If there's anything the United States isn't lacking for, it's festivals. It stands to reason that in a nation the size of this one, that there would be plenty of festivals for plenty of tastes. There are thousands of American festivals, celebrating everything from food, to regional distinctiveness, to the arts, to the written word, to even the borrowed written word, as in public libraries. Festivals in the US are held out in the desert, on farms, near water, indoors, and even underground. American festivals can be and are held year round, though the "prime" festival season tends to be between late spring and mid-autumn. And of course, festivals in the US are as variable in size and temperament as its inhabitants. Some however are bigger and better known than others.
Because of their performers and the audience sizes they attract, music festivals may be among the United State's best known offerings. New Port, Rhode Island, a small town in a tiny state hosts two iconic gatherings, the Newport Folk Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival. Both festivals have been around since the mid 1950's, both are held in late July, and both have given the world legendary performances by Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, and Joan Baez.
Summerfest, the world's largest musical festival, takes place from late July through early August in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A fixture since the late 1960's, it takes place on 75 acres and 11 stages and features more than 800 international acts representing a wide spectrum of music. Bob Dylan, Mary Blige, and Britney Spears are among this festival's many famous performers. The 2014 Summerfest had 900,000 attendees.
Need a break from the music? Then how about taking in America's most famous performing arts festival? Located in Vienna, Virginia the Wolftrap National Park is not technically a festival. But it offers festival seating, draws festival sized crowds, and operates during festival prime time (late May-early September). Wolftrap's big ticket names have included opera diva Beverly Siils and legendary Irish dance troupe Riverdance on their last United States tour.
Since the concept of festivals in general owes a great debt to the ones of the European Middle Ages, let's end this tour with the Texas Renaissance Festival, America's largest Renaissance fair. Held annually in mid to late November in Todd Mission, Texas the festival features performers and artisans on 17 stages. This festival attracts half a million visitors a year, and has been held since the early 1970's.
This is but a tiny sampling of the thousands of festivals held in the US annually. Potential festival goers are limited only by their imaginations and lack of an almanac.