Looking for an excuse to go to the USA? Why not plan your trip around one of the country's extraordinary festivals.
Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada
Described by organisers as ‘a community and temporary city’, this annual extravaganza in the middle of the desert in Nevada
, right, features huge art installations and whacky costumes galore. Founded in 1986 in San Francisco, it moved to its present site, 120 miles north of Reno, in 1991 and now attracts around 70,000 people over eight days from late August. The climax is the burning of a giant wooden effigy. Attendees, known as burners, have to bring everything they need and leave nothing behind.
Iowa State Fair, Des Moines, Iowa
The largest event in Iowa and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the U.S., the Iowa State Fair began in 1854 and attracts more than a million visitors over 11 days in August. The fair has inspired books, three movies and a Broadway musical, and offers rides, shows, games, concerts and a host of exhibitors and vendors.
Waterfire, Providence, Rhode Island
More than one million people a year witness the incredible spectacle of Waterfire, left, an art installation of over 80 floating braziers moored on two rivers in downtown Providence, in Rhode Island
. These blaze from just after sunset until gone midnight and are accompanied by instrumental music. The full and partial lightings take place on selected evenings from May until November.
Hope Watermelon Festival, Arkansas
Besides being the home of former U.S. president Bill Clinton, the Arkansas
town of Hope has another claim to fame: it grows the world’s largest watermelons, as underlined by three Guinness World Record accolades. Hope celebrates its local product with a three-day festival each August featuring art and crafts, family activities, music, a Watermelon Idol talent contest and watermelon eating and seed spitting competitions.
SXSW, Austin, Texas
South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas
, right, has been running since 1987 and is now one of the nation’s top events, combining music, film and interactive festivals with exhibitions and a conference over ten days each March and is attended by around 300,000 people. More than 2,000 live acts perform in venues across Austin during SXSW Music, while SXSW Film spans new movie screenings, panels and workshops.
Exeter UFO Festival, New Hampshire
As festivals go, the annual Exeter UFO Festival in New Hampshire is simply out of this world. The quaint town is famously where several people including a police officer reported a UFO sighting in 1965 and where a couple claimed to have been abducted by aliens in 1961. The two-day event in September includes kids’ activities, a series of lectures by a panel of experts and a trolley ride to the UFO sighting area.