Looking for a more eventful summer? Check out these festivals.
Looking for a more eventful summer? Check out these festivals. (photo: Rick Lohre/Vail Valley Foundatio)

9 Can’t-Miss Festivals for Summer 2019

Whether you’re in the mood for beer and barbecue, a dance party, or a shot of adrenaline, these events are a guaranteed blast

Looking for a more eventful summer? Check out these festivals.
Rick Lohre/Vail Valley Foundatio

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Summer offers up endless opportunities for adventure. Why not partake in a community of like-minded people? At these sports, film, food, music, and other festivals around the country, you can watch top athletes perform, learn a new sport, get access to remote terrain, or kick back and watch The Killers in a field with a cold craft beer. Or do it all.

Action and Adventure

(Outside Experience)

Outside Experience

Chicago, Illinois; July 13-14

In September 1977, the first issue of Outside was published in Chicago, which served as the magazine’s hometown for 15 years. On July 13-14, we’re returning to the Windy City for the inaugural Outside Experience, a two-day event packed with SUPing on Lake Michigan, skills clinics, select flicks from the 5Point Film Festival, climbing walls, group runs, and whiskey tastings, with more than 200 top gear and travel brands on hand to help you demo equipment, check out adventure vehicles, and live bravely. To learn more, see the map above and buy tickets here.

TIAA Bank Kids Climbing Competition at the GoPro Mountain Games
TIAA Bank Kids Climbing Competition at the GoPro Mountain Games (Courtesy Vail Valley Foundation/Zach Mahone)

GoPro Mountain Games

Vail, Colorado; June 6–9

Watch professional athletes compete in freestyle kayaking, slacklining, mountain biking, and the only U.S. stop on the Climbing World Cup series. Better yet, sign yourself up to test yourself with any of the GoPro Mountain Games’ 30-plus events. Other highlights: big-air dog-jumping contests, three nights of free concerts including headliner Citizen Cope, and kid-friendly events like a push-bike race and a fly-fishing contest. (Free for spectators)

International Climbers’ Festival

Lander, Wyoming; July 10–14

Climbers of all abilities descend on Lander for this homegrown festival that’s been taking place since 1994. Demo gear, take climbing clinics, and test your­self with the Limestone Rodeo redpoint competition by day, then watch climbing films and guest speakers by night. Local hotels offer discounts for attendees, or you can camp for free in Lander City Park. ($100)

Downieville Classic

Downieville, California; August 1–4

Hardy mountain bikers will love the 26.5-mile cross-country and 15-mile downhill fat-tire races that make up the Downieville Classic. Everyone else? They’ll enjoy a movie night, river swims, DJs, and food trucks at this former gold-mining town on the North Fork of the Yuba River. ($110)


(Nathan Zucker/Forecastle Festival)

Forecastle Festival

Louisville, Kentucky; July 12–13

With headliners like the Killers and the Avett Brothers, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the Forecastle Festival, which takes place every summer on the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville’s Waterfront Park, was just another music fest. But the event is also a strong supporter of environmental activism and showcases organizations like Greenpeace, Riverkeepers, and the Surfrider Foundation. (From $185)

(James Coletta)

Shambhala Music Festival

Salmo, British Columbia; August 9–12

Welcome to Shambhala, a massive underground electronic-dance-music party on a 500-acre working farm in a stunning corner of interior British Columbia. In addition to six stages that are as much art installations as they are music venues, expect daily yoga, vegan food vendors, and a geodesic dome turned art gallery. ($335)

Food and Drink

(Off the Rez)

Seattle Street Food Fest

Seattle, Washington; July 6–7

With food trucks and 100,000 attendees taking over five blocks of the city’s burgeoning South Lake Union neighborhood, it can be tough to navigate this weekend-long fest. Two can’t-miss favorites: the Greek fries at Hallava Falafel, and the beignets at Where Ya At Matt. Between courses, enjoy DJs, an artists’ market, and craft beer. (Free)


Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ

Thirteen locations in the southeast; January through October

At this traveling festival, you’ll find some 60 beers and 40 bourbons, plus a variety of barbecue, live music, a hot-sauce marketplace, and seminars where brewers, distillers, and pit masters share their craft. Some of this summer’s choice tour stops include Washington, D.C., Virginia Beach, and Knoxville, Tennessee. (From $40)

Vermont Brewers Festival

Burlington, Vermont; July 19–20

With some 48 Vermont craft breweries in attendance, you’re sure to find a beer or two or ten to love at this event on the shores of Lake Champlain. (But if you don’t grab a Heady Topper IPA from the Alchemist, you’re doing it wrong.) Enjoy local bands and food trucks, and stop by the Experience Tent and learn which Vermont cheeses pair best with your new favorite brews. ($44)

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