Summer in Lincoln is definitely something to celebrate, and luckily, our town knows how to throw a great party! From Memorial Day through Labor Day, there are so many fun things to experience around town, from outdoor patios and local parks to swimming pools and activities that won’t cost you a cent. But undoubtedly, our favorite summertime feature is the abundance of local festivals.
We rounded up 17 of the best summer festivals in Lincoln that you should be looking forward to this season. From barbecue feasts to outdoor concerts, there is something for everyone on this list. Enjoy!
MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUGUST
Wednesdays, May through August
On Wednesdays from May through August, enjoy free performances by local musicians in the Foundation Garden — it’s the perfect way to spend your lunch hour! The series has established itself as a tradition in the Lincoln area for several decades, and is popular for music-lovers of all ages.
Don your best colorful apparel to celebrate love in all its forms! The Star City Pride Festival will take place in the Lincoln Journal Star Festival Lot, and will feature live music, t shirts, vendor booths, food, drinks and so much more.
Tuesdays in June
This weekly June concert series has become a beloved tradition for Lincoln locals over the years, and features renowned artists from all over the country. The shows are completely free, and are hosted at the University of Nebraska campus. Before the concert, enjoy the Jazz in June Market, which starts at 5 pm at 12th and R Streets, and then stroll over to the plaza with your blanket or lawn chair to snag the best seat.
KZUM, one of Lincoln’s premier local radio stations, aims to celebrate diversity, art and music at this cultural festival! You’ll enjoy live music from local and national performers, interactive art exhibits, more than 50 vendors, food trucks and so much more.
Get ready for the most colorful 5k you will ever run! The Color Vibe race is coming to Lincoln, and will feature a fun winding race through town, and a grand party with a live performance and refreshments afterward. You won’t want to miss out on the fun! Make sure to wear something you don’t mind getting painted, because we guarantee you will leave covered in pink, yellow and blue hues.
Lincoln’s free, outdoor Independence Day Celebration is definitely something to look forward to. The family fun starts at 3 pm, and there will be refreshments from local vendors available throughout the day until the fireworks show after sunset. Don’t forget your red, white and blue!
Blues, roots, country, fun, soul, zydeco, and rock & roll — ZooFest has it all! Come on down to Lincoln’s legendary Zoo Bar for this iconic music festival. You’ll enjoy live acts like Los Lobos, Tommy Castro and the Painkillers, Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal, and so many more. The musicians will perform on the street outside of Zoo Bar, so you can take to the pavement for dancing.
2018 Dates Forthcoming
Aficionados of the classical arts will not want to miss the Meadowlark Music Festival. This event aims to celebrate talented classical musicians, and grow the local appreciation for the genre. Each year, people of all ages and from all walks of life gather at concert venues across the state to enjoy classical performances and learn about the history.
2018 Dates Forthcoming
Photo courtesy of the Haymarket Park Beer Fest
Nebraska is home to some truly incredible breweries — all of which deserve to be celebrated. Raise a glass to their success at the 7th annual Haymarket Beer Fest, where a ticket will earn you unlimited tastings, a souvenir glass, and a ticket to the Lincoln Saltdogs Baseball game. Sip brewskies to your heart’s content while listening to live music, and enjoy bites from local eateries. Afterward, head over to the ball game and root, root, root for the home team!
2018 Dates Forthcoming
Sustainable living isn’t just good for our environment — it’s also fun! Drop by the LES Sustainable Living Festival to learn plenty of real-world skills that you can apply to your daily life — including composting, how to shop sustainably, water tracking and more. And when your brain is filled with tips and tricks, enjoy some of the games and activities onsite. You might get the chance to race a solar car, or perhaps eat some popcorn cooked by the sun.
The Cornhusker State Games originated in 1984, and attracts thousands of Nebraskans every year to compete in amateur sports competitions. Over the years, participants have ranged in age from 9 months to 87 years old, and activities include traditional Olympic sports such as track & field, gymnastics, and swimming alongside quirky events like horseshoe pitching, mallwalking and chess. The week kicks off with a grand opening ceremony, which will include a parade and fireworks!
Photo courtesy of Katie McKinney via the Pinnacle Bank Arena
A festival to celebrate everything pork — can you imagine anything sweeter? The Capital City Rib Fest features award-winning barbecue from local joints and nationally renowned establishments alike, and allows patrons to eat their fill of ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, sausage and more. Smother your selection in a variety of sauces from North Carolina-style to Australian, and between bites, enjoy live performances from local artists. It’s sure to be a finger-lickin’ good time!
August 24th and 25th
If you’re looking for a strumming, stomping good time, look no further than the Nebraska Folk and Roots Festival. For its fourth year, the event will welcome a diverse blend of artists from all over the country to perform bluegrass, folk, Americana and the like on stage. Come dance along to your favorite tunes and enjoy local bites, brews, vendors and more.
Photo courtesy of the Nebraska Book Festival
Bookworms, take note! This festival will be one for the books. Come celebrate more than 150 years of Nebraska’s rich literary history with performances, signings, vendors, puppet theaters, panel discussions and (of course) plenty of great books.
This might be the only socially acceptable opportunity to play in the mud, so you might as well take advantage of it! This three-mile race features music, obstacles, creek crossings, a giant slip-n-slide, and multiple mud pits. Complete the race and enjoy a well-deserved outdoor shower, and an after party complete with food, drinks, music and an awards presentation.
2018 Dates Forthcoming
If you’re expecting frogs at this festival, you might be disappointed. What you’ll find instead is a stellar lineup of live country artists provided by Lincoln’s top country radio station. Dust off those cowboy boots and get ready for a foot-stompin’ good time!
Photo courtesy of the Community Crops Feast on the Farm
Local foodies line up every year for the Community Crops Feast on the Farm! The event showcases best local foods, prepared by your favorite local chefs in Lincoln, Nebraska. Guests not only get to enjoy a full dinner, but also get to see the beautiful, sustainable farm where their food grows. Every feast is a completely unique experience, as each year showcases different local chefs.
Have fun this summer!
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for up-to-date information on local events, beautiful homes, community attractions and more.