As the weather gets warmer in the midwest, we all get a little antsy. Not just because summer is on its way, but because festival season will soon be upon us. The sun is shining, the live music is playing, the parks are beckoning, and the community comes together to celebrate all of it!
As the hub of Nebraska culture and the largest city in the state, we draw some of the biggest and most exciting annual events each year. This year, we’re hosting comedy events, culture festivals, food celebrations, wine tasting events combined with hot air balloon demonstrations, craft extravaganzas, and so much more. There’s even a pirate fest that no local or visitor should miss!
So prepare for Omaha’s festival season with us. Learn a bit about the most-anticipated events and mark your calendars!
Photos courtesy of Crom Comedy Festival, Jake Fyfe and Nicole Conlan
April 21 – 23
The Crom Comedy Festival is an alternative comedy festival hosted by comedians whose main goal is to celebrate the cities they love — and they only stop in Omaha, Denver and Toronto. It’s DIY and punk rock in spirit, featuring local and nationally touring comedians. Don’t miss it in 2017 because this is the festival’s farewell year! Check out the Omaha performers and schedule.
May 5 + 6
Every year, Sip Nebraska features wine tastings and sessions, live music, food, artisan vendors, and more. Buy your non-alcoholic and tasting tickets online and get ready for one of the most impressive wine events in the state. This year, they’ve added craft beer tastings to the lineup!
May 6, 7, 13 + 14
The Renaissance Festival takes place every summer at Bellevue Berry Farm just outside of Omaha. Lords, ladies, merchants, peasants and performers are all welcome for hard-hitting jousts and medieval merry-making. After you get your fill of the middle ages, come back August 26 and 27th for the Midwest Pirate Fest!
Photo courtesy of Vintage Market Days
May 12 – 14
Vintage Market Days is an upscale vintage-inspired market featuring original art, antiques, clothing, jewelry, handmade treasures, home decor, outdoor furnishings, treats, seasonal plantings and more! Essentially, it’s the best place to find exactly what your home, wardrobe and collections have been missing — and what your belly has been craving. Admission for children under 12 years is free and the three day pass is just $10.
May 25 – 28
The Omaha Improv Fest is for anyone who wants to perform and watch improv, learn from the best, and, most importantly, have fun! The event includes shows, presentations from coaches, classes and social events. Throughout the weekend, you can enjoy presentations from Ian Roberts, co-founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade as well as events featuring the co-founder of the Annoyance Theatre in Chicago and over 35 visiting teams for a total of 60 shows at three downtown venues. See the full event schedule online.
June 9 + 10
As Omaha’s craft beer scene grows, so does its annual beer fest. And for the seventh year, you can expect hundreds of American craft beers, over 80 breweries and cider makers, a VIP Lounge and more. A general admission ticket gets you unlimited samplings of brews for an entire day. But the VIP option offers early admission and access to the VIP Lounge featuring delicious food and specialty beers not available in the brewery tents!
Photo courtesy of Omaha Summer Arts Festival and Pitmon Foxall, III
June 9 – 11
The Omaha Summer Arts Festival is three days of free national, regional and local performers with a lineup of musicians and performing arts showcases. Now in its 43rd year, you’ll find an artists’ market, a children’s fair and 135 of the nation’s finest visual artists.
June 9 – 11
Junkstock is one of our favorite places to search for vintage finds and one-of-a-kind home decor, while tasting artisan food from local trucks and listening to live music. Stop by to explore the summer event and celebrate in style.
Celebrate diversity in Omaha at 2017 Heartland Pride Festival: Alive with Pride. This outdoor Aksarben event will feature vendors, activities for families in the kids zone, and live entertainment all day and night! Buy your tickets now for just $5.
July 15 + 16
For just $15, your entire family can celebrate all things trains and track this July. Learn how the American train system developed our nation, how it has changed ,and what it takes to operate it today. There are stops at Lauritzen Gardens, The Durham Museum, RailsWest Railroad Museum, Union Pacific Railroad Museum and Historic General Dodge House with free transportation between them all.
Photo courtesy of Beer and Bacon Festival and Courtney Perkins
This Omaha classic combines a craft beer festival with a bacon-themed food competition! Each guest will be able to taste all of the competitor’s food dishes as well as craft brews. Then, you’ll have a chance to purchase more drinks inside the Old Mattress Factory. Dance along to live music and benefit the local nonprofit, Omaha Jaycees.
July 31 – August 7
Native Omaha Days is a week long party celebrating the culture and history of the surrounding communities by bringing locals together. Enjoy live music performances, tournaments, a homecoming parade, mixer, dance and a riverboat ride! The event aims to preserve various traditions and legacies while fostering Omaha pride and encouraging community involvement.
Photo courtesy of Nebraska Balloon & Wine Festival
August 11 + 12
If you’ve ever wanted to watch hundreds of hot air balloons launch into the sky after a day of wine tasting and local, artisan food pairings, mark your calendars for this two day festival! This family friendly event is suitable for all ages — so bring everyone along to one of the region’s most anticipated summer events.
August 12 + 13
There are so many ways to celebrate Nebraska’s agricultural jewel during the annual Sweet Corn Festival, you may get a little overwhelmed. But don’t worry — Ted & Wally’s will be there to cool you down with “Nebraska Sweet Corn” ice cream. Inside Lauritzen Gardens, you can hop on the hayrack ride, purchase freshly popped kettle corn, sample free sweet corn, learn all about the crop, and even participate in a cooking demonstration.
August 18 – 20
Wrap up the summer with a celebration like none other — complete with Greek food, Greek dancing and warm, friendly Greek character. There will be costumes, performances, dances, a traditional marketplace, face painting, children’s games, and much more. Party in Midtown at the Historic St. John’s Greek Orthodox Church.
Omaha’s Maha is one of the most anticipated Nebraska music festivals of the entire year. This full day, annual event has hosted over 80 musical acts, dozens of nonprofits, and thousands of attendees from more than 40 states since the first festival in 2009. Dance along as Aksarben is rocked out from noon to midnight on August 19th!
Photos courtesy of The Great Nebraska Beer Fest and Al Viola Photography
For the fourth year, Papillion is celebrating craft beers at Werner Park. This year, the festival is drawing in never-before-seen brewers with a spotlight on Nebraska and regional breweries. And every donation and ticket sale helps raise money for the University of Nebraska Medical Center Global Blindness Prevention Division.
Where are you celebrating summer in Omaha?
If we missed your favorite Omaha summer festival, let us know!