By Nancy Gross
Annual festivals offer a wide variety of unique entertainment and activities. From smooth jazz and exquisite wine to spectacular gardens and thrilling regattas, festivals awaken our adventurous spirit and bring beauty to our world. Here are just some of the outstanding festivals taking place this year.
in the U.S. Virgin Islands is a high point for avid sailors from around the world. Known as the “Crown Jewel of the Caribbean,” the regatta gives sailors the opportunity to enjoy three days of unparalleled competition and shoreside excitement.
The legendary sailing waters around St. Thomas offer some of the world’s finest racing conditions. The competition usually includes between 80-90 entrants, racing Beach Cats, Turbo Sleds (70 foot downwind flyers), Farr 40s, Mumm 30s, and Sigma 38s.
Sailors love the reliable breezes, warm azure waters, and world-renowned hospitality. Participants, visitors and residents of this island paradise enjoy hours of sailing, beach parties, live music, and dancing during the exhilarating regatta festivities.
Food and Wine on Pine
Anna Maria Island, FL
The 4th Annual Food and Wine on Pine event is a culinary and cultural experience held on historic Pine Avenue in Anna Maria.
Local musicians add to the festivities by performing period music ranging from classical to folk to bluegrass to pop. More than 40 juried artists will display their work and demonstrate art techniques on the porches along Pine Avenue. Young local artists will showcase their talent in the Children’s Artist Tent.
This special event features the very best food, wine, music, and art that Anna Maria Island has to offer.
The 2014 Jacksonville Jazz Festival is the second largest jazz festival in the United States. Jazz buffs enjoy first-rate performances in multiple venues throughout downtown Jacksonville.
In addition to the musical performances, the festival also hosts wine tasting, Art in the Heart of Downtown art show, the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition, and Round Midnight Jam Session.
The line-up for the 2014 festival has not yet been announced, but previous years have included great artists such as Miles Davis, George Benson, Diane Schuur, Branford Marsalis, Count Basie Orchestra, and Diana Krall.
It’s not surprising that the Jacksonville Jazz Festival is considered by many jazz aficionados to be one of the best.
Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC
Starting on the first day of spring, Biltmore celebrates the legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted and his final project: George Vanderbilt’s magnificent Biltmore gardens.
At the spectacular Festival of Flowers, you’ll experience an explosion of vibrant floral color: 75,000 tulips blooming across the estate, orchids, golden yellow daffodils, rhododendron, a 20-acre azalea garden, and 250 varieties of roses.
Inside the Biltmore House, enjoy an opulent display of potted tropical plants and lavish flowers, along with live music in the Winter Garden and the Conservatory. Daily gardening seminars take place at the extraordinary Walled Garden.
Immerse yourself in the amazing garden artistry and lush landscapes at the majestic Biltmore Estate
For over 50 years, the Beaufort Water Festival has been celebrating the local traditions of water activities, sports, and entertainment. With a new theme and a different Commodore every year, the 10-day festival takes place in downtown Beaufort’s Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
The festival features an array of exciting events: Raft Race, Dragon Boat Races, Water Festival Grand Parade, Air Show, the Blessing of the Fleet and Parade of Boats.
Kids will love the Children’s Toad Fishing Tournament, special Children’s Day activities, shrimp boat tours, arts and craft market, and coastal education expo. People of all ages will want to attend the concert in the park and the delicious Lowcountry supper.
Since its inaugural event in 1998, the award-winning Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival has developed into a premiere, Mid-Atlantic cultural event. The five-day festival showcases approximately 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, and other special events.
The audience at the festival gets to pick their favorite films in several categories, and the winners are announced at the festival’s closing party. Sponsored by the Rehoboth Beach Film Society, the festival has become a major cultural event for the area.
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Riverbend Festival is a massive music festival held for eight nights along the picturesque Tennessee River waterfront in the heart of downtown Chattanooga. Over 80,000 patrons attend each night making its annual attendance more than 600,000.
The festival boasts five stages with approximately 100 bands featuring world-class entertainment ranging from classic rock, jam bands, country, urban and bluegrass.
This year’s headliners—Gary Allan, Widespread Panic, TobyMac and Justin Moore— will perform on the Coca-Cola Stage, a barge that’s been converted into a full concert stage. The barge floats just off shore near amphitheater seats built into a hillside at the water’s edge. This unique festival is a perfect choice for summer fun!