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The Best 2024 Summer Events in North America

Men and women enjoying a summer music festival

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Slow-paced days, vivid orange sunsets, beach time, tan lines, backyard BBQs…it’s hard to top the good vibes of summer!

This season is shaping up to be a great one, jam-packed with summer events and festivals. You’ll likely want to hit more than one — there are so many unique things to choose from! Think: music and beer festivals, outdoor carnivals, rodeos, motorcycle rallies, and more. 

Once you decide where you’re headed, hit up Wanderu to book your travel logistics. We compare bus & train options, so you can quickly make your travel plans and arrive at your chosen event with less stress.

Get ready to enter your festival era. Grab a hat and some sunscreen, and let’s dive into 12 of the best summer events in 2024!

Tribeca Film Festival

June 5 – 16, 2024

New York, New York

Official website

Rubenstein / Flickr

For something focused more on culture and education this summer, head to the Big Apple for the Tribeca Film Festival. This celebration of independent media spotlights new movies, television, music, and other live performances. Curators place emphasis on highlighting underrepresented voices, with well over half the productions created by women and BIPOC. There’s no better environment to discover a new underground favorite!

Attending Tribeca gives attendees exclusive access to not just movie premieres, but also educational talks, panels, and concerts. Plus, it offers the opportunity to interact face-to-face with leading cultural innovators. Between screenings, venture out and immerse yourself in New York’s captivating, world-class dining and nightlife scenes.

Spock Days

June 7 – 9, 2024

Vulcan, Alberta, Canada

Official website

Live long and prosper, Star Trek fans…you won’t want to miss out on one of Canada’s most niche summer festivals! 🖖 Held in sci-fi-loving, aptly-named Vulcan, Alberta, Spock Days attracts fans from all over the world for a weekend of wholesome and nerdy fun.

Themed festivities include a Star Trek parade, costume nights, fireworks, a pancake breakfast, and a beer garden. The atmosphere is welcoming and inclusive, so you’ll be able to chat with fellow fans who will quickly become new Star Trek friends! Add this unique event to your summer bucket list, and make sure to snap a selfie with the USS Enterprise — there’s a 5-story replica built in the center of town, part of an entire Star Trek-themed monument for visitors!

Fremont Fair

June 22 – 23, 2024 

Seattle, Washington

Official website

Dive into Seattle’s vibrant counterculture at the Fremont Fair, one of the best outdoor festivals in the PNW! Join nearly 100,000 other attendees in a celebration of everything free-spirited. Marvel at colorful eccentric costumes, window-shop local craft vendors, and sample some of the city’s most delicious food.

Most importantly, don’t miss out on the Fremont Solstice Parade. This vibrant procession features a whirlwind ensemble of bold colors, performances, and loads of body art. The event doesn’t permit any sponsored logos or motorized vehicles, favoring human-powered expression. Such a free-spirited atmosphere makes it one of the most lively, unique things to do this summer! And after the festivities, check out other iconic Seattle sights like Pike Place Market.

Summerfest

June 20 – 22, June 27 – 29, July 4- 6 – 8, 2024

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Official website

Ryan Dickey / Flickr

Few outdoor festivals can top Summerfest. After all, it’s one of the largest music events in the entire world! With an annual attendance of around half a million (or more!), just the sheer scale is a sight to behold. In 2023, more than 800 acts played across 12 stages. This year’s headliners include superstars like the Motley Crue, Seether, and Keith Urban.

The combination of such a large-scale event and A-list talent creates an electric atmosphere that continues off-stage too. Whether it’s watching the all-out fireworks display on opening night or sampling the abundant food options, the experience between acts is almost as good as the tunes.

Rochester International Jazz Festival

June 21 – 29, 2024

Rochester, New York

Official website

Every June, Rochester hosts one of the largest jazz festivals in the world. More than 300 acts come to perform in Upstate New York, including headliners like jazz icon Pat Matheny and legendary blues artist Keb’ Mo.

Ideal for music fans of all ages, this event offers a well-planned, accessible experience. Unlike many other summer festivals in 2024, most events are held indoors, so there’s no need to brave the scorching sun! Plus, the shows are sprinkled over 10 days, so you can simply check the calendar and drop in for the acts you most want to see. 

Best of all, some concerts are completely FREE! Still, buying a festival pass is the most immersive way to enjoy the festival.

Portland Craft Beer Festival

July 4-6, 2024

Portland, Oregon

Official website

Phil Whitehouse / Flickr

Few U.S. cities rival Portland’s craft brewery scene. What better way to experience its offerings than at one of the most happening summer events in 2024?

Held downtown, this festival includes only breweries, cideries, and wineries with production facilities inside city limits. Even with this strict criteria, the selection is extensive — Portland has over 70 breweries! 🍻

To accompany the brews, there are food trucks (another Portland staple!), vendors, and a bustling atmosphere. The first two days are only for patrons 21+; however, the gates open to all ages on Sunday. 

While you’re in town, take a hike in one of the city’s breathtaking parks and catch clear-day views of Mt. Hood! Portland is also one of the least expensive cities for vacation rental prices this summer, so accommodations won’t break the bank.

The Calgary Stampede

July 5 – 14, 2024

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Official website

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner / Flickr

Embrace deeply-rooted cowboy culture at the Calgary Stampede, one of Canada’s largest summer events. The rodeo is among the largest in the world, appropriately nicknamed “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” 

The Calgary Stampede hosts traditional competitions like saddle bronc, where riders use just one hand to hold onto a horse attempting to buck them off. There’s also a Chuckwagon race, which in 2024 celebrates more than a century since its inception!

Outside the stadium, there’s an energetic carnival atmosphere, with loads of food options, rides on the midway, a parade, and more. Don’t miss the evening show, with thrilling stunts, concerts, and fireworks. Pro tip: Book tickets online ahead of time to avoid lines.

Hemingway Days

July 16-21, 2024

Key West, Florida

Official website

Erin Borrini / Flickr

Literary fans should head to Key West for one of the most unique festivals in July. Hemingway Days honors the legendary novelist with prose readings, marlin fishing, and a 5K race. One of the event’s highlights is the congregation of Hemingway look-alikes at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, the writer’s beloved hangout. 

In addition to the literary-themed festival, Key West really comes to life during the event weekend. There’s a bustling family-friendly street fair, a perfect way to experience the city’s vibrant atmosphere in a less raucous environment. 

Key West is easily accessible via bus from transit hubs like Miami, making this event a no-brainer to check off your summer bucket list.

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

August 2 – 11, 2024

Sturgis, South Dakota

Official website

No other festivals in August can top the thrilling roar of Sturgis. The largest two-wheeled convention in the entire world, it causes the population of small-town Sturgis, South Dakota, to surge to over half a million people!

Even if you’re not a biker yourself, immersing yourself in the rider subculture is one of the best things to do this summer. Festival-goers create a buzzing, friendly atmosphere, and many attendees aren’t even motorcyclists themselves!

The city hosts a variety of associated events, including contests, pub crawls, free concerts, vendor pop-ups, and more. And while you’re in the area, don’t miss the chance to explore Badlands National Park!

Burning Man

August 25 – September 2, 2024

Black Rock City, Nevada

Official website

Marco Verch Professional Photographer / Flickr

Few summer events have the lore and intrigue of Burning Man. Held in a self-constructed city in the remote Nevada desert, the week-long festival celebrates art, self-expression, and community.

Conditions get extremely hot and dusty, so attending Burning Man with a few companions — called a tribe — is essential. Meeting new people, organizing shelter, and creating art alongside 70,000 others is a cornerstone of the experience! Make sure to bring a bicycle for transportation (decorated, of course!). 

While Burning Man’s harsh climate and hedonism may not be for everyone, it’s one of North America’s most epic festivals and attending is sure to earn you street cred with free-spirited communities around the world.

Fiesta de Santa Fe

August 31 – September 8, 2024

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Official website

One of the most historic summer festivals in the US, this year’s Fiesta de Santa Fe commemorates its 311th iteration.

A lively celebration of the city’s rich multicultural heritage, the event encompasses a wide variety of interests. Come for live mariachi performances, delicious food stalls, and religious ceremonies. Shop for artisan arts and crafts on the bustling streets. And remember to hydrate in New Mexico’s summer heat!

Whatever brings you to Santa Fe, don’t miss the festival’s flagship event: the burning of the Zozobra. This 50-foot effigy represents the hardships of the previous year, and there’s nothing quite like watching it burn. The fiesta showcases historic Santa Fe at its most vibrant, so it’s one of the best times to visit!

Summer is the time to live your best life, so don’t skip out on the season’s hottest events! No matter how you choose to let loose, consult Wanderu to effortlessly book bus and train tickets, hotels, and more. Already on the move? Download the app to make hassle-free reservations!

Interested in more suggestions for things to do this summer? Hit up these cities for the best craft beer, set out on your dream trip to Yellowstone, or if you’re traveling with the whole family, check out our budget tips to save some money. Whatever’s on your summer bucket list, Wanderu has you covered!

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About the author
Taryn Shorr

Taryn Shorr

A classic Type A personality, Taryn's favorite aspects of travel are the planning and meeting new people. She's most drawn to the mountains and has a knack for quickly finding the best happy hour in new destinations. When she isn't writing for Wanderu or traveling, Taryn runs her own blog, Chasing Trail.

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