By Michelle Schuman for the CheapTickets Travel Blog
Welcome to your one-stop shop for the best of America's non-musical festivals. (Don't worry, we've got plenty of cheap music festival tickets for you anyway.)
Eeyore's Birthday Party: Austin, Texas
When: April 30, 2016
Why: This one-day celebration dedicated to pop culture's most depressed cartoon has been raging once a year since the 1960s. It also serves as a fundraiser to various local nonprofits, making the family-friendly drum circles, games, food and drinks that much more enjoyable. There's also the annual maypole and real-live donkey, a cartoon Eeyore stand-in. But make sure to take a good, hard look in your closet (or collection of Halloween costumes) before heading out: There are prizes for the best costumes.
Lightening in a Bottle: Bradley, California
When: May 25-30, 2016
Why: This festival offers a holistic, 'transformative' experience that combines music, interactive art installations, performers and yoga to create an atmosphere that's as free and accepting as that of Burning Man. Take a personal-growth workshop to the tune of a nearby electronic music show or sip tea with soon-to-be-friends on some soft Persian rugs.
Milwaukee Highland Games: Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
When: June 4, 2016
Why: According to this festival's homepage, you'll be treated to spectacular bagpipe bands, working sheepdogs in action, unique athletic events and great Scottish food on the outskirts of Milwaukee. So take in the Highland dance competition and heavy stone putt events while chowing down. And trying to avoid running into any errant sheep that aren't inclined to be herded.
When: June 10-12, 2016
Why: Welcome to the festival of messy fingers. Do not sacrifice your favorite shirt to Ribest, and show up ready to eat. A lot. This massive, Chicago-style block party offers up a down-home environment despite its size--there are live bands, a kids' playground, and more smoky, sticky, fall-off-the-bone ribs than you can count (but really, who's counting?).
Summer Feast: Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
When: June 24-26, 2016
Why: Eat your heart out. Literally. This fest serves up a different culinary theme each day, two of which are free. The first is Fiery Foods, a celebration of all things spicy. Next, is the Bacon, Brew & BBQ Festival (requires a ticket, but it's all-you-can-eat). Finally, there's the World Food Festival, where you can sample goods from Africa, Japan, India and plenty of other countries. You can also take a free or cheap cooking class onsite.
International Folk Art Market: Santa Fe, New Mexico
When: July 8-10, 2016
Why: This is the country's largest folk-art festival, which attracts roughly 180 artists from around the world to hawk their goods at Museum Hill. These artists are more carefully curated than it may sound, though--most of the artisans create goods that represent their country's history and identity, including hand-knotted Moroccan carpets, embroidered clothing from Afghanistan and hand-carved and -painted marionettes from Myanmar.
Artscape: Baltimore, Maryland
When: July 15-17, 2016
Why: Welcome to America's biggest free arts festival. This year's theme is 'Space: Explore What's Out There!', which artists, fashion designers, performers and craftspeople will all explore with their craft. And you can pick up some tasty international eats as you meander between artists' booths and pop-up theaters.
Lumberjack World Championships: Hayward, Wisconsin
When: July 28-30, 2016
Why: Oh, yes. Come to Hayward to see hopefully bearded men and (beardless) women compete in some of the wackiest sports around--among them, logrolling, sawing, the boom run and chopping, which is harder than it sounds. For the Springboard Chop, for instance, a lumberjack must climb nine feet up a marked tree, stand on a springboard stuck in the trunk, and chop it down.
Satchmo SummerFest: New Orleans, Louisiana
When: August 4-7, 2016
Why: It doesn't get much more iconic than NOLA native Satchmo, aka Louis Armstrong. Dig into regional specialties like jambalaya and crab cakes as you celebrate the man's legend with outdoor concerts and a jazz mass. And since this is New Orleans, you'll need a mango daiquiri or margarita to go with that po'boy.
Harry Potter Festival: Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia
When: October 21-22, 2016
Why: Muggles rejoice! The wizarding world comes alive in Chestnut Hill, albeit in a very American way: Think pub crawls, character lookalikes, horcrux scavenger hunts and, somehow, a Quidditch tournament.
Voodoo Music & Art Experience: New Orleans, Louisiana
When: October 28-30, 2016
Why: Why yes, you are noticing a trend here: New Orleans is excellent at festivals. While food isn't exactly the focus of this one, there are tons of vendors selling some seriously tasty grub. Otherwise, enjoy the local crafts and wares, art and music that takes over City Park. And plan to stay out late--the after parties basically rage on until the next morning's events begin.