The insurmountable spirit of the United States of America makes it one of the best countries in the world. Without taking into account its political supremacy, culturally too, the United States never fails to impress. It is a country where fun, festivity, activity, bonhomie all go hand in hand. It is not surprising that there are numerous events spread all throughout the year that have gained international repute. It is also not wrong to say that many international tourists plan their American visit to coincide with the festival of their choice. Almost every state in the country organizes a festival that is worth attending. In this article, we take a look at the most iconic cultural events that you definitely shouldn’t miss. These events haven’t been listed according to their popularity.
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American Independence Day
It doesn’t really matter if you do not live in America to know the importance of 4th July. Every year Americans celebrate this day when several hundred years ago they declared their freedom with the publication of the Declaration of Independence that was drawn in 1776. It is not only a public holiday in America but it is also a day for all the states to celebrate. The nation-wide celebration takes numerous forms. From quiet family gatherings to outdoor barbeques, you can see varied faces of celebrations on this day. In reality, it is the spirit of freedom that gets reinstated every year and which really continues to be the backbone of this event. If you are planning a visit to the US, you can surely time it around 4th July to really experience the American spirit.
Halloween is another American event that has found global acceptance and recognition. Say “trick or treat”, and you will probably find everybody jumping in delight. Dressing up in eccentric costumes, going on neighborly prowls and seeking candy treats summarizes traditional Halloween festivities. Today however Halloween has become much bigger than just a neighborly event with many cities and towns hosting costume parades, parties and more. Though not a public holiday, you can experience Halloween especially in New York and San Francisco. It is celebrated on the 31st of October every year.
Thanksgiving Day is one of the most important events that is celebrated all over America. Though it started as a harvest festival today it is a day for families to reunite and give thanks to each other. On Thanksgiving families exchange gifts, talk about their love freely and re-connect with many. Though it may seem to be strictly a close-knit family affair, it isn’t so. There are many public events organized all over the country on Thanksgiving. Celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November, Thanksgiving also officially opens the festive season in America which continue through Christmas and New Year. One of the most anticipated events during Thanksgiving is the Macy’s store parade in NYC where you can experience everything from marching bands to entertainers.
Held every year in San Diego in March, Comic-Con has attained international fame. It is a must-visit event for pop culture lovers, especially those who haven’t got over their love for comics and graphic novels. There is more to Comic-Con that merely an exhibition of comics as you will find lots of content on anime, manga and more. Comic-Con also features collector’s items, video games, and movies that have some relation to comic and animation. But if there is one thing apart from the above reasons why as a comics’ lover you must attend this San Diego event is the elaborate parade of people in costumes. Dressing up as their favorite comic character is elaborate and worth witnessing an event. Comic-Con was started in 1970 and then it was known as the Golden State Comic Book Convention.
Sundance Film Festival
The United States is home to the world’s most prolific film industry – Hollywood. It isn’t surprising that there are numerous film festivals held across the country from time to time. However, if you want to attend the biggest independent film festival in the US you must head to Park City, Utah which hosts the Sundance Film Festival. The film festival mainly serves as a platform for indie filmmakers to premiere their films though big budget films are also screened during the event. There are numerous documentaries and short films that are screened during the Sundance Film Festival. You can also participate in film discussions here. The festival usually takes place at the end of January and beginning of February.
You need not have to be an American football fan to know about Super Bowl Sunday. It is one of the most anticipated events of America which not only attracts sports lovers but everyone else who wishes to witness entertainment and sports together. Though Super Bowl is essentially a one-off match between the two top American football teams, there is more to it. The halftime entertainment is one of the biggest attractions of Super Bowl. Some of the greatest artists have performed during the half-time including the likes of Madonna and Beyoncé. Super Bowl is not held in any one city though it is mostly held in the sun-belt cities. It is an expensive football match and the tickets can go up to $4000 each seat. If you want to attend Super Bowl, you must get your tickets well in advance. But worry not if you don’t get a ticket. On the day of Super Bowl, almost all pubs, restaurants and bars show the game on their television. It is altogether another experience to witness the match in such a frenzied environment.
As the world’s oldest continuing annual marathon event, the Boston Marathon holds a special place in the hearts of the Americans. The marathon which had started in 1897 with only 15 participants today sees hundreds from all over the world competing for a single coveted title. Boston Marathon covers many cities in the greater Boston area of Massachusetts. It has been traditionally held on Patriot’s Day which is the third Monday of April. If you are a runner and want to experience the event, you must register duly by September though you can also simply watch the athletes run from the sides.
New Years’ Eve in Times Square
If you can time your visit to America around the festive season there is a lot you can do and experience. One of them is to simply witness the way the Americans welcome the New Year. The best place in America to do so is in Times Square, New York where pulsating beats, frenzied fun, exemplary energy can all be experienced. A large crowd (estimated 1 million people!) gathers around Times Square to welcome the New Year. It is definitely an experience to countdown the seconds before the clocks strike twelve and everyone cheers and hugs to welcome another year.
Burning Man Festival
If you are looking to experience something more rustic and real in America then one of the events that you should attend is the Burning Man Festival held every year in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada. It is a counter-culture event that has assumed an iconic status with globe-trotters coming in large numbers to witness the burning of beautifully created structures. Today you can witness creative expressions of many who make unbelievable art installations, improbable structures and dress up in themed costumes. Burning Man Festival began in 1986 with only 20 people in attendance but today it has turned into one of the most attended American events of the year. One of the drawing points of the event is the culture of gifting. You will be surprised to receive a gift from a fellow attendee – someone you may not know. Gifts as tangible as poems are exchanged during the festival.
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Taste of Chicago
Chicago is famous for offering delectable food – both in the streets and at fine-dining restaurants. It is not really surprising that one of the most anticipated events that take place every year in the city is Taste of Chicago which is an annual event for food lovers. The lakefront of Grant Park comes alive every year when food festivals, live music, art display all come together. You can enjoy some of the best food here as everyone in the food industry tries to at least once display their creation at the Taste of Chicago. You needn’t go to the best restaurant in town as you can taste sumptuous meals at the Taste of Chicago.
Americans are energetic and have the zeal to do more than is enough. It is their never-say-die spirit that makes them the best in anything they venture to do. They celebrate with joy and welcome everyone with camaraderie. A visit to America cannot be complete unless you partake in one of their annual festivals. Since there are so many held throughout the year, you are really spoilt for choice! Take your pick and be part of American festivity.