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10 Outdoor Festivals Your Kids Will Love This Year

Want to give your next family vacation a boost of culture? Ditch the museum and head to one of these outdoor fests where you can enjoy a block-party vibe along with music, arts and crafts, kid programs, and more.

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New Orleans Jazz and Heritage FestivalInvision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Sure, you’ll hear plenty of jazz at this seven-day blockbuster Big Easy event, but the 2018 lineup also features Jimmy Buffett, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Aerosmith, and Cage the Elephant. Bring some folding chairs and enjoy the hospitality and Cajun cuisine. Check out the healthiest food you can find at the fair.

Family fun: The kids’ tent offers youth programming all afternoon, including puppet shows and performances by youth choirs and bands.

When: April 27-29 and May 3-6, 2018

Price: A single-day ticket is $80/adult; $5/children ages 2-10; free for kids 2 and under.

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strawberry music festivalcourtesy Bonnie Martignoni

Strawberry Music Festival

Held in the spring and again in the fall, this event can bookend your summer. California’s Strawberry Music Festival will win over music lovers with its hippie vibe and a pleasing lineup of folk, alt-country, and bluegrass artists. Bring camping gear and your favorite instruments if you want to join informal jam sessions at the campsite.

Family fun: Strawberry Kids offers activities for different age groups, including nature programs, arts and crafts, dance and music workshops, and storytelling.

When: May 24-28 and August 30-September 3, 2018

Price: A two-day camping ticket is $220/adult; $115/teen ages 13-19; $60/children ages 7-12; free for kids age 6 and under.

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Lake eden arts festivalCourtesy Steve Atkins

Lake Eden Arts Festival

Held on the outskirts of Asheville, North Carolina, the biannual LEAF offers music and poetry performances on seven stages plus a fun, circus-like atmosphere punctuated by trapeze artists, magicians, unicyclists, and stilt-walkers.

Family fun: Go canoeing and swimming in Lake Eden, play dodgeball and Ultimate Frisbee, or try slacklining and zip-lining.

When: May 10-13 and October 18-21, 2018

Price: A single-day pass is $46/adult; $41/youth ages 10-17; free for kids age 9 and under. A weekend three-day/two-night ticket with tent camping $164/adult; $138/youth ages 10-17; free for kids ages 9 and under.

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joshua tree music festivalCourtesy Mike Smalley

Joshua Tree Music Festival

Twice a year, families head to California’s Mojave Desert and the fringe of Joshua Tree National Park for this unabashedly feel-good fest hosting dozens of musical artists from around the world. When you’re not at a concert, you can join a yoga session (ongoing from sunrise to sunset), learn to meditate, get a relaxing massage, or take in a craft workshop.

Family fun: The aptly named Kidsville is the place for tie-dying, music workshops, arts and crafts, yoga, dance parties, circus shows, and story time.

When: May 17-20 and October 4-7, 2018

Price: A single-day pass is $60-90/person; free for kids age 10 and under.

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clearwater festivalCourtesy Sienna Wildfield

Clearwater Festival

When folk-music icon Pete Seeger launched this fest over 40 years ago as a fundraiser to clean up New York’s Hudson River, nobody could have predicted that New York’s Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival would grow into one of the country’s premier summer festivals with dozens of top-tier musical acts.

Family fun: The children’s area offers face painting, mask making, and bubble wands, plus there’s a family stage with kid-friendly performers, as well as canoeing and kayaking on the river.

When: June 16-17, 2018

Price: A single-day pass is $56/adult; $46/youth ages 12-17; free for kids age 11 and under. The weekend pass is $96/adult; $76/youth ages 12-17; free for kids age 11 and under.

Here are the best small-town festivals you can find.

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courtesy Summerfest


Set in Milwaukee on the shores of Lake Michigan and billed as “the world’s largest music festival,” Summerfest is indeed massive—with over 800 acts over 11 days spanning every genre. Among this year’s headliners are Blake Shelton, Imagine Dragons, James Taylor, and Arcade Fire.

Family fun: The Kids Activity Tent offers games, crafts, music, pedal boats, and a splash pad where little ones can cool off.

When: June 27-July 1 and July 3-8, 2018

Price: A single-day general admission pass is $21/person; free for kids age 2 and under. Concert tickets for headlining artists are priced separately.

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rocky moountain folks festivalCourtesy Benko Photographics/Planet Bluegrass

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival

Less than half an hour outside of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, the annual Rocky Mountain Folks Festival has a knack for drawing top-flight folk songwriters and their bands.

Family fun: Families can frolic in the shallow pools of the St. Vrain River, visit the instrument petting zoo or go hiking, mountain biking, or slacklining.

When: August 17-19, 2018

Price: A single-day general admission ticket is $70/adult; free for kids age 12 and under. Multi-day and camping passes also available.

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Minnesota Renaissance FestivalCourtesy Carr Hagerman/Minnesota Renaissance Festival

Minnesota Renaissance Festival

Party like it’s 1599 with 16 stages of live entertainment, hundreds of artisans, and a panoply of medieval amusements ranging from fire-breathing to armored jousting. The Minnesota Renaissance Festival has become the largest of its kind in the United States, drawing 300,000 visitors a year to Shakopee, Minnesota.

Family fun: Rides, games, and a seemingly endless assortment of activities, from face painting and archery to catapulting frogs and sheep herding.

When: weekends from August 18-September 30, 2018

Price: A single-day ticket is $23.95/adult; $14.95/kid ages 5-12; free for kids age 4 and under.

Be sure to add these weird food festivals to your bucket list.

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bumbershootcourtesy joshua lewis


Wowing the public since 1972, the three-day Bumbershoot culture festival showcases an expansive lineup of A-list entertainment including music, comedy, dance, film, literary arts, performing arts, and theater—all in the shadow of Seattle’s Space Needle. Last year’s headliners included Flume, Lorde, ODESZA, Haim, The Roots, and Spoon.

Family fun: The Youngershoot Kids Zone offers a slew of hands-on activities and workshops in dance, arts and crafts, and more.

When: August 31-September 2, 2018

Price: A three-day pass is $200/adult; free for kids age 7 and under.

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austin city limitscourtesy Katrina Barber

Austin City Limits

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and Austin City Limits Music Festival is indeed a behemoth, taking place over two weekends and attracting close to half a million visitors who come for the music, food, and craft markets. Last year’s headliners included Jay Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Killers.

Family fun: Just for kids, Austin Kiddie Limits provides fun creative activities for the 10-and-under set and offers services such as baby changing stations.

When: October 5-7 and October 12-14, 2018

Price: A three-day weekend pass is $265/adult; free for kids age 10 and under.

Next, don’t miss the best state fair or festival in all 50 states.

Suzanne Rowan Kelleher
Award-winning content professional with over 25 years of print and digital experience on topics ranging from travel and lifestyle to health and technology. As the family travel correspondent at, I cover the gamut of traveling with kids, including hotel and destination reviews, tips and advice on family road trips, air travel, and related topics. In my former role as the managing editor for MiniTime, I led the content strategy for a recently launched family travel website, assigning, editing and creating steady flow of travel stories. Previously, I co-founded and built it into a multi-award-winning family travel website and trip-planning resource. MAGAZINES & WEB: Travel+Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler,,, Parade, Travel & Lifestyle, Newsweek, Forbes, Good Housekeeping, Disney's, Parents, Parenting, Woman's Day, American Baby, Budget Travel, Esquire, Travel Holiday, Cigar Aficionado, Boston Globe. BRANDED CONTENT: Walt Disney Parks, Disney Cruise Line, American Express, Visit Philadelphia, Sleep Inn, Motel 6, Quaker Granola Bites.