5 Summer Festivals Worth The Trip

Outdoor fiestas, from the world's largest food showcase to cutting-edge theater.

The summer season is also festival season, and it's almost here. Whether you want to experience music, food, theater, dance, or wine, there are plenty of types to suit any festival goer. There are even hot air balloon, walking, and garlic festivals. The beauty of festivals is that they bring people together who may share similar interests in an environment that is all about community and fun.

To maximize your own festival-going enjoyment, it's a good idea to come with an open mind. For example, thousands of people may be attending the event, so chances are that you won't have much personal space. Yet sharing experiences with the energy of the crowd is part of what makes festivals so special.  With that in mind, we've rounded up five summer festivals from across the United States that you may or may not have heard of, but that are worth the trip.

The festival: Mele Mei

The place: Hawaii

The dates: May to June 2016

The gist:  The name of this festival translates to simply "May Hawaiian music month." Simply put, the islands are alive with the sound of music. Throughout the months of May and June, the festival sponsors events celebrating Hawaiian music in Honolulu and across all the other islands. The festival features so many events that it is possible to hear concerts nearly anywhere on the islands, from a brunch hotspot to the beach. 

The festival: Taste of Chicago

The place: Chicago

The dates: July 6 to 10, 2016

The gist: This is an event that die-hard foodies can't miss, as it is the world's largest food festival. The food is not  the only reason to come, though, as it also features concerts and other activities such as talks. It takes place in Grant Park, which is right on the lakefront, so you'll get a water view while you sample the delicious offerings. The park is walking distance from the city center, which is home to many hotels and attractions.

The place: Shepherdstown, West Virginia

The dates: July 8 to 31, 2016

The gist: This theater festival aims to showcases new works of theater that are cutting-edge, diverse, and daring. Therefore, this festival offers the opportunity to see plays that are more offbeat than ones in a regular theater and may never be shown anywhere else. Its location, in rural but beautiful Shepherdstown, makes the experience even better. Visitor information, including how to get there and where to stay is available on the festival's website.

The festival:  Bite of Oregon

The place: Portland

The dates:   August 14 to 16, 2016

The gist: All the dishes offered at this food fest are made from ingredients that come from local Oregon, so everything is very fresh. Plus, the festival takes place in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, which offers stunning views of the Willamette River and even a paved path that's perfect for walking or biking. The park is located in central Portland and surrounded by hotels and other tourist attractions.


The festival: Stowe Tango Music Festival 

The place: Stowe, Vermont

The dates: August 18 to 21, 2016

The gist: Although it is best known as the home of a famous ski resort, Stowe also plays host to a yearly festival that celebrates all things tango. Everyone from tango aficionados to people who have never even seen a performance before will have the chance to engage with tango through performances, music and dance workshops, family-friendly programs, and much more. Stowe is about a five-hour drive from New York and lodging options include many quaint inns and B&Bs.