Ethnic and Cultural Festivals

Want to explore some of the diverse cultures and ethnicities that are part of the United States? Then add the following to your must-experience list! Check the websites for specific dates and camping options. 

Hawaii

If Hawaii is on your travel list, then consider traveling to Kauai in July for Koloa Plantation Days. The ten-day event takes place in Koloa and offers a family-oriented slate of events that showcases the area’s social history, natural history, and diverse cultural traditions that were established by immigrants who came from the Philippines, Europe, the Azores, Japan, Korea, China, and other countries. From a rodeo weekend featuring paniolo culture to live music events and performances, historic exhibits and craft fairs, and of course, an outstanding selection of culinary treats, Koloa Plantation Days has something for everyone.

Idaho

Native Americans hold many gatherings and powwows through the United States, and one of these is the Shoshone-Bannock Agaidika Gathering, taking place just two miles east of Salmon, ID. Each year the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes visit the Sacajawea Center to remember their ancestors and connect their youth to their homeland and traditions. But visitors from the local community and beyond are also welcome to attend part or all of the gathering to experience the heritage and ancestral living activities and demonstrations. Check the website for the 2021 date.

Louisiana

Mardi Gras is as much a part of New Orleans as beignets and gumbo. While the origins of the festival can be traced as far back as medieval Europe, its arrival in the New World took place in 1703, when the Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated the very first Mardi Gras. Now about 1.4 million people attend the annual Carnival that begins on January 6 (King’s Day or Feast of the Epiphany) and ends on Mardi Gras day (Fat Tuesday), always the day before Ash Wednesday.

New York

It may only last one day, but Brazilian Day packs a lot into that short space of time. The event is held on the Sunday before the American Labor Day in heart of New York City’s Little Brazil and encompasses 25 blocks. Since its start in 1984, Brazilian Day has grown to attract more than 1.5 million people who want to experience Brazilian culture and all that it includes: the music, the food, and the warmth of the culture. 

North Dakota

You don’t have to speak the language of any of the five Scandinavian countries—Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden—to enjoy Norsk Høstfest, held annually each September in Minot, ND. It’s North America’s largest Scandinavian festival with tens of thousands of people coming from all over the world to enjoy world-class entertainment and authentic Scandinavian cuisine, and experience Scandinavian culture and heritage.

Ohio

Want to view a parade of old-fashioned paddle-wheel steamboats? That and more can be enjoyed during the annual Ohio River Sternwheel Festival in Marietta, OH. The festival began in 1976 and has attracted upwards of 100,000 people during the weekend event. Events include family-oriented entertainment, fireworks, and a line-up of authentic sternwheel boats—and since it takes place in September, it’s the perfect way to end the summer.

Pennsylvania

Who can resist attending the oldest continuously operated folklife festival in America? If you can’t, then add the Kutztown Folk Festival to your must-go list for June-July 2021. Taking place in Kutztown, PA, the festival provides a fascinating glimpse into the traditions and way of life of the Pennsylvania Dutch as well as the largest quilt sale in America. Entertainment and traditional Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine are all part of the unique nine-day celebration.

Vermont

The Vermont Festival of Fools is a unique curated festival of street theater that takes place each year in Burlington, VT. Visitors can enjoy circus arts, music, and comedy, featuring some of the best international street performers from around the world. The three-day event has a full schedule of activities along with continuous street theater and takes place in August.

Wisconsin

Festa Italiana—just the name makes your mouth water for pasta and panini, calamari and cannoli, fried eggplant and sausage and…well, need we go on? The original goal of the Festa Italiana (coincidentally also the first ethnic festival in Milwaukee) was to bring the Italian community together, and it has since grown into the largest Italian event of its kind in America today. The Festa includes time-honored traditions such as the celebration of Sunday Mass and Procession and cultural exhibits to delicious Italian food, drink, and music, along with two nights of fireworks. Check the site for the 2021 date.

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