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Festival Season – something I look forward to every year. Admittedly, I live here in Flagstaff, so it’s not because of the desperate need to escape the sweltering heat of the desert.
There is, however, a need after being cooped up all winter, to head out and enjoy as many festivals as I can fit in. Looking at the big picture, Flagstaff’s festival offerings began to more than double about 8 years ago.
Before 2008, there were four outdoor festivals to choose from: Made in the Shade Beer Tasting Festival which will celebrate its 24th event this year, Pride in the Pines celebrating its 20th, the Arizona Highland Celtic Festival hitting 19 years, and Pickin’ in the Pines celebrating year 11. Since 2008, we have seen the addition of the Flagstaff Oktoberfest, Hullabaloo, Flagstaff Blues and Brews and Cornucopia Fall Festival. Suffice to say – summertime in Flagstaff is so much more than hiking and mountain biking. We’ve become Arizona’s summer playground with a festival for everyone.
The Flagstaff festival season kicks off with Hullabaloo held the first weekend in June to celebrate all things Flagstaff. This is a two day festival starting with a signature bike parade around downtown Flagstaff. It is an extremely family friendly festival located in Wheeler Park and crazy costume wearing is encouraged. The following weekend if you’re ready for a 21+ festival, come on up for Made in the Shade Beer Tasting Festival. Held at the Coconino County Fairgrounds, you probably can’t taste all 100 brewery’s offerings in a single festival, but you’ll quickly find out how fun it is to try.
The third weekend in June brings the Blues to Flagstaff. Flagstaff Blues and Brews has been named one of the ten most beautiful Blues festivals in the world. Family friendly and a good time to sit on the grass, listen to popular Blues acts while drinking an ice cold beer – it doesn’t get much better than this. Flagstaff Blues and Brews is a one day festival held at the Continental Country Club Driving Range.
The Pine Country Pro Rodeo rides into Flagstaff the last weekend of June. After a 6 year hiatus, a dedicated group of rodeo fans brought the Turquoise Circuit back to the Coconino County Fairgrounds in 2014. Now entering their third year, they put on an exciting weekend of broncos, roping and bull riding. Another big event filling up the last weekend of June is the Pride in the Pines festival at Thorpe Park. Featuring music, a kid’s area and vendor booths; this one day festival has the mission to educate, celebrate and increase acceptance and awareness of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) community of Flagstaff and northern Arizona.
In early July, Flagstaff takes a short break from these outdoor festivals to celebrate the Independence Day holiday and the oldest Hopi show in the world. For the past 83 years the Museum of Northern Arizona has held the Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture on the weekend closest to July 4. The second weekend after the Fourth of July ushers in the Arizona Highland Celtic Festival at Foxglenn Park with everything from Guinness to highland games to Irish bands and dancing. Entertaining Celtic music, cabor tossing, tug of war, bagpipe contests and many clan tents make attending this festival a must for anyone who has a wee drop of Celtic blood running through their veins.
The monsoon rains limit the amount of festivals until September but come the third weekend it’s time for the Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass and Acoustic Festival to the Pepsi Amphitheater. Thousands attend this festival and tickets go fast, so if you love Bluegrass, buy your tickets early. The following weekend plan to attend the Cornucopia Fall Festival, a festival designed to celebrate the best of fall and where pumpkins are plentiful.
The last major festival of the season is the Flagstaff Oktoberfest held the first weekend in October. Tap into your inner German and enjoy a wide variety of beer and polka music beneath the beauty of the leaves changing in Wheeler Park. The Flagstaff Oktoberfest was named one of the top 10 Oktoberfests under 10,000 attendees in the nation. Put on your lederhosen, grab a cold beer and enter one of the many contests.
There you have it! An overview of Flagstaff’s festival season. Admittedly I only covered the major festivals, we also have many other special events happening in and around the area all year long. Bottom line – come to Flagstaff and enjoy not only our beautiful scenery, our unlimited outdoor recreation, our cool summer temperatures but also one of our many festivals.