Check Out the Entertainment
The featured entertainment is usually the best part of a festival. Make sure to pick up a brochure from the information booth about the entertainment available. If possible, download the schedule from the festival’s website in advance and decide what events to check out. Some festivals are two to three days long, and each day includes something original to see.
Talk to Booth Managers
Chances are the people running the booths have been to that particular festival many times before. These people not only know the best things to check out at the festival, but they also know about other annual events in the area.
In addition to this, don’t be afraid to talk to vendors about their products. Most of these booth managers are small business owners selling rare, hand-crafted items that are impossible to find elsewhere. Don’t skip over the exotic teas, jewelry, and home decor.
There are more opportunities to get dressed up in costume besides Halloween. Costume shopping and costume making can make a festival more exciting, and is great for photo ops. (Pack a spare change of clothes in the car just in case of wardrobe malfunctions.) You can even go so far as to take on a character to play the entire day. Get outside your comfort zones.
Check Out Rare Foods
Skip the nachos. Most festivals include culinary oddities you rarely find at the fast food joint back home. Dig in to all the free, strange, and disgusting-looking samples you can find. When lunch time rolls around, be sure to check out the fresh foods they’re selling in the booths.
Plan Outside Events
There’s always a chance that the festival will be shorter or less thrilling than expected. If you’re planning on a day trip with your date, the best plan of action is to get to the festival early and then plan on extra events following it. Find corresponding attractions in town that match the theme of the festival. If you go to a lemon festival, find a local restaurant that serves an exotic lemon dessert. If you go to a cultural festival, find a nearby venue that sells that culture’s fashions.
If There Are No Festivals to Attend
Sometimes the festivals in your area are either on days you can’t attend, or cost too much to get in. When that happens, there are other options at your disposal.
There are holidays on our calendars that we are completely clueless about. Research these holidays and plan an at-home celebration or a night out on the town. You can even go so far as to create your own holidays and coming up with its traditions.
Visit a Cultural Neighborhood
Major cities usually have sectioned off neighborhoods that are themed according to different cultures or countries, such as Italy, China, India, or even Greece. Pick up a tour guide of a major city close to you and plan a day trip around a certain theme. Plan ahead to visit local restaurants that reflect authentic foods of that culture. Find stores that sell cultural clothing, or look for theaters that play foreign films.
Tip: The best way to look up the city sections is to type in “[major city] neighborhoods.” This will tell you the different parts of each city, including the cultural neighborhoods.
Most towns and cities have weekly farmers’ markets that sell local wares and produce. These markets are somewhat like a festival in a sense that the merchandise is hard to find and a lot of times hand-made. Entertainment isn’t usually provided, but there may be local musicians around or even city venues that demonstrate their services.
Check Museums and Theaters for Events
Some museums and theaters have events or exhibits dedicated to certain cultures or historical events. These usually run for a few weekends, which makes it easier to attend then a one-day-only festival.
However you decide to explore a festival, make sure to explore all of it to receive the best experience. Don’t be afraid to talk to people, don’t forget to be adventurous, and always allow room for some spontaneity.