Top Events and Festivals in Delaware
Explore this selection of the top annual events and festivals, fairs and celebrations (listed in calendar priority) in Delaware.
Please note: Top Events USA does not include every single event on offer in Delaware – only those recognized as the best by residents of Delaware, visitors to the "First State", the team of travel writers working for Top Events USA and officials of Delaware too.
Delaware is known as both the “First State”, because it was the first of the 13 original states to ratify the USA Constitution, and also as the “Diamond State” because Thomas Jefferson is reputed to have described Delaware as a "jewel" among states due to its strategic location on the Eastern Seaboard.
Dover Days Festival
first full weekend in May
Celebrated since 1933, the Dover Days Festival is a 3-day celebration of the First State’s Capital City and features a huge parade, maypole dancing by children dressed in colonial costumes, historical reenactments, a car show, free admission to many museums, live music and entertainment, a pet parade, 300+ craft and food vendors, and much more – all free. Held on The Green and Legislative Mall, two beautiful outdoor parks in the historic downtown district, traditional elements and new components bring in thousands of visitors each year with attendance reaching 48,500.
For more information about the Dover Days Festival visit:
first Sunday in May
The spectacular grounds of Winterthur Museum & Gardens is the site for this annual steeplechase horse racing event, which attracts 15,000 spectators and has earned the reputation as “the place to be” in Delaware Valley on the first Sunday in May. What began simply as a steeplechase fund-raising equestrian competition has grown into a tradition of unrivaled elegance, family fun, and racing excitement.
For more information about the Winterthur Point-to-Point event visit:
Day in Old New Castle
New Castle, Delaware
The oldest home and garden tour in the United States, the popular 89-year old Day in Old New Castle (DIONC) event in New Castle features historical walking tours and visits to homes and gardens dating from the 18th century that reflect the history of Old New Castle, as well as performances of period music and maypole dancing.
For more information about the Day in Old New Castle event visit:
Horseshoe Crab & Shorebird Festival
Timed to correspond with the spawning cycle of the horseshoe crab on area beaches, and the shorebirds who come to feed on horseshoe crab eggs before they continue their 3-day, nonstop flight to their summer home, the Horseshoe Crab & Shorebird Festival celebrates this extraordinary event. Apart from live music and delicious food, attractions of the festival focus on educating visitors about the area, the crabs and shorebirds, and local wildlife, while having fun with artwork, an educational play about horseshoe crabs and shorebirds, the Horseshoe Crab/Shorebird Express Train, a pontoon boat ride on the Broadkill River and hay-wagon tours.
For more information about the Horseshoe Crab & Shorebird Festival in Milton visit: http://www.ecodelaware.com/event.php?id=54
St Anthony’s Italian Festival
The popular, week-long St Anthony’s Italian Festival taking place in the heart of the Little Italy neighborhood of Wilmington celebrates Italian culture and food by highlighting a different region of Italy each year. The largest event of this kind on the East Coast, attracting over 125,000 visitors each year, the St Anthony’s Italian Festival features a Gala Concert on the opening day, wine tastings, and offers a wide variety of delicious and authentic Italian food specialties peculiar to the relevant region.
For more information about St Anthony’s Italian Festival in Wilmington visit:
Firefly Music Festival
Recognized as the East Coast's premier music experience that is fast becoming a very popular and highly respected tradition, the Firefly Music Festival on the east coast features at least 40 of rock and popular music's biggest acts performing in the heart of the areas magnificent wooded landscapes. Other parts of this event include food and interactive entertainment.
For more information about the Firefly Music Festival in Dover visit:
Old Fashioned Ice Cream Festival
Attracting more than 75,000 people each year, the Old Fashioned Ice Cream Festival, Delaware's longest running family picnic, features an abundance of trademark chilled confections and the best ice creams in the area as well as ice cream-eating competitions, live music, fireworks, entertainment especially for children including puppet shows and magician acts, obstacle courses, and even fashion shows.
For more information about the Old Fashioned Ice Cream Festival in Wilmington visit:
Delaware State Fair
First held in 1920, the 10-day, annual Delaware State Fair in Harrington boasts attendance of over 300,000. Today the fairgrounds offer more than 300 acres of agricultural exhibits, rodeo, races, a midway, and other typical stair fair demonstrations and events. Concert events have included the likes of Gloria Estefan, New Kids on the Block, Tammy Wynette, Travis Tritt and Bill Cosby. The Midway Slots and Simulcast, Harrington Raceway and The Centre Ice Rink are also nearby.
For more information about the Delaware State Fair in Harrington visit:
Rehoboth Beach Sandcastle Contest
first week of August
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
An increasingly popular event for more than 35 years, the Rehoboth Beach Sandcastle Contest teams gather on the beach in Rehoboth to sculpt fanciful creations such as Swamp Animals, Mermaids, Pyramids, Crabs, Dolphins, Sharks and of course traditional sandcastles. Beachgoers who would rather watch than work are welcome to view the incredible creations free of charge.
For more information about the Rehoboth Beach Sandcastle Contest visit:
Eastern Shore AFRAM Festival
Established to promote the diverse cultural arts of African-Americans, the 2-day Eastern Shore AFRAM Festival in Henry Nutter Park, Seaford celebrates African-American culture and history with music, pageants, cultural and food vendors, a parade, children's events, dance, entertainment and more. There is also a Pre-Festival Basketball Competition & Fish Fry on the Thursday before the festival.
For more information about the Eastern Shore AFRAM Festival in Seaford visit:
Amish Country Bike Tour
first Saturday after Labor Day
The state's largest and most established cycling events, the annual Amish Country Bike Tour in Dover offers fun for cyclists of all ages and fitness levels with a choice of 15, 25, 50, 62, and 100 mile loops through the beautiful Amish countryside in west Kent County. Food stops along the way offer locally-baked pies and cookies as well as live entertainment by local musicians. Cyclists also enjoy an after-tour party on Legislative Mall complete with a picnic lunch, fun activities and live music!
For more information about the Amish Country Bike Tour in Dover visit:
Delaware Saengerbund Oktoberfest
German food and beer are the main attractions under the big tent at this increasingly popular event, but fans also love the Opening Parade featuring the Muenchner Kindl (Munich Child), and the continuous musical entertainment including a Bavarian dance group. German food specialties such as grilled bratwurst and weisswurst, frankfurters, BBQ chicken, pretzels and rollmops, a marinated herring served with rye bread and even the traditional potato salad and sauerkraut. The Delaware Saengerbund Oktoberfest also features imported gifts and souvenirs, Bavarian specialty clothes and amusement rides.
For more information about the Delaware Saengerbund Oktoberfest visit:
A popular event for more than 35 years, Coast Day in Lewes explores and showcases ocean resources through engaging, family-friendly activities. Attracting thousands of visitors every year, Coast Day features exhibitions about marine life with hands-on displays, poster presentations and demonstrations in labs and outdoor tents on all sorts of topics from shipwreck discoveries to sea turtles, tours of the research ship, flycasting, a boat show, and even a food festival and the popular Crab Cook-Off.
For more information about Coast Day in Lewes visit:
Boast the Coast Maritime Festival
Boast the Coast Maritime Festival & Lighted Boat Parade is an annual event held in conjunction with the University of Delaware's annual Coast Day celebration in historic Lewes which was started to emphasize the importance of local marine life. Activities throughout the town celebrate the town’s nautical heritage and include seafood tasting and children’s shows. Attracting more than 10,000 people each year, the highlight of this event is the lighted boat parade on the canal that runs through town.
For more information about the Boast the Coast Maritime Festival in Lewes visit: http://www.ecodelaware.com/event.php?id=52
Typically made of hog offal, Scrapple is like a pork meatloaf and is best known as a regional food of Delaware. The Apple Scrapple Festival takes place during the 2nd weekend in October in Bridgeville, a small town in Sussex County, and celebrates both scrapple and the apple harvest. Festivities start with a carnival and street dance on Friday night and continue on Saturday morning with a wide range of activities including games, like scrapple carving, live entertainment, carnival rides, and food – everything from apple fritters to scrapple sandwiches. There are also live bands playing bluegrass, country, rock, and soul music.
For more information about the Apple-Scrapple Festival in Bridgeville visit: http://www.visitdelaware.com/includes/events/
Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival
mid- to late-October
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Labelled as The Greatest Jazz Festival in the World, the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, a successful and popular event for almost a quarter of a century, is held on five stages and even more multiple venues and also features a wide range of features at local restaurants and bars in both Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.
For more information about the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival visit:
Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddler’s Festival
Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach, Delaware
An annual festival that has been a popular event for over 24 years, the Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddler’s Festival is highlighted by the ever-popular Sea Witch Parade and Costume Contest, banjo, fiddle, and bluegrass competitions including Delaware’s Official State Fiddlers’ Festival, the Sea Witch Cottage and Heritage Craft Shows, and a tournament to find the best costumed dogs, cats and other pets, as well as a variety of food and other entertainments.
For more information about the Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddler’s Festival at Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach visit:
Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival
Since it began over ten years ago, the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival has grown to become one of the most respected cultural events of the Mid-Atlantic. The 5-day Festival presents about 100 of the best American and international films including features, documentaries, and shorts. Film enthusiasts enjoy the convenience of seeing all the films at one, multi-screen location. The Festival also offers informative seminars, opportunities to converse with celebrity guests, as well as special events including Children's Cinema Corner for elementary school-aged children.
For more information about the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival
World Championship Punkin Chunkin
Wheatley Farm – Bridgeville, Delaware
Punkin Chunkin, the rhyming name of Pumpkin Chucking, is an unusual and fun sport in which pumpkins are hurled as far as possible using mechanical means only, everything from slingshots and catapults to centrifugals, trebuchets and pneumatic cannons. This three-day event that attracts thousands of visitors each year also features amusement rides, food vendors, fireworks, live concerts, a pumpkin cooking contest, a pumpkin pie competition, a chili cook-off, and the Miss Punkin Chunkin pageant.
For more information about the World Championship Punkin Chunkin event in Bridgeville visit: