10 Fun-for-All Festivals
● By Style
When I was a kid, my parents took us on a series of motor home adventures throughout the U.S. One of my favorites was a stop at the 1986 World’s Fair in Vancouver.
I remember the thrill of the festival scene: the food, the attractions, the music, and the people. There was something special about sharing the experience with my family, a great moment for bonding in between long hours on the road. While some of our country’s most endearing festivals are a stone’s throw from Sacramento (well, a couple hours drive at the most) others are accessible via flights out of SMF. Of course many take place during vacation-friendly summer months, but some not-to-be-missed festivals make an appearance throughout the year. From tasty food fests and music gatherings to film and theatre offerings, there are plenty of wonderful options to pencil in on the calendar. Here are Style’s top 10 picks!
1. Crested Butte Music Festival
When: July 3-August 5, 2010
Where: Crested Butte, Colorado
How: Connect in Salt Lake City and take Delta directly to Crested Butte.
What: In one of the most spectacular settings in the West, music lovers gather to hear everything from Bluegrass to opera and plenty of family friendly fun.
2. Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival
When: July 9-August 22, 2010
Where: Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe
How: An easy drive through the Sierras!
What: The Bards on the bill at this popular theatrical event now in its 38th season. This year, the festival presents The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged), a hilarious romp through the playwright’s works in one comedic performance. A Young Shakespeare program also brings the classics to a kid-friendly audience throughout the festival run.
3. Maine Lobster Festival
When: August 4-8, 2010
Where: Rockland, Maine
How: JetBlue offers flights from SMF to Portland, Maine.
What: Put on your bib and get ready to feast on the best lobster in the country. Celebrating 63 years, this summer’s festival includes Maine arts and crafts, lobster races, and of course, fabulous seafood.
4. Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival
When: September 11-12, 2010
Where: San Francisco, CA
How: Easy flight or drive from Sacramento.
What: The Bay Area’s famous chocolate company welcomes sweet-toothed fans for a two-day celebration of all things chocolate. Enjoy samples galore, wine tastings and plenty of family activities in one of our country’s most charming cities.
5. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
When: October 2-10, 2010
Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico
How: Southwest offers flights with one stop between SMF and Albuquerque.
What: From a 78-acre launch field, hundreds of colorful hot air balloons will fill the New Mexico blue sky in this spectacular feast for the eyes. Kids can enjoy entertainment throughout the festival grounds while adults snap pictures at one of the most photographed events of its kind.
6. Austin City Limits Festival
When: October 8-10, 2010
Where: Austin, Texas
How: Southwest offers flights with one stop between SMF and Austin.
What: Austin’s quickly earning a reputation as a city of music, and this popular festival keeps things humming along. In addition to the family-friendly Austin Kiddie Limits zone for youngsters to enjoy, the whole gang can rock out to such legendary bands as festival headliners The Eagles.
7. Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
When: November 20, 2010
Where: Chicago, Illinois
How: Southwest and United fly non-stop from SMF to Chicago.
What: Kick off the holiday season with this beloved Chicago tradition of one million lights on 200 trees along the Magnificent Mile. Highlights include a parade, wonderful Chicago food stations and a fireworks finale.
8. Oregon Truffle Festival
When: January 28-30, 2011
Where: Outside Eugene, Oregon
How: Fly direct on Alaska Airlines from SMF to Eugene.
What: During three brisk days in the middle of winter, enthusiasts come out in droves to celebrate this tiny delicacy at one of the first festivals of its kind in North America. While truffles might not be every kid’s cup of tea, the activity of snuffing out these ripe treasures with the aid of a trained truffle dog makes for a unique family experience.
9. International Family Film Festival
When: March 16-20, 2011
Where: Hollywood, CA
How: Southwest flies direct from SMF to Burbank.
What: This weekend-long event in sunny Southern California celebrates the movies with family-friendly film screenings and variety of seminars and ceremonies filled with special celebrity guests.
10. National Cherry Blossom Festival
When: March 26-April 10, 2011
Where: Washington D.C.
How: Both JetBlue and Southwest fly direct from SMF to Washington D.C.
What: Commemorating the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Tokyo to the U.S., this colorful and fragrant festival is a feast for the senses. Highlights include arts and music events, a lantern lighting ceremony and a parade. The breathtaking trees in bloom are worth the journey alone.