Summer in the Cities: Festivals

Whether you’re looking to celebrate your heritage, mingle with award-winning chefs, watch artists showcase their talents, or catch a second showing of fireworks, with these festivals there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Highland Fest (July 18-20): Now in its 31st year, this family-friendly festival jam-packs the weekend with activity. Listen to live music, sample brews in the beer tent, play on inflatable rides and games or visit the petting zoo. New this year is fitness activities like Zumba, Cross Fit and yoga, plus Wine and Canvas, a movie in the park and a Ford car and truck show.

Aquatennial (July 18-26): Dubbed “the best days of summer,” the festival, now in its 75th year, celebrates Minneapolis with a myriad of events that take place throughout the city. Flagship events include the Star Tribune Beach Bash, which includes the beloved milk carton boat races, the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade, which illuminates downtown with bands and floats, and the Target Fireworks show, one of the largest in the country.

Minnesota Fringe Festival (July 31-Aug. 10): This 11-day festival strives to connect artists with audiences, as 169 different productions are presented across 19 stages in Minneapolis. What’s unique is that performers are selected by lottery, not a juried panel, giving all eager artists an equal chance to showcase their talents. All shows are an hour or less, with 30-minute breaks in-between. Tickets: $12 plus $4 admission button, $5 ages 12 and younger.

Twin Cities Polish Festival (Aug. 8-10): Learn about “all things Polish,” including the huge part the culture has in Minnesota’s history. With Poland holding a reputation as one of the world’s most hospitable cultures, attendees of all backgrounds will enjoy this celebration, which includes folk dancing and other entertainment, food, beer and cultural and educational displays.

Irish Fair of Minnesota (Aug. 8-10): You’ll think its St. Patrick’s Day with all of this Irish pride. This is the largest celebration of the culture in the nation and rightfully so—it’s quite the affair, attracting some 100,000 attendees. More than 350 musicians will perform throughout the weekend, and you’ll have the chance to tryout Gaelic sports, shop a Celtic marketplace, view cultural displays and listen to speakers, as well as participate in or watch Irish dancing and sample authentic foods and drinks.

Cultivate Festival (Aug. 23): Chipotle’s all-day festival is in its fourth year, but this is its first stop in Minneapolis. Look for cooking demonstrations by awesome local chefs like Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods America, and James Beard Award nominees Jamie Malone, Jack Riebel and Paul Berglund, along with live music, local food artisans, breweries and wineries, and interactive experiences that focus on sustainable eats. Plus, you’ll get the chance to learn the secret to Chipotle’s famous guacamole.