5 Must-See Festivals In The Southwest

By Auston Matta,

The southwest of the US is known for its warm temperatures and easy going ways; a perfect combination for hosting outdoor festivals throughout the year. Whether it’s for music, food or culture, you’ll find a number of  festivals in the southwest that match your interests. Here are some of the best of what the southwest has to offer.

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South by Southwest
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South by Southwest Festival
Photo by Nan Palermo CC BY
South by Southwest is a massive conference and arts festival that takes place in Austin, Texas every spring. The music, film and arts scene in Austin is known for being eclectic so this festival fits right in with the tradition. It’s been going on since 1987 and continues to draw in the crowds to see 2,300 musical acts on more than 100 stages. In addition to music and film, the festival also has a third component, SXSW Interactive, which focuses on the latest technologies including websites, video games, and startups. The event runs for about nine days and is held annually in March.

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Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
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Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Photo by David Howzit CC BY
Coachella is an annual music festival held in Indio, California with musical sets ranging from rock, indie, pop and electronica. The show spans for two weekends and brings in more than 200 performers to the grounds located in the Colorado Desert. Known for hosting famous headliners like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Outkast and Radiohead, this festival is one of the most popular and profitable music festivals held in the US. The festival started in 1999 and is now popular as a road trip destination given its remote location. Since 2003 the festival has even allowed attendees to camp in the field adjacent to the festival grounds for a true festival experience.

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Country Thunder
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Country Thunder

Photo by Marilyn Cole CC BY
Arizona Country Thunder is another outdoor music festival popular for those who love to spend time outdoors. The event takes place just outside of Phoenix, in the town of Florence. Held in the spring each year this festival takes place over four days and draws a crowd of more than 75,000 attendees. While some visit Country Thunder in a motor home, I recommend you stay at the Inn At Rancho Sonora and enjoy the music and time with family and friends.

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Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
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Photo by Lee Ruk CC BY
This annual balloon festival held each year in October is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. The festival takes place over nine days in Albuquerque, New Mexico and hosts more than 700 balloons that take to the air from Balloon Fiesta Park along with a number of other activities and performances onsite. They claim to be the world’s most photographed event drawing photographers from around the world to capture this one-of-a-kind scene. This is a busy event, so be sure to book your room at places like the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque or the Andaluz well in advance.

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Indio International Tamale Festival
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Indio International Tamale Festival

Photo by lucianvenutian  CC BY
Known for more than just Coachella, Indio also hosts the International Tamale Festival every December. Admission to this festival is free and visitors will enjoy multiple varieties of tamales made by cooks from around the southwest, all trying to win the best festival tamale contest. The annual event started in 1992 and Food Network even ranked this festival as one of the top 10 not-to-miss food festivals in the US.

 

What’s your favorite annual festival near you?