Travelling is all about discovering the new, and that’s why we love it. But we also love a good festival, with food, music and an electrifying atmosphere… if only there was a way to combine the two…
Well, fortunately, there is, because we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite annual North American iconic festivals and events.
1. Calgary Stampede
The first thing you should know about the Calgary Stampede is that it’s ten days of cowboy boots, rodeos, horses, funfairs, delicious food and all things western. During the festival the entire city of Calgary has a new energy about it and everyone’s all about getting into the cowboy spirit. The excitement is definitely contagious!
The festival started in 1923 and attracts over one million visitors every year from all over the world.
The rodeo events include; barrel racing, bull riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping and bareback riding. If that’s not really your thing, there are also music concerts, talent shows, parades, competition events and more. Foodies won’t be disappointed either, with plenty of mouth-watering options to choose from including chili lime popcorn shrimp perogies, cereal sandwiches (yes, really), double bacon mac n’ cheese dogs, butter chicken bear balls and many other crazy delicious treats
2. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
If you love jazz, this festival is right up your alley. You cannot travel to the birthplace of jazz without taking part in the festival dedicated to this controversial music genre. New Orleans was once the only city in the country where it was legal for slaves to play drums and other homemade instruments. The festival pays homage to a genre of music that made people get up and dance even when times were tough.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival features local and national acts on 12 stages, with more than 70 food vendors, arts and crafts, activities for kids, cultural demonstrations and displays. The lineup usually consists of jazz, pop, rock, gospel, rap and R&B artists, who are announced in January before the festival.
3. Tournament of Roses
If you’re in California for the New Year and are looking for something exciting to do on the day, you’ll definitely want to go to America’s most famous New Year’s celebration.
The Rose Parade as it’s also known, is part of “America’s New Year Celebration” held in California each year usually on New Year’s Day. The parade began in 1890 and attracts a million visitors per year. The parade includes marching bands, flower floats adorned with every coloured petal you can imagine, and beautiful horses from the equestrian unit, also generously adorned. It’s certainly worth booking in early for this very popular event so you can get a good view of the parade.
If you want to escape the crowds afterward, we recommend the famous Getty Museum in LA for a look at some of the extensive art collections on exhibition.
4. Quebec Winter Carnival
Snow certainly doesn’t stop Québécois from having a good time. The winter carnival is held every year, with the first taking place in 1894. These festivities were held to help brighten the moods and warm the hearts of a population often faced with harsh, long winters.
Highlights include the snow bath – where participants warm up in a sauna before rolling around in the snow in their bathers, which is always fun to watch. There is an impressive snow sculpture exhibition and several glittering night parades to enjoy after the sun goes down. You must also check out Bonhomme’s Ice Palace showcasing some incredible graffiti art.
If you’re keen to warm up, there are plenty of indoor cafes and restaurants where you can get a cup of soup, or a mug of hot chocolate to help the chills subside.
5. Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
You don’t want to miss out on being part of the largest hot air balloon festival in the world! For more than 4 decades, the first week of October has bought the smells, magic and atmosphere of hot air balloons sailing through the skies to New Mexico, United States.
Beginning in 1972, the Balloon Fiesta has come a long way since its humble, 13 balloon beginnings. In addition to being the world’s largest ballooning event (with more than 600 balloons), the Balloon Fiesta is also the most photographed event and the largest annual international event held in the United States.
If you’re ready to witness the beauty of hot air balloons filling the blue New Mexico sky, you don’t want to give this one a miss!