aloha Festivals, Hawaii (September 2024)
  2. Amish Acres Arts & Crafts Festival, Nappanee IN (TBA 2024)
  3. Barbecue Festival, Lexington North Carolina (October 26, 2024)
  4. Bavarian Blast, New Ulm MN (July 17, 2024)

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. Check out our favorite travel jackets.
  • 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.
  • Want to know what to wear to the airport? These are our ideal airport outfits.
  • Carry on essentials to improve your next flight.

Planning Checklist

Recap of the Best Festivals in the US

  1. Sundance Film Fest (January)
  2. Mardi Gras in New Orleans (February)
  3. SXSW (March)
  4. International Cherry Blossom Festival (March)
  5. Coachella (April)
  6. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (April to May)
  7. EDC (May)
  8. Lantern Floating Hawaii (May)
  9. Gov Ball (June)
  10. Bonnaroo Arts and Music Festival (June)
  11. Electric Forest (June)
  12. Burning Man (August to September)
  13. RISE (October)
  14. Austin City Limits Music Festival (October)
  15. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (October)

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 and JacobPin

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found 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.

Follow on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.

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