Lifestyle

The 33 Best Summer Festivals in Minnesota

Published On 06/08/2015 Published On 06/08/2015

If there’s one reason that Minnesota summers dominate all other summers it’s probably... um, one of these 20 reasons... but if there are 21 reasons our warm weather months kick so much ass then our sheer number of sweet summer festivals is making the list. In fact, there are so many (over 95 different county fairs alone!), we had to narrow 'em down to the 33 best. You’re welcome...

The Current

Date

Event

Location

Jun 12 Fri

SummerFest Get ready to put on your dancing shoes for a weekend full of live music, street dancing, and a variety of other activities, both family oriented and otherwise. Featuring food arts, craft vendors from all over, and a beer garden sponsored by the local VFW, you’ve got all of the makings of one fine summertime festival.

Fergus Falls

SummerFest Fergus Falls Get ready to put on your dancing shoes for a weekend full of live music, street dancing, and a variety of other activities, both family oriented and otherwise. Featuring food arts, craft vendors from all over, and a beer garden sponsored by the local VFW, you’ve got all of the makings of one fine summertime festival.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 13 Sat

Northern Spark One of the biggest and most rapidly growing art festivals in the Midwest, this riverside event has a little bit of everything for everyone. The event kicks off at 9pm and rages on until 5:26am (sunrise) and features a variety of events, including a pancake feed courtesy of The Bachelor Farmer and Al’s Breakfast, a guided bike tour, live music, and so many other creative events that you’ll never make it to everything.

Minneapolis

Northern Spark Minneapolis One of the biggest and most rapidly growing art festivals in the Midwest, this riverside event has a little bit of everything for everyone. The event kicks off at 9pm and rages on until 5:26am (sunrise) and features a variety of events, including a pancake feed courtesy of The Bachelor Farmer and Al’s Breakfast, a guided bike tour, live music, and so many other creative events that you’ll never make it to everything.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 13 Sat

AcousticFest This unplugged festival promises a variety of performances from local musicians, food, and other demonstrations all centered around the idea of connecting people through music.

Brainerd

AcousticFest Brainerd This unplugged festival promises a variety of performances from local musicians, food, and other demonstrations all centered around the idea of connecting people through music.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 20 Sat

Stone Arch Festival Arguably one of the most scenic spots in the entire city, come out and celebrate the history of the historic Stone Arch Bridge nestled above the St. Anthony Dam and enjoy live music, art displays from over 250 artists, and of course a shton of food and beer.

Minneapolis

Stone Arch Festival Minneapolis Arguably one of the most scenic spots in the entire city, come out and celebrate the history of the historic Stone Arch Bridge nestled above the St. Anthony Dam and enjoy live music, art displays from over 250 artists, and of course a shton of food and beer.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 20 Sat

Rock the Garden This is an annual “do not miss” event hosted by the local radio gurus at 89.3 The Current. Listen to a collection of the best modern artists featuring both local and national acts. This year catch artists like Conor Oberst, Babes in Toyland, and Modest Mouse as they set out to conquer the Sculpture Garden with rock.

Minneapolis

Rock the Garden Minneapolis This is an annual “do not miss” event hosted by the local radio gurus at 89.3 The Current. Listen to a collection of the best modern artists featuring both local and national acts. This year catch artists like Conor Oberst, Babes in Toyland, and Modest Mouse as they set out to conquer the Sculpture Garden with rock.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 25 Thu

Twin Cities Jazz Festival Come out and hear the cool sounds of smooth jazz or the eclectic sounds of the more avant-garde at one of the Midwest’s biggest celebrations of the genre. Join 30,000 other jazz lovers as they take to St. Paul’s Mears Park to immerse themselves in all things jazz, beer, and food.

St. Paul

Twin Cities Jazz Festival St. Paul Come out and hear the cool sounds of smooth jazz or the eclectic sounds of the more avant-garde at one of the Midwest’s biggest celebrations of the genre. Join 30,000 other jazz lovers as they take to St. Paul’s Mears Park to immerse themselves in all things jazz, beer, and food.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 25 Thu

Twin Cities Pride Festival & Parade Come out and celebrate the diverse nature of the Twin Cities and show your support at one of our biggest and most colorful annual events. Featuring live music, dancing, beer drinking, food eating, and, of course, the giant Pride Parade, this festival is always a good time.

Minneapolis

Twin Cities Pride Festival & Parade Minneapolis Come out and celebrate the diverse nature of the Twin Cities and show your support at one of our biggest and most colorful annual events. Featuring live music, dancing, beer drinking, food eating, and, of course, the giant Pride Parade, this festival is always a good time.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 26 Fri

Beer Dabbler One of the Twin Cities' best beer events is setting up shop at the annual Pride Festival: sample loads of incredible craft beers from all over the state and indulge in food from a variety of local food trucks.

Minneapolis

Beer Dabbler Minneapolis One of the Twin Cities' best beer events is setting up shop at the annual Pride Festival: sample loads of incredible craft beers from all over the state and indulge in food from a variety of local food trucks.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 27 Sat

Paul Bunyan Days Visit the hometown of one of the United States' biggest legends and celebrate the day of his birth the best way the Minnesotans know how: with a giant party featuring lumberjack-themed games and contests, fish frys, and a Paul Bunyan look-a-like contest.

Akeley

Paul Bunyan Days Akeley Visit the hometown of one of the United States' biggest legends and celebrate the day of his birth the best way the Minnesotans know how: with a giant party featuring lumberjack-themed games and contests, fish frys, and a Paul Bunyan look-a-like contest.

Basilica Block Party

Date

Event

Location

Jul 2 Thu

A Taste of Minnesota Sample a slew of local delicacies and various other fair foods while slamming a few cold brews and listening to bands like the Gear Daddies, Foghat, or P.O.D.

Waconia

A Taste of Minnesota Waconia Sample a slew of local delicacies and various other fair foods while slamming a few cold brews and listening to bands like the Gear Daddies, Foghat, or P.O.D.

Date

Event

Location

Jul 10 Fri

Basilica Block Party What started as a fundraiser to help pay for renovations to one of Minnesota’s most lavish basilicas has turned into one of the state’s biggest and most anticipated music festivals. This year listen to bands like Weezer, Wilco, Motion City Soundtrack, and Fitz and the Tantrums as they turn Hennepin Ave into one of Minnesota’s premier music destinations.

Minneapolis

Basilica Block Party Minneapolis What started as a fundraiser to help pay for renovations to one of Minnesota’s most lavish basilicas has turned into one of the state’s biggest and most anticipated music festivals. This year listen to bands like Weezer, Wilco, Motion City Soundtrack, and Fitz and the Tantrums as they turn Hennepin Ave into one of Minnesota’s premier music destinations.

Date

Event

Location

Jul 10 Fri

Wild Rice Festival With all of the things that we’re willing to celebrate during the summer months, it just wouldn’t be right to not pay homage to one of Minnesota’s most prominent crops. Featuring live music, a turtle feed where you can actually try snapping turtle stew, a massive flea market, and of course, lots and lots of wild rice.

Deer River

Wild Rice Festival Deer River With all of the things that we’re willing to celebrate during the summer months, it just wouldn’t be right to not pay homage to one of Minnesota’s most prominent crops. Featuring live music, a turtle feed where you can actually try snapping turtle stew, a massive flea market, and of course, lots and lots of wild rice.

Date

Event

Location

Jul 10 Fri

Hopped Up Caribou Beer Festival Celebrate all things hops with variety of local brewers like Surly, Town Hall, Fulton, Bent Paddle, and many, many more, from a mountain that overlooks Lake Superior. If that’s not enough for you, we don’t know what is.

Lutsen

Hopped Up Caribou Beer Festival Lutsen Celebrate all things hops with variety of local brewers like Surly, Town Hall, Fulton, Bent Paddle, and many, many more, from a mountain that overlooks Lake Superior. If that’s not enough for you, we don’t know what is.

Date

Event

Location

Jul 11 Sat

17th Annual Raspberries & Wine Festival Come out and celebrate raspberry season with the local vintners at Winehaven. They’ll be featuring hourly vineyard tours, complimentary wine tastings, and lunch at the vineyard. They’ll also be releasing their newest batch of raspberry wine.

Chisago City

17th Annual Raspberries & Wine Festival Chisago City Come out and celebrate raspberry season with the local vintners at Winehaven. They’ll be featuring hourly vineyard tours, complimentary wine tastings, and lunch at the vineyard. They’ll also be releasing their newest batch of raspberry wine.

Date

Event

Location

Jul 16 Thu

Moondance Jam Calling all classic rock fans, this festival features such legendary acts as The Doobie Brothers, Huey Lewis & the News, Jefferson Starship, and Peter Frampton. The one downside to this event: Nickelback will also be there. Please don’t say that you weren’t warned.

Walker

Moondance Jam Walker Calling all classic rock fans, this festival features such legendary acts as The Doobie Brothers, Huey Lewis & the News, Jefferson Starship, and Peter Frampton. The one downside to this event: Nickelback will also be there. Please don’t say that you weren’t warned.

Date

Event

Location

Jul 18 Sat

Minnesota Scottish Fair Get ready to unleash your inner William Wallace on a variety of classic games like stone throwing, caber turning, and sheaf tossing, all while enjoying traditional Celtic music, food, and drink.

Eagan

Minnesota Scottish Fair Eagan Get ready to unleash your inner William Wallace on a variety of classic games like stone throwing, caber turning, and sheaf tossing, all while enjoying traditional Celtic music, food, and drink.

Date

Event

Location

Jul 25 Sat

All Pints North Summer Brew Festival Head on up to the shore of Lake Superior and join the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild for one of the biggest and best beer events in the state, where you can revel in the glory of the state’s best craft beers while taking in live music and noshing on a variety of food from local vendors.

Duluth

All Pints North Summer Brew Festival Duluth Head on up to the shore of Lake Superior and join the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild for one of the biggest and best beer events in the state, where you can revel in the glory of the state’s best craft beers while taking in live music and noshing on a variety of food from local vendors.

Bayfront Blues Festival

Date

Event

Location

Aug 1 Sat

Nershfest The best music festivals are free music festivals held at delicious local breweries, where there will also be a lot of food trucks... and this is that kind of festival!

Minneapolis

Nershfest Minneapolis The best music festivals are free music festivals held at delicious local breweries, where there will also be a lot of food trucks... and this is that kind of festival!

Date

Event

Location

Aug 6 Thu

WE Fest The biggest celebration of country music in the state coupled with some serious camping/partying, the word on the street is that this is one hell of a festival.

Detroit Lakes

WE Fest Detroit Lakes The biggest celebration of country music in the state coupled with some serious camping/partying, the word on the street is that this is one hell of a festival.

Date

Event

Location

Aug 6 Thu

Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival Bust out your banjos and head out to El Rancho Mañana for a full weekend of old-timey tunes, workshops, and musical showcases.

Richmond

Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival Richmond Bust out your banjos and head out to El Rancho Mañana for a full weekend of old-timey tunes, workshops, and musical showcases.

Date

Event

Location

Aug 6 Thu

Mankato Ribfest When it comes to BBQ, ribs reign supreme, so when there’s a gathering of BBQ professionals from around the country in celebration of traditional low & slow cuisine, you should probably go. Of course there will also be live music and beer, too.

Mankato

Mankato Ribfest Mankato When it comes to BBQ, ribs reign supreme, so when there’s a gathering of BBQ professionals from around the country in celebration of traditional low & slow cuisine, you should probably go. Of course there will also be live music and beer, too.

Date

Event

Location

Aug 7 Fri

Bayfront Blues Festival One of the largest annual outdoor music events in the upper Midwest, this festival promises to treat you to a veritable who’s who of local, regional, and national blues musicians along with a smattering of local food and beer vendors.

Duluth

Bayfront Blues Festival Duluth One of the largest annual outdoor music events in the upper Midwest, this festival promises to treat you to a veritable who’s who of local, regional, and national blues musicians along with a smattering of local food and beer vendors.

Date

Event

Location

Aug 7 Fri

Twin Cities Polish Festival Listen to traditional music while indulging in a variety of classic Polish foods and beverages on Old Main Street. And while there promises to be a lot of polka involved, local disco-pop cover sensation Boogie Wonderland will also be taking the stage in a decidedly un-Polish act of fun.

Minneapolis

Twin Cities Polish Festival Minneapolis Listen to traditional music while indulging in a variety of classic Polish foods and beverages on Old Main Street. And while there promises to be a lot of polka involved, local disco-pop cover sensation Boogie Wonderland will also be taking the stage in a decidedly un-Polish act of fun.

Date

Event

Location

Aug 12 Wed

Internet Cat Video Festival 2015 If you haven't yet accepted that the world has been taken over by Internet cat videos, then let this festival be your confirmation. Held at the brand-new CHS Field in Lowertown, get ready for a full night of feline hilarity as literally thousands of people watch hours upon hours of cute, zany kitties doing what they do best: claiming ownership of your soul.

St. Paul

Internet Cat Video Festival 2015 St. Paul If you haven't yet accepted that the world has been taken over by Internet cat videos, then let this festival be your confirmation. Held at the brand-new CHS Field in Lowertown, get ready for a full night of feline hilarity as literally thousands of people watch hours upon hours of cute, zany kitties doing what they do best: claiming ownership of your soul.

Date

Event

Location

Aug 13 Thu

Brew Love Celebrating summer with cold beer is always good. Celebrating summer with a cold beer from local brewers like Surly, Summit, Rush River, Bent Paddle, etc. (plus food from Rusty Taco, O’Cheese, and more) while helping to raise money for a charity that helps sick kids is even better.

Minneapolis

Brew Love Minneapolis Celebrating summer with cold beer is always good. Celebrating summer with a cold beer from local brewers like Surly, Summit, Rush River, Bent Paddle, etc. (plus food from Rusty Taco, O’Cheese, and more) while helping to raise money for a charity that helps sick kids is even better.

Date

Event

Location

Aug 15 Sat

Monticello Lions Brewfest Keep the summer rolling on with this celebration of delicious craft beer. With the promise of various local and regional brewed offerings, live music, games, and food it’s hard to imagine a better way to spend a day in August.

Monticello

Monticello Lions Brewfest Monticello Keep the summer rolling on with this celebration of delicious craft beer. With the promise of various local and regional brewed offerings, live music, games, and food it’s hard to imagine a better way to spend a day in August.

Date

Event

Location

Aug 15 Sat

Minnesota Garlic Festival Partnering with some of Minnesota’s best restaurants, breweries, and wineries, this celebration of local and sustainable agriculture is perfect for people of all ages.

Hutchinson

Minnesota Garlic Festival Hutchinson Partnering with some of Minnesota’s best restaurants, breweries, and wineries, this celebration of local and sustainable agriculture is perfect for people of all ages.

Date

Event

Location

Aug 15 Sat

Summer Beer Dabbler Head down to the new CHS Field in St. Paul’s beautiful Lowertown district for more beer than you can possibly drink, and delicious food offerings from some of the Twin Cities' best food trucks.

St. Paul

Summer Beer Dabbler St. Paul Head down to the new CHS Field in St. Paul’s beautiful Lowertown district for more beer than you can possibly drink, and delicious food offerings from some of the Twin Cities' best food trucks.

Date

Event

Location

Aug 22-Oct 4

Minnesota Renaissance Festival Drink a flagon of mead whilst putting down a giant smoked turkey leg all while watching people joust with one another. Remember, don’t just watch Game of Thrones, live it. (Weekends only)

Shakopee

Minnesota Renaissance Festival Shakopee Drink a flagon of mead whilst putting down a giant smoked turkey leg all while watching people joust with one another. Remember, don’t just watch Game of Thrones, live it. (Weekends only)

Date

Event

Location

Aug 27-Sep 7

Minnesota State Fair Wander the grounds eating everything on a stick in sight, hit up some great local live music, or just hang out in the beer gardens and enjoy what is quite possibly the nation’s best state fair.

St. Paul

Minnesota State Fair St. Paul Wander the grounds eating everything on a stick in sight, hit up some great local live music, or just hang out in the beer gardens and enjoy what is quite possibly the nation’s best state fair.

Date

Event

Location

Aug 28 Fri

Big Island Bar-B-Que Cooks looking to earn the title of Minnesota’s Best BBQ, live music, games, beer, and a chance to go camping. And it’s free?! This might be the perfect summer event.

Albert Lea

Big Island Bar-B-Que Albert Lea Cooks looking to earn the title of Minnesota’s Best BBQ, live music, games, beer, and a chance to go camping. And it’s free?! This might be the perfect summer event.

Minnesota State Fair

Date

Event

Location

Sep 4 Fri

Riverblast Get yourself ready to wind down summer with one last camping trip down by the river. One that just happens to feature a smattering of regional rock and blues acts, food, and plenty of beer courtesy of New Ulm’s own Schell’s Brewery.

New Ulm

Riverblast New Ulm Get yourself ready to wind down summer with one last camping trip down by the river. One that just happens to feature a smattering of regional rock and blues acts, food, and plenty of beer courtesy of New Ulm’s own Schell’s Brewery.

Date

Event

Location

Sep 4 Fri

Voyageur Days Head up to one of the most beautiful parts of the state and enjoy this lavish outdoor festival at Voyageurs National Park, where you can learn about an important part of Minnesota’s history while enjoying live music, food, and a variety of fun outdoor activities including hiking, canoeing, and zip-lining.

Crane Lake

Voyageur Days Crane Lake Head up to one of the most beautiful parts of the state and enjoy this lavish outdoor festival at Voyageurs National Park, where you can learn about an important part of Minnesota’s history while enjoying live music, food, and a variety of fun outdoor activities including hiking, canoeing, and zip-lining.

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