Top Events and Festivals in Missouri
Explore this selection of the top annual events and festivals, fairs and celebrations (listed in calendar priority) in Missouri
Please note: Top Events USA does not include every single event on offer in Missouri – only those recognized as the best by residents of Missouri, visitors to the "Show Me State", the team of travel writers working for Top Events USA and officials of Missouri too.
Missouri has come to be known as the “Show Me State”, a name that is said to have been coined by Representative Willard Van Diver to indicate a state of “certain self-deprecating stubbornness and devotion to simple common sense”.
Saint Louis Mardi Gras
early January - late February
Saint Louis, Missouri
One of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations apart from those of Louisiana, the family oriented Mardi Gras events in Saint Louis, Missouri, attracts more than 200,000 people to a wide variety of events, most of which are centered in and around Soulard Park, and come to a head on Fat Tuesday with a large parade in downtown Saint Louis. Other Mardi Gras events include a wine tasting, Cajun cook-off, pet parade, wiener dog derby and more.
For more information about the Saint Louis Mardi Gras visit:
Polar Bear Plunge
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
This "unbearable" event is a unique opportunity for individuals, businesses and organizations to support local Special Olympic athletes by jumping, diving or crawling into the sparkling, frigid waters of lakes across the state. An estimated 500-plus participants take the challenge at the Lake of the Ozarks’ freezing waters, or brave the elements on a 5K run/walk in the seventh annual Polar Beat Strut, both held at Lake of the Ozarks State Park.
For more information about the Polar Bear Plunge visit:
True/False Film Festival
late February – early March
For more than a decade now, the increasingly popular True/False Film Festival, has focussed on celebrating nonfiction filmmakers from all over the world who concentrate on the creation of innovative work with film presentations, downtown parades and even debates. Time Out Chicago has described the True/False Film Festival as “one of the best-managed and enjoyable film festivals ... compressing a heady mix of filmgoing and socializing into a long weekend.
For more information about the True/False Film Festival visit:
Opening Day of Trout Season
Bennett Spring State Park, Roaring River State Park and Montauk State Park, Missouri
For more information about the Opening Day of Trout Season visit:
Kansas City St Patrick’s Day Parade
Kansas City, Missouri
One of the largest St Patrick’s Day parades in the USA celebrating all things Irish, the Kansas City St Patrick’s Day Parade begins after a a special Gaelic Mass and is led by a lone bagpiper and then a mass of floats, bands and other performers filling the streets of Kansas City with music, leprechauns, lucky charms and more. Following the disastrous 1973 parade that tried to re-instate the abandoned event that first began in 1873, and after being labelled as the “the shortest and worst parade” in history, the new Kansas City St Patrick’s Day Parade has grown to become one of the biggest St Patrick’s Day Parades in the USA and now attracts well over half a million enthusiasts.
For more information about the Kansas City St Patrick’s Day Parade visit:
Ann Arbor Film Festival
Ann Arbor, Missouri
The longest-running independent and experimental film festival in the USA (established in 1963) the week-long Ann Arbor Film Festival showcases more than 180 films of all lengths and genres from over 20 countries, including experimental, animation, documentary, fiction, and performance-based works. Other features of the event include filmmaker retrospectives, gallery installations, panel discussions, historic and thematic surveys and contemporary artist programs.
For more information about the Ann Arbor Film Festival in Missouri visit:
mid April - early May
Silver Dollar City – Branson, Missouri
Recognized as America's Largest International Festival, World Fest at Silver Dollar City (the recreation of an 1880s mid-western mining town based around Marvel Cave) each spring presents the best international entertainers from around the world in an unequalled showcase of laughter and adventure including everything from drummers of Argentina, fire knife dancers from Hawaii, Samoa and Tahiti, Italian tenors, Ireland’s best loved harpist, and music from the Alps and the Andes.
For more information about World Fest at Silver Dollar City visit:
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
late May to mid June
Forest Park – St Louis, Missouri
The Shakespeare Festival St Louis is the only free outdoor professional theater event in St Louis, and attracts at least 3,000 enthusiasts every night who come to enjoy the main stage Shakespeare production featuring some of the best actors in the USA as well as the nightly pre-performance Green Show complete with musicians, jugglers, and singers and even an introduction to the plot and cast of the main presentation. The Shakespeare Festival has also been nominated for a nimber of awards over the years.
For more information about the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis visit:
Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival
A popular event featuring top musicians and attracting over 7,000 visitors every year, the 4-day Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival offers a variety of free and paid events from various concerts with renowned and international ragtime musicians, dance parties and food events celebrating the genius of the composer Scott Joplin.
For more information about the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia visit:
Fair Saint Louis
4th, 5th and 6th July
St Louis, Missouri
Known as “America’s Biggest Birthday Party”, Fair Saint Louis is Missouri’s popular and famous 4th July celebration that begins with two early morning runs, one for 4 miles and one for just a mile, followed by the Annual Veiled Prophet Parade that has been a major event for more than 135 years, dazzling air shows, concerts, special events for children and the ever-popular and amazing fireworks display at the end of the evening.
For more information about Fair Saint Louis visit:
National Tom Sawyer Days
A Hannibal tradition for over 50 years, the Hannibal Jaycees’ National Tom Sawyer Days celebration focuses on wholesome family fun. Visitors of all ages can watch or join in many of the activities, including three Fence Painting Contests, a frog jumping competition, the Sam Clemens-Kiwanis Arts & Crafts Show, Mississippi Mud Volleyball, a carnival, a parade, stage entertainment, dancing, food, a spectacular 4th of July fireworks display over the Mississippi River and much more. Downtown Hannibal during National Tom Sawyer Days truly offers something for everyone.
For more information about National Tom Sawyer Days in Hannibal visit:
Ozark Empire Fair
late July – early August
Ozark Empire Fairgrounds – Springfield, Missouri
A popular attraction for more than 80 years, the Ozark Empire Fair offers a wealth of entertainment including the livestock events, a Life & Arts section offering everything to do with the creative side of things from cooking to painting, photo galleries, all sorts of fair attractions including rides, fun events and entertainment including musical performers, specialty acts, karaoke and more.
For more information about the Ozark Empire Fair in Springfield visit:
Lake of the Ozarks Shootout
Sunrise beach, Missouri
A popular event for a quarter of a century, the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout is an annual event at Captain Ron's on the westside of the Lake of the Ozarks and is the largest unsanctioned boat race in the United States named one of the nation's eight "must-see" boating events according to Powerboat Magazine.
For m ore information about the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout visit:
Missouri State Fair
second week in August
Since the first fair in 1901, thousands of Missouri families have made the annual "pilgrimage" every August to Sedalia for this 11-day event. From entertainment to livestock shows to traditional fare, the Missouri State Fair is one of the state’s oldest and most tradition-rich events for summer family fun. Among the popular attractions, one of the more famous parts of the fair is the mule show that has run ever since the start of the fair in 1901.
For more information about the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia visit:
Festival of Nations
Tower Grove Park – St Louis, Missouri
Attracting more than 140,000 visitors each year, and recognized as one of the region’s premier multicultural celebrations, the Festival of Nations features more than 40 ethnic food booths, non-stop dance and music originating all over the world, arts and crafts typical of many different nations, as well as an international bazaar with unique gifts from around the world. Admission and all entertainments are free.
For more more information about the Festival of Nations in St Louis visit:
Kansas City Irish Festival
Kansas City, Missouri
Voted the “Best Fest in Kansas City”, the Kansas City Irish Festival held over Labor Day weekend, is one of the largest annual Celtic celebrations in the USA and features more than 30 of the world's top Irish performers including the Celtic world’s best musicians, dancers and performers on three huge stages, as well as a wealth of storytellers, folklorists and comedians.
For more information about the Kansas City Irish Festival visit:
Great Pershing Balloonist Parade
late August – early September
Recognized as the longest running ballooning event in the USA, the Great Pershing Balloonist Parade, a popular event for more than 36 years, features everything from regular balloon flights during the day and at night, the ever-popular Balloonist Parade on Main Street, free entertainment, dances, and even sidewalk sales stalls, baby shows, queen contests for all ages and more.
For more information about the Great Pershing Balloonist Parade in Brookfield visit:
Saint Louis Art Fair
St Louis, Missouri
Recognized as #4 in the nation for fine art fairs, the Saint Louis Art Fair is a nationally ranked art fair that attracts more than 130,000 visitors each year as visual artists from across the USA display a renowned and respected exhibit of the highest quality, original works of art. Also part of this popular event are three stages of entertainment, educational hands-on activities for children, culinary treats from St. Louis’ finest restaurants and much more.
For more information abut the Saint Louis Art Fair visit:
Japanese Fall Festival
Mizumoto Stroll Garden – Springfield, Missouri
The Mizumoto Stroll Garden in Springfield is the idyllic setting for the annual 3-day Japanese Fall Festival that includes everything from mesmerizing Shi-Shi-Mai (Lion Dance) performances, a professional Japanese storyteller, the Osuwa Taiko Drummers, Japanese top spinning, martial arts, a kimono fashion show and a wide array of other activities and performances with a real Japanese flavor.
For more information about the Japanese Fall Festival in Springfield visit:
American Legion Cotton Carnival
Boasting the northernmost production of cotton in the United States, Sikeston and Miner celebrate “King Cotton” in style with the Cotton Carnival. This community tradition features carnival rides, beauty pageants, nightly entertainment, carnival rides, candy apples, contests for Little Mr. and Miss Cotton Carnival and one of Missouri's largest parades. Visitors and locals alike also enjoy art shows, historic exhibits, musical performances and much more.
For more information about the American Legion Cotton Carnival in Sikeston visit:
National Harvest Festival
mid September – late October
One of the country's premier craft festivals, the National Harvest Festival hosts hundreds of visiting craftsmen. Incredible artisans demonstrate their unique crafts throughout the park, including jewelry making, pottery, woodworking, fiber arts, painting plus a world of outdoor art. Family entertainment includes the Timberworks Lumberjack Show, the Birds of Prey Show featuring hawks, owls and bald eagles, and Headin’ West, Silver Dollar City’s original musical production.
For more information about the National Harvest Festival visit:
every weekend in October
During the first four weekends in October the City of Hermann, Missouri will be observing its annual Oktoberfest that has been voted Missouri’s best festival by readers of Rural Missouri Magazine. This well preserved German village, located on the banks of the Missouri River, provides a perfect setting for traditional events to celebrate German heritage and culture. A wide variety of activities take place among the more than 150 historic buildings in the downtown area that includes more than a dozen antique shops, a number of specialty stores, museums, historic sites, art galleries, great restaurants, and quaint B&Bs and inns. There are also seven wineries and plenty of music, special food booths, and crafts demonstrations.
For more information about Oktoberfest in Hermann visit:
Maple Leaf Festival
A tradition for over 41 years, this week-long celebration features a variety of events ranging from the Queen Pageant to the Three Minutes of Fame Lip-Sync Competition. Visitors attend what is considered one of Southwest Missouri’s largest parades followed by a variety of special events including more than 80 craft booths and food vendors.
For more information about the Maple Leaf Festival in Carthage visit:
American Royal BBQ Contest
October - November
Kansas City, Missouri
The first American Royal Barbecue was held in 1980. Today, spreading over 20 acres in Kansas City’s historic Stockyards District and with nearly 500 teams competing in four culinary contests, the American Royal BBQ Contest is one of the largest barbecue contests in the world. Combine this with a barbecue-related trade expo, this two-day food festival is truly the “World Series of Barbecue.”
For more information about the American Royal BBQ Contest visit:
50 Miles of Art Gallery and Studio Tour
featured in November and March
Hannibal, Louisiana and Clarksville
Spread along the scenic Route 79 connecting the individually unique Missouri communities of Hannibal, Louisiana and Clarksville, a host of fine artists, craftspersons and artisans live and create their work and display their talents each November during the 50 Miles of Art Gallery and Studio Tour.
For more information about the 50 MIles of Art event visit: