1. ART BASEL
Every December, Miami becomes the center of the art world when it hosts the massive Art Basel, an international festival that also touches down in Switzerland and Hong Kong, and the swanky parties that come along with it.
2. BURNING MAN
Tens of thousands of avid “burners” return each summer to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for Burning Man, a “temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance.”
Originally for comic book fans, San Diego’s hugely popular convention has grown to include just about all pop culture. The big draw is the costumes, so be prepared to snap pics of every superhero you could imagine.
4. NEW ORLEANS JAZZ FEST
More formally known as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, this annual outdoor celebration is second only to Mardi Gras in the hearts of music-loving locals.
5. SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST
In March, Austin, Texas, pretty much surrenders to this weeklong event that literally fills the streets with outdoor concerts by musicians of every possible genre. Indoors are film screenings and interactive media demonstrations.
6. SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
Hollywood relocates to Park City, Utah, every winter for the world’s largest independent film festival. The best inevitably end up streaming on your TV or playing at your local multiplex.
7. TASTE OF CHICAGO
Deep-dish pizza is delicious, but it’s not the only famous food to come out of Chicago, as this annual gastronomic event makes clear. Taking over Grant Park, it’s one of the city’s largest events.
8. MAINE LOBSTER FESTIVAL
In Maine, summer isn’t summer without lobster. This festival, held in the coastal community of Rockland, has a parade, cooking contests, and the crowning of the Maine Sea Goddess.
9. CONEY ISLAND MERMAID PARADE
Manhattan parades might be bigger, but none of them are as fun as this Brooklyn street festival smack in the middle of Coney Island’s amusement park, with thousands of mermaids, mermen, and every conceivable creature from under the sea.
10. WAIKIKI HO’OLAULE’A
Billed as “Hawaii’s largest block party,” Waikiki Ho’olaule’a has become an unmissable event that celebrates the archipelago’s cuisine, crafts, and culture. Four stages of entertainment are the place to watch hula, singing, and more.
11. OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
The Bard isn’t the only playwright whose works are brought to life at this venerable event dating back to 1935. It now stages hundreds of performances in outdoor and indoor spaces.
12. CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL
Every spring, thousands of cherry trees around the Jefferson Memorial and throughout all of Washington, D.C., are suddenly covered with delicate white blossoms.
13. TELLURIDE BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL
The biggest names in bluegrass, along with a well-rounded roster of musicians from other genres, descend upon the picturesque former Colorado mining town over the annual summer solstice.
14. ALBUQUERQUE INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA
From morning to night, the skies over New Mexico are filled with every conceivable shape and color of hot air balloon. Whimsical designs include astronauts, swarms of bumble bees, and even Star Wars characters.