How to Get the Most Out of Your Arts Festival Experience

There’s not a cloud in the sky and you’re strolling down a walkway lined with tents. Each tent is filled with different items: watercolors standing out against the tent’s canvas, blown glass glinting in the sunlight, and even colorful sculptures made of everyday objects. Meanwhile, you’re relishing a delicious jalapeno and cheese pretzel, just taking it all in. Sounds great right?

Arts festivals are a wonderful chance to get out and experience your town in a whole new light, more specifically, a creative light. You can wander the festival grounds to see all kinds of art while enjoying the weather, some amazing food, and supporting local businesses. Is there a better Saturday afternoon spent?

Unsure of how an arts festival works? Never been before? Here’s everything you need to know before you hit the arts festival scene this summer:

What can I expect to see at an arts festival?

Sure you’ll see your standard oil and paint pieces, but there’s much more to see at an arts festival than traditional art! Arts festivals are an exciting combination of visual, literary, performance, and even culinary art. Festivals often cover a large range to be sure there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy. You can buy, watch, see, and sometimes, create pieces of art all in one place.

Don’t forget about the shops on the outskirts of festival grounds! It can be a great chance for you to check out that sweet little candle boutique you go past on your daily commute, but don’t have the time to stop. Arts festivals have a way of bringing the whole community together, not just the artists and performers on the main grounds.

How much does arts festival admission cost?

Admission is very subjective to the festival. Some charge a small admission fee and some you can get into for free! Check your local festival’s website to see if there is a cost and if you can buy these tickets before your visit.

How should I plan for parking?

Many arts festival organizations have websites with a wealth of information pertinent to their festival, including a map. This can help you see how the grounds are laid out and where the best places to park will be. Some arts festival sites offer shuttles or transportation to keep extra traffic to a minimum. If you’re coming in from out of town, check with your hotel to see if they offer this kind of service. Even if you’re a local but don’t want to worry about your car, or want to partake in the festival’s libations, check out Uber, Lyft, or other ride-sharing options in your area!

The arts festival runs for multiple weekdays or weekends, when is the best time to attend?

If you want to have a more leisurely day to enjoy the festival, a week day will most likely be less busy depending on the popularity of your festival. Depending on your ability to travel during the work week, a weekend day may be your only option. That’s ok! You can still enjoy all the arts festival, just remember to set your expectations appropriately when it comes to crowd levels and wait times.

What kind of food options will there be?

Just like the art, you can be sure the food portfolio will be diverse! From stands to food trucks, there will likely be no shortage of options for you to grab lunch and people-watch from a nearby bench. If you’re leaning towards more of a sit-down meal to break up your day, check out restaurants close to festival grounds that you can walk to. Although they will probably be busier from an influx of people in the area, you can use this time to relax a little and strategize for the next part of your day.

What is there for kids to do?

Arts festivals are an incredible opportunity for kids! Not only does it make it a fun time for the whole family, it can be beneficial for your child’s development to be exposed to art. Many arts festivals have entire sections dedicated to activities geared toward kids including opportunities like face painting, balloons, or even the chance for them to make their own artwork. Check your arts festival’s schedule of events prior to your visit to make sure you hit up some of these fun activities for your little ones.

What should I bring with me to the festival?

With an outdoor arts festival there are some necessities you’ll want to have on hand. Most festivals take place in the summer on (ideally) a nice, sunny day so be sure to use sunscreen to avoid a cranky afternoon. If you or anyone in your family has any allergies, bring the proper medications to handle those in the event you need them. Cash is always recommended as well. While it’s unlikely that a vendor will not accept credit cards, it’s better to play it safe because you never know what you’ll want to buy. This can also help you set a budget. One of the most important things to bring with you is WATER. Hydration is crucial to you enjoying your time at the arts festival. You’ll likely be able to purchase water at any of the food vendors or save a few bucks and bring your own refillable bottle.

What happens if it rains?

Bring your umbrella! Many arts festivals operate rain or shine (if it doesn’t present a safety hazard). Check the weather and your arts festival’s FAQ section to see what the weather policies are for when you’re planning your visit.

I want to get involved with my local arts festival. What next?

Awesome! Arts festival provide a unique opportunity for community volunteers. Many of these opportunities can be found on your arts festival’s website. It’s volunteers like you that make these fun (and sometimes free) festivals a reality!

If you’re looking for the top shows in the country, check out the “50 Best Art Fairs” from’s fall 2017 survey. Here are some of the front runners by region:

There are arts festivals all over the country, but we highly encourage you to check out the ones in your backyard. You might just learn a little something about where you live!

What arts festival are you planning on attending this year? Enjoy your visit and let us know which of these tips you found most helpful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *