In a country as big and diverse as the United States, there's no shortage of incredible festivals and events to work your way through. From vibrant Pride marches and world-class music festivals to the parades, parties and pizazz of New Orleans's Mardi Gras, here are some of the USA's most popular festivals and cultural events.
1. Pride New York
The Big Apple is one of the most LGBTQIA+ friendly cities in the world, so it’s only fitting that it also hosts one of the world’s largest and liveliest Pride celebrations. As well as a huge Pride march through the bustling streets of Manhattan, you can also enjoy the PrideFest street fair, a two-day music festival known as Pride Island, vibrant rooftop parties, a political rally, and so much more.
2. Burning Man
If you ask people around the world for one festival they’d love to tick off their bucket list, there’s a good chance they’ll say Burning Man. Ticket prices are high and the logistics of getting there can be tricky, but this unique nine-day gathering in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert is like no other. Based on the theme of radical self-expression, the festival is cashless and trading is used as a form of currency – meaning festivalgoers must bring all essential supplies, as well as something to share or trade with others (this could include physical items of other offerings, like a performance). Expect to see art, music, liberal clothing, nudity, body painting, tarot, dance, and everything else in between. On day nine, the ‘Burning Man’ statue is set alight to signify the end of the gathering.
3. New Orleans Mardi Gras
For around one month every year, the energetic streets of New Orleans come even more alive with a chaotic collision of lively music, colourful costumes, carnival masks, spicy food and joyful people at Mardi Gras. There are many parties and masquerade balls throughout the month, but the main event is called Fat Tuesday (‘Mardi gras’ means ‘fat Tuesday’ in French), which takes place on the last day of the carnival. Fat Tuesday always falls on the day before Ash Wednesday (or the first day of Lent), and is traditionally a chance to have one last hurrah before fasting begins in the lead-up to Easter.
Every year tens of thousands of people flock to one of the world’s most iconic music festivals in California. The Coachella lineup features some of the world’s biggest bands and musicians, as well as a whole bunch of workshops, art installations and quirky camping areas to add to the fun. Previous lineups have featured Radiohead, Tame Impala, Billie Eilish, Beyonce and other big names.
5. EDC Music Festival
Just when you think Las Vegas couldn't get any flashier or more fun, the EDC Musical Festival goes and proves you wrong. The three-day festival is jam-packed with world-renowned DJs and artists that'll have you dancing the days away, as well as impressive LED installations, glow-in-the-dark superstructures and funky performers who'll keep you entertained for hours.
6. Miami F1 Grand Prix
Crank your excitement levels all the way up at the Miami Formula One Grand Prix. Watch the race from the stands, meet your favourite drivers, walk the iconic pit lane, have a couple of drinks in the newly created Hard Rock Beach Cafe, and so much more at this adrenaline-pumping, fun-filled event. Whether you’re into racing cars or not, the Miami F1 Grand Prix promises to be a corker.
7. Bonnaroo Music Festival
Located in the heart of Tennessee, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival is a mecca for music and art lovers of all kinds. The word ‘bonnaroo’ is a slang term for ‘good stuff’ in Creole, and it’s an aptly fitting festival name when the lineup is so eclectic. Think 150+ musicians from hip hop to jazz, and gospel to electronic, immersive art installations and workshops ranging from yoga to watercolour painting.
8. BottleRock Music Festival
BottleRock is a music festival with a twist thanks to the event's location in the beautiful Napa Valley. Mixing the region's best drops with international music stars was always going to be a recipe for success. There are plenty of activities to keep you entertained over this three-day event including a culinary stage with live cooking demos, an onsite spa, and various art installations.
9. Cinco de Mayo
Colourful street parades, tasty tacos and tequila? Don't mind if we do! Cinco de Mayo is an annual festival celebrated on 5 May to mark the day when an army of 4,000 Mexican soldiers defeated the French Empire in the Battle of Puebla in Mexico. It also celebrates the overall awesomeness that is Mexican culture. While you'll find festivities in Puebla City, there are also heaps of festivities in cities throughout the States, particularly around the US-Mexico border.
10. Jazz & Heritage Festival
Celebrate all things jazz and culture at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. In fact, you’ll be treated to a lot more than just jazz with 12 stages of music ranging from Cajun to gospel and Caribbean to funk. If you can’t make the festival, fear not. You could always join us on a New Orleans Cocktails and Jazz tour to uncover some of the city’s best jazz bars and local musical stars.
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