Find your summer jam

From NYC to the middle of Tennessee, there’s an action-packed summer music festival for everyone. So shake a tail feather, bang your head, play a lawn game, chow down on impressive grub, or simply sway in the breeze. Your pick!

Governors Ball Music Festival—New York City, NY

Get ready for revelry in Randall’s Island Park June 2–4. Chance the Rapper, Tool, Phoenix, Childish Gambino, and Wiz Khalifa are among the performers playing this year’s annual “Gov Ball.” NYC’s first super-successful music fest has become known for wide-ranging acts, lawn games, art installations, and—because this is the Big Apple—amazing food. Heavily curated by local foodie favorites, the menu is generally as varied as the musical lineup.

Governor's Ball Music Festival

Photo credit: The Governors Ball Music Festival and Forest Woodward

Five more rockin’ fests

1. Bonnaroo — Manchester, TN. Indie music/comedy heaven rules a 700-acre farm outside Nashville June 8–11.

2. Austin City Limits Music Festival — Austin, TX. ACL Fest 2017 rocks Central Austin’s beloved Zilker Park October 6–8 and 13–15.

3. FYF Fest – Los Angeles, CA. The stellar lineup at this year’s rebelliously named fest will rock Exposition Park harder than ever July 21–23.

4. Telluride Bluegrass Festival – Telluride, CO. The 44th annual fest will be making these mountains even more magical June 15–18.

5. Sasquatch! – Quincy, WA. This Memorial Day music behemoth takes over the scenic Gorge Amphitheatre May 26–28.

Feast on festival season

Summertime is delicious! Dig into the season’s ripe delights by taking a big bite out of the great Midwest, feasting from a food truck, or sampling some superb “street” fare … just for starters, of course.

Taste of Chicago — Chicago, IL

With gorgeous Grant Park as the backdrop for the Windy City’s annual celebration of cuisine, it’s no wonder this food fest is the largest in the world. Chi-town’s far-flung restaurant scene is smoking hot these days, so this year’s lakefront extravaganza should not disappoint. And since this is Chicago after all, there will also be a taste of some great music and a sampling of fun activities for the whole family. Entry is free for the entire fest July 5–9.

Taste of Chicago Festival

Photo credit: City of Chicago

Five other tasty food fests

1. Feast Portland — Portland, OR. FEASTPDX’s amazing 30+ events canvas the city September 14–17.

2. Seattle Street Food Fest — Seattle, WA. The third annual “Mobile Food Rodeo” runs August 15–16 in South Lake Union.

3. New York City Food & Wine Festival — New York City, NY. NYC’s celebrity- and charity-driven foodie fest goes citywide October 12–15.

4. Epcot Food & Wine Fest — Orlando, FL. Taste your way around the world August 31–November 13 at Epcot.

5. Truckeroo — Washington, DC. DC’s summer series delivers yummy food truck fare monthly, April–September.

Cheers your way into fall

When it comes to summertime libations, what’s not to fest? There’s no shortage of ways to toast this season (and early fall) with regional wines, liquors, and barrels full of sudsy brews from California to Carolina.

Tales of the Cocktail Festival – New Orleans, LA

The international spirit industry’s heaviest-hitting fest is headquartered in the first American city to have its own officially recognized cocktail ... so why not raise a Sazerac this summer in the Big Easy with cocktailing professionals and professional appreciators from all over the world? These global tastemakers and aficionados will converge July 18–23 in New Orleans for 200+ lively seminars, tastings, and events produced by the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society. Cheers to that!


Photo credit: Jennifer Mitchell Photography

Five more highly spirited fests

1. California Wine Festival — Santa Barbara, CA. Santa Barbara’s on-the-rise vintages compliment its glorious scenery July 13–15.

2. Brewgrass Festival — Asheville, NC. Beer City USA’s 20th anniversary fest boasts 55 brews on tap September 2017.

3. Oregon Brewer’s Festival — Portland, OR. 80,000 travelers journey to “Beervana” July 26–30 for Portland’s annual fest.

4. Tequila, Taco, & Cerveza Festival — Denver, CO. Tacos, cerveza, and tequila—the Mile High City celebrates this holy (and tasty) Mexican trinity June 24–25.

5. Hops in the Hills Beer Festival — Maryville, TN. June 23–24 marks the 2nd annual Smoky Mountain celebration of regional suds.

Weird out with the best

Nerding out is always in season, but summer is the time for trekking to superhero central to see epic icons in the flesh, or even out to Coney Island for a super-famous eating contest. Whatever your flavor, weirdness abounds!

Comic-Con International — San Diego, CA

Ah, SoCal. Home to human prototypes of all stripes, this high-profile neck of the woods goes full force and interstellar July 20–23 when actual costumed comic book heroes and sheroes stride through the San Diego Convention Center to mix and mingle with their devoted fans. This global phenomenon of a festival has accelerated over 47 years from convening simply comic book creators and their fervent admirers to popular arts characters, movie stars, and their Hollywood ilk. Call it an awesomely successful revenge of the nerds.

Unique festivals

Photos: fun and funky fests

Five more rockin’ fests

1. Sturgis Motorcycle Rally — Sturgis, SD. Ride along for the 77th year of this most righteous motorcycle rally August 4–13.

2. Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Fest — Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY. Coney Island’s legendary competition turns 100 at Nathan’s flagship this July 4.

3. Avocado Festival — Carpinteria, CA. Californians mark 30 years of loving this green gem with AVOFEST October 6–8.

4. Gilroy Garlic Festival — Gilroy, CA. Gilroy’s “Gourmet Alley” cooks garlicky treats from fries to ice cream July 28–30.

5. Fantasy Fest — Key West, FL. Mardi Gras meets island life during this wild 10-day extravaganza October 20–29.

Get arts and craftsy

Looking for more creative summer fests? From massive folk art displays and Ren Faire-style reenactments to Hawaiian cinema screenings—artistic happenings are all around you this time of year.

International Folk Art Market — Santa Fe, NM

Part market and part community celebration, this hugely popular international folk art extravaganza takes over Santa Fe July 14-16. With vibrant displays of art, dancing, music, and wares from parts far and wide, the city’s Museum Hill area and its environs truly come alive with global-market-level buzz. Expect booths lined with indigenous goods from Algeria to Zimbabwe, music by way of Mali’s Mamadou Kelly, and scores of residents taking part in the 13th year of New Mexico’s dizzyingly diverse fest.

Santa Fe Art Market

Photos: Santa Fe art market

Five other fantastically artistic fests

1. Oregon Country Fair — Veneta, OR. Magical woods outside Eugene host butterflies and this lovely “Fair” July 7–9.

2. Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters — Laguna Beach, CA. Art brought (incredibly) to life through “living pictures” in SoCal July 7–August 31.

3. Old Town Art Fair — Chicago, IL. See the Old Town Triangle District’s renowned display of 250 artists June 10–11.

4. Maui Film Festival — Maui, HI. Catch some “Celestial Cinema” at events June 21–25 in gorgeous blue Wailea.

5. Texas Renaissance Festival — Lake Conroe, TX. Celebrate summer’s end at Texas’ ode to all things olde September 30–November 26.

* Banner photo credit: City of Chicago