20 Best Cultural Festivals in America for Unforgettable Celebrations

Last Updated on October 07, 2023 by Nikki Jain

America is a melting pot of cultural influences, all of which celebrate the rich diversity that makes America such a beautiful place.

From the Aloha Festival in Hawaii to the Battle of Gettysburg Reenactment, there's a plethora of vibrant cultural festivals in the USA.

If you want to learn more about the cultural influences that have influenced different states in the union, look no further than these amazing American festivals, filled to the brim with amazing reenactments, historical landmarks, events, and attractions.

Let's take a look at some of the best cultural festivals in America.

Best Cultural Celebrations in the USA

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1: New Orleans Mardi Gras, Louisiana

New Orleans Mardi Gras, Louisiana

Mardi Gras is widely celebrated in New Orleans, and it's not something you want to miss. Centered on Bourbon Street, you can find a ton of parades going on.

The Mardi Gras celebrations always kick off on the last day of the Carnival season, the day before Ash Wednesday. In 2023, it will be hosted on February 21st.

It's an incredible spectacle to behold: tons of outrageous costumes, music, dancing, food, and drink— it's all here.

The festival is organized by social clubs in the city. Objects like colorful plastic beads and decorated items like throw cups are thrown into the audience by those doing the parade to engage with them. Their traditional colors are purple, green, and gold, signifying justice, faith, and power, respectively.

It's the biggest celebration in New Orleans and central to their culture.

Address: New Orleans, LA

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in New Orleans

2: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico

Imagine the sky painted in brilliant color as over 500 hot air balloons rise up at dawn over the New Mexico horizon.

There's really nothing else like it in the world, and whether you're a spectator or a participant, the Fiesta is a majestic sight to behold. Starting on the first Saturday of October every year, it lasts nine days.

If that's not exciting enough for you, this festival is the largest balloon festival in the world. It showcases some of the iconic New Mexican culture and history in the form of exhibits and attractions.

Attendees can take part in a variety of activities at the Fiesta, including watching two mass ascensions that feature hundreds of brightly colored balloons ready to take flight; exploring unique balloon shapes such as cartoon characters and animals; and enjoying live music, food vendors, arts & crafts and other entertainment throughout the days.

It features many different events held over multiple days and represents Mexican culture to the core, making it one of the best cultural festivals in America.

Address: 5000 Balloon Fiesta Pkwy NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Albuquerque

3: Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, Oregon

Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, Oregon
Wikimedia/Amy Richard

Are you a fan of the arts? If so, then the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is the place to visit to experience world-class acting, exceptional production value, and brilliant costumes.

Offering anywhere from 5 to 11 plays in morning and evening performances. The Festival has welcomed over 20 million guests and features works from a number of famous artists.

Since its founding in 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has expanded from a 3-day event to a nationally recognized theatre arts organization that offers spectacular plays, both old and new, almost year-round.

It's absolute magic, and if you're after one of the most significant cultural events in America, look no further than Ashland, Oregon.

Address: 15 S Pioneer St, Ashland, OR 97520

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4: Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada

Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada
Flickr/Bob Wick

The Burning Man Festival takes place annually in the Black Rock Desert and allows revelers to express themselves through community gatherings and art. It's named after a giant effigy of a man set alight at the end of the festival.

The attendees at this off-the-wall revel are called burners, and it's certainly a fair title since, for many attendees, the burning of the wooden man marks the end of summer.

While the celebration is centered around the effigy, there are also lots of different art installations to see, classes to take, and sculptures to appreciate.

Burning Man is an event designed around radical inclusion, welcoming anyone and everyone with the gift of love, self-reliance, and self-expression.

That gift looks a little different, depending on your interests. The Orgy Dome, for example, is exactly what it sounds like: a safe, sex-affirming place for people to experience love however their heart desires.

Burning Man is one of the most radically affirming festivals in America, and it's undoubtedly one of the most fascinating and unique cultural events in America.

Address: Black Rock Desert, Nevada

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5: Frozen Dead Guy Days, Nederland, Colorado

Frozen Dead Guy Days, Nederland, Colorado
Flickr/John Fischer

Just in case you thought it couldn't get any stranger, it certainly can. Frozen Dead Guy Days is a celebration of the preservation of Bredo Morstol, the deceased father of Norwegian citizen Trygve Bauge.

When Trygve was deported from the United States, his mother, Aud, continued to hide the body in a shack behind the unfinished house. Eventually evicted herself, she told a reporter, who subsequently told it to city hall.

Unsurprisingly, they weren't impressed about a corpse being stored in such conditions and demanded the body be removed, or else Aud would face jail time and a $600 fine.

When word of this bizarre event got out, the publicity forced city hall to make an exception for Bredo, and Trygve was able to get a local environmental company to preserve the body for cryopreservation.

Yep, that's right. Frozen Dead Guy Days is a celebration of a cryopreserved corpse. Some wacky traditions follow the annual celebration of this tradition, namely coffin races, the polar plunge, a special dance (unceremoniously referred to as Grandpa's Blue Ball," poetry, local artist showcases, and much more.

If the world of wacky celebrations is more your speed, then this is definitely one of the best cultural festivals in America you have to see to believe.

Address: Nederland, Colorado, 80466

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6: Aloha Festivals, Hawaii

Aloha Festivals, Hawaii
Flickr/Daniel Ramirez

A popular tourist destination, Hawaii is no stranger to spectacular festivals for residents and guests alike. The Aloha Festivals are the only statewide cultural festival designed to preserve Hawaiian culture and heritage.

Established in 1946, the festival was a way for the Hawaiian people to consolidate their identity, boost their self-esteem, and encapsulate the pride of being Hawaiian.

The events consist of the Presentation of the Royal Court, Floral Parade, and Ho'olaule'a, all wonderful festivals and parades well worth seeing just to get a glimpse of the multicultural Hawaiian identity, making it one of the best festivals in America.

Address: Honolulu, HI

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7: Cheyenne Frontier Days, Cheyenne, Wyoming

Cheyenne Frontier Days, Cheyenne, Wyoming
Flickr/Larry Jacobsen

Saddle up this summer for a trip to Cheyenne Frontier Days, one of the biggest western culture celebrations in the United States.

Want to relive the days of the Wild West and see modern cowboys? This is the place for you. Hosting lots of spectacular live events that draw in a crowd, carnivals, fairs, performances, parades, and more, there's no end to the spectacular sights and sounds of Cheyenne Frontier Days.

The Grand Parade, for example, is a rowdy, wild adventure featuring lots of floats, cars, carriages, period-dressed riders, and marching bands.

You can even see some native cultures in the Native American Village. A free attraction, this event shifts the focus to storytelling, hosting authentic dancing, music, and storytelling as part of the experience.

Every night, there are concerts, comedy acts, an open fair, games, vendors, wild west shows, and a PRCA nationally sanctioned rodeo. As one of the best American festivals, this is something you don't want to miss.

Address: 4610 Carey Ave, Cheyenne, WY 82001

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8: Fantasy Fest, Key West, Florida

Fantasy Fest, Key West, Florida

Fantasy Fest is a 10-day celebration in Key West, Florida, geared towards adults. Started in 1979, the party was meant to attract locals but has since attracted a much wider audience of revelers who bring their creativity to bear in this spectacular event.

Lots of parades, dance parties, and innovative costumes dominate the landscapes, and there's a little something for everyone during this event. Zombie bike rides, walking parades, living art, body painting contests, and even homemade bikini contests.

There's a little bit of the wild and wonderful on every street; just be aware that there's nudity aplenty during this festival.

If you want to see one of the most exciting festivals of America, then fantasy fest is the place for you. Just be aware that there's copious nudity on the streets during this event.

Address: 1111 12th St, Key West, FL 33040

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9: Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Sturgis, South Dakota

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Sturgis, South Dakota
Flickr/Jason Thorne

The Sturgis Motorcycle rally is held annually in Sturgis, South Dakota, featuring lots of different events featuring plenty of groups.

The tradition is almost 100 years old and has long since cemented itself as the largest motorcycle rally in the world, with over 500,000 riders participating each year.

The rally begins on the first Friday after Labor Day and usually lasts 8 days. During this time, motorcyclists from all across America converge on Sturgis to take part in events such as bike shows, live music performances and races.

There are also vendors selling merchandise related to motorcycles and bike-related activities like leather goods and parts & accessories.

Address: Sturgis, SD 57785

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10: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Indio, California

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Indio, California
Flickr/Sam Howzit

This music and arts festival is held at the Empire Polo Club, founded by Paul Tollett and Rick Van Santen in 1999.

The event hosts musicians from different genres, including pop, rock, hip-hop, dance, and indie. You'll also find lots of art installations and sculptures, as well as live music hosted on various stages on the grounds.

The festival draws in hundreds of thousands of people each year, hosting established artists and newcomers alike.

The success of the original Coachella festival led host Goldenvoice to establish new festivals: the Stagecoach country music festival, the Big 4 thrash festival, and the Desert Trip, all featuring new types of music for enthusiasts everywhere.

Over the years, the festival has seen massive success, and dozens of big names in music have made their appearance on the festival stages. If you want to check out the lineup of amazing artists and book your tickets in advance, check out their official website here.

Address: 81-800 Avenue 51, Indio, CA 92201

Also Read: Top 10 Summer Music Festivals in the USA

11: Kutztown Folk Festival, Kutztown, Pennsylvania

Kutztown Folk Festival, Kutztown, Pennsylvania
Facebook/The Kutztown Folk Festival

The Kutztown Folk Festival is the oldest folklife festival in America. The event lasts 9 days and gives an in-depth look into the traditions of the Pennsylvania Dutch. There are many things to do for kids and adults alike, and admission is free for kids 12 and under.

The festival also hosts the biggest quilt sale in America, with an internationally recognized Quilt Auction featuring some of the best quilts in the world.

Visitors can experience music, entertainment, and a unique look into the Pennsylvania Dutch community, representing a microcosm of American culture.

You can see traditional craftsmen demonstrating techniques, find delicious homemade food, and enjoy the sights and sounds of jiggers dancing the merry hours in the square.

It's an educational and profoundly entertaining experience, making it one of the best cultural festivals in America.

Address: 450 Wentz St, Kutztown, PA 19530

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12: Fiesta San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas

Fiesta San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas

Held every year in Texas, this festival, sometimes called the Battle of Flowers, commemorates the Battle of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, two important events leading to the independence of Texas from Mexico in April of 1836.

It’s the biggest festival in the city, and with over 3 million attendees and 100 events, it’s no wonder why.

More than 100 nonprofits play their part in making the Fiesta San Antonio a time to remember, with over 75,000 volunteers.

Three major parades dominate the festival’s attention, two held along Broadway and one on the San Antonio River Walk. Louisianan cuisine is served in Brackenridge Park, and a Night in Old San Antonio is an adventure you don’t want to miss at La Villita downtown.

Address: 2611 Broadway Street, San Antonio, TX 78215

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in San Antonio

13: San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade, California

San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade, California

Held each year in San Francisco, the Chinese New Year Parade is a sight to behold, featuring amazing spectacles that residents and tourists alike look forward to all year.

Make sure to bring your earplugs—you can expect to hear more than 600,000 firecrackers during the event.

The centerpiece of the parade is the Golden Dragon. Made in Foshan, China, it’s 268 feet long and requires a team of 100 people from Leung’s White Crane Lion and Dragon Dance Association to hoist it through the streets.

You’ll also see lots of Chinese acrobats, parade floats, bands, music, food, and so much more at this event. It’s one of the best cultural events in America, hands down.

Address: 730 Sacramento Street San Francisco, CA 94108

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in San Francisco

14: Burning of Zozobra, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Burning of Zozobra, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Flickr/Ron Frazier

The Burning of Zozobra is something you have to see to believe. Zozobra, known as Old Man Gloom, is a giant marionette-styled effigy made of wire, wood, and cloth, standing 50 feet tall.

Embodying gloom and doom, Zozobra collects kindling from the troubles of the people, who are encouraged to write down their problems and put them in the gloom box.

Up to the night of the burning, visitors can add stuffing to the marionette. Glooms are placed at Zozobra’s feet and burned alongside him just before the annual Fiestas de Santa Fe.

A fire spirit dancer wearing red enters the stage at nightfall and chases away small glooms and children dressed in white.

Zozobra animates and groans as the Fire Spirit dances before him in the inevitability of his fate as the marionette is lit ablaze. Once Zozobra collapses, more fireworks are set off to celebrate the occasion.

It's certainly a festival worth experiencing and one you'll never forget.

Address: Fort Marcy Park, Santa Fe, NM

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Santa Fe

15: Jazz and Heritage Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana

Jazz and Heritage Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana

Also called Jazz Fest, this adventure in New Orleans offers so much more than just jazz music. It's a historical adventure featuring music from around the world: country, blues, zydeco, pop, rap, and folk.

The unique experience is made all the better with authentic Louisianan cultural cuisine and food from around the world. Po'boys, beignets, jambalayas—all delicious additions to the day.

The festival isn’t just localized, however. Nightclubs and other city-hosted locations spring to life with live music, shows, and jazz-centered entertainment that everyone can enjoy. If you love music, then New Orleans is the place to visit.

Address: Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, 1751 Gentilly Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70119

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16: Dublin Irish Festival, Dublin, Ohio

Dublin Irish Festival, Dublin, Ohio
Facebook/Dublin Irish Festival

The hosts of the Dublin Irish Festival say that all you need to enjoy the event is the Irish spirit. In 2023, the Dublin Irish Festival will be held from August 4th through August 6th.

More than 100,000 guests attend, and it's no wonder why. With 7 stages, 535 performers in over 65 acts, and much more, there's something for everyone at this festival.

If you love celebrating Irish culture, this celebration will feel right at home. There's shopping, dining, and regular live performances.

Some of the biggest names in traditional Irish music and hard-edged Celtic rock have attended. In 2022, the festival saw big names like Gaelic Storm, WeBanjo3, and Dervish, featuring some of Ireland’s finest musical geniuses and offering a one-of-a-kind live experience.

Address: Coffman Park, 5600 Post Rd, Dublin, OH

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17: Bavarian Blast, New Ulm, Minnesota

Bavarian Blast, New Ulm, Minnesota

Bavarian Blast is a celebration of German heritage and culture. Taking place on July 20th through July 23rd in 2023, the festival has been around for 15 years, each year bringing back an array of crowd-pleasing entertainment, such as the Ambassadors of Goodwill, the Concord Singers.

Enjoy the festival with a poker hall, drink in the beer garden, and enjoy the live music playing. It's truly an experience you don't want to miss.

Address: 619 12th N St, New Ulm, MN 56073

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18: Battle of Gettysburg Reenactment, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Battle of Gettysburg Reenactment, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

It's an immersive historical experience like no other. Taking place on the Daniel Lady Farm near the National Military Park at Benner Hill, both the site and the reenactment are flawless, down to the preserved soldier's initials in the bard and the blood-stained floors in the house.

It's a somber experience but a tremendously valuable one. Celebrate the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg this year with live reenactments, artillery demonstrations, cavalry riders, living history events, and tours of the Bryan House and barn.

The festival is run by the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association, the oldest Civil War battlefield preservation organization in the United States, continuing the mission of preserving American heritage in the Battle of Gettysburg Reenactment.

Address: 1008 Hanover St, Gettysburg, PA

19: Boston Tea Party Reenactment, Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Tea Party Reenactment, Boston, Massachusetts
Flickr/Lee Wright

Another spectacular reenactment that recreates one of the most famous moments in American history, the Boston Tea Party Reenactment, is something you don’t want to miss.

On December 16th, 2023, the United States will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.

It's iconic, unforgettable, and truly magnificent to see performances featuring live actors, period-accurate costumes, and exquisite attention to detail.

There's a nearby history museum with interactive exhibits if you want to explore the history of this momentous event in American history further.

Address: 310 Washington St, Boston, MA 02108

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Boston

20: Hemingway Days, Key West, Florida

Hemingway Days, Key West, Florida
Flickr/Erin Borrini

Another Florida special, Hemingway Days, celebrates Ernest Hemmingway, an American novelist and short story writer. The event is held in July every year and features lots of wacky events to mark the occasion.

The most popular of these events is the Hemingway Lookalike Contest, held annually at the Sloppy Joe Bar on Duval Street, a favorite frequent of Hemingway when he lived in Key West back in the ‘30s.

There are other events like the Marlin Tournament, 5k Sunset Walk, and the Paddleboard Race, all tributes to Hemingway’s lifestyle and a celebration of Key West culture. It’s something you’ll only find in the keys, and it’s well worth seeing.

Address: 201 Duval St. Key West, FL 33040

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Key West

FAQs about US Cultural Festvals

What is the most famous festival of America?

The Kutztown festival is one of the most famous festivals in America. It's a living history exhibit at its finest, giving tremendous insight into the lifestyle of the Pennsylvania Dutch and a glimpse into America's past.

What is the biggest cultural celebration in the USA?

The biggest cultural festival in the United States is Mardi Gras, which has a forever home in New Orleans. Celebrated with parades, music, dancing, and dining, there's no shortage of Mardi Gras spirit in the United States.

Where is the biggest music festival in the US?

Summerfest, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is the biggest music festival in the world. With over 800 acts on 12 stages, there's something for everyone at this ginormous celebration of music culture.

Where is the most visited festival in America?

Coachella is one of the most visited festivals in the United States and the world at large. With celebrity attendance and more music than you can shake a stick at, Coachella is a place for music lovers around the world.

Wrapping Up: America's Best Cultural Festivals

There are lots of spectacular festivals across the United States to celebrate. Some pay homage to the history that made this great nation, while others celebrate the rich cultural diversity that makes it great.

Whether you're after a festival with drinking, laughter, and good times all around or a celebration of cultural influences in the States, one of the festivals on this list is sure to pique your interest and stoke your wanderlust.

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