Minnesotans know how to take advantage of good weather, mostly because they spend so much of the year dreaming about it. From county fairs to arts festivals and annual city traditions, here’s a comprehensive list of statewide summer celebrations to get the most out of the season. Let us know your favorite summer festival by tweeting us at @MNMOmag.
THE WIZARD OF OZ FESTIVAL
As the birthplace of Judy Garland, Grand Rapids hosts an annual Wizard of Oz Festival at the Judy Garland Museum. Celebrate Judy Garland with an outside viewing of the Wizard of Oz on the jumbo screen, a “Judy Around Town Tour,” a community Oz picnic, and much more. The Wizard of Oz Festival won top state travel event in 1989 and broke the Guinness World Record for 1,093 costumed Wizard of Oz characters in one place in 2014.
June 14-17; 2727 U.S. Hwy 169 S., Grand Rapids; judygarlandmuseum.com
STONE ARCH BRIDGE FESTIVAL
Star Tribune called the Stone Arch Bridge Festival “one of the best free music and art fests in town—and probably the most picturesque…” The festival is a perfect Father’s Day activity, featuring works from over 200 artists, live music, food trucks, a beer sampler, and a car show.
June 15-17; 420 SE Main St., Minneapolis; stonearchbridgefestival.com
TWIN CITIES JAZZ FESTIVAL
For the best jazz music in the Twin Cities, join the masses at Mears Park in downtown St. Paul. This free three-day festival showcases dozens of jazz bands and attracts more than 40,000 annually. Headliners for this summer include Tia Fuller, Houston Person, Nayo Jones, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Aurora Nealand, and Tom McDermott. Check the Twin Cities Jazz Festival website for a full schedule and list of performers.
June 21-23; 221 E. Fifth St., St. Paul; twincitiesjazzfestival.com
GREAT RIVER SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
Theater fans can spend many a midsummer night enjoying favorite works of The Bard at the Winona Great River Shakespeare Festival. The 15th season lineup features All’s Well that Ends Well and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as two contemporary plays, the dark and witty Venus in Fur and the regional premiere of Shakespeare in Love.
June 22-Aug. 5; 450 Johnson St., Winona; grsf.org
LAKE MINNETONKA FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION
Looking for a fun-filled event to attend on the Fourth of July? Look no further than Lake Minnetonka for one of the largest Fourth of July celebrations in the Twin Cities. The day begins with the annual Firecracker Fun Run and the Kids’ Parade on Water Street. The fun continues with a sand sculpture contest, popsicle social, local food vendors, and free concert at 4 p.m. The night ends with a bang with a spectacular fireworks show on Lake Minnetonka.
July 4; 135 Water St., Excelsior; excelsior-lakeminnetonkachamber.com
The best days of summer return in July with the Aquatennial, held in locations around downtown Minneapolis. Gear up for this free, four-day festival chock-full of activities, including the Torchlight Parade and 5K, live music, food trucks, and more. And, of course, the fun always ends with a grand finale firework show (one of the top five fireworks displays in the nation) over the Mississippi River. You won’t want to miss out on all of these family-friendly events that celebrate the city of Minneapolis.
July 18-21; Various locations in Minneapolis; aquatennial.com
STILLWATER LUMBERJACK DAYS
There’s almost nothing more Minnesotan than a lumberjack—thanks to our very own giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his companion Babe the Blue Ox. Therefore, Stillwater’s Lumberjack Days is just about as Minnesotan as you can get. The 84th anniversary of this festival includes live music, a parade, a medallion hunt, lumberjack shows, a downhill derby,and logrolling competitions.
July 20-22; 101 Water St., Stillwater; lumberjackdays.com
SCOTT COUNTY FAIR
The best five days of summer are filled with activities to entertain fair-goers of all ages. Activities include seeing baby animals at the Miracle of Birth Center, robotics competitions, a classic car show, strongman competitions, and draft horse shows. And for the main event, there are thrilling carnival rides for kids and adults alike. Bring your family for some summer fun at one of the most prominent and valued traditions of Scott County.
July 25-29; 7151 W. 190th St., Jordan; scottcountyfair.org
UPTOWN ART FAIR
Developed 55 years ago to draw more people to Uptown, the Uptown Art Fair has blossomed into one of the top 10 arts festivals in the country. From August 3-5, art patrons can view work from more than 350 artists, enjoy food and beverages from 25 different vendors, listen to outdoor music performances, participate in family activities, watch the culinary arts competition, and poke around the youth art fair.
Aug. 3-5; W. 29th St. and Hennepin Ave., Uptown; uptownminneapolis.com
Experience a 16th century European village at the largest renaissance festival in the U.S. The 48th annual Minnesota Renaissance Festival features 16 stages of live entertainment; over 250 artisan booths for shopping, food, and drinks; and exciting experiences like a fairy garden, live jousting, and elephant rides. Each of the eight weekends of the fair have a different theme, including Pets and Pirates, Shamrocks and Shenanigans, and Oktoberfest.
Aug. 18-Sept. 30; 12364 Chestnut Blvd., Shakopee; renaissancefest.com
MINNESOTA STATE FAIR
The 12-day extravaganza that is the Minnesota State Fair is the best way to end the summer. With demonstrations, live animals, art, music, rides, and every food you could imagine on a stick, this event is an absolute must-do. Grandstand performances this year include Niall Horan; Sugarland; Earth, Wind & Fire; The Beach Boys; Jason Mraz and Brett Dennen; and Boy George and Culture Club. There’s nothing better than the great Minnesota get-together.
Aug. 23-Sept. 3; 1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul; mnstatefair.org
Celebrate 32 years of pride in the Twin Ports during Labor Day weekend. Duluth-Superior Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Allied, Queer, Intersex (GLBTAQI) Pride celebrates diversity and promotes education, acceptance, and equality. This year’s Pride events include an art exhibition, a drag show fundraiser, the Hummingbird 5K, a DS Pride historical collection, and more. On the last day, floats of all sizes and colors process down Broadway and Banks for the GLBTAQI Pride Parade.
Aug. 30-Sept. 2; Various locations in Duluth; dspride.com