Bucket List Worthy
The first part of our guide to North America’s best festivals brought us all over Canada and America, from the shores of California to the mystique of Prince Edward Island. It focused heavily on the first half of 2018, and all the festivals that were happening then. And what’d we see? Festivals for dog lovers. Festivals for book lovers. Festivals for music and music lovers. And festivals, of course, for food lovers.
But we have plenty more to show you. Here at FlightNetwork, we’re excited to present Part 2 to our guide to the best festivals in North America, as we go deeper into 2018, and explore what’s on the horizon in 2018. We’ll return to some favourite cities, visit many new ones, and expand the categories of what a festival can truly be. We’ll even make a trip south of the border. Packed your passport? Because you’re gonna need it.
To start this list off right, we’re back in Edmonton, Alberta—a popular destination in Part One—for a festival unlike the others. This here is Cariwest Festival, an all-out celebration of the Caribbean Islands in a place you’d least expect. But do expect a variety of different Island cuisines, authentic Island music that will transport you to Antigua or St. Thomas, and a dazzling rainbow of costumes. For those who can’t make it down to the Islands this summer, or would rather stay closer to home, the Cariwest Festival is your best bet for a ticket to Caribbean culture.
Oh, and let’s not forget: the festival is free to enter. For more information, hit the Cariwest website here.
Fun fact: ‘Nisei’ is the term used to describe someone who lives in North America whose parents were born in Japan. And in L.A. mid-August, you’re likely to hear it with the Nisei Week Japanese Festival. One of the longest-running ethnic festivals in the country, the nine-day event is organized and thrown entirely by volunteers each year, and looks to venerate both Japanese and Japanese-American culture in a city that has long welcomed the country’s immigrants. Attendees should come ready to see the Grand Parade, an exciting Gyoza-eating championship, and traditional Japanese street dancing to close out this fun cultural experience. This is an opportunity to see a different side of L.A., outside of the glitz and glam of Hollywood or Rodeo Drive.
The festival is free to enter. For a more detailed list of events, check the website here.
While Canada has just recently voted to legalize marijuana nationwide, the fight for the substance’s decriminalization has been years in the making in the U.S. And one of the first places it started was Seattle, Washington, making the burgeoning city the perfect place for an event heralding cannabis legalization for all. Enter Seattle Hempfest—a weekend-long festival that occurs along Seattle’s extensive waterfront, where pot patrons gather each year to push for the industry’s acceptance. Over 800 volunteers build four stages for speeches and performances, all focused on the leafy substance. In other words: expect food to be within proximity, along with unique smells and good vibes.
The festival is free to enter, although a $10 donation is suggested.
Rarely does an entire country get put on display for a festival of epic proportions. But that’s the case with the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), which has to be our biggest festival on this list, seeing more than 1.5 million visitors from around the world each year. Each year, CNE hosts both continued traditions and new additions; in 2018, the newcomers are Silk Road to the CNE, the largest indoor Chinese Lantern Festival in the world, and an outdoor Asian market, which will feature crafts and street food from an assortment of different countries. But if you’ve been before, then know that the mainstays, like the Air Show, East Coast Kitchen Party, and Sky Ride to the SuperDogs, will be available along with free outdoor concerts, and all the trimmings of a carnival experience.
Entrance to CNE goes for $19.99 CAD. To plan out your visit, check the website here.
As if anything can make Long Beach, CA, more appealing to visit, the Taste of Brews Long Beach is returning to the Shoreline Aquatic Park for its 8th year, this time with more beverages than ever. Over 100 different styles to be exact—featuring countless local, regional, and national craft breweries, as well as micro-brews, hard ciders, and even hard seltzers, the latest trend in the industry. Once you have your beer in hand, make your way over to the food trucks and vendors on site, jam out to the live music if need be, and catch a glimpse of what makes this place a So Cal capital. And keep drinking—because all proceeds go to the Long Beach Marine Institute and local Make-A-Wish foundation. So stay a while.
Entrance to the festival costs between $30 and $40. To see what’s on tap, check out the website here.
Just across the water from Vancouver lies Nanaimo, a snug coastal city that offers epic views of Vancouver Island and the surrounding areas. So it’s no surprise that the organizers behind Summertime Blues chose it as their festival’s location. The waterfront opens up for this three-day blues fest in late August, with a particularly intimate setting that allows fans to meet the makers behind the music they’re listening to. Attendees are encouraged to bring friends, blankets, and sunscreen to this open-air show, which comes jam-packed with different grooves each day, and has an assortment of food and beverage options available for patrons. If that’s your jive, then this is the blues festival for you.
It costs $40 to enter Summertime Blues. If you’re interested, check out the line-ups on the festival’s new website here.
If it has ‘Mardi Gras’ in the name, then there’s a good chance it’s happening in New Orleans. But the Southern Decadence is in a league of its own—started 47 years ago as a Labor Day weekend celebration for the LGBTQ+ population in Louisiana’s famed city, it is now one of the biggest parties that the city sees. Known more recognizably as “Gay Mardi Gras,” the party goes from Wednesday to the following Tuesday, as the French Quarter is consumed by street parties, dance blow-outs, and performances by renowned DJs. This one is for the night owls who can go all night—because this party does not stop. Nor should it.
The average ticket cost for a Southern Decadence event is $20. Start the party at their website here.
Jazz fans of the world, unite! It’s time for the Jazz Sudbury Festival, an annual gathering of jazz musicians and lovers across the Northern Ontario region. For one weekend only, jazz takes over the town of Sudbury, along the shores of the stunning Ramsey Lake, and can be heard from eight venues scattered throughout its downtown. The festival welcomes both longtime jazz vets and emerging artists, and is launched with a parade led by the local Dixieland Jazz Band. For its tenth anniversary, this festival will be made special with fireworks, and even bigger names, like Molly Johnson and Michael Kaeshammer. So follow the music up here.
A single-day ticket to the festival costs $50, and weekend passes can be purchased for $90. You can see who’s playing on the festival website.
Look! In the air! It’s a bird! A plane! No, it’s the Atlantic Balloon Fiesta, which is set to launch 30 hot-air balloons into the airs above Sussex, New Brunswick, twice a day for an entire weekend. And it’s not just up there that’s the spectacle—down on the ground is pretty cool, too. There’s a bandstand all weekend long that’s free to enter, a craft fair and vendors to peruse indoors, amusement rides for people of all ages, and a car show that gleams. The entire family is welcome to this one, and don’t forget to look up!
As mentioned, the entrance to this festival is entirely free. Catch a glimpse of the balloons before they’re air-borne here.
Chattanooga is just one of the many attractions that Tennessee has to offer—this Southern state is brimming with good eats, good sights, and good people. And one of the best ways to see the city is through the Moon River Music Festival, a two-day rock festival founded by Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors that practically oozes red, white, and blue Americana music. It goes down right in the heart of the city, which allows visitors to enjoy both the festival jams, and everything Chattanooga has to offer. So give yourself enough time on this one—because you won’t want to miss out on either.
The ticket prices range between $99 and $139. For the full lineups, hit the Moon River Music Festival website here.
There’s a reason that Supercrawl won the 2015 Ontario Tourism Award of Excellence for Tourism Event of the Year. And also, was shortlisted for the Canadian Tourism Award for Event of the Year in 2017. Actually, there’s a few. The first is that it’s free—anyone is welcome to check out the open-air smorgasbord of culture, from music and art shows to fashion and engaging talks, that spans nearly 20 city blocks in Hamilton, Ontario. And people from all over Canada and the world do. The second is the food, which features tastes from local, regional, national, and international purveyors. And the third, fourth, and fifth? Well, you’ll just have to find that out on your own.
It’s worth repeating: this festival is free. So find out where all the awards come from by checking out their website here.
The phrase ‘food security’ may be a term you’ve heard recently, but the 2,500 folks who come out to the Harvest Moon Festival each year have been talking about it since 2002, when the festival first got its start. The three-day event during the fall harvest has become a tradition for everyone involved in the local food industry—including farmers, growers, and the eaters themselves—as well as a host of creatives. It’s a bountiful gathering that features live music across three stages, workshops, singing, dancing, and all sorts of engaging conversation. And of course, there’s a Fair Trade Fair and Farmer’s Market—because what festival that focuses its attention on food security would miss out on that?
The tickets cost $40 to enter. But start the conversation by checking out the Harvest Moon Festival website here.
The FreshGrass Festival is a picture-perfect way to see the Berkshires of northwestern Massachusetts. For starters, it’s hosted in a factory from the 19th century that has been converted into a museum fit for the 21st century, with the backdrop of the Berkshires to give it that perfect New England feel. Then, its lineup is filled with bluegrass that is both old school and new school. And the performances don’t just happen on the four stages available—they also occur in galleries, the beautiful brick-lined courtyards that are reminiscent of the state’s colonial past, and green pastures surrounding the area. So yeah, welcome to the Berkshires.
Ticket prices for this festival vary between $46 and $119. You can get your start on the New England scenery at the FreshGrass Festival website here.
We’re happy to tee up our first literary festival on this list (Part One has a few, too), which comes in the form of The Word on the Street Festival. For 8 years now, this nationwide celebration of everything beautiful about books and storytelling has invited old and new authors to southern Alberta for a day filled with substantive panel discussions, workshops, on-stage live music, and a marketplace that is teeming with good reads. The underlying message here? People of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to enjoy what literacy brings to us all. We can get behind that one.
And even better? The festival is free. Get your bookmarks ready by checking out The Word on the Street website here.
The Pygmalion Festival is polymorphous, meaning that, in its 14 years of existence, it has taken many forms. It started off first as an independent music festival in the college town of Champaign-Urbana, where the University of Illinois is housed. But since then, it’s shape-shifted along with the times, and also featured a changing landscape of tech programming that includes podcasts, and other live entertainment. This year, the festival will see its first-ever comedy component, adding an entirely new dimension to what the festival can be, and offer visitors. Who knows where the future will take it? But you should be there to find out.
Ticket prices vary between $10 and $40. To get with the culture of the times, see what’s happening this year at the Pygmalion Festival website now.
In recent years, the Vancouver International Film Festival has joined the ranks of world-famous film showcases like Cannes, Venice, and Sundance. Why? Because it’s designed an entirely unique model that features three main programming platforms. The first is its East Asian films screening, which is one of the largest outside of the region. The second is closer to home, with a renowned collection of Canadian film that dwarfs the competition worldwide. And finally, the festival’s diverse documentary program is one to compete against. Now, in 2018, the festival looks to go beyond the screen with talks and events that engage audiences in a meaningful, memorable discussion.
The average ticket price at the festival is $11.60. If you’re interested to see what VIFF is all about, then check out their website here.
Buffering… buffering… buffering. The Buffer Festival gets its name from a word we’ve all seen while browsing the World Wide Web, except what it showcases are digital creators that are not waiting for anyone. The Buffer Festival is the “Who’s Who” of the YouTube video world, with everyone—from creators and industry types, to actual buyers and longtime fans—congregating in downtown Toronto for the long weekend. Expect extensive screenings, keynote speeches from influencers in the industry, and the suit-up Buffer Festival Awards Gala. If you catch your thrills from online videos, then these are your people. Come meet.
Tickets to the Buffer Festival go for $25. You can purchase yours on the website here.
Don’t worry rap and hip-hop fans—we didn’t forget about you. In fact, we were saving the best just for you, with the A3C Festival & Conference in a city that has contributed significantly to the hip-hop world: Atlanta. Hosted in the GA FreightDepot, the three stages will open up for dozens of performers, including trailblazers like Wu-Tang Clan (Yes, Wu-Tang), Lil Wayne, The Diplomats, and Curren$y. If that’s got you excited, then just wait for Atlanta’s best emerging artists who are ready for the spotlight on the indoor stage. And don’t forget the food trucks, live art demonstrations, and DJ itinerary mapped out by none other than the WERC Crew and Controllerise.
Tickets for the event go for $57 a day. The full line-ups will be available soon; in the meantime, you can stay refreshing that festival webpage here.
If the fans and paparazzi go to the big-time film festivals, then you can find the real filmmakers and actors of Hollywood in Marin County’s San Rafael for the annual Mill Valley Film Festival in early October. For over 40 years, this off-beat festival has attracted the true players of the industry with a program that features both mainstream studio premieres, as well as the most intriguing voices coming up right now in independent film worldwide. You’ll find yourself at panels, parties, performances, and plenty of passionate pep talks with filmmakers, scattered throughout the Bay Area. And hey, who knows—maybe you’ll even meet that actor or director you love. Just sayin’…
A single ticket costs $16. For more information on what’s screening, then check the Mill Valley Film Festival website here.
Like ‘Mardi Gras,’ the phrase ‘Treme’ is another one that should always be associated with New Orleans. Especially for the Treme Fall Festival—this weekend-long event is an authentic homage to everything that makes New Orleans what it is, right in the city’s true heart: the Treme, the oldest African-American community in the country. Be ready for the diverse music, art, and food of New Orleans and Louisiana in a way you’ve never experienced it before, as the leaves change to colder weather. And take in everything (including the renowned architecture) that makes the Treme what it is—a vibrant cultural landscape with a rich past, and bright future.
The only event that costs money to enter is the Patron party ($100), but aside from that, the Treme Fall Festival is a freebie. Start honoring the Treme by visiting the festival website here.
Many people do not know that Houston, Texas, is a city of bayous—its downtown is linked by its many bodies of waters, creating a waterfront that is rapidly burgeoning into a cultural destination. But the Bayou City Art Festival has been there since the beginning—47 years in total, to be exact, and $3.6 million fundraised for local non-profits later. The fall festival, in particular, is what we’re highlighting here; a two-day bonanza that sees artists from all over the globe, showcasing a number of different disciplines. Patrons are welcome to browse through an art gallery, a ton of entertainment, and beverage and food trucks to take your pick from. Children are also encouraged to check out the Children’s Creative Zone, which has activities for all ages. It’s a great place to start seeing Houston—and its bayous.
Prices vary: tickets online go for $12, and are $15 at the gate for adults. But children between 6 and 12 get in for $5. So best to get your tickets today at the Bayou City Art Festival website.
We can’t think of a better place in Canada to celebrate the country’s diversity than Montréal, especially with the Festival du monde arabe de Montréal, which, for the non-French speakers, is better known as The Arab World Festival of Montreal, or FMA for short. So what’s in a name? An event that strives to meet Arab and Western cultures, by publicly showcasing works in four fields: performing arts, culture forum, cinema, and Orientalys. What does that mean for you? A few weeks of original, modern works of dance, music, theater, and other art forms. And it’s not just performance, either—there are also debates, conferences, lectures, and films to be had, making for an itinerary that is as creative and varied as the Arab world itself.
Ticket prices vary between $10 and $80, depending on the event. To find out what your schedule is looking like, then check out the FMA website here.
Little people realize that Vancouver is one of the most filmed-in cities in the world. Studio blockbusters and independent films all come to the British Columbia capital for its scenic backdrops, and comfortable streets. And that has lent serious credence to Vancouver’s reputation as a “film” capital. That’s where the Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF) comes in.Held since 1997, VAFF has morphed into the longest-running Asian film festival in Canada, and attracts thousands of fans each year. A celebration of the Asian diaspora and its diversity in the film world, the 22nd annual installment of this major event arrives with the theme of INFUSIAN, which will focus on how a diverse set of thinkers leave their imprint on what it means to live in Canada. Needless to say, we’re already excited.
Entrance to the festival costs anywhere between $15 and $25. To see what’s playing this year, check out the full programme here.
The phrase ‘Carefree’ can be used in three ways here: it’s the name of this Fine Art & Wine Festival in Arizona; it’s the name of the town in which it takes place; and it’s how we feel when we’re sipping great local wines, and touring a gallery of fine art chosen by an experienced jury. That’s the spirit of this three-day event, where attendees are encouraged to taste both the local arts scene, and the local/regional wine scene, in a way that invites newcomers and well-seasoned appreciators. So grab your glass, and hit the tents—because there’s plenty to see over the course of the weekend.
Entrance to the festival is a reasonable $3, yet the wine tasting itself is $10. To purchase your tickets, head to the Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival website today.
Don’t leave Arizona quite yet—if you have a car, then consider a day trip to Phoenix for the day-long Arizona Fall Festival in early November. Billed as the “only large-scale festival to feature exclusively Arizona-owned businesses and organizations,” the event is an ode to the Valentine State. More than 200 local vendors represent the state’s rich business community, and renowned local restaurants, chefs, and food trucks offer their cuisines up for tasting. There’s beer, wine, and spirits from Arizona available on tap, and a ton of Arizona-exclusive live music happening on several stages. Even the state’s pro sports teams show up for this one! So if you want to see what Arizona is all about, here’s your one-way ticket.
And it’s a ticket that is entirely free. For more information on the Arizona Fall Festival, check out its website here.
We’re excited to finally introduce a festival on this list (at least just in Part 2) that takes place in America’s Deep South. And even better: it’s not what’s expected. Entering its 13th year of operation, the Moss Rock Festival has been called Alabama’s “premier eco-creative” festival. What that means for patrons is two days of autumnal delight via eco-friendly artwork and special exhibits, which seek to highlight how materials can be reused, and repurposed. Our favorite is the design aspect, where artisans and makers showcase different takes on what ‘living sustainably’ can look like in real-time. Not to mention the live music, craft beer tasting, and local trail tours. And the countless other activities that Moss Rock Festival offers an audience of all ages, and backgrounds. Those are great, too.
Ticket prices for this event go for $10. Interested? Then head to the website now.
Okay, so we’ve covered Asian films in Vancouver, Arab films in Montreal, and international films all over North America. Where does that leave us? Waiting in line for the Toronto European Union Film Festival, a two-week-long showcase of European films that screen for free in Toronto’s Little Italy neighborhood. Fans of all ages are invited to enjoy this unique selection of films from France, Italy, Germany, and other EU countries. All you have to do is bring the popcorn.
As mentioned, this festival is completely free. The full programming can be found on the Toronto European Union Film Festival here.
We put the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival in Calgary on this list because we think it’s a seriously important event. (Not to say that the others aren’t.) Every year since 2006, the organizers have put together a festival that screens some of the most engaging documentaries out right now worldwide, for no fee at all. Afterwards, the audience has bore witness to conversations about the documentary’s subject matter with experts and filmmakers themselves, to further advance the discussion. And 2018 is shaping up to its biggest and best installment yet. So it’s safe to say that you’ll leave here with something more than just your ticket stub.
You read that right—this event is free. The full line-up of documentaries screening this year can be found on the festival’s website here.
Listen, readers: we had to include at least one holiday festival on this list. And that honour goes to Chicago’s Christkindlmarket, a traditional German outdoor market that has been held for over two decades now. Open to the whole family, Christkindlmarket operates every day for over a month, starting right before Thanksgiving, and ending on Christmas Eve. Aside from holiday entertainment and vendors, visitors are welcome to taste German foods, shop German holiday wares and antiques, and reserve a Stammtisch, or round table, in advance for an extensive German meal. If you’re lucky, you’ll be there during the two days a week that Christkind comes to greet children, and take photos. Just be ready with the camera.
Admission to this traditional holiday fair is free! Ready to reserve a Stammtisch? Then head to their website here.
We wouldn’t be able to have a true list of the best festivals in North America without a trip down to our southern neighbors. And where better than Mexico City, the happening metropolis known to some as el DF or CDMX. It’s here that you’ll find MUTEK.MX International Festival of Digital Creativity, the Mexican installment of a vast creative network that spans the entire globe. The goal is to foster a “sonic space,” as organizers call it, that can hone and develop innovation in the burgeoning fields of electronic music, and digital art. It does that through performances, workshops, and talks that engage both the professionals, and the public. This is MUTEK.MX’s 15th year in operation, and so 2018 is sure to be a memorable one. But with this festival, it’s hard for it not to be.
Entrance to the festival is $50. If you’re interested in a trip down to CDMX, then check out the festival website, and start planning. International attendees can find tickets and other necessities here.
We’re not out of the film festival circuit quite yet, and we especially don’t want to forget about Toronto’s Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival. Like Mill Valley in Marin County, this event has long been praised as being a festival for the filmmakers themselves. Last year, 29 out of the 32 filmmakers made an appearance, and hailed from all over Canada. Several events are designed to foster conversation amongst Canadian filmmakers and industry types; patrons can expect plenty of panels and after-parties. Looking to nerd out with film lovers who get Canadian film? Then head to Toronto, and don’t miss out.
The festival’s entrance fee is $14. To see what’s playing and who’s talking, check the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival website today.
Tempe is one of Arizona’s lesser-known pleasures, and each year, its Festival of the Arts, held in both fall and spring, brings in 225,000 visitors to the city’s downtown. Because it’s turning 50 years old, we’re here today to highlight the fall edition, which has already won accolades for being one of the best festivals around. Why? Because over the course of the three-day weekend, patrons have at their disposal close to 375 juried artist booths, a stacked selection of food trucks, extensive wine and beer gardens, and areas for families and children. And then you can head over to the live music section, or take in one of the many street performers. In other words: three days may not be enough.
Oh, and the festival is free to enter. So set your GPS to Tempe, AZ, and get the full slate of what to expect on their website here.
This one definitely wins in the Most Unique Names category. But in fact, ‘Hogman-eh’ is a salute to ‘Hogmanay,’ the traditional Scottish celebration that is held on New Year’s Eve. Over five million Canadians have heritage that links back to Scotland, and many of them come out for this all-out party where everyone is welcome. Children can experience the Great Scot! Kids Zone, a huge 7pm/Scottish midnight balloon drop, and other cultural booths, while parents get to dancing to live entertainment and count down the seconds until the clock strikes midnight, we all sing Auld Lang Syne (if you can remember the words), and close off the year with an incredible fireworks display. But first, stop off for some Scottish grub and whisky at the bar.
And here’s reason to really celebrate: the festival is free. So get going by checking out the Hogman-eh website here.
As if you needed another reason to visit Vancouver, then here it is: the Dine Out Vancouver Festival. Foodies rejoice: this is 17 days straight of culinary events held around the city, with prix fixe menus at some of your favourite Vancouver restaurants, and “Dine and Stay” hotel packages, if you need a place to stay. Since 2002, the festival has attracted thousands of visitors, making it the biggest food-centric festival in all of Canada. The idea here is to feature what’s around—we’re talking Vancouver’s best ingredients, wines, and its food scene, which seems to get bigger and better each year.
Hungry? Then check out the events—prices vary, but some are free. For a full list of programming, head to the Dine Out Vancouver Festival website here.
We’re not leaving Vancouver just yet. Because the Dine Out Festival leads quite nicely to the Victoria Film Festival, the largest and longest-running film festival on Vancouver Island. And if you’re here, then that means you’re ready to celebrate its 25th birthday, which will see more than 110 films screened over 10 days. While it puts on other unique festivals and events year-round, the Victoria Film Festival is the hallmark occasion. And it’s really 25 years young.
Entrance to the festival costs $9. Keep tabs on what’s playing by checking out the festival’s website here.
If your love of film festivals has gone unabated, then the next stop of your North American tour should take you to Beloit, a small city in Wisconsin. Why, you might ask? Because the Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) that is held there each year has been tagged as an alternative to Sundance by The New York Times, and it’s worth the praise. This festival is for the independent film aficionado, not the amateur, as filmmakers from all over descend on this small midwestern city for a week of screenings, talks, and forums. If that’s you, then this is where you need to be.
The entry fee for this festival is $10. The line-up will soon be available on the BIFF website, which can be found here.
We’re as surprised as you are that it’s taken us thing long to make it down to the Sunshine State, but that’s only because North America has so many festivals worth mentioning. But finally, we’re here. The occasion? The Miami Film Festival (MFF), a 10-day festival held by Miami-Dade College that focuses, specifically, on Ibero-American films. In fact, MFF is actually considered a must-see for lovers of Ibero films, or productions made in former Spanish or Portuguese colonies (namely from Latin and South America), with a host of screenings, events, seminars, and other activities. And it goes down just as Miami is heating up for the spring, and summer. So you know where to start your trip.
Ticket prices vary between $13 and $200, depending on the event. For more information on what will be playing, keep your eyes on the MFF website, which can be found here.
We’ve said in this space that merely hearing the phrase ‘Mardi Gras’ should conjure up images of New Orleans. But we stand corrected—there’s another Louisiana hot spot that can also call Fat Tuesday its own: Baton Rouge. The Baton Rouge Mardi Gras may not be as much of a riot as its New Orleans counterpart, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Especially when it comes equipped with live music, a Vendor’s Village, and a ‘Taste of Louisiana’ section, where you can sample all the delicacies of this bayou-based state. This year, Henry Turner, Jr. & Flavor will headline the show, which takes place outside of the Old State Capitol Building, just along the Mississippi. Okay, we definitely stand corrected.
Tell your friends: this festival is free. To get ready for next year, start by visiting the festival website here.
We’re not out of Louisiana quite yet… oh, wait, we’re in Texas. But the Louisiana spirit lives on in the Lone Star State with the Ultimate Louisiana Party, a two-day bash that celebrates the neighboring state’s most famous exports: classic blues music, finger-licking good food, and enough party to go around. That means jambalaya, red rice, and beans; acts by local, regional, and national talent; and a festival experience that will make you want to rewind the clock to Mardi Gras.
A ticket will cost you $10. If you’re ready to go, then hit the Ultimate Louisiana Party website for more information.
You may have seen or heard of NWEAMO, or the New West Evolving Arts & Music Organization. In fact, you may have been it to yourself in places like New York City, Boulder, Miami, Mexico City, or even Venice. But the festival’s roots lie in San Diego, California, and in 2019, the festival is coming home. What does that mean? A genre-bending three-day event that invites artists and creators who aren’t scared to push the envelope on what’s possible in experimental pop electronica, contemporary classical music, and multimedia art. If anything, we’re just interested to see what that looks like in person.
Attendees can pay $15 for entry into this one. For details on past performances and news of what’s to come in 2019, then check the NWEAMO website here.
Knoxville is already arriving on many travelers’ lists of cities to check out in 2018 and 2019, and Big Ears Festival is the perfect excuse to book your next flight. All happening in downtown Knoxville, the cultural explosion of a festival has won accolades from the New York Times and The Oxford American Magazine, for presenting innovative music, art, and film in Knoxville’s many historic theaters, including the Bijou. Last year, attendees and artists showed up from 10 different countries, nearly all 50 states, and over 500 cities. There were over 100 performances packed into a timeframe of 4 days. And in 2019… well, you’ll just have to find out yourself.
A ticket costs $25 to get in. For more information, check out the Big Ears Festival website here.
As organizers of The Dinah say, “There is no other [festival] like it.” That’s because The Dinah is the largest lesbian-identified event in the world. Yes, you read that right—this is the biggest festival of its kind; a women-centric wonder that seeks to empower and celebrate those living their lives to the fullest. And it does that by providing five full days of concerts, comedy sets, and enough dancing and pool partying to keep you busy. But most importantly, it’s about creating community—and given its size, we’d say it’s been successful thus far.
Ticket prices for The Dinah vary between $30 and $80. Already planning your 2019 visit? Then head to the website here.
You might know Vail, Colorado, for one thing in particular: skiing. It’s perhaps one of the most famous ski resorts in North America, known for its serious slopes and classy lodges. But little do people know that Vail is also home to an incredible film festival, which takes place annually in early April. As ski season winds down, filmmakers, actors, and film fans from all over come to Vail for a three-day event that celebrates female movers and shakers in the industry. There are over 60 films, panels, and master classes. And when those are done, the nightly parties come alive. Because, hey, it’s Vail.
Ticket prices go for $10, and can be purchased on the website here.
We’re closing this list out with two unique film festivals in Toronto, the first of which is the Toronto Silent Film Festival. Love Charlie Chaplin? Then this one’s for you: a long weekend dedicated to the art of the silent film worldwide, with screenings of classic titles, lesser-known films, and recently restored gems. Not only that, but the films are then presented to audiences in the city’s many historic cinemas, and accompanied by live music to enhance the experience. Even if you’re not a lifelong silent film fan, this sounds awesome.
Ticket prices to get in go for $12. If that’s of interest, then head to the Toronto Silent Film Festival website here.
We told you we’re not leaving Toronto quite yet. And frankly, we’re scared to. That’s because it’s time for the Toronto International Spring of Horror & Fantasy Film Festival, which runs concurrently with the Toronto Silent Film Festival. Except this one, of course, is a little different, featuring a diverse line-up of horror and fantasy films that are cherished for their imagination, rather than studio premiere. After the screenings, there’s also a Scream Queen/King competition, bar and networking nights for patrons, and a matchup amongst the filmmakers to win the “Cleaver the Beaver” Bobblehead Statue. Who will win it this in 2019? You’ll have to be there to find out.
Screenings go for about $6.50. If you’re interested, then check out the festival website here.
We’re back in Florida one last time on this list, and this time, it’s in Sarasota, for its annual Rites of Spring Festival, otherwise known as RoSfest. What is that, exactly? It’s an annual three-day ‘art rock’ festival that has now entered its 16th year, featuring 11 live bands that play all original music from across the globe. Audiophiles, this one’s for you—especially in the festival’s new location: the Sarasota Opera House, with acoustics that basically dream of a festival like this. Not to mention you’re in Sarasota, so there’s always room for vacation.
Ticket prices go for $95. The full line-up, when available, can be found on the RoSfest website here.
We’re glad to be back on the Mississippi River before this list’s end, and what better way to celebrate than the Mid West Music Fest, which takes place in two historic riverside towns: Winona, MN, and La Crosse, WI. Over 150 of the best acts in the upper Midwest come together to play in both cities’ downtowns, for a two-day blowout that welcomes a number of different genres. Patrons of all ages are welcome to pick and choose what they want to tune in to, and enjoy the towns while they’re at it. Not to mention that 2019 is the festival’s 10-year anniversary, so you know you’re in for a good time.
Attendees can pay $25 for a single day ticket. Excited to get down to the river? Then check out the Mid West Music Fest website here.
You may have guessed it from the name—Abbey Road on the River is a festival for megafansof the Beatles. In fact, it pegs itself as the largest Beatles-inspired event in the world, featuring eight indoor and outdoor stages and over 60 bands. This year, fans will get to rock out to the music of famed 60s group Vanilla Fudge, and afterwards peruse the Beatles merch shop, interactive art installations focused on the Fab Four, a number of food and drink options, as well as a vendor village for arts and crafts. Parents, take solace: there is a playground area for children. Come together, right now!
Tickets to the event go for $20. Can’t wait to get rockin’? Then start the music on the website here.