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Offbeat Travel Events and Festivals



Want Offbeat Events? Try these. We'll be adding more as we find them...

Winter

In January, celebrate the King's birthday - Elvis that is. Every year Graceland organizes a birthday tribute. Learn more at Elvis Birthday Celebration .

Fireworks and Ice Sculpture Competition in Ely Nevada combines world class ice carving with fun fireworks. Another January/February favorite, read about it ElyNevada.net

Mardi Gras means party time across Louisiana, including Lake Charles. This somewhat lesser known celebration is still hot in the midst of winter. With more events than we can list here, go to VisitLakeCharles.org for specifics. And party on!

Portugal offers its own Carnaval with each region puts its own unique take on the festival. And it is far more than dancing and partying. During Carnaval, the streets are filled with parade floats, lively music, dances, colorful costumes and revelers wearing outlandish masks. Read about Carnaval in Portugal

Ice Alaska is in its 22nd year hosting the largest annual ice art competition in the world. The World Ice Art Championships are a month-long event that usually spans February and March. Read about it at IceAlaska

Usually held early March, the Alaska Iditarod A race over 1,150 miles of the most extreme and beautiful terrain. But it isn't easy. Learn more at Iditarod.com

Spring

For an Offbeat place to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, head to the Caribbean island of Montserrat. Known as 'The Emerald Isle', Montserrat is the only country outside Ireland where St Patrick's Day is a public holiday and the week-long festival provides a rich mix of Irish and African heritage, with some traditional Caribbean entertainment. Montserrat’s Irish heritage dates back to the 17th century when the island became a haven for Irish Catholics who were persecuted on other Caribbean islands. By 1678, a census showed that more than half the people on the island were Irish, so it is hardly surprising that the Irish had such a strong influence on the island's developing culture. For more information go to VisitMontserrat.com

Every April, the largest gathering of native Americans in North America takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Gathering of Nations is one of the and the country's best event for sharing the experience of native American culture.

For another kind of Fiesta Fun, head to San Antonio, Texas. Their Fiesta San Antonio features 100 events in 11 days.

Also in April is the annual Antigua Sailing Week with races, barbecues and rum punch in one package. The gathering of over 200 participating yachts of varying sizes gather in Falmouth Harbour and English Harbour. The week starts with the Around the Island Race and offers other special highlight events. For more information visit VisitAntiguaBarbuda

Birders and photographers take note. St. Augustine (a beautiful and historic city) celebrates the wonderful combination of viewing and photographing birds and wildlife at the Florida Birding and Photo Fest in St. Augustine. Some of the world's best bird and nature photographers will be flocking to northeast Florida's Atlantic coast to both capture outstanding images and to show fledgling photographers how it is done.

Summer

Across the summer months, head to WaterFire Providence®, the award-winning sculpture by Barnaby Evans installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence.

In June you can head to Iceland for the Land of the Midnight Sun Golf Championaship. The Akureyri Golf Club hosts this tournament which is known as The Arctic Open Golf Championship.

Check the exact dates National Tom Sawyer Days. From the national fence painting contest to a frog jumping contest with live entertainment visitors from all over the world come to experience the history of Hannibal, through the eyes of Mark Twain.

Also in June is the uniquely Coney Island, New York Mermaid Parade, described as the nation's largest art parade but certainly one of New York City's more unusual summer events. The Mermaid Parade pays homage to Coney Island's forgotten Mardi Gras which lasted from 1903 to 1954 (bet you didn't know that!) and draws from a host of other sources resulting in a wonderful and wacky event that is unique to Coney Island. "Participants dressed in hand-made costumes as Mermaids, Neptunes, various sea creatures, the occasional wandering lighthouse, Coney Island post card or amusement ride, as well as antique cars, marching bands, drill teams, and the odd yacht pulled on flatbed." It doesn't get more offbeat than that. Read more about the Mermaid Parade and other assorted Coney Island experiences. Of course, for offbeat New York City attractions, visit Offbeat New York

From July through August, the Canadian sky lights up with L'International des Feux Loto-Québec - an international fireworks competition that lives up to its reputation. And, while you're there, enjoy all the partying and festivals Quebec offers. The New France Festival has its origins in 1608, and every summer for the past 14 years, the SAQ New France Festival has been celebrating the arrival of the first Europeans. The festivities include theater, dance, parades, spectacular shows, and street entertainment- a busy five day program of over 1,000 artistic events that take you inside the walls of Old Québec for a unique journey back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Yes, Offbeattravel was there and loved it.

Key West is ground central for almost anything and everything quirky - including the legendary Hemingway Days. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway left a powerful legacy in Key West and the island celebrates it yearly in July. While the highlight is the Hemingway look-alike contest, there's also readings and book signings, and special tours of his home, complete with those extra-toed cats. More? a not-quire "Running of the Bulls" and a three-day marlin tournament recalling Hemingway's devotion to the deep-sea sport. Check the calendar at Florida Keys for more information.

Head to Barbados in August for the Cropover Festival celebrating the end of the year's sugar cane season. The Festival began in the 1780s, when Barbados was the world's largest sugar producer. The festivities kick off with the traditional crowning of the festival king and queen, the most productive male and female cane cutters of the season. Carts are decorated in colourful designs and patterns for the cart parade and handicrafts and mouthwatering delicacies abound in Bridgetown Market during the festival.

Fall

For true enchantment, little can match the sight of hundreds of hot air balloons rising into the blue New Mexico sky. It's Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta . Whether you are up at dawn for the ascensions, or for the evening balloon glows, this is a top event.

Grapefest in Grapevine Texas celebrate the fruit of the vine. You'll have a wine-ing good time in Grapevine.

Ingenuity, the Cleveland Festival of Art & Technology, takes place generally in at Docks 32 and 30 which sit on the lakefront north of Browns Stadium and the Great Lakes Science Center. Two warehouses on the site will provide over 120,000 sq/ft of indoor space with ample outdoor space directly on the lakefront looking back on stunning views of the city. With cutting edge art installations, performances, and exhibitions populating the space this may become your go-to event of the year.