The USA's Biggest & Best 2016 Events

30 January 2016
Read Time: 6.3 mins

The United States is backing up a big year in 2015 with another packed calendar of exciting events all across the country.

From wine-themed festivals and state fairs, to enormous sporting events and even bigger live music concerts, here are the major USA events to keep in mind when your travelling in 2016.


Napa Truffle Festival

15–18 January, California

Truffle lovers will be right at home here with a host of events on offer, including wild mushroom forages, truffle orchard tours, winery truffle lunches around the Napa Valley and free cooking demonstrations with leading chefs.

The ever-popular Festival Marketplace will showcase truffle menu items (think wild mushroom goat cheese truffle enchiladas, truffled grilled oysters), artisan vendors, specialty food products and local wines.

Napa Truffle Festival Satisfy your sweet tooth

NYC Restaurant Week

18 January–5 February, New York

The winter series of this popular foodie event returns with more than 300 restaurants across the city set to offer three-course lunch and dinner deals that won’t break the bank.

Saint Paul Winter Carnival

28 January–7 February, Minnesota

Set in pretty-as-a-picture Rice Park, this festival features ice-carving displays, pie-eating contests, parades complete with marching bands and floats, plus the Beer Dabbler – an annual tradition with craft beer and live tunes.

Mardi Gras

January–February, Louisiana

Endymion, Bacchus, Zulu and Rex… no they’re not prehistoric creatures, they’re the names of the most popular Mardi Gras parades set to bring the streets of New Orleans alive with fun and frivolity. If you have kids in tow, check out Family Gras.

New Orleans Mardi Gras New Orleans brings out its eccentric side during Mardi Gras

X-Games Aspen

28–31 January, Colorado

Buttermilk Mountain is the place to be this winter as this action-packed sports event comes to town. Think four days of snow-mad fun with all sporting competitions free and open to the public, plus ticketed live concerts by DJ Snake and deadmau5.

Oregon WinterFest

12–14 February, Oregon

A stack of fun, wintery events will be held over this three-day festival including more than 20 fire pits and fire sculptures on display, live music and an interactive science and play area for the little ones.

Newport Winter Festival

12–21 February, Rhode Island

A Beatlemania concert, chilli cook-off, tropical drink contest, comedy show and hot-drink competitions are just a few of the highlights at this popular winter event.

Super Bowl 50

7 February, California

Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara will teem with footy fans for this hyped-up event, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

There’ll be a weeklong series of events held throughout the region, too, including the Super Bowl Fan Village with a host of activities celebrating the game of footy.

Super Bowl Fans cheer on their teams during one of America's biggest sporting events


Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

1–21 March, Texas

With events including a downtown rodeo parade, horticulture, ladies’ night out, the Rodeo Rockstar competition and Houston’s Up and Comers (live music from bands currently making waves in the city), this show is a must for any visiting traveller keen to learn more about the love of Texan-style rodeos.

South by Southwest (SXSW)

11–20 March, Texas

Film buffs and music lovers will descend on Austin for this forward-thinking multi-media event where innovative ideas and emerging talent are equally celebrated.

There’ll be film screenings, live conversations with leading filmmakers, interactive events, live music and exclusive mentoring sessions taking place all across the city.

SXSW Industry leaders provide entertaining talks at SXSW

Flavor! Napa Valley

16–20 March, California

This is one of the premiere food and wine events in the States, held in the glorious Napa Valley. The event features master chefs, cheesemakers, sommeliers and winemakers from the region as well as recent graduates of The Culinary Institute of America’s education programs.

Expect your plate to be filled with everything from regional dishes focusing on organic ingredients from nearby farms and gardens, to stunning dishes created by former Michelin-starred chefs.

Winter WonderGrass

1–3 April, California

A three-day festival set around Lake Tahoe celebrating the very best bluegrass and acoustic music in the country across three jam-packed stages. There will also be 16 California craft breweries on site in two heated beer halls and craft beer tasting with the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.

The Masters Tournament

4–10 April, Georgia

You can count your lucky stars and try and get tickets to this prestigious golf championship tournament, or you can head along to a pub and watch it on the big screen. Alternatively check out one of the many PGA tournaments taking place around this time.


15–17 & 22–24 April, California

For music buffs, the mere mention of Coachella means one thing: get your tickets early. Alabama Shakes, Chet Faker, Alt-J and our very own AC/DC and Angus & Julia Stone rocked the 2015 line-up – and 2016 is shaping up to be even better.

Coachella Get into the party mood at Coachella

2015-16 NBA playoffs

16 April, nationwide

This is the 70th season of the National Basketball Association. Try getting tickets to the NBA playoffs or simply tune in from anywhere in the States and enjoy getting amongst the energy and vibe of this ever-popular sport that originated in Springfield, Massachusetts.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

22 April–1 May, Louisiana

Given it’s the home of jazz, it’d be rude not to, right? From brass bands and quintets to guest performers and legendary harmonica players, this event attracts all the big guns. Plus there’s the high-energy Congo Square African Marketplace to check out and the Cajun Cabin Stage for foodies.

Jazz musicians Some of the world's best jazz musicians can be seen at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival


27–29 May, California

With previous performers including the likes of Snoop Dogg, Michael Franti, No Doubt, Passion Pit and Foster the People, plus a culinary stage featuring celebrated chefs and sommeliers, this festival in the Napa Valley always goes off with a bang.

Indianapolis 500

29 May, Indiana

Rev heads and car racing fans will unite for this action-packed sporting event held over Memorial Day weekend in Indianapolis, the racing capital of the world.

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The Governor’s Ball Music Festival

3–5 June, New York

Randall’s Island Park in NYC is home to this sprawling three-day festival. Big names such as The Black Keys, Florence + The Machine, Chromeo, Rudimental and Vance Joy graced the stage in 2015, so you can expect even bigger things for 2016.

Governor's Ball Catch the big music acts at The Governor's Ball Music Festival

California State Fair

July, California

Rides, exhibits, food vendors and champion livestock will fill the fairground at Exposition Boulevard in Sacramento. Don’t miss the horse-racing events and live music.

Pitchfork Music Festival

July, Illinois

Chicago is the place to be when this festival comes to Union Park. Its focus is on showcasing new and emerging artists in genres ranging from hip-hop and electro to indie rock. It’s cool, edgy and seriously fun.

Independence Day

4th July, nationwide

On this much-loved summer holiday the NYC skyline erupts with fireworks; red, white and blue bikini tops are sported by young things dancing, drinking and eating hotdogs in the streets; beach parties kick off; and patriotic entertainment takes centre stage.

For fun and parties head to San Diego, Vegas and New Orleans; for small town charm go to Newtown, Pennsylvania; and for family fun don’t miss the downtown parade in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Independence Day Everyone, even the pugs get into Independence Day

National Park Service Centennial

25 August, nationwide

In 2016, the States’ National Park Service celebrates its 100th year. The centennial will be celebrated in the 407 national parks across the country, from Yellowstone in Wyoming to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Vans US Open of Surfing

August, California

Huntington Beach teems with action as surf, skate and BMX events reign supreme. Expect to see some of the best surfers and skaters in the business go head to head in live heats.

Outside Lands

August, California

Love music, food, wine, art, beer and comedy? This event brings it all to Golden Gate Park in San Fran. The stellar line-up of past performers has included Elton John, Mumford & Sons, The Black Keys, Sam Smith and Ben Harper. The GastroMagic area is worth checking out if you’re a massive foodie.

Outside Lands Everything we love all in one place

The Oregon State Fair

26 August–5 September, Oregon

Check out livestock competitions and participate in amateur baking contests, go nuts on carnival rides and see live entertainment ranging from classical tap dance to blues and rockabilly.

Burning Man

28 August–5 September, Nevada

Held in the Black Rock Desert, this event tops the bucket-list of festivalgoers around the world. It’s vibrant, creative, weird, wacky and a whole lot of fun. It’s all about practicing self-reliance so bring your imagination.


US Open

29 August–11 September, New York

Catch your favourite players battling it out on the court and be there when those priceless moments happen (aka Kyrgios losing his mind, and the game, to Murray). There’s live music entertainment to enjoy across the event, too.

Made in America

3–4 September, Pennsylvania

Held over Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia, this eclectic two-day music festival was launched in 2012 by none other than Jay Z. Beyonce starred in the 2015 line-up while other acts included Modest Mouth, Santigold and De La Soul.


15–18 September, Texas

Quaff your way through a selection of varietals produced in Texas, Oregon and Argentina; book into a wine pairing dinner; sip fizz on the Champagne Terrace; and check out Grapevine’s Urban Wine Trail.

Wine and Cheese Learn the art of wine pairing at GrapeFest

Columbus Oktoberfest

23–25 September, Ohio

With events like the ‘breaking of the pretzel’, plus a craft beer garden featuring Ohio’s coolest craft breweries, this autumnal family-friendly event is a celebration of all things German.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

1–9 October, New Mexico

See more than 600 hot-air balloons lift into the sky in Albuquerque over the course of this popular event. The 6am Dawn Patrol Show in particular is a highlight. Don’t miss taking a walk down Mile Street, where food, merchandise and exhibits await.

Hawaii Food & Wine Festival

14–30 October, Hawaii

Launched by two award-winning chefs, highlights include wine tastings with master sommeliers and winemakers, cooking demonstrations and bespoke excursions.


31 October, nationwide

Goblins, jack-o’-lanterns, eerie black cats and trick or treating … the States is renowned for putting on a brilliant show on Halloween.

Ghoulish festivals take place in cities all across the country, with some of the bigger-known events including NYC’s Village Halloween Parade and the Festival of the Dead in Salem, Massachusetts.

Halloween The spooks are out in force during Halloween


24 November, nationwide

A soulful American tradition synonymous with family, friends, festive food and football, the Thanksgiving holiday is a joy to experience if you happen to be visiting on the day.

Traditional menus might include roast turkey, cranberry sauce, green beans and mash and gravy. Head along to a friend’s place or check out the Thanksgiving Parade in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

San Diego Beer Week

November, California

Get tickets to Beer Garden, a super cool beer and food pairing event with 24 breweries and 12 chefs. And don’t miss the Guild Fest on Broadway Pier where samples of rare, specialty beers from local breweries match with taste testers from local craft-beer friendly restaurants.

San Diego Beer Week Beer lovers unite for one week!

Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to the United States.

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