2020 American Festival Calendar, US & Canada

Burning man festival, black rock desert, Nevada, American Festivals

Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada,  end of August/early September, American Festival Calendar.

January Festival Calendar

1 January
(Same date every year)

USA, Los Angeles, California Rose Parade (Tournament of Roses Parade) – in Pasadena, an immense, floaty, flowery spectacle of floats and marching bands.

1 January
(Same date every year)

USA, Philadelphia Mummers Parade, Pennsylvania – the biggest, wildest event of the region with incredible outfits and lots of comedy. If the weather’s bad the event moves to the following Saturday. It starts at 9am.

6 January
(Same date every year)

USA, New York City Three Kings Day Parade – a colourful Latin-influenced parade of Nativity animals, costumed people and kids.

17 – 19 January

USA, Miami, Florida Art Deco Weekend – in the Miami Beach Historic Art Deco District with 1920’s-30’s style music and parades. A colourful blast from the past.

23 January –
2 – February

USA, Park City, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sundance Film Festival – founded by Robert Redford in 1981, this is the USA’s largest independent cinema festival, introducing its audience to some of the most original films of the last 30 years.

25 January

USA, Texas, Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo , also known as Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show.

17 Jan – 8 Feb

USA, New York City, Chinese New Year – Chinatown Parade and Festival, with floats, bands, dragon dancers, musicians, acrobats etc etc. Parade 1-3pm, 3pm- Bayard Street performances.

18, 19, 25, 26 January –  1, 2, 8, 9 February

CANADA, Montreal, La Fete des Neiges (Snow Festival) at Parc Jean-Drapeau – dominated by a monstrous and labyrinthine snow castle, ice sculpting, dog sledding and more icy fun. Quebec Travel

February Festival Calendar

7 – 16 February

CANADA, Carnaval de Québec in Quebec City – a vigorous winter celebration with parades, themed parties, ice sculptures and, bien sûr, winter sports of every description in a pretty Francophile city.

31 Jan. – 17 February
(weekends only)

CANADA, Winterlude Festival in Ottawa (Ontario), 3 weekends at North America’s largest snow playground, featuring parades, dances, snow races, ice sculptures, sleigh rides and more, but especially skating on the 7. 8 km Rideau Canal, world’s largest skating rink! If skating is your thing, then this could be your best American festival.

13 – 25 February

CANADA, Vancouver, Northwest Comedy Fest – an annual 10 day event with global comedians starring.

14 – 25 February

USA, Galveston, Texas, the historic Mardi Gras Galveston – live bands, concerts, parades, masked balls and costumes.

16 February

USA, Daytona Beach, Florida, Daytona 500 (The Sprint Cup Series) – big, hairy motors going round and round at the Daytona International Speedway.

March Festival Calendar

7 March
10: 00am
(Race Start)

USA, Anchorage, Iditarod National Historic Trail, Alaska, Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race – 1131 miles from Anchorage to Nome in doggy style. . . it’s the white stuff. The start is the best bit.

3 – 22 March

USA, Houston, Texas, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, at NRG Park, the world’s biggest animal and cowboy event, but also includes laser shows and music.

5 March

USA, New Orleans, Louisiana, Mardi Gras – locals start celebrating up to 2 weeks before, dressed bizarrely, intent on mayhem and well oiled good times. An outrageous must-see.

8 – 17 March

USA, Daytona, Florida Official Bike Week – the world’s biggest motorbike fest with unhinged events of all kinds. 2 wheels god, four wheels baaad.

8 – 17 March

USA, Austin, Texas, South by Southwest Week (SXSW). An annual film, music and interactive festival/conference, featuring original films, up and coming recording acts and cutting-edge media technologies. Looking for the next big thing? This is for you.

15 March
(weekend around 17th)

USA, St Patrick’s Day Parade – especially good in Chicago, Boston, New York and San Francisco. Aaargh, everything is green!

April Festival Calendar

10 – 12 & 17 – 19 April

USA, California, Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival – 2 weekends of 3-day festivals featuring many genres of music in a desert; with several stages and a large campground this is regarded as one of the USA’s best music events.

15 – 19 April

CANADA, Whistler, British Columbia WSSF -World Ski and Snowboard Festival, with Canada’s largest free outdoor concert series – snow and music/arts/sports combined!

16 – 26 April

USA, San Antonio, Texas Fiesta San Antonio. Over 150 different events ranging from masked balls to the Pooch Parade; the biggest party in Texas!

23 April – 3 May

USA, New Orleans, Louisiana New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – forget Mardi Gras if you just want to relax and enjoy some of the best live music in the country.

May Festival Calendar

15 – 17 May

USA, Las Vegas, Electronic Daisy Carnival (EDC) – a huge electronic dance music festival held outdoors, this is the biggest organised rave in the world. EDC is driven by DJs and massive sounds systems along with extraordinary lighting effects including fireworks. Note that many participants wear appropriately wild and outrageous outfits. Weird is good. This is not a band/artist/musician event. Only DJs, but the best in the world. In 2016 EDC happens in Mexico, Las Vegas, UK and Japan.

21 – 25 May

USA, California, Strawberry Music Festival – one of US’s most popular music jamborees, used to be held twice a year at the picturesque Camp Mather on the edge of Yosemite National Park, though this year May’s Strawberry will take place at Nevada Country Fairgrounds  in Spring and August 31st –  September 4th at Westside in Tuolumne.

June Festival Calendar

13 – 14 June

USA,  Oklahoma Red Earth Festival. Over 100 tribes pow-wow and celebrate their heritage with song and dance.

5 – 7 June 11am – 9:30pm

USA, Chicago, Illinois Chicago Blues Festival – the world’s largest free blues concert at Millennium Park. Four stages and admission free!

11 – 14 June

USA, Tennessee, the Bonnaroo Music Festival – an award-winning festival (once voted by Rolling Stone Magazine’s Best Festival), with its multiple stages of live music of all kinds. 96km/60 miles outside of Nashville.

21 – 23 June 2019
TBA for 2020

USA, North Carolina, Wilmington, Cape Fear Blues Festival. An annual 3 day blues fiesta in venues across the city, including Saturday’s big concert at the Legion Stadium.

24 – 28, 30 June & 1 – 5 July

USA, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Summerfest – also known as ‘the Big Gig’ – is the world’s largest musical jamboree, attracting one million people. Held annually since 60’s for 11 days either side of Independance Day weekend, with more than 800 bands on 11 stages.

24 – 28 June & 1 – 5 July

USA, Washington DC, Smithsonian Folklife Festival – Smithsonian Institute, National Mall. Music, song, dance, crafts, cooking, storytelling, discussions.

25 June – 4 July

CANADA, Montreal International Jazz Festival. Free outdoor megashows as well as indoor performances.

July Festival Calendar

3 July – 29 August

USA, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Santa Fe Opera – a brilliant series of shows in a superb new opera house.

4 July
(every year)

USA Independence Day – major celebration of the stars and stripes, with parads, music and fireworks, especially good in Washington DC, New York City and Boston (the Hatch Shell concert).

3 – 12 July

CANADA, Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta – a 10 day world-class rodeo riot, a wild yet comradely festival enjoyed by the whole of ‘Cowtown’. Events include Chuck Wagon racing, rodeos, a spectacular parade, country music performances and free pancake breakfasts!

17 – 19 July
(Third weekend)

CANADA, Vancouver Folk Music Festival – A 3-day festival featuring a mix of folk music from around the world at Jericho Beach Park in the heart of the city. The Festival features music on eight stages, children’s activities, craft and food and characterises the laid-back attitude and style of the West Coast.

17 – 26 July

USA, Cheyenne, Wyoming Cheyenne Frontier Days – 10 days of wild west action of every kind at the world’s largest rodeo.

17 – 26 July

CANADA, Alberta, K-Days (previously Klondike Days or Edmonton’s Capital Ex) – 10 days of Edmonton’s fair including exhibitions, concerts, racing pigs, racing bath tubs, racing rafts and probably racing prices, though the pancakes are free.

31 July – 2 August
7 – 9 August

USA, Newport, Rhode Island, Newport Folk Festival and Jazz Festival (the world’s longest-running jazz festival. )

30 July  – 8 August

CANADA, Saskatoon, Fringe Theatre and Street Festival – lively mixed theatre and street action.

3 July – 29 August

USA, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Santa Fe Opera – a brilliant series of shows in a superb new opera house.

24 July – 2 August

USA, Abingdon Virginia Highlands Festival. A huge arts and crafts show, with a plenty of entertainment, antique market and more.

August Festival Calendar

30 July – 2 August

USA, Chicago, Illinois, Lollapalooza (which means an extraordinary event) – an eclectic musical celebration held in Grant Park annually. It offers a wide range of sounds including punk, heavy metal, alternative rock and hip pop. This is considered to be one of the world’s most eco-friendly events.

7 – 16 August

USA, Sturgis, Black Hills, South Dakota Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, also known as Sturgis Bike Week – Hog Heaven as thousands of Harleys make a spectacular sight and sound while their owners party hard. Harley owners are born to be wild so accommodation is mostly camping, with plenty of sites available.

13 – 23 August

USA, Des Moines, Iowa State Fair – an annual summer hoe-down attracting more than one million people and featuring one of world’s largest livestock shows, the state’s largest arts event and nearly 200 food stands.

13 – 23 August

CANADA, Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival in Alberta – wacky theatre of all kinds from over 1, 000 performers in the city’s historic heart.

6 – 16 August

CANADA, Montreal Pride Celebrations – a huge performing arts festival, gay, but not exclusively so. Free concerts, shows, parties conferences and more in attractive Montreal.

17 – 23 August 2020
16 – 22 August 2021
(the third week)

USA, Washington State International Kite Festival (WSIKF) – a week-long kite celebration and competition run by the World Kite Museum and held annually on Long Beach.

30 August – 7 September
(Labor Day)

USA, Burning Man Black Rock Desert near Reno, Nevada, one of the best American festivals, it’s  a week of unique, liberal and artistic madness, culminating in the torching of many structures. It’s challenging and organisation will be required, but this could be a life changing experience.

3 – 7 September TBC
(Labor Day weekend)

USA, California, Strawberry Music Festival – one of US’s most popular music jamborees held twice a year at the wooded campgrounds on the edge of Yosemite National Park, the May festival takes place at Nevada County Fairground and the Fall Festival at Westside, Tuolumne Road.

3 – 6 September

USA, Chicago, Illinois, Chicago Jazz Festival – a free live concert at the Cultural Center in the Millennium Park on the picturesque shore of Lake Michigan.

4 – 6 September

USA, Seattle, Washington State, Bumbershoot at Seattle Center – a 3 day music and art festival with over 2, 000 artists, many world famous, perform art of every kind from top flight rock to comedy, drama, poetry and bizarre sculptures.

4 – 27 September

USA, California Los Angeles, LA County Fair –  it has held since 1922, is the largest fair in the USA features everything from pig racing to rodeos and big name bands.

4 – 27 September

USA, south of Seattle, Washington State Fair – also known as the Western Washington Fair, draws more than a million visitors annually to see rodeos, concerts, kid’s rides and chow down on a huge variety of food offerings.

September Festival Calendar

5 – 15 September

CANADA, Toronto International Film Festival – TIFF is one of world’s most important film fests known for its independence and lack of financial consideration in their selection of movies.

29 Aug – 26 September
19th for Waikiki Hoolaulea,
26th for Floral parade

USA, Hawaii, Aloha Festival, Floral Parade – a hugely colourful and perfumed street party to celebrate Hawaiian culture in Oahu, which triggers a series of events all over these Pacific islands.

27 – 29 September

USA Monterey Jazz Festival in California. This, the oldest and longest running jazz festival in the world, always hosts some big names but also has workshops, exhibitions and other appropriate entertainment.

29 September

USA, San Francisco, California Folsom Street Fair – wacky S & M, the world’s biggest leather event.

October Festivals

4 – 6 & 11 – 13 October

USA, Austin, Texas, Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival – an annual 3 day American music fest, named after the famous PBS TV concert series and held at Zilker Park.

3 – 11  October 2020

USA, Albuquerque, New Mexico, International Balloon Fiesta – It is one of the world’s most photographed festival. A lot of hot air about.

11 October

USA, Florida, Miami Broward Carnival celebrates Caribbean culture with music, food, arts and a wildly colourful parade, mostly in the Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.

31 October

USA, New York City, New York’s Village Halloween Parade – a colourful and spooky occasion with over 20, 000 scary monsters on the prowl among the bands, puppets and assorted weirdos. From 7pm.

November Festivals

1 November

USA, New York City Marathon – the biggest in the world.

6 – 10 November TBC

USA, Las Vegas Professional Bull Riders World Finals – the 45 toughest hombres in the west ride the baddest bulls in one of the world’s most colourful cities.

26 November
(4th Thursday)

USA, New York City, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – specialising in monster helium balloon figures. 9am-noon.

December Festivals

23 Nov – 23 Dec 2019
TBA for 2020

USA, Seattle, Argosy Christmas Ship Festival (Theme Cruises)- not just a fleet of brightly lit boats, but playing carols as they cruise. Kirkland City Dock is starting point.

31 December

USA, New York etc. New Year’s Eve Fireworks and general carousing.