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Even though Las Vegas hosts a myriad of events all year round, you can attend one of the many cultural festivals and other annual traditions around Vegas and other parts of Nevada during your trip. Many festivals have become a not-to-be-missed activity by locals and attract music lovers, artists, food lovers, dance enthusiasts, and partygoers from around the globe.
Burning Man is one of the most popular events and festivals in Nevada, bringing in approximately 50,000 participants to the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada every year. This bonfire festival is a one-week long celebration with unique traditions and creations by artists and non-artists alike. The highlight of the festival is the burning of the 40-foot tall structure.
You can head to Las Vegas in the middle of April for the Viva Las Vegas celebration, considered to be the ‘biggest rockabilly party in the world’. This 4-day event includes a Tiki Pool Party, Guitar Geek Festival Show, a car show, and jiving classes. It’s an opportunity to celebrate all things retro and enjoy some great food, music, and activities with locals.
Head to Reno in early April for the annual Reno Jazz Festival. It’s one of the biggest celebrations of jazz in the country and attracts more than 300,000 jazz enthusiasts from the local area and beyond. The festival takes place at the University of Nevada - Reno campus and includes live band performances, meet and greets with artists, jazz clinics and competitions.
You won’t want to miss the Cinco de Mayo Festival in Reno that takes place in early May, a grand celebration of Hispanic culture with live music, soccer games, arts and crafts, Mexican food, and activities for children. It’s a family friendly event that usually takes place over a weekend in May. Head here to meet hundreds of vendors selling specialty items from Mexico and catch Mexican dancing horse performances throughout the weekend.
Rodeo fans or those curious about the rodeo can make their way to Reno Rodeo for a 10-day extravaganza. This event has been dubbed the “Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West!” and has been a longstanding tradition for 90 years. It attracts more than 120,000 visitors every year and has been televised on national stations, including CBS Sports and ESPN, throughout its history. Plan on spending a few days at this multi-day event to make the most of your experience.
When you’re heading to the Lake Tahoe area during the summer, don’t miss the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival that takes place right on the beaches of Lake Tahoe. This annual event has been bringing more than 30,000 visitors to the beaches for more than 35 years and is one of the most popular cultural festivals in the region. You can watch some of Shakespeare’s best plays on an open-air stage and enjoy some fun Shakespeare-themed activities during your visit.
The Great Reno Balloon Race in early September has been a popular event since 1982. Head to this event to see more than 100 balloons take flight in the blue skies around Reno every year. Tethered balloon rides for younger visitors are one of the highlights of this event and you can even head here to watch air balloon pilots playing their hand in a Balloon Blackjack game during the race. It’s the world’s largest free hot air balloon event and takes place over three days. It is always scheduled between the Reno Air Races and the State Fair, so you can enjoy a variety of activities nearby during your visit.
Make your way to Carson City in late October to celebrate Nevada Day, the official salute to the State of Nevada that celebrates Nevada’s rich history and journey to the Union. The event kicks off with a parade that’s dedicated to a specific theme. In 2017, the parade was dedicated to Arts and Entertainment, so we saw floats decorated in a wide range of artistic styles, dance performances, theater productions, and culinary showcases during the event.
Hosted annually in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada, Burning Man is a weeklong bonfire festival averaging over 50,000 participants.
Although the site of the festival is held in a very rural area, it is most near the community of Winnemucca along Interstate 80.
Burning Man is a very artistic and expressive festival, featuring many unique traditions like the Temple, the creation of Black Rock City, and the presence of outreach efforts like Black Rock Arts Foundation.
The festival’s pinnacle event comes when attendees light the 40-foot tall main structure on fire to create the iconic “Burning Man” image.