If you don’t “festival,” are you even Minnesotan? It’s a question that has plagued mankind for centuries.
Festivals bring all things great: great grub, great music, great people/people watching, great beer, and likely, great memories. So even if you did have one too many soft pretzels or the rain threatened to wash you out of your campground, well – you’ve got those mems. And who better to share ‘em with than the rest of the people that call this place home?
From Mankato to the Cities, we’ve got all the festivals you’ll need to celebrate summer in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Faribault Heritage Days
Jun 13-16, 2018 // Faribault
From family-friendly fun to lively nightlife, there is certainly no shortage of activities during this four-day festival in Faribault. Families can bring their kids and enjoy carnival rides, coloring contests, craft shows, and soap box races. At night, get set for the pub crawl winding its way around Downtown Faribault; afterwards head on over to Central Park for some dancing and beer in the beer tent, accompanied by music from local band, Pop Rocks. Saturday’s activities include a pop-up farmers market in the park and a Grand Parade at night – to end the weekend, swing by the Paradise Theater for a live performance of “Beauty & The Beast.” For more information, visit www.faribaultheritagedays.com
Stone Arch Bridge Festival
Jun 15 – 17 // Stone Arch Bridge area in Minneapolis
Kick off your Father’s Day weekend with a free concert along the scenic Minneapolis Riverfront. The 3rd largest festival in Minneapolis, this weekend-long celebration features over 250 quality visual artists, a handful of live musicians, and a whole lot of finger-lickin’ good food. Pets are out and about and fashion mavens are in full swing as Minnesotans flock the cobbled streets of Northeast Minneapolis. From handcrafted wooden chess sets to flashy peacock earrings, it’s a great opportunity to shop and support local businesses! For more info, check out www.stonearchbridgefestival.com
Twin Cities Pride Festival
Jun 23-24 // Loring Park in Minneapolis
A rainbow of excitement is surrounding this year’s TC Pride Festival, a free celebration of the LGBTQ community. Expect to find Minneapolis’ largest park teeming with brightly colored neon’s during this two-day festival featuring over 400 exhibitors, four stages with music and entertainment, and 40 food and beverage booths. On Saturday night, check out Pride in Concert featuring Brandy, with a celebration of fireworks to follow. The next day, gear up for the 7th Annual Rainbow Run 5k and the sequential parade rocking it’s way through the streets of Downtown Minneapolis. For more details, check out www.tcpride.org.
June 22 – 23 // Land of Memories Park in Mankato
Mankato’s Outdoor Music Festival is back for another year of music and adventure. Located at Land of Memories Park in Mankato, Minnesota, this family-friendly festival is a unique melding of live music, nature, and people. This year’s lineup includes local rock jam band The Big Wu, Fat City All Stars, and Dave Sandersfeld, to name a few. Additionally, there will be on-site camping, bent-river paddling, and food trucks serving up delicious fare. Get more details at www.solsticemankato.com.
Basilica Block Party
July 6-7, 2018 // Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis
What started in 1995 as a fundraiser for the structural restoration of The Basilica of Saint Mary has quickly become a longstanding summer music tradition for many Minnesotans. This year’s lineup includes indie pop band Fitz and the Tantrums, pop sensation Andy Grammer, and ‘90s alt-rockers Third Eye Blind. With sponsors such as 2 GINGERS Irish Whiskey and Prairie Organic Spirits, it’s not long before you’ll be humming along to the classic, “Semi-Charmed Life.” Ok, maybe just the ‘90s kids. For more details, visit www.basilicablockparty.org.
Bacon and Beer Classic
July 14, 2018 // CHS Field in St. Paul
What happens when you combine America’s beloved salty snack with the Midwest’s favorite adult beverage? Well, a festival of course! This nationwide festival is coming to Minnesota and its bringing over 100 beers from regional breweries and more then 30 bacon-infused dishes from local chefs. The flavor combinations are endless. And if you’re one of those strange people who don’t like bacon, not to worry – these guys are offering a load of other food options, from seafood to southern BBQ and sweet, sweet confections. Got questions? Visit www.baconandbeerclassic.com.
Rice County Fair
July 17 – 23, 2018 // Fairgrounds in Faribault
It’s the 145th year of the Rice County Fair – from baking contests to the announcement of the fair queen; it’s your classic Minnesotan county fair, and more. There’s horse and car racing for the thrill-seekers, rides for the kids, and card games in the beer tent for those looking to beat the heat. Each day hosts a variety of free events, including prize drawings, juggling, and even a comedy show – for more information, be sure to check out www.ricecountyfair.net.
Dakota County Fair
Aug 6 – 12, 2018 // Farmington
This seven-day event, being held at the Dakota County Fairgrounds, will feature an array of live music and artistic showcases alongside a long list of food and beverage vendors. A mini precursor to the Minnesota State Fair, there will be rides, food tasting stalls, and entertainment for the kids. Stay up-to-date with more details at www.dakotacountyfair.org.
MN Bluegrass & Old Time Festival
Aug 9 – 12, 2018 // Richmond
The Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Festival is back the second weekend of August with four intense days of music – and there’s nothin’ like the good old twang of a banjo to get your toes tappin’. Check out Becky Buller, Minnesota’s own homegrown bluegrass maven, along with national acts such as Red Squirrel Chasers, Dreamcatcher, and Henhouse Prowlers, to name a few. For anyone looking to pick up an instrument or get lessons, hands-on workshops will also be available. And it ain’t just music – for a full list of what’s cooking in Richmond this August, visit www.minnesotabluegrass.org.
Blue Collar BBQ Music & Arts Festival
Aug 11 // Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault
Voted “Best Music Festival in Southern Minnesota” in the 2017 Best of SoMinn Scene competition, this event is now celebrating its 10th year of excitement. Featuring over 12 hours of live music, family art making, kid’s activities, a BBQ competition, and beer gardens, there’s no wonder it was named the region’s hottest party. Proceeds from the event support Paradise Center for the Arts, so show up and support local! More details can be found at www.paradisecenterforthearts.org.
Minnesota State Fair
Aug 23 – Sept. 3 // Falcon Heights
Perhaps the most well attended and popular state fair in the entire country, the Minnesota State Fair returns, as it always does, at the end of the summer. Like every year, unique beers and foods will be a major attraction, but let’s not forget the music. The Grandstand at the fairgrounds can fit up to about 15,000 people. Headlining the first night (Aug. 23) is former boybander turned adult pop star Niall Horan, joined by the pop-country up-and-comer Maren Morris. The next night, the reunited Sugarland takes to the stage. The Current’s Music On-A-Stick night features Trampled by Turtles, Lord Huron and Lissie. Other than that, you can see Earth, Wind and Fire, the Beach Boys, Jason Mraz, Old Dominion, Boy George and more. Get tickets and find more details at www.mnstatefair.org/entertainment/grandstand.html.
OTHERS NOT TO MISS
Smokin’ in Steele: June 1-2 in Owatonna
Winstock: June 8-9 in Winsted
St. Peter Ambassadors Blues Fest: June 9 in St. Peter
Blue Ox: June 14-16 in Eau Claire, WI
Rock the Garden: June 16 in Minneapolis
Twin Cities Jazz Festival: June 21-23
Lakes Jam: June 21-23
Hambone Music Festival: July TBD in Rochester
SubOctave Music Festival: July TBD in Houston
Basilica Block Party: July 6-7 in Minneapolis
Trampled by Turtles at Bayfront: July 7 in Duluth
Riversong Music Festival: July 13-14 in Hutchinson
Lakefront Music Festival: July 13-14 in Prior Lake
Moondance Jam: July 19-21 near Walker
WE Fest: Aug 2-4 in Detroit Lakes
Mankato Rib Fest: Aug 2-5 in Mankato
Minnesota Fringe Festival: Aug 2-12 in Minneapolis
Bayfront Blues: Aug 10-12 in Duluth
Riverbend Music Fest: Aug 24-25 in Owatonna
Rock Bend Folk Festival: Sept 8-9 in St. Peter
Ramble Jam: Sept 14-15 in Farmington
Boats and Bluegrass Festival: Sept 27-30 in St. Peter
By Meghan Rook