When making family plans for the summer, many of us get locked in to just thinking about the festivals near us, and don’t always consider the wide variety of celebrations that would make a great destination on a summer road trip. People are passionate about everything from food to music to film to flowers to cars to their cultural heritage, and there are plenty of festivals celebrating them throughout the summer.
If you’re looking for a fun new experience for a summer family trip, here are a couple of festival suggestions to get you started:
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: In 1972, 13 balloons were launched from a mall parking lot at the first Balloon Fiesta, beginning a journey that has taken thirty years to blossom into the largest ballooning event on the planet. 600 balloons are launched at the 9-day festival in October, and the Fiesta now has a custom designed 365-acre park for events and launches, and the park’s 78-acre launch field lets visitors get right down in the middle of the action.
Banana Split Festival: Though there is some dispute as to the origins of the banana split, the good people of Wilmington Ohio stake their claim as the birthplace of this iconic American dessert, and hold an annual Banana Split Festival to celebrate. Featuring food, craft and collectible booths promoting the 50s and 60s, a classic car cruise, games and entertainment for the entire family, and and of course, the ever-popular “build your own” banana split booth, this June festival is a great way to celebrate an American favorite.
Northern California Pirate Festival: Who doesn’t love a pirate? Well, OK, maybe not everybody loves pirates, but the Pirate Festival is sure to be a hit with the little mateys. Held during Father’s Day Weekend (June 16th & 17th, 2012) at the Vallejo Waterfront, the festival promises to bring you “some of the best pirate and nautical entertainers you’ll find anywhere” along with swordfighting, sailing, cannon battles, theater, crafts, food and drink, and plenty of pirate booty. Costumes are encouraged.
National Cherry Festival: Cherries are one of the gems of summer, and there aren’t too many people who can resist a tree ripened cherry or the classic cherry pie. If you want to go to where the cherries are legendary, then the National Cherry Festival is your destination. Happening this year from July 7-14, 2012, the celebration in Traverse City, Michigan, in a region known for world-record harvests of tart cherries, features over 150 different events, including parades and entertainment, and of course, plenty of cherry goodness. The Festival has been held since 1926, and now draws as many as half a million people to it each year.
The Roswell UFO Festival: If food and pirates aren’t your thing, how about UFOs and aliens? Visit the birthplace of American UFO history for something a little out of the ordinary. The UFO Festival in Roswell New Mexico is a three day event (June 29-July 1, 2012) featuring the Alien Chase 10K run, guest speakers and authors of UFO books, live entertainment, laser and planetarium shows, an alien costume contest, a pet alien costume contest, an art show, a parade, and more.
Oregon Country Fair: For something a bit more earthy, the Oregon Country Fair has been providing “world class entertainment, hand-made crafts, delectable foods, educational displays and magical surprises” for 42 years, and offers an alternative festival experience from July 13 -15, 2012, in a wooded setting along the Long Tom River, 13 miles west of Eugene Oregon.
LEGO KidsFest: LEGOs have inspired generations of builders and creators, and the LEGO KidsFest is a traveling expo celebrating that, featuring interactive, hands-on, creative and educational activities for the whole family. The event has LEGO & DUPLO Construction Zones, lots of miniature and large-scale LEGO models to see, games, group builds, access to LEGO Master Builders, and plenty more! Find out more about the expo and see the schedule here: LEGO® KidsFest.
[Image: Larry and Linda]