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Looking Ahead Mark your calendars for these fun-filled events held across the country in April and May.
12 New York City
It may be a thousand miles from the spot where legendary bluesman Robert Johnson made his deal with the devil, but Madison Square Garden channels his musical legend at Eric Clapton’s 2013 Crossroads Guitar Festival. On April 12 and 13, more than 30 of the world’s greatest guitarists—think Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, and B.B. King—participate in epic jam sessions with Slowhand himself to raise money for The Crossroads Centre Antigua. In addition to the sonic sensations taking place on the arena stage, the Guitar Center Road to Crossroads Exhibition will showcase some of the world’s most valuable rock and blues guitars—including instruments from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Interactive exhibits from Fender, Gibson, Ernie Ball, and Martin Guitar will give enthusiasts a place to jam with new and classic guitars, and giant video walls will showcase legendary performances from past Crossroads events. For the sake of all visitors, we just ask that you find something to play other than “Stairway to Heaven.” From $75
12 Poteet, Texas
In a state that seems to celebrate the bigness of things, a petite, dimpled delicacy becomes the star for one weekend each April. The Poteet Strawberry Festival draws more than 100,000 sweet-toothed, shortcake-loving spectators and combines 14 entertainment stages and more than 100 food-and-craft vendors with a parade through downtown and a mega-sized fireworks show. Perhaps the most tempting attraction is the Taste of Texas Food Show & Auction, in which hundreds of strawberry-laden dishes compete for top prize before being auctioned off to raise big bucks for scholarships. (Last year, Kendall Hagen’s chocolate strawberry torte took home “Berry Best of Show” and sold for $3,500.) Here’s a tip: Though you’ll find strawberry stands at nearly every street corner in town, there aren’t enough local berries to feed the 100,000 visitors who descend on Poteet each year. So to guarantee you’re getting genuine Poteet berries and not some trucked in from afar, look for specially marked containers sold by festival vendors. $15
13 Clarksdale, Mississippi
We can think of no better way to commemorate this blues bash’s 10th year than by grooving to the more than 100 musicians spread across one storied Delta town’s tiny bars, storefronts, and spacious theaters. Become a bona fide blues buff in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where the spirits of blues greats Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Pinetop Perkins live on at the Juke Joint Festival. Side events, such as pig races, a children’s petting zoo and train ride, and a street market with local artists selling folk art and jewelry, run April 11–14, with the music festival taking place on Saturday. This gathering does more than just entertain; it enlightens. Take a trip into the past at the Rock & Blues Museum to learn how Mississippi blues influenced rock ’n’ roll, visit Robert Johnson’s famed “crossroads,” and get a gander at the Delta Blues Museum’s history of American blues exhibits. After Juke Joint, we guarantee you’ll take a bit of Mississippi home with you. Various prices
15 San Francisco
Expect foggier-than-normal conditions along the shores of San Francisco Bay beginning April 15 and continuing, well, forever. As the spectacular interactive science museum Exploratorium moves into its new, $300 million digs at Pier 15 on the Embarcadero, it will flip the “on” switch for Nakaya Fog Installation, an outdoor sculpture that envelops a 150-foot-long pedestrian bridge in fine mist. And that’s just a small preview of the hundreds of interactive experiences that fill the massive space: Remote Rains recreates the frequency, size, and velocity of raindrops from historic storms (umbrella required); Animation Station allows aspiring animators to learn the craft of stop-motion storytelling; and Visible Pinball uses a transparent machine to reveal the mechanical inner-workings of an arcade classic. In all, visitors will be wowed by more than 600 hands-on activities (150 of which are brand-new) throughout the 330,000-square-foot learning laboratory. In a nod to its new home on the water, the Exploratorium features many Bay-centric displays, including the Algae Chandelier, which filters light through multi-colored sea organisms. Not interactive enough? One station even lets visitors taste the salinity of the Bay’s water. Don’t worry—it’s filtered. From $19
17 New York City
Here’s an excuse to escape to the Big Apple: Tell your friends you’re going to schmooze with De Niro at the Tribeca Film Festival. Even if they don’t buy your story (and really, who would?), they won’t blame you for making the trek to the famed Godfather alum’s 12-day celebration of cinema. Now in its 12th year, the festival has screened some 1,400 films from more than 80 countries, and it once again promises an ambitious slate in 2013. Highlights include an expansive lineup of independent films (featuring, among others, Naomi Watts, Emma Roberts, Matt Dillon, John Cusack, and Ethan Hawke), panel discussions with directors and actors, and free, outdoor movies on the Hudson River. To acknowledge the influence of technology on filmmaking, Storyscapes, a “multi-platform transmedia program,” will recognize artists who use interactive or Web-based methods to tell stories, and Interactive Day (April 20) will offer immersive, hands-on workshops about bridging technology and filmmaking. If you can’t make the trip to New York City for in-person screenings, a virtual experience—including online viewing of festival films and live streams of awards presentations—awaits at the festival’s website. Various prices
18 San Antonio
The River City’s first Fiesta celebration took place in 1891 with a parade to honor the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. In the 122 years since, the self-described “Party With a Purpose” has grown to include 100 celebrations that benefit local nonprofits. To begin this year’s spectacle, head to Pin Pandemonium at Alamo Plaza, where partygoers buy, sell, and trade Fiesta pins and medals; dance to live music; and catch a glimpse of royalty: King Antonio, Queen of The Order of the Alamo, and Miss Fiesta San Antonio. Then listen for the breaking of the confetti-filled cascarones, and join in the battle cry “Viva Fiesta!” Over the next 11 days, you’ll find events to be as varied as the community organizations that plan them, but several time-tested favorites punctuate the calendar: A Night in Old San Antonio (April 23–26) showcases more than 240 food and drink booths and a dozen music stages; A Taste of New Orleans (April 19–21) fills The Sunken Gardens with crawfish and creole cuisine; and a crowd of 350,000 gathers for the Battle of Flowers Parade on April 26. ¡Nos vemos allí! (See you there!) Most events free
Frankly, my dear, you should mark your calendar for the Atlanta Dogwood Festival. The city’s Piedmont Park will be in full bloom this April as thousands of sweet tea–sippin’ Southerners converge for the 77th annual festival of spring. The three-day spectacle brings together top-tier visual artists, nationally known musical headliners, and springtime indulgences—just as the city’s most expansive park blossoms. Art of all kinds is the focus of this local tradition: Organizers sort through submissions from more than 1,000 visual artists before selecting the 250 who will exhibit at the Artist Market. (It includes a special section featuring homegrown Georgia creatives, who showcase everything from oil paintings to sculpture and jewelry.) And more than 500 performers representing 20 countries and several local arts organizations help to make the International Stage a must-visit venue. But whether you’re soaking up the sun during a musical performance or rooting for Fido as he competes in the Disc Dog Southern Nationals, save room for indulgent treats ranging from funnel cakes to the fine dining events highlighting some of Hotlanta’s finest chefs. Free
25 Hollywood, California
If Hitchcock’s The Birds scares you at home, wait until the filmmaker’s feathered friends are dive-bombing toward you on the big screen! At the TCM Classic Film Festival, audience members will get to see this thriller and other classics exactly as they were meant to be seen: on the silver screen, with popcorn and Jujubes in hand. This year’s theme, Cinematic Journeys: Travel in the Movies, carries us not only through Hitchcock’s frightening world, but to Barbra Streisand’s big-voiced cinematic debut in Funny Girl, Buster Keaton’s brilliant antics in The General, and the high-stakes World War II prison break of The Great Escape. And those are just three of the more than 100 screenings and events on this year’s schedule. Even better, many of these classic films have been digitally restored to appear as pristine as the day they were first released. When your eyes aren’t glued to the screen, shop for your favorite film memorabilia, and check out the expert panel discussions on film and Hollywood history. Past festivals have seen appearances by Julie Andrews, Alec Baldwin, and Warren Beatty. This year, The Birds star Tippi Hedren will be on hand to celebrate the film’s 50th anniversary. For reel. From $20
25 Albuquerque, New Mexico
Representatives from more than 500 North American Indian tribes converge in Albuquerque to celebrate their rich heritage at The Gathering of Nations Powwow, the largest such event on the continent. The University of New Mexico’s arena, The Pit, is filled for two days with dancers, singers, and drummers of all ages competing alongside skilled crafters for more than $200,000 in cash and prizes. This convergence of cultures also features an Indian Trader’s Market, filled with Native American crafts and foods, and Stage 49, which showcases contemporary Native American music. Though the Powwow proper begins on Friday, be sure to attend the Miss Indian World Traditional Talent Presentations on Thursday night at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The enchanting evening includes elaborate dance routines and a performance by the Chicago-based group The Luna Blues Machine, which fuses hip-hop with soul, folk, Latin, and “any other genre that moves them.” The pageant’s winner—judged on personality, tribal knowledge, and dancing—is crowned Saturday, but the real winners at this powwow will be the new generations exposed to these age-old traditions. From $14
25 Norfolk, Virginia
No, this isn’t a place to roll up your shirtsleeve and get a rose emblazoned on your bicep. In fact, the Virginia International Tattoo doesn’t involve ink or needles of any sort. The kind of tattoo we’re referencing got its start when, in the 17th century, buglers and drummers would use their instruments to signal the approach of enemy troops. Today, it has evolved into a festive celebration of precision musical performance. The Virginia show—the largest in the United States—plays host to more than 800 performers from around the world and showcases top military bands, drill teams, massed pipes and drums, dancers, and choirs. It’s billed as the signature event of the Virginia Arts Festival, a season-long, statewide program of internationally acclaimed performing-arts gatherings. Tattoo shows take place at the Scope Arena on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 2:30 p.m., but the fun starts two hours beforehand at Tattoo Hullabaloo, where visitors can interact with dancers and musicians and vote in an audience-judged musical competition. From $20
26 Stockton, California
You’ll be seeing green at this annual affair in the heart of California’s verdant Central Valley. No such gathering would be complete without a bigger-than-life mascot, and the Stockton Asparagus Festival has two playful creatures on hand to keep the kiddos happy: Gus and Brit-nee Spears. Join them, along with 100,000 of your fellow veggie lovers, in Asparagus Alley. Here, you can indulge your appetite with delicacies such as bright-green asparagus ice cream (7,200 scoops served last year) and asparagus burritos (2,700 sold). Consider those dishes appetizers for the festival’s main course: Organizers sold 38,500 servings of deep-fried asparagus in 2012, and that’s not counting what was consumed during the annual eating competition. Last year, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut downed more than 8.3 pounds of deep-fried asparagus spears in 10 minutes to take home a $1,500 prize. Since the contest is free to enter, we think all the participants walk away winners! From $8, children free
26 Port Aransas, Texas
Forget the seashells. You’ll find towering castles, lounging mermaids, enormous elephants, and robotic dinosaurs lining Port Aransas’ seashore during SandFest, the city’s annual spectacle of erodible sculpture. In 1995, Sharon Schaefer and Elleece Calvert started SandFest as a “play on the beach” kind of day on the Gulf of Mexico’s shore, which aimed to help children build imaginative structures. Today, it’s among the largest master sand-sculpting competitions in the U.S., with more than 100,000 visitors each year. For three days, artists from coast to coast gather to create awe-inspiring wonders using nothing but water, sand, and improvised carving tools. They scramble for 21 hours to produce the final forms for judging. And for those of you eager to get your hands dirty, there’s a contest for amateurs of all ages on Saturday, when you can join more than 200 other beginners in creating a seaside masterpiece. In a nod to the power of the ocean, organizers choose each year’s dates to coincide with the lowest tides, giving the sculptures—and spectators—an extra day or two to bask in the Texas sun. From $3
Move over, Mom and Dad, this one’s for the kids. Now in its 29th year, the Philadel-phia International Children’s Festival floods the plaza outside the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts with family-friendly music and theatrical performances and a Fun Zone filled with hands-on crafts projects, face-painting booths, and roaming jugglers. Inside its doors, the curtains rise for six sensational shows, including The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly; 46 Circus Acts in 45 Minutes; The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer; Reading in Concert: the Hip H’opera Project; and Trout Fishing in America. But the show that’s certain to have the most cross-generational appeal is A Brown Bear, a Moon, and a Caterpillar: Treasured Stories by Eric Carle. In it, Nova Scotia’s Mermaid Theater fuses black-light visual effects with puppetry to portray three of Carle’s timeless stories—The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?; and Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me—in a fanciful, hour-long production that’ll leave parents longing for the days of bedtime stories and chocolate milk. Shows $10, Fun Zone free
4 Holland, Michigan
Stop and smell the roses—er, tulips—as Holland, Michigan, commemorates its namesake with parades, throngs of Dutch dancers, and millions of boldly colored blooms. The festival began in 1929 as an effort to beautify the city by planting multitudes of tulips across town. In the 84 years since, it has grown into a top tourism draw. This year, the cultural celebration incorporates big-name singers such as Kenny Rogers and comic relief from The Second City, along with a slew of local and regional acts. But what makes Tulip Time unique is its three parades. The May 8 Volksparade not only includes bands, floats, and Dutch dancers klomping their way through town in clogs, it honors “Dutch Cleanliness” with a traditional street-scrubbing routine. More than 7,000 area schoolchildren and local marching bands take part in the colorful Kinderparade on May 9, and top national marching bands toot their horns in the grand finale Muziekparade on May 11. And we’re sure the folks in Holland will give visitors a warm welkom! Various prices
18 Oxnard, California
You’re bound to have a berry good time at the 30th annual California Strawberry Festival. Whether you like them covered in fine chocolate, blended in a decadent milkshake, or fresh from the field with a pinch of sugar, there’s no disputing that Cali is king of America’s favorite berry. (Consider this: If last year’s crop of strawberries was lined up, they would cross the country 149 times.) This fruitful fete, located 30 miles south of Santa Barbara, plays out across 15 acres filled with cooking demonstrations, concert stages, delectable dishes from more than 50 food booths (think strawberry nachos and strawberry pizza), and berry-infused brews. Once you’ve gotten your fill of the sweet stuff, explore more than 250 arts and crafts booths, free rides and attractions at Strawberryland For Kids, and a smattering of strawberry-flavored contests. But don’t stray too far from the weekend’s star attraction: The “build your own” strawberry shortcake tent. Yum! From $5
22 New Orleans
It’s become a national pastime: heading to the Big Easy to celebrate the Big 21. So it’s to be expected that the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience will take its own coming-of-age celebration seriously. Here, intimate wine dinners hosted by local restaurants serve as an appetizer for four days filled with indulgences. Tempt your taste buds at Vinola, where 200 lucky tasters can sample elite wines from across the globe. If you’re happier partying with the masses, the Royal Street Stroll features wine tastings at the avenue’s opulent antiques shops and a special parade. No birthday would be complete without a great gift, and this one won’t disappoint: Proceeds will provide 100,000 meals to area residents and assistance to local groups year-round. From $75
24 Quincy, Washington
Mumford & Sons, The Postal Service, Arctic Monkeys … we could list all the stellar acts at the four-day Sasquatch! Music Festival, but the star attraction may be the hairy, meat-loving manbeast himself. Not Sasquatch—we’re talking about Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson (aka comedian Nick Offerman), who, with other A-list jokesters, rounds out the all-star lineup at The Gorge, a picturesque concert venue perched on the cliffs high above the Columbia River. Sasquatch! has built its reputation by adventurously mixing and matching emerging artists and established headliners, and the 2013 edition of this epic jam session won’t disappoint. Those who prefer to seek their Sasquatch in style can opt for the $6,500-per-pair Superticket, which lands you a luxury yurt and VIP viewing areas. From $337
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