Groupon's Best Summer Festivals for 2018
The summer festival season is finally here! Bring on the live music, delicious food, and cold beer, and keep it coming 'till September! Of course, there are countless summer festivals across the country, and only so many summer weekends to dedicate to them, which begs the question: which ones are the best? To find out, we dug through our inventory of festival deals and composed a master list of what we think are the best summer festivals of 2018. Check it out and then start dreaming of funnel cakes.
Where/when: Washington, DC | June 23–24
Pitmasters from near and far will descend upon our nation's capital during this weekend-long event, all in search of barbecue glory. Teams and individuals will face-off in barbecue competitions in the hopes of winning a cash prize, while attendees get to sample offerings from famous barbecue joints around town. Plus, funds raised during the festival go to benefit USO Metro and the Capital Area Food Bank, making the entire weekend a win-win for all involved
Don't miss: the Nathan's Famous hotdog eating contest, where competitors will devour dogs to see who will advance to the final competition on July 4.
Where/when: Downtown Indianapolis | June 30
Proving once and for all that there is definitely more than just corn in Indiana, Taste of Indy features more than 40 local food vendors dishing up Asian, Greek, Cajun, and Mediterranean bites and beyond with plenty of good music and good brews to wash it all down.
Don't miss: the interactive chef demonstrations happening throughout the day.
Where/when: North Sacramento | July 13–29
Now in its 51st year, the California State Fair boasts everything you'd want in a state fair, but peppers it with some signature California style. That translates to carnival rides, fried foods, and lots and lots of rock music, plus a farmer's market, horse racing, and a tiny homes exhibition.
Don't miss: musical headliners including Kool & The Gang (July 16), Night Ranger (July 21), and Sugar Ray (July 23).
Where/when: Seattle Center | July 20-22
This three-day celebration of food and beer features samples from more than 60 Seattle restaurants, plus a selection of nearly 70 beers and ciders. Bands representing nearly every genre of music will fill three separate stages, and fest-goers can also shop for handcrafted wares while they snack their way through the fest. Tickets include 6 beer samples and a comemorative tasting glass.
Don't miss: The Bite Cooks! Staged on the rooftop of the Fisher Pavillion, this cook-off competition puts local chefs against one another in a Chopped-style competition.
Where/when: Downtown Milwaukee | July 27–29
Think of it as Oktoberfest in July. This three-day festival celebrating German culture features enough beer, brats, and lederhosen to make you think you've been transported to Deutschland. While feasting on authentic German food is definitely the highlight, you can also enjoy German dancing and entertainment, as well as take in wood chopping competitions, and a live Glockenspiel show.
Don't miss: Sunday's dachsund derby and weiner dog costume contest (yes, you read that correctly).
Where/when: Union Park, Chicago | August 31–September 2
Typically touted as the last big music fest of the summer, North Coast Music Fest features three full days of hip-hop, indie-pop, rap, and electronic music. Jamiroquai headlines on Sunday.
Don't miss: the silent disco, where dancers bust out moves to in-ear beats, all while surrounded by working painters in the living art gallery.
Where/when: Canton Waterford Park | September 15
Crab cakes, crab salad, crab soup, steamed crab... no, this isn't an excerpt from a Forest Gump sequel, it's the menu for the 5th annual Baltimore Seafood Festival! Naturally, lobster, oysters, and other tasteful goodies will also be making a showing at the waterfront gathering, and guests can also enjoy live entertainment while they nosh.
Don't miss: Did we mention there will be lobster rolls? Yeah.
Where/when: Eagle Island State Park, Eagle, ID | August 25
Soulful tunes and slow-smoked barbecue come together during this one day fest that's guaranteed to give you the feels (and possibly the meat sweats). Musical headliners include
Too Slim And The Taildraggers and Maxx Cabello Jr. And, the baby back ribs, of course.
Don't miss: the VIP after party jam, available to VIP ticketholders only.
Where/when: Carver, MA | September 1–October 21
Sure some people think renaissance faires are weird, but we happen to think weird festivals are some of the best summer festivals. Set in the 16th century, this festival has everything you could want as far as anachronistic entertainment and featsing is concerned, from archery and axe throwing, to giant turkey legs and honey mead. Come in costume to really get in on the fun.
Don't miss: the jousting tournament. Or, the royal zoo, where exotic creatures such as begal tigers and snow leopards occassionally make appearances.
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