Mardi Gras, New Orleans
The New Orleans Mardi Gras is the biggest free party on the planet and each year it attracts millions of revellers from all over with something to offer for everyone. Traditionally a religious festival, Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is the last meat-eating day for Roman Catholics before lent begins, the celebrations usually begin as early as January and continue right up until mid-March. The biggest parades are usually about two weeks before the actual day itself and usually consist of about twenty floats as well as bands, dancers and the like. Floats may only be used once so they are always particularly decorative and colourful to ensure variety. If you decide to take part you will have to wear some type of costume but it is the most enjoyable way to spend the carnival and makes it all the more memorable.
Attracting over two million people a year and with over two hundred events, many of which are free, this is an event well worth catching. On each day of the Harbourfest, there are concerts at the Boston City Hall Plaza, guided walks and tours of civic buildings, opportunities to sail on the tall ships in the harbour and lots more. And, if you’re a fan of clam chowder then you have to visit the Chowderfest where over fifteen thousand experts ply you with their delicious concoctions. A family oriented event, it is a thoroughly enjoyable festival where you will have as much good clean fun as you could possibly want.
Aloha Festivals, Hawaii
This festival is Hawaii’s largest festival and the only state-wide celebration in the US. Originally known as Aloha Week, this is a cultural celebration of the state’s music, dance and history and was designed to help preserved the unique Hawaiian traditions. Little did the original organisers know that the festival itself would become an island tradition. Now, over three hundred events take place on each of the six islands including parades, hula competitions and beach concerts. The setting is second to none and the atmosphere is amazing. So, if you can fit it into your trip, grab your floral necklace and your hula and check out this remarkable event.
Elvis Presley’s Birthday Celebration, Memphis, Tennessee
Although the King’s birthday actually falls on January eighth, this has now become a wacky three-day festival. The main event takes place at the Chrome Grille in Graceland Plaza, complete with city and county officials just in case you take two slices of the birthday cake which is on offer. This is followed by the Elvis Presley Birthday Gala which honours his first bandmates. As well as the birthday celebrations, however, it is a good excuse to visit this landmark attraction. Special tours through the house will lead you on a journey made by the legendary singer every day. Unfortunately the tour ends at the same place he did, his gravesite. The only problem with a trip to Memphis is that you are at considerable risk of becoming totally Elvised out. After you see the hoardes of Elvis tribute gift stores, museums and restaurants you will see just how much of an idol he was for some people.
Village Parade, New York
If you’re looking for a good freak show, Greenwich Village is where you’ll find one. And, if you’re looking for the best freak show, the Village on Halloween night is where you need to go. The ultimate costume party where even the normal people turn into freaks for one night only, this is one you want to see. With over twenty five thousand participants and an audience of over one and a half million, this parade is the most enthusiastic and craziest collection of costumed creatures you are ever likely to witness. It is also the one night of the year where the distinction between the city’s classes are dissolved as the rejects mingle with the social climbers making it a unique experience for all concerned.
An annual eleven-day festival taking place on ninety acres along the shores Lake Michigan, Summerfest is a must if you within a two hundred mile radius of Milwaukee in July. The event is steeped in music history and tradition and came about in the sixties after the city’s mayor had attended the Oktoberfest in Munich. As well as dreaming up the idea of Summerfest, he also very kindly made a point of keeping the cost down so that everyone in the city could afford to go and this incentive still remains. It just gets better and better. In 1999, the festival earned the Guinness Book or Records title as the biggest music festival in the world when performers included Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, Lauryn Hill, Shania Twain, Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin and James Taylor graced the stage. So, I think it is pretty clear that this is one serious festival but in order to insure that you are among the million people who attend it every year, get booking your ticket now.
Frontier Days, Cheyenne
The first Frontier Day was held in 1897 and was to become America’s premier celebration of the Wild West. Today, spectators are treated to a multitude of rodeo related events which will leave them mesmerized as they see more cowboy and bull and steer action in one afternoon than they would see during an entire festival elsewhere in the country. As well as the rodeo displays there are spectacular air shows, authentic examples of Native American art and culture, twice daily gunfighter demos, nightly country and western shows and grand parades featuring one of the world’s largest collections of horse-drawn vehicles. If you want something a little different, this is certainly a festival to think about.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, New York
If you are spending Thanksgiving in New York then you cannot afford to miss this parade and if you are European, it is of special significance. The parade has been taking place for over seventy years and actually began when many of Macy’s employees who were first-generation immigrants from Europe wanted to celebrate the American holiday with the type of festival that they had enjoyed in their homeland. In the decades that have passed since the first parade, the event has increased significantly and it now attracts millions of visitors every year who are celebrating one of the country’s most important holidays.
Haunted Happenings, Salem
Widely known as the ‘Witch City’, Salem Massachusetts now dedicates most of the month of October to the celebration of Halloween. Costumed balls, haunted houses, psychic fairs, craft shows, and tours of the city's historic districts are just a few of the many events commemorating this spooky holiday. Highlights of the festival include the Fright Train from Boston’s North Station to Salem on Halloween night, the annual Salem Haunted Happenings parade, the Beatle Juice concert and head to the Common for the wildest costume party ever.
Hollywood Celebrities Show
Taking place in Hollywood, Chicago and San Francisco a number of times per year, these shows are certainly well worth the $10 entry fee if you happen to be in the vicinity. Over one hundred celebrities sign autographs and offer photo opportunities. As well as this you will have a rare chance to consider buying some Hollywood collectibles and memorabilia. Those attending the event range in celebrity status from the likes of Oscar winner Shirley Jones, to the actress who played Ginger in Gilligan’s Island to Paul Linke from ChiPS. See if you can spot some of your childhood idols and pay them for their autograph. Oh did I forget to mention that all celebrities charge a fee for their signature?