Communities across the country host festivals every year to celebrate their heritage, showcase local talent, or just have a good time. Sometimes these community events are such an amazing experience that people from all over the country travel to those cities, towns, or villages just to attend the event. Some of these festivals have been taking place for over a century and have become synonymous with the name of their town. Often it takes a few years for newer festivals to establish their events and realize their potential economic impact. Here is a list of five amazing festivals that deserve a spot on everyone’s bucket list.
Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s hundreds of colorful, floating hot air balloons! The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an annual hot air balloon fiesta that draws hundreds of thousands of spectators to view over 500 hot air balloons decorating the sky. It’s held for nine days at the beginning of October and has several associated events, including the dawn patrol, mass ascensions, special shape rodeo, balloon glows, and various balloon-related challenges and competitions. With such a high number of beautifully designed balloons floating across the Albuquerque sky, the festival attracts talented photographers and painters who aim to capture the incredible scene.
Date: October 7-15, 2023
Economic Impact: The Fiesta generates a whopping $186 million in economic impact for the area.
Image courtesy of Victor Banta and Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
You might have guessed that you would need to travel to Holland for this event, but don’t expect to find canals, windmills, and tourists on bicycles when you get there. Well, some of those things might be there, but this Tulip Time Festival is hosted in Holland, Michigan. The festival began in 1929 after the town imported 100,000 tulips from the Netherlands to be planted in city parks. Nearly 100 years later, Holland is still celebrating the colorful beauty of tulips with the longest-running tulip festival in the Nation. Tulip Time Festival happens in mid-May when tulips are in full bloom. Entertainment and activities are spread across the town to allow visitors to
explore Holland while traveling from concerts to the parade to clog dances.
Date: May 6-14, 2023
Economic Impact: In a 2018 study, it was found that Tulip Time generated $48 million of economic impact for the greater Holland area.
Image courtesy of SNEHIT PHOTO on Adobe Stock
This isn’t Cheyenne’s first rodeo, because they have been doing this for more than 125 years. But the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo is the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration. Starting in 1897, the crowds that Frontier Days draws continue to grow each year. Frontier Days is a nine-day event that offers rodeo action every day and includes a Native American Village, an old frontier town, a saloon, a chuck wagon cook-off, a pancake breakfast, an art show, an air show, parades, and a carnival midway. Even with nine days to spend there, you wouldn’t be able to see all that this rodeo has to offer.
Date: July 21-29, 2023
Economic Impact: The 2021 Frontier Days rodeo brought $40 million in economic impact for Cheyenne.
Image courtesy of Cheyenne Frontier Days
Steamboat Springs is a ski town with western heritage that has combined old and new traditions to make something even more beautiful. Every year in the second week of February, the town and its visitors gather on Lincoln Avenue to watch amazing winter sports, the likes of which you’ve never seen. These unique events include skijoring, donkey jump, shovel race, dog and dad dash, and so much more. Many of these involve a person on skis, a snowboard, or a shovel being dragged down the snow-covered roads by a horse. Attending this winter carnival guarantees that you will never think of snow in the same way!
Date: February 8-12, 2023
Fact: The Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival is in its 110th year and was named a Top 10 Winter Carnival in the World by National Geographic Magazine.
Image courtesy of Rory Clow via Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Mackinac Island is a small island off the coast of Michigan in Lake Huron. Only 500-plus people call the island home, and the only motor vehicles allowed on the island are emergency vehicles and snowmobiles in the winter. During the summer, the island explodes with tens of thousands of visitors coming for a variety of activities, including the Lilac Festival. The festival is held for 10 days in June when the lilacs are in full bloom. The microclimate on Mackinac Island is the perfect environment for lilacs allowing them to grow larger and live longer than lilacs in other areas. The festival starts with the Lilac Queen coronation and continues with lilac walking tours, lilac planting seminars, bounce houses, a cornhole tournament, a 10K run/walk, live music, and a parade.
Date: June 9-18, 2023
Fact: Because the island prohibits motor vehicles, the parade floats are drawn by horses which makes it one of the last horse-drawn parades in the U.S.
Image courtesy of Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau