Utah towns host hundreds of festivals throughout the year – from huge events such as the Sundance Film Festival, to local community festivals in tiny Utah towns. This list includes some festivals you’ve heard of, but also some that will surprise you.
Because there are so many, I’ve had to leave a LOT of festivals off the list. I tried to find truly unique festivals that might not be familiar to you. The more popular ones also have something else going for them — they’re world-famous!
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1) Western Legends Roundup Festival
This cool Western festival, held in Kanab, features a wagon train, cattle round up, street fair and more. Plus, you just might catch a glimpse of a movie star or two (Patsy Cline and Marty Robbins will be there this year). Other headliners include Suzy Bogguss and Sons of the Pioneers. The festival runs August 24th through 29th.
2) Antelope Island Spider Festival
This unique festival is also happening today, August 8th! Antelope Island is home to a LOT of spiders, and by August, they’re plentiful all over the island. Get up close and personal with them and learn how to identify the various species. Activities from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
3) Midway Swiss Days
Visit the Swiss Days Festival this year on September 4th and 5th in Midway. Enjoy a parade, 10k run, cool crafts, tasty food and lots of entertainment.
4) Snowbird Oktoberfest
Maybe you don’t like beer. Or you don’t drink it for religious reasons. That’s still no excuse to miss Snowbird’s Oktoberfest. It’s a family-friendly festival with lots of entertainment like music, face painting and interactive activities for kids. And, of course, guys in lederhosen playing alpenhorns! This year’s festival runs on Saturdays and Sundays from August 15th to October 11th.
5) Payson Scottish Festival and Highland Games
Grab your kilt and head to the Scottish Festival and Highland Games in Payson, held in July every year. In addition to some amazing bagpipe music, you’ll see guys actually pick and throw tree trunks! Well, technically, they’re called cabers, but they basically look like telephone poles. The same strong guys throw a host of other really heavy things, both for accuracy and distance. It’s both impressive and intimidating to watch! Check out the Utah Scottish Festival held at Thanksgiving Point, in Lehi too.
6) Heber Valley Western Music and Cowboy Poetry Festival
This year marks the Heber Valley Western Music and Cowboy Poetry Festival’s 21st anniversary! The festival brings over 10,000 people to Heber every year. Check it out October 28th through November 1st -- you’ll find cowboys reading poetry, singing and telling stories. And of course, you’ll enjoy lots of tasty cowboy grub.
7) Tulip Festival Thanksgiving Point
Tulips are the best thing about spring, and you can see 250,000 of them in Lehi during the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point. The month-long festival starts in April and includes food, entertainment and, of course, tulips.
8) Holi Festival of Colors
Did you know that Spanish Fork hosts the largest Holi Festival in the entire Western Hemisphere? It’s true! The Radha Krishna Temple is the site of the festival, which draws thousands of people (many of them Mormon!). Enjoy music and get covered in colored powder every March.
9) Sandy Hot Air Balloon Festival
This festival is happening right now! Seriously. Right this minute. Saturday, August 8th from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Sandy’s City Hall. Check out the balloons, entertainment and food. If you miss it this year, check it out next August.
10) Utah Shakespeare Festival
The Utah Shakespeare Festival started in 1961 with a budget of about $1,000. Today, it’s grown to a budget of over $7 million! The festival has won a Tony and Emmy and countless other awards. You can still catch the tail-end of the 2015 summer season, through the first week of September (and the fall season through the end of October). The Festival just announced its 2016 schedule -- check it out!
11) Utah STEM Fest
The acronym STEM stands for Science Technology Engineering Math. The goal is to get kids interested in those fields as careers. This unique festival takes place at the Sandy Expo Center in March. It’s full of interactive exhibits and plenty of fun activities. If you want your kids to think that science is cool, this is the festival not to miss!
12) Sundance Film Festival
You didn’t really think we’d have an article about unique festivals and leave Sundance off, did you? This world-renowned film festival draws thousands of film buffs and movie stars to Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance every January.
At the top of this article, I told you that I’d left a LOT of festivals off the list. Tell us your favorites in the comments!