Whether you seek culture, community, or comfort food, these amazing festivals prove that small towns from coast to coast know how to throw big celebrations.
Go: April in Port Aransas, Texas
Since 1997, this artistic sand festival attracts talented amateurs and master sculptors alike to beautiful beaches of Port Aransas on the Lonestar State’s Gulf Coast. A three-day event typically held over a weekend in late April, SandFest features live music, entertainment, food, and sand sculpting lessons.
Go: May in Holland, Michigan
There’s no better place to celebrate Michigan’s Dutch Heritage than a town called Holland, where six million tulips are planted in private fields, city parks, and other gardens around town.
First introduced in 1929, Tulip Time draws a half million visitors and features eight days of events, including three parades, an arts-and-crafts show, carnival rides, fireworks, and plenty of Dutch food tastings.
Burlington Steamboat Days
Go: June in Burlington, Iowa
Going strong for over 55 years, the four-day Burlington Steamboat Days draws an impressive lineup of musical headliners and new artists to this small Iowa town on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Over the years, attendees have been treated to performances by Louie Armstrong, Lady Antebellum, Blake Shelton, and more. In addition to music, there are carnival games and dozens of rides, as well as a golf tournament.
Mackinac Island Lilac Festival
Go: June in Mackinac Island, Michigan
Now in its 70th year, this celebration of blooming lilacs takes place on storybook Mackinac Island, where motorized vehicles are banned in favor of bikes and horse-drawn carriages.
During the 10-day festival, there are food and wine tastings, a 10K run, concerts, and carriage tours to admire the island’s beautiful flowering trees—some more than 150 years old.
On Saturday, the Lilac Queen is crowned and horse-drawn floats clip-clop in the Grand Parade, which the Library of Congress has named a ‘local legacy’ event.
Go: June in Papillion, Nebraska
This town of 19,000 swells to almost three times its normal size during Papillion Days, a festival that’s over 70 years old and includes music, carnival, tractor-pull, BBQ competition, movie night, pancake breakfast, duathlon, and the largest parade in the state.
The highlight of this five-day event features more than 120 floats, bands, and performers, representing dozens of organizations, parading through town on Father’s Day weekend.