Northwest Arkansas is the place to be year round. Check out this list of local annual festivals and fairs. Whether your idea of a good time is stuck in a book or running until your legs drop off, sipping on some local craft beer or selecting the perfect handmade centerpiece for your table, there is an event for you!
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Spring Into Warmer Weather
Mardi Gras meets Arkansas at Fayetteville’s most colorful tradition. Shake off the winter blues at this Northwest Arkansas celebration, where merriment and mayhem abound. The whole town’s invited to the main event: the Fat Saturday Parade of Fools. Come as a spectator or start a “krewe” to join in the festivities with your own float and costumes.
Celebrate local food + farmers at Fayetteville’s Dig In Festival. This yearly event encourages community among growers and other local businesses, and it educates people like YOU through a series of classes, workshops, and discussions all oriented around FOOD.
There’s nothing slothful about the Iron Pig Festival and its four-event line-up. Participants can choose from a duathlon, a 5k, a one-mile fun run, and a biking time trial. Or if you’re feeling gutsy, who’s to say you can’t sign up for all four?? These events are perfect for athletes looking for a challenge but not so hard that first-timers can’t hang.
First Thursday Fayetteville typically kicks off in May and runs through October on every first Thursday of the month (bet you didn’t see that coming). Featuring a different theme each month, Fayetteville’s downtown square transforms to a thriving art district of various mediums and artists. It also plays host to live music, street performances, food trucks, and children’s activities.
As Northwest Arkansas shakes off the last of its winter weather, Fayetteville helps wake up the neighborhood with the annual Springfest. The event starts with a pancake street breakfast to get you out of bed and rounds out with a pub crawl before you get back in. In between those are a 5k run, live music, arts + crafts, and the legendary bed races. Springfest did take a hiatus for 2018 but rumors have it the 2019 renewal is already in the works.
The Block Street Block Party is Fayetteville’s most beloved street party. Like Springfest, this event took a pause for 2018 but is already scheduled to return May 19, 2019. Block party goers will find more than 60 bands, five beer gardens, local arts and craft vendors and a number of street activities to keep the good times rolling.
If drinking beer + supporting local charities sounds like a good time to you, then crack open a cold one at Fayetteville Foam Fest—but only if you’re 21+ please. Foam Fest raises awareness and benefits for local charities. What better excuse to come sample a variety of hoppy (or not) hand-crafted brews? It’s for a good cause!
Each summer, Fayetteville hosts Northwest Arkansas’s Pride events. Show your colors during Saturday’s Pride Parade followed by a rally and festival, live music, and a beer garden (because what’s a NWA festival without one?). While the “main events” take place Saturday, venues around town participate Thursday through Sunday with themed cocktails, rooftop parties, and even a poolside brunch.
During Walton Arts Center’s annual Artosphere Festival, art, music, and nature collide in a series of performances and activities the entire fam can enjoy. The festival spotlights artists and performers from around the world who look to nature for their inspiration.
Nine races, three days, one festival: the Rogers Cycling Festival. Bikers of all ages and skill level can find a race to suit their cycling. Speedsters can put their petal to the metal in an 11-mile race against a train. A 30-mile route along beautiful back country roads will test the endurance of any cyclist. And for the youngin’s, how about the mountain bike race for kids or the family glow ride?
The FOMO will be real for those who miss out on Arkansas’s largest county fair, held right down the road in Prairie Grove. The Washington County Fair is a full five days of bull riding, carnival favorites, a petting zoo, a lumberjack show (if you don’t know what that is, what are you waiting for??) and more. Keep an eye out for the different themed discounts offered every day.
We all know there’s something extra special about this region of the Ozark, but did you know there’s an entire festival dedicated to celebrating the best of Northwest Arkansas? Fayetteville Roots Festival is a five-day celebration of urban music and local food. Local farmers + chefs gather round to fill your belly full of the most scrumptious cuisines, while nationally-known musicians and undiscovered regional talent jam out on the ten different music stages.
All good things must come to an end, but why not celebrate the heck out of the end of a good thing? Frisco Festival in Rogers is an end of summer bash for the books with music, events and activities for all. Not the least of which include a BMX stunt show and a special Kid Zone.
Bikes, Blues, & BBQ. Need we go on? Probably not, but in case you’re not sold: this family-friendly Fayetteville fest is the world’s largest charity motorcycle rally. Come for the barbecue cook-off but stay for the music. And if your bike’s ready for a spin, you’re welcome to join in on one of the group rides around the area.
Every autumn, more than 250 crafty connoisseurs and artisan entrepreneurs gather in Rogers for the War Eagle Craft Fair. During this weekend, browse a combined three arts + craft fairs. Pick out some new country home decor, smell the heavenly aromas of homemade soaps, and browse a colorful selection of dried arrangements. We guarantee you’re not leaving this event empty-handed.
Of course, what’s autumn without some seasonal brews? In past years, Springdale’s Brewtober fest has included all-you-can-eat sample tastings of over 60 chilis and more than 30 homebrews. And make sure you try as many as your pants will let you, because you can vote for your faves in the people’s choice awards.
Tech giants Samsung and Walmart have joined forces to fire up AMP Fest. This 21+ event is dedicated to all things music, tech, and hops. Grab samples from over 20 local, regional, and national breweries AND support the local arts: AMP Fest raises money for arts education programs!
If you can’t seem to keep your nose out of books, FINALLY there’s a festival for you: True Lit Fest has arrived! Join other bibliophiles in celebration of literary adventures. Hear author talks from regional and national authors and hone your own skillz through various writer workshops. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be giving one of those author talks one day!
What could be better than your class Oktoberfest? How about CHOCtoberfest. That’s right. Local craft beers AND bean-to-bar chocolate. But wait, there’s more! The money raised by this event goes to support new babies in ICU and their families. Keep an eye on the Jackson L Graves Foundation site for details of this year’s event!
Death Fest. I know what you’re thinking, but no, this isn’t a gathering of necromaniacs or zombie-fanatics. Each year, the Natural State Burial Association hosts Death Fest as an educational and outreach framework to explore society’s evolving arts, laws, and philosophies of death through speakers, workshops, and performance events. The full schedule is typically posted in September.
Ring in the most wonderful time of the year at Lights of the Ozark. Fayetteville’s downtown square is transformed into a magical winter wonderland of lights from the end of November through December. See the glittering lights by carriage or pony rides, accompanies by cheerful holiday tunes and a fresh mug of cocoa. If that doesn’t liven your holiday spirits, then you might be a scrooge. Sorry ‘bout it.