We know how to party in Nebraska, don’t we? Aside from the summertime county fairs which are always a ton of fun, we have lots of bigger celebrations that can draw people in from all over the state and even from neighboring states.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
Anime NebrasKon, Omaha
Once a year, Japanese animation and pop culture enthusiasts gather in Omaha to celebrate their shared interests. The group behind NebrasKon aims to be friendlier and more accessible to all kinds of people than similar events.
AppleJack Festival, Nebraska City
For all things apple - seriously, EVERYTHING apple - the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City is bliss. For one three-day weekend every harvest season, Nebraska City becomes the Apple Capital of the World. A carnival, parade, dances, car show, and more kinds of apple foods than you can imagine make this event totally amazing.
Arbor Day, Nebraska City
Another Nebraska City staple, the Arbor Day celebration commemorates the birthplace of the tree-centric holiday. You'll find numerous craft shows, free trees, a parade, learning opportunities and, of course, lots of great food.
Chicken Show, Wayne
The second Saturday in July is all about chickens in Wayne. It started as a fun art show in 1981 and has evolved into a festival including games, a parade, contests, dancing, and egg-cellent entertainment.
Cinco de Mayo, South Omaha
For a weekend in early May, South Omaha turns into a miniature Mexico to celebrate this fun holiday. There's live music, outstanding authentic Mexican food, a parade, a running of the bulls (with humans in bull costumes standing in for real toros), and a big, festive carnival.
Crane Watch, Kearney
Audubon's Nebraska Crane Festival revolves around the incredible annual spectacle of the sandhill crane migration. Visitors can take guided trips to watch the cranes from observation blinds all along the banks of the Platte.
Czech Festival, Wilber
There are tons of ethnic festivals in Nebraska, but Wilber does the Czech festival up in style. The three-day celebration in "the Czech Capital of the USA" is all about showing pride in this colorful culture. Authentic costumes, dancing, foods, and crafts are all on display here. You'll even get to see the Miss Czech-Slovak U.S. Pageant.
Groundhog Day, Unadilla
Everyone knows about Punxsutawney Phil, but have you ever met his cousin Unadilla Bill? The little town of Unadilla calls itself the "Groundhog Capital of Nebraska," and the residents there get goofy for groundhogs every February. The whole town is filled with fun events, and there is of course a parade complete with folks wearing groundhog costumes.
Holiday Lights Festival, Omaha
Beginning on Thanksgiving and running through the first week in January, the Holiday Lights Festival is a (literally) dazzling display of holiday lights, live music performances, and shopping throughout the holiday season.
Intertribal Gathering and Pow-Wow, Fort Robinson State Park
The annual Intertribal Gathering and Pow Wow in northwestern Nebraska is a stunning cultural event that you really shouldn't miss. The event is open to the public and features traditional Native American music, dancing, crafts, drumming, and plenty of other spectacular events.
Nebraska Balloon & Wine Festival, Omaha
Visit West Omaha for this August event featuring delicious Nebraska wines, yummy barbecue, live music, pony rides, and the colorful nightly launching of several hot air balloons.
Nebraska Star Party, Near Valentine
The Snake Campground at Merritt Reservoir is home to Nebraska's annual star-viewing party. If you rarely venture out of the bright city at night, this is the perfect chance to see what the wide Nebraska sky really looks like. The whole weekend is filled with camping, stargazing, and friendly people willing to help newbies catch their first glimpse of a light pollution-free night sky.
Nebraska State Fair, Grand Island
We're all pretty fond of our own individual county fairs, but the State Fair is a whole other ballgame. It's the largest festival in the state and draws in some pretty big musical acts. And if you aren't into live music, you'll still find more to do than you can possibly accomplish in just a day - good thing the fair lasts for a week and a half!
NEBRASKAland Days, North Platte
This big event in the Buffalo Bill State Recreation Area is pure Nebraska. A parade, concerts, and the Buffalo Bill Rodeo - along with plenty of other festival activities - make NEBRASKAland one of those events you absolutely can't miss.
Nebraska's Big Rodeo, Burwell
The BIG rodeo puts all of the other Nebraska rodeos to shame (sorry, other rodeos). The exciting events include barrel racing, steer wrestling, bull riding, calf roping, bareback riding and more. Barns full of crafts, vendors, and delicious foods make the event fun for the whole family.
Oregon Trail Days, Gering
Nebraska's oldest festival, Oregon Trail Days, is Western Nebraska's big event. The weekend-long celebration is packed full of so much fun you won't know what to do first. Parades, sporting events, historic displays, and delicious food are all part of this uniquely Nebraskan festival.
St. Patrick's Day, O'Neill
Billed as "Nebraska's Irish Capital" and "Home of the World's Largest Shamrock," O'Neill is known for its awesome St. Patrick's Day shindig. Parades, parties, community events and even a green horse make O'Neill the only place to spend every St. Pat's Day.
Summer Arts Festival, Omaha
The Omaha Summer Arts Festival has been running since 1975 and regularly ranks among the country's top arts festivals. Featuring more than 100 of the country's finest visual artists, art demonstrations, children's events, a bevy of food trucks and stands, and continuous live music, the OSAF is one of Eastern Nebraska's hottest summer events.