Every State's Best May Event

The Hangout Music Festival in full swing. (photo via Alive Coverage) (Photo Credit: (photo via Alive Coverage))
Scott Hartbeck
by Scott Hartbeck
Last updated: 10:30 PM ET, Sat April 29, 2023


There's no better way to start the month off than by heading down south to the town of Foley for the annual Gulf Coast Balloon Festival (May 4-6), which will feature balloon flights, tethered rides and balloon glows in addition to live entertainment, arts & crafts displays and fantastic food. Also on the coast, Hangout Festival returns to Gulf Shores on May 19-21 with big-name artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paramore, Calvin Harris, Lil Nas X, SZA and many more. Elsewhere, Monroeville will play host to their beloved famous live performances of To Kill A Mockingbird through May 20 and CoalFest will take over the town of Brilliant over Memorial Day Weekend (May 26-27). 


Start May by learning about—and celebrating—the breathtaking spring migration of Alaska’s shorebirds at the 31st annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival in Homer (May 3-7). Then, end your month with a bang on Kodiak Island at the Kodiak Crab Festival (May 25-29), a springtime carnival that has been dedicated to toasting the fruits of the local sea and entertaining the locals and for 65 years.  


Arizona's largest Cinco de Mayo festival returns to downtown Phoenix on May 7th, featuring its usual array of great live music (Los Lonely Boys are the headliners), Lucha libre, baile folklorico and tantalizing food & drink. Elsewhere, Kingman will hold its Mojave Pride event on May 19-21 and the Pure Imagination Festival will return to the gorgeous shores of Watson Lake near Prescott on May 20 with performances from artists like Ziggy Marley, Lucinda Williams, Nappy Roots, Los Lobos and many more. Last but not least, Tombstone will celebrate Wyatt Earp Days on May 27-28 with a whole bunch of Wild West-themed fun. 


Start your month off in Hot Springs at the annual Arts & The Park event (runs through May 7), which will celebrate the utility of art for the artist and the ways artists use the medium. Elsewhere, the Arkansas Pottery Festival will take place in Fayetteville on May 5-7 and Springdale will welcome the season with rides & revelry during the annual Spring Carnival (May 17-29). 


Start May out in San Luis Obispo, as the annual Shabang Live Music & Arts Festival (headliners include Hippo Campus and Bob Moses) returns on May 5-6 and the Downtown San Luis Obispo Sip 'n' Saunter event takes place on May 7. San Diego will be the place to go for the Old Town Fiesta Cinco de Mayo on May 5-7 while Redding will hold its 75th Annual Redding Rodeo on May 17-20. Finish off your month in Napa at the BottleRock Festival (a delicious blend of wine culture & live music) with headliners Post Malone, Lizzo, Duran Duran, The Smashing Pumpkins and Red Hot Chili Peppers (May 26-28). 


Kick off the month in Denver at the TheBigWonderful, a festival featuring dozens of local makers, live music and tons of great food & beverages. The Colorado Chocolate Festival will return to the Mile High City over Mother's Day Weekend (May 12-13), once again offering up the chance to sample scores of tasty treats and score some quality gifts. There's no better way to finish off May than by heading to the town of Craig for the annual Grand Old West Days, which will once again feature live music, rodeos and other Western diversions. 


It's officially almost summer in The Constitution State when the May Market takes place at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington (May 5-7), an event that raises funds for the museum while providing visitors with a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. That same weekend sees Lizzo take the stage at Hartford's XL Center (May 6) and on May 20, the much-loved Robin Hood's Medieval Faire kicks off its season (weekends through July 2) with the Royal Family & Market Weekend.


The Icons of Rock, Blues and Soul photography exhibit at the Biggs Museum will debut on May 5 and run all month long while the Dover Days Festival will take place on May 6. Once again, the Wilmington Flower Market will bring flowers, plants, vendors, crafts, carnival rides, live entertainment and scrumptious food to town—all for a good cause (May 11-13). 


The first weekend of the month sees the return of SunFest (May 5-7) to downtown West Palm Beach with just a few of the acts scheduled to perform being The Killers, The Chainsmokers, Jack Johnson, and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. Other great events in the Sunshine State this May are the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival in Fernandina Beach (May 5-7), the Afro Nation Afro Beats Festival in Miami (May 27-28) and the always-fun As If! The 90's Fest in St. Augustine on May 20 that will feature double headliners Spin Doctors and Vanilla Ice. 


Sweet Auburn Street Fest returns to Atlanta on May 13-14, once again bringing positive vibes to the community through great music and fantastic food. Speaking of great food, Taste of Alpharetta returns on May 11 to delight the taste buds of all who attend. Elsewhere, you have through May 7 to experience the Georgia State Fair at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Atlanta Jazz Festival will take place in the city's Piedmont Park over Memorial Day Weekend (May 27-29). 


The first day of May is "Lei Day" in Hawai'i, and there will be special events all over the islands dedicated to the Aloha State's signature flowery garland. The 7th Annual Kaua'i Steel Guitar Festival will take place May 5-7, while the town of Honoka‘a will once again host its Western Week (May 19-29), an event that shines a light on the unique cowboy culture of the surrounding region through parades, rodeos, cooking contests and much more.  


Sandpoint will be going back to the past once again at the Lost in the 50's Festival (May 19-20), which will feature a colorful 50s cars show, dance contests and concerts from the likes of La La Brooks, Jay Siegel's Tokens, Jay & The Americans and more. Elsewhere, Boise Music Week will present Rodger's & Hammerstein's State Fair (May 11-14) and The Fans Strike Back: A Star Wars Exhibition (the nation's largest privately owned collection of fan items from the films) will be on display at The Discovery Center of Idaho all month long. 


Start out May in Benton at the annual Rend Lake Water Festival (May 3-6), which will celebrate the 60th anniversary of a visit to Benton by Beatle George Harrison. Later in the month, The Windy City will host the 2nd Annual Sueños Music Festival (May 27-28), which will take place in Grant Park and feature artists like Grupo Firme, Becky G, Arcangel, Nicky Jam and many more. Memorial Day Weekend also sees the Mole de Mayo street festival—a soiree dedicated to traditional Mexican mole sauce—return to Chicago (May 26-28). 


The Broad Ripple Art Fair has been delighting the art lovers of Indianapolis for over 50 years, and this year's event (May 19-21) will see over 100 local, regional, and national artists display their wares. The biggest event of May 2023 in the Hoosier State will be the Indy 500 (May 28), which will take place at the Brickyard once again and in addition to the race itself, The 500Festival will fill the city's social calendar with fun events like mini-marathons and parades. 


The small town of Pella will once again take center stage this May during the annual Tulip Time Festival. This fun event will salute the town's Dutch heritage with plenty of flower-based fun and traditional dress in addition to a wildly popular parade. Spend Memorial Day Weekend in Winterset honoring local son John Wayne during the John Wayne Birthday Celebration (May 26-27), which this year will feature a theme centered around saluting the Armed Forces. 


North-central Kansas will be the place to be (specifically, the counties of Jewell, Republic and Smith) for the annual Big Kansas Road Trip, which will take place on May 4-7 and showcase the art of exploring the backroads. In cool college town Lawrence, Memorial Day Weekend will see the return of the Busker Festival (May 26-29), which will bring street entertainers from all over the world to town. 


The "Fastest Two Minutes in Sports" will once again bring the crowds to their feet at Churchill Downs on May 6, but the Kentucky Derby and all the associated revelry at the Kentucky Derby Festival aren't the only things to do in the Bluegrass State this May. Case in point is the Mayfest Arts Fair in Lexington on May 13-14 and the 15th Annual Chamber Music Festival of the Bluegrass in Harrodsburg on May 26-28. 


Once again, swashbucklers and rogues from all over the region will descend on Lake Charles for the Louisiana Pirate Festival (May 4-14), which will feature carnival rides, costume contests, cannon demonstrations, mouthwatering food and much more. The world-famous New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will run through May 7, with Ed Sheeran, Lizzo, Dead & Company, Santana and Jon Batiste being just a few of the dozens of big names scheduled to perform. Come Memorial Day Weekend, there's no better place to be than Shreveport for their Mudbug Madness Festival and yes, as the name would indicate, there will be plenty of crawfish. 


The residents of Kennebunk have been throwing a party on the first Saturday of May for over 20 years, and once again the May Day Festival (May 6) will feature a full day of family fun. Elsewhere, All Roads Music Festival returns to Belfast on May 19-20 with a stellar lineup of bluegrass, folk-pop, and indie while in Trescott, the 20th Annual Down East Spring Birding Festival will take place on May 26-29. 


Kick off your May by taking in some fantastic films during the annual Maryland Film Festival (May 3-7), which will take place in Baltimore. Also in Charm City, the Kinetic Sculpture Race will take place on May 6—once again featuring teams of "human-powered artsy contraptions" racing across the city—and the 148th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico will take place on May 20. 


Start your month off by strolling through a kaleidoscopic display of tulips at Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, as their much-loved Tulip Fest will run on two weekends this year (May 6-7 & May 13-14). The Arnold Arboretum in Boston will once again hold its Lilac Day on Mother's Day (May 14), which is the only day each year that guests are allowed picnic beneath the lovely lilacs. Beantown will be the place to be over Memorial Day Weekend (May 26-28) for the Boston Calling Festival, a three-day event that will feature headlining sets from acts like Foo Fighters, Paramore, Alanis Morissette, The Lumineers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and more. 


Tulips will also be toasted in the town of Holland, as their beloved Tulip Time returns to town on May 6-14 and will once again feature photography expos, carnival rides, mouthwatering food & drink and more tulips than you can shake a camera at. Fans of hot air balloons will want to head to Frankenmuth for the Hot Air Balloon Championships (May 26-29) while in Detroit, The Movement Music Festival (May 27-30) will own Memorial Day Weekend, bringing a bevy of excellent EDM artists to town. 


The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska will host May Markets on Saturdays & Sundays all month long, offering up the opportunity to shop from over 60 local artists and artisans. The small town of Preston will present its annual Trout Days festival on May 19-21 and in Minneapolis, the 6th Annual Bow Wow Film Fest—the most esteemed dog film festival in North America—will take place on May 22.  


Start May in DeSoto County at Magnolia Fest (May 3-6), which will delight the crowds with carnival rides and fanastic fair food. The Jimmie Rodgers Music Festival—known as the nation's longest-running music celebration—will return once again this year (May 7-14) to honor the legacy of Jimmie Rodgers, the "Father of Country Music". This year marks the 70th anniversary and it will feature artists like Paul Cauthen, Christone Ingram, Paul Thorn and many more. Last but not least, Jazz in the Pass will return to Pass Christian on May 28.  


St. Joseph is one of the Show-Me State's most underrated destinations and the city will once again hold its annual Apple Blossom Festival (May 6). The festival will feature a great parade and scores of events downtown, making it a wonderful day out in "St. Joe". In Kansas City on May 28, the Kansas City Symphony will host its annual Celebration at the Station concert at Union Station, one of the best free Memorial Day concerts in the entire nation. 


The Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman will host the MADE Fair on May 5-6, which will feature works from dozens of local artists & makers. Later in the month, the Montana State University Billings Foundation's Wine & Food Festival returns for its 31st edition (May 18-20), once again featuring wine tastings, curated chef dinners and more. 


There's nothing quite like Junkstock, and the spring edition of this unique and all-things-fun antique fair will take place at Sycamore Farms on May 5-7. Expect the usual array of shopping opportunities in addition to great food, drink and entertainment. Elsewhere, The Renaissance Festival of Nebraska returns to Papillion the first two weekends of the month (May 6-7 & 13-14), bringing with it an array of fun activities and great food (turkey legs, anyone?) for the whole family. 


In addition to being the month that the "day-life" at Las Vegas's hotel pools roars back to life, the Silver State is full of fun things to do this May. The Nevada Old Time Fiddler's Contest will take place in Eureka on May 12-13, Electric Daisy Carnival EDM festival return to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on May 19-21 and the Run-A-Mucca Motorcycle and Music Festival will bring a great time to Winnemucca on May 26-28. 

New Hampshire

The town of Lee will welcome back the seasonal splendor of Bedrock Gardens when it opens for the 2023 season on May 17. Portsmouth on the Seacoast celebrates the start of summer during its Cocktail Week (May 9-15). Memorial Day Weekend will once again be wonderful in Jackson Village, when the 33rd Annual Wildquack Duck Race & Music Festival returns on May 28, a special event that features live music, tasty bites and the much-loved duck races. 

New Jersey

Westfield starts the month right with its annual Spring Fling party on May 7, a fiesta that will once again feature hundreds of vendors, tasty festival food and plenty of all-ages fun. The first weekend of the month is also the time for the Exit 0 International Jazz Festival (May 5-7) while further up the Jersey Shore, Belmar will hold its 35th annual New Jersey Seafood Festival on May 19-21.

New Mexico

The first weekend of May (May 5-7) will see the small town of Truth or Consequences turn into one big party during Fiesta—an annual event filled with parades, live music, rodeos and lots of mouthwatering New Mexican cuisine. Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta Park will once again be the setting for the New Mexico Wine Festival (May 27-29) while Memorial Day Weekend also sees the 42nd Annual Memorial Motorcycle Rally (May 25-29) take to the roads around Red River. 

New York

Make the trip up to Albany for the annual Tulip Festival (May 13-14), where you will be able to stroll through Washington Park and admire 100,000 tulips and experience the Tulip Queen Coronation and musical performances. In the Big Apple, May 13 is the date for the Japan Parade, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden will host Weekends in Bloom (an event that combines cherry blossoms and great tunes) through May 14 and The Head In The Clouds Music & Arts Festival will celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander heritage with live performances from NIKI, Rich Brian, ITZY, Beabadoobee and many more.  

North Carolina

The Spring Chicken Festival returns to Siler City on May 6 with plenty of activities for the whole family while the town of Sanford will salute everything strawb' during the Strawberry Jammin' Festival, which will take place May 11-13 and feature music, drinks, and more great strawberry-filled food than you ever thought possible. Elsewhere, The Beaufort Music Festival returns to the coast on May 19-20 with musical performances from Grace Potter, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Andy Frasco & The UN plus many more. 

North Dakota

Grand Forks will get the summer fun started early when the city plays host to Spring Fever on May 4, a University of North Dakota concert event starring DJ duo Two Friends. Fargo is the spot to be May 15-20 as the Fargo Marathon and its associated events such as the Fur-go Dog Race and the 27th Mile Post Race Party will make the week memorable for racers and spectators alike. 


Make for the town of McArthur for the annual Vinton County Wild Turkey Festival (May 4-7), which will feature games, carnival rides, assorted entertainment and a grand parade. There’s no better place to be over Memorial Day Weekend than in the ‘Nati at Taste of Cincinnati (May 27-29) where you will be able to enjoy the wares of local food vendors and wash it down with a local brew or two. Or, you could head up north to Cleveland and “go Greek” at the Tremont Greek Fest (May 26-29), which will once again feature fantastic food and music from the Med’. 


Mayfest (May 12-14) will once again fill the streets of downtown Tulsa and Historic Greenwood with visual arts & dance, music, and great food from around the globe while the Paseo Arts Festival (May 27-29) will bring over 100 visual artists, live music and bites to Oklahoma City. OKC will also host the 32nd Annual Chuck Wagon Festival (May 27-28), which will once again bring two days of First American and Western cultural activities to all who attend.  


Cinco de Mayo Fiesta—Portland’s largest multi-cultural festival—will return to the city on May 5-7 while the quirky small town of McMinnville will be holding its 23rd Annual UFO Festival (May 19-20), the nation's favorite gathering dedicated to “flying discs” that doesn’t take place in Roswell, New Mexico. Portland's Rose Festival kicks off on May 26 this year and you can expect the usual range of over 60 events during May and June including the Starlight Parade, Grand Floral Parade, arts shows and dragon boat races. And regardless of where you are in the Beaver State, the wine will be flowing as May is Oregon Wine Month, and it will often be poured alongside promotions and special activities. 


Once again, the beloved Festival of Fountains event (a fantastical combination of water and light) returns to Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia this May, kicking off the season on May 11 and running through September. The City of Brotherly Love will also play host to the South 9th Street Italian Market Festival on May 20-21, which lays claim to being Philly’s “largest block party” and will include cornhole, “halfball”, live music and lots of tasty food among this year’s attractions. Elsewhere, Erie will hold its annual Festival of the Birds bird-watching festival at Presque Isle State Park on May 12-14 and the Pittsburgh Wine & Spirits event will take place on May 20. 

Rhode Island

Newport is the spot to be all May as The Ocean Race will make its only North American stop when it pulls into town May 13-21, allowing folks to get up close to the vessels and crew participating in the nautical race around the world. Then, towards the end of the month, the always-popular Newport Oyster & Chowder Festival (May 20-21) will be back at Bowen's Wharf while the Rogue Island Comedy Festival will have people laughing in the aisles on May 25-29. 

South Carolina

The Newberry Food Festival will take place on May 19 this year, offering visitors the chance to soak up the small-town charm and sample everything from crab cakes to brisket. Right after, Little River is the spot to be for the World Famous Blue Crab Festival (May 20-21), which will feature beach music, crafts and tons of scrumptious seafood. Last but not least, the Spoleto Festival USA kicks off in Charleston (May 26-June 11), an event that is widely considered to be the nation's finest festival of performing arts.

South Dakota

Make your way to downtown Sioux Falls for the Wine & Art Walk on May 5, where all in attendance will get to sample stellar wine while viewing excellent works of art. Then, head to Rapid City on May 20 to embrace the warmer days of spring at the German-inspired seasonal celebration called Frühlingsfest, which will feature artisan vendors, plenty of quality beer and a rib & chili cooking contest. 



The 52nd Annual Tennessee Craft Fair takes place at Nashville's Centennial Park on May 5-7 and will once again present three days full of demonstrations, makers, and artistic displays that will captivate everyone in your crew. That same weekend sees the Beale Street Music Festival take place in Memphis (May 5-7), featuring artists like The Lumineers, Earth, Wine & Fire, HARDY, Jazmine Sullivan, The Roots and many more. Foodies will want to stay in Memphis, as Bluff City will host the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest on May 17-20. Both events are part of the fantastic Memphis in May International Festival


The Pecan Street Festival—an always-fun event that lays claim to being the oldest and biggest arts festival in Central Texas—returns to Austin on May 6-7 and you’ll want to head north to Frisco through May 14 for the annual Frisco Fair where you’ll be able to experience exciting rides and countless family-friendly attractions. Music lovers will want to make their way to Dallas for the unique So What Music Festival (May 24-25), which will once again bring together rap metal, hip-hop and pop-punk. Finish your month off in Houston at Comicpalooza (May 26-28), the Lone Star State’s biggest pop culture convention. 


Santaquin’s Cherry Hill Farm will once again be the place for the Spring Blossom Festival (May 12-13), an event that gives visitors the opportunity to get up close to one of the state’s most impressive cherry blossom blooms. In Salt Lake City, The 25th Annual Great Salt Lake Bird Festival will take place May 18-21 and in Salt Lake City and over in Thanksgiving Point, the Tulip Festival at Ashton Gardens through May 20. 


The always-anticipated Waking Windows music festival returns to Winooski on May 5-7 with a scaled-down edition featuring Pile, Underground System and Rough Francis among others. The Craft Brew Races are back in Stowe on May 20, an event that is easily New England’s favorite drinking & running event while in Bennington, the annual Mayfest Arts & Crafts Festival on May 27.


As summer approaches, Virginia Beach always takes center stage and this year the Atlantic Coast Kite Festival (May 6-7) is back and better than ever. But don’t leave town afterward though, because Beach Music Weekend is on May 12-13. Memorial Day Weekend in Virginia is all about the town of Vienna and its Viva! Vienna! Festival (May 27-29), which is an all-American party full of rides, family attractions, live music and great food & beer in addition to a Memorial Day Tribute. 


It began in April, but the majority of the 104th Annual Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee will take place in May this year (runs through May 7) and the event is once again a can’t-miss on Washington’s spring social calendar. Elsewhere, the Spirit of Africa Festival will take place in Seattle on May 13 and the town of Poulsbo will hold its annual Viking Festival from May 19-21.

West Virginia

May in West Virginia is synonymous with the Strawberry Festival in Buckhannon, and the town will once again welcome the season with a historic gathering guaranteed to be a good time for you and your crew (expect everything from Irish road bowling to a carnival) on May 13-21. There’s no better place to be on Memorial Day Weekend than Clarksburg as the town will roll out the red carpet for the Clarksburg Rock Fest & Block Party. 


Make for Wisconsin’s biggest city at the start of the month in order to catch the Milwaukee Film Festival (through May 4) all while you gear up for the state’s most epic Memorial Day Weekend event: BratFest in Madison. In addition to getting the chance to taste plenty of tasty bratwursts, the world’s largest bratwurst festival is also home to carnival rides, stellar concerts and scores of other fun events. Finally, Jacksonport will hold its 50th Annual Maifest event on May 27-28.  


Make your way to Cody on May 11 for the 23rd Annual Best of the Rockies Cody Country Horse Sale and to the town of Buffalo on May 20 for the Forever West Extreme Bulls 2023 Rodeo. Then, finish May in style at the Million Dollar Music Fest in Jackson Hole on May 28, which will see Jon Pardi headline a day full of great music and celebration of Western culture.

For some areas of the United States, the month of May is most definitely still spring, but for other sections of the country, summer is seemingly already in full swing and the range of great May events in 2023 reflect this. From celebrations dedicated to tulips & blossoms and the welcoming of warmer temperatures in cooler locales to concert festivals by the beach and fairs that embrace the idyllic weather in warmer places, you have your pick when it comes to May events. 

Throw into the mix Cinco de Mayo celebrations, Memorial Day gatherings, events centered around Mother's Day and scores of other local festivals & carnivals and there's a May festival event for everyone and every region of the country. 

We've rounded up the best out there, so click on the slideshow above to find out what the best events in May are in your state or to get some inspiration for your first road trip of the summer. 

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Scott Hartbeck

Scott Hartbeck

Born in the USA but now based in England, Scott has been writing about travel for over 10 years. He specializes in Europe, rail...

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