Holidays and Events in the USA: A Quick Guide
The U.S. holiday calendar is a mix of secular and religious holidays, heritage festivals and remembrance days. Though there are federal holidays in only eight out of twelve months of the year, there are usually plenty of events and celebrations to fill the gaps.
Below are a list of U.S. public holidays. On the following pages you will find a quick guide to each month's events. Use this article to help plan your travel around the USA.
U.S. Public Holidays
The United States Government recognizes 10 federal holidays throughout the year. These are the days when government offices, banks, and many businesses are closed. The only religious holiday officially recognized as a public holiday in the United States is Christmas Day, December 25.
In addition to the 10 listed below, the U.S. also recognizes the first January 20 following a presidential election - Inauguration Day - as a national holiday.
January 1 - New Year's Day
Third Monday in January - Observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday
Third Monday in February - Observance of George Washington's Birthday/Presidents' Day
Last Monday in May - Memorial Day
July 4 - Independence Day
First Monday in September - Labor Day
Second Monday in October - Columbus Day
November 11 - Veterans' Day
Fourth Thursday in November - Thanksgiving
December 25 - Christmas
January Holidays and Events
January is the coldest month throughout most of the United States, so it's helpful that there are two - and sometimes, three - public holidays this month: New Year's Day, the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., and, every four years, Inauguration Day. Some folks use these extra days off to travel to warmer climes, such as Hawaii or Miami.
Read more about January holidays and events and January weather.
February Holidays and Events
February is still cold but starts to warm up with events like the Super Bowl, Valentine's Day, and often Mardi Gras. Presidents' Day, the public holiday that falls on the third Monday of the month, is a very popular time for a long weekend winter vacation.
Read more about February holidays and events.
March Holidays and Events
The first day of spring takes place in March and celebrations often crop up in anticipation of the new season or in its wake. Mardi Gras or Easter may take place in spring and the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC, begin to bloom. St. Patrick's Day is a popular day for the celebration of Irish heritage, culture, food and drink, whether you are Irish or not.
Read more about March holidays and events.
April Holidays and Events
Spring swings into action in April. Typically on the calendar are Easter celebrations, Earth Day, Arbor Day, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Baseball, America's pastime, begins its season in April, too.
Read more about April holidays and events.
May Holidays and Events
Weather-wise, May is typically glorious throughout the country. Spring is in full bloom and the first whispers of warm summer air have arrived. Big events in May include several sports events, such as the Kentucky Derby and the Tour de California. Cinco de Mayo on the 5th celebrates Mexican heritage. And, Memorial Day, a somber holiday that commemorates the lives of the nation's lost soldiers, ushers in the first unofficial weekend of summer.
Read more about May holidays and events.
June Holidays and Events
In June, thoughts turn to beaches, road trips, and enjoying the outdoors. There are no public holidays in June, but music and food festivals ramp up during this month.
Read more about June holidays and events.
July Holidays and Events
The United States celebrates its birth as an independent nation on the fourth day of July. Holiday-wise, the rest of the month is dedicated to dining and food festivals in a number of cities across the country.
Read more about July holidays and events.
August Holidays and Events
August ushers in the "dog days of summer," a time when many Americans take vacations. As city dwellers head to the beaches and mountains for cool breezes, many cities offer discounts on hotels to lure in out-of-towners. So, if you can bear the heat, August is often a good time to book a trip to cities like New York or Chicago. As for public holidays, there are none in August. Look instead for sporting events and music and food festivals during this last full month of summer.
Read more about August holidays and events.
September Holidays and Events
September kicks off with Labor Day, which signals the end of summer. Patriot Day, which commemorates the 9/11/2001 attacks, takes place on September 11, and is especially poignant at the 9/11 Memorial sites. As the leaves of autumn begin to change color, harvest festivals kick into gear. The German heritage festival Oktoberfest, which begins the last few weeks of September and runs into the first week or so of October, is widely celebrated in cities throughout the country.
Read more about September holidays and events
October Holidays and Events
Not too hot and not yet too cold, October is one of the most splendid months to travel in the United States. Columbus Day, a federal holiday that celebrates Christopher Columbus as well as Italian-American heritage, provides a three-day weekend in the middle of the month. Halloween, celebrated by young and old throughout the nation, finishes off the month.
Read more about October holidays and events.
November Holidays and Events
November has two public holidays: Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day. On Veterans Day, the nation commemorates its war veterans. Thanksgiving pays homage to the 1621 meal that celebrated the Pilgrims' first harvest in the New World. Many communities around the country celebrate Thanksgiving with a parade, but the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City is the biggest and best.
Read more about November holidays and events.
December Holidays and Events
Winter begins in December and so does holiday season. Hanukkah and Christmas celebrations dominate this month and its ends with a bang with New Years Eve parties.
Read more about December holidays and events.