One of the biggest pleasures of RV traveling is taking in the local sights and attending fun events.
But many RVers ask:
“What are the epic ‘don’t miss’ events around the country and what month/date do they occur?”
Every city and town has festivals and celebrations, but a few are “over the top,” drawing in visitors from all over the country and even from overseas. Often these are yearly traditions that date back for decades.
This question was asked in our Facebook Group and in this post, we have some of the best epic events to plan for in the coming year.
Want to join in the fun? Here’s a list of major events, their locations, and their approximate dates, listed by month.
Let's get this travel plan started!
Jan. 1 – Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena, CA
The Rose Parade is more than 130 years old and features floats made entirely of flowers and vegetation. Along with marching bands, horses, and celebrities, the parade makes its way 5 1/2 miles through downtown Pasadena.
Jan. 1 – Rose Bowl Game, Pasadena, CA.
The match between the Big-10 and Pac-12 champs draws crowds of tens of thousands of people. Tickets can be hard to get, so plan ahead.
Last weekend – Gasparilla Pirate Fest, Tampa, FL
Celebrating Tampa’s pirate history, the festival features a mythical “invasion” by a pirate boat in the bay, pirate-themed parades, and a great deal of eating and drinking. The night parade is a must-see event. Gasparilla is celebrated for many weeks including several Art Shows. Ask your Tampa-area friends to fill you in on all the festivities.
Mardi Gras can fall anywhere between Feb. 3 and March 9. The official day is on a Tuesday, but the festivities begin at least a week before and end at midnight when Ash Wednesday begins.
Here are some top places to celebrate.
New Orleans – Famous for parades, costumes, and bead-throwing, Mardi Gras in the French Quarter draws a million and a half people every year.
Lafayette – Two hours west of New Orleans is Lafayette, the capital of Cajun culture. The Mardis Gras celebration is lower-key and more family-friendly than New Orleans, but still packed with tradition and fun.
Mid-February – Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, FL
This major NASCAR race allows camping in the infield.
First week – Bike Week, Daytona Beach, FL
Half a million people attend this yearly motorcycle rally featuring parties, concerts, bike shows, and much more.
Mid-March – South by Southwest (SXSW), Austin, TX
A music festival, a film festival, speakers, panel discussions, exhibitions, and much more—SXSW brings together major performers, celebrities, and newsmakers for nine days of entertainment and fun.
First week – Fiesta San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
This flower-themed celebration attracts 3 million people and features three parades, block parties, music, and food tastings.
Mid-April – Coachella Music Festival, Indio, CA
Big names in contemporary music headline the festival, which showcases continuous music for three days on two major stages, as well as tents and domes. There’s a campsite right next to the venue.
First Saturday – Kentucky Derby, Louisville, KY
Kentucky Derby Festival begins two weeks before the famous race. Events include a parade, a marathon, balloon race, steamboat race, and the largest fireworks display in North America.
Memorial Day weekend – Indianapolis 500, Speedway, IN
Thirty-three drivers compete in cars approaching average speeds of 200 mph. Camping available adjacent to the track.
Mid-June – Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Manchester, TN
The music runs all day and all night at this four-day festival of music of all genres. You can camp in designated areas right on the grounds.
End of June – San Francisco Pride Festival, San Francisco, CA
This 50-year-old celebration of LGBTQ culture showcases a huge parade and includes music, entertainment, and other events throughout the city. All welcome, though some events are adult-focused.
MORE Epic Events
First week – National Cherry Festival, Traverse City MI
Celebrating the region’s cherry growing industry, the event includes parades, concerts, exhibits, and cherry pit spitting contests. Sample everything cherry, from wines and whiskeys to jams and pies.
Last week – EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh, WI
This air show features vintage aircraft, military jets, and night flights with fireworks. Airplane rides are also available. We did a post about this event AirVenture: The great Oshkosh Airshow
First weekend – Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland ME
How many ways can you eat lobster? Find out while also enjoying concerts, a parade, and other festival fun.
Mid-August – Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Sturgis, SD
This 10-day event attracts a half-million bikers and biker fans from all over the world. In addition to scheduled rides, events include concerts, vendor exhibits, a tattoo contest, and a beard and mustache concert.
Last week – Custer State Park Buffalo Round-up and Arts Festival
Watch as mounted riders round up more than 1,000 bison, some of which will be sold at auction. The arts festival includes country and bluegrass music as well as exhibits from local and national artisans.
Last week – Oktoberfest, La Crosse, WI
Many towns have Oktoberfest celebrations, but the La Crosse Oktoberfest is one of the oldest in the U.S. The festival celebrates the town’s German heritage and local brewing industry.
First week – Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, NM
More than 500 balloons of all colors and shapes take flight in this 9-day festival. Competitions, including a chainsaw carving contest, exhibits, and music are highlights.
Last week – Fantasy Fest, Key West, FL
Fantasy Fest is a 10-day street party featuring mostly adult-oriented events including parades, costumes, contests, and drinking.
First week – Wurstfest, New Braunfels, TX
The 10-day festival celebrates the city’s German heritage not only with wurst, but also with beer, lederhosen, and traditional music.
Thanksgiving – Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, New York, NY
Giant balloons, marching bands, celebrities performances, and Santa Claus—this famous holiday parade is unequaled anywhere else.
All month – Christmas at Graceland, Memphis, TN
Elvis Presley’s former home, now a museum, is decorated for the season. Christmas tours begin in mid-November and continue until a few days before Christmas. Holiday concerts by well-known performers enhance the experience.
New Year’s Eve – Plaza Hotel Fireworks, Las Vegas, NV
While the big countdown takes place in New York City, the best New Year Eve’s fireworks are on the strip in Las Vegas. Hotels, casinos, and restaurants all host parties.
Put These Two Lists Together
Combine this list of epic events with our post on all the RV Shows in the country and you can really jumpstart your travel plans for this next season!
Do you have any epic events to add to this list?
Let us know in the comments or in the social posts. We're looking forward to adding to this list through time!
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