Sure, we’ve all heard of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., or the Philadelphia Flower Show in Pennsylvania. But one doesn’t need to visit a big city to experience the color, joy, and fun of a flower show. In fact, small towns and cities across the United States ring in spring with blooms, parades, concerts, and more! Below, we’ve highlighted 30 small towns with the best flower festivals.
Arvin Wildflower Festival
The Arvin Wildflower Festival was founded nearly 40 years ago, when locals took it upon themselves to seed the slopes of Bear Mountain after a storm destroyed its beautiful display of wildflowers. Today, the mountain bursts with blooms and color. It’s not uncommon to see cars stopped alongside the road so folks can take photos and awe over the spectacle. Those who attend the Arvin Wildflower Festival enjoy far more than just the view of blooms, such as shopping, food vendors, live entertainment, and a family-friendly carnival.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina’s main attraction is the Biltmore Estate, the grand mansion and ancestral home of the Vanderbilts. The estates gardens were designed by the one and only Fredrick Law Olmstead, and today those same gardens play host to Biltmore Blooms. This annual three-month long festival features millions of colorful blooms and intricate flower displays. Thousands visit over the course of the festival to see the 1,000 orchids, 90,000 tulips, and slews of azalea, roses, and rhododendron, to name but a few. Kids can visit with lambs and bunnies in the petting zoos, while adult visitors can stomp grapes for the estate’s winery and enjoy live music from the bandstand.
The small town of Burnet, Texas has practically become synonymous with bluebonnets. Every April, Burnet hosts upwards of 30,000 people, all of whom flock to central Texas to catch a glimpse of the vast fields of bluebonnets. The Bluebonnet Festival has been taking place for decades, and includes:
- live music
- food vendors
- a Grand Parade.
Annual Dahlia Festival
Canby, Oregon’s Annual Dahlia Festival is one of the latest festivals to take place during the year. For two weekends in late August and early September, Canby bursts with color thanks to the blooming of dahlias in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Visitors come from all over to enjoy more than 400 indoor dahlia displays and 30 acres of flowers. The festival’s events include:
- talks and demonstrations by professional gardeners
- flower sales
- wine tasting
- lots of food.
Dogwoods and azalea have been blooming in Charleston, Missouri for three generations now. To celebrate this lengthy relationship with their favorite flowers, the town hosts the three-day Dogwood-Azalea Festival. The festival’s centerpiece is a six-mile-long trail over which visitors may take a leisurely stroll through hundreds of blooms. Local merchants set up shop to sell their wares, as do food vendors and artisans.
Cherry Valley, California
The Lavender Festival
The town may be named after cherries, but Cherry Valley, California is all about the lavender. For two weekends in June, Cherry Valley hosts The Lavender Festival to celebrate spring, summer, and these beautiful purple flowers. Festivities take place at Highland Springs Resort, which happens to have a completely organic 20-acre lavender farm attached to it. Festival happenings include:
- tours of the lavender fields
- demonstrations on using lavender as an aromatherapy
- horse-drawn wagon rides
- lots of food carts and merchandise vendors.
Coronado Flower Show
Coronado, a coastal town located near San Diego, is home to the Coronado Flower Show. This must-visit flower show is the biggest tented show in America, taking up an entire city block. Thousands come out to awe at ornate flower displays, listen to live entertainment, shop the flower markets, and discuss anything garden-related with regional flower experts. There are even competitions for best garden, in which contestants have their home gardens professionally judged. Winners receive ribbons.
El Cerrito, California
Celebration of Old Roses
Old roses are exactly that — rose species that don’t quite fit the description of the “modern” rose. Many of these rose types have existed since the 17th century, and have blooms and fragrances unlike any other. The town of El Cerrito, California celebrates these old roses (also called antique roses) with its Celebration of Old Roses. The activities which make up the Celebration are all rose-themed, and include:
- free rose plants for children
- rose-growing demonstrations put on by gardening experts
- sales of rose-themed merchandise.
The Rhododendron Festival
Florence, Oregon has been celebrating the coming of spring with The Rhododendron Festival, one of America’s oldest flower shows, for more than a century. The festivities span two days, and include:
- a street fair
- car show
- 5k run
- a parade
- the pageant to crown the new Queen Rhododendron
Of course, there’s also quite the flower show, with exhibitions and elaborate displays. Thousands of people flock to Florence each year for the festival.
Franconia, New Hampshire
The Fields of Lupine Festival
Franconia is actually just one New Hampshire town to take part in The Fields of Lupine Festival, one of the best small-town flower shows in America. Franconia — along with co-hosts Easton, Littleton, Sugar Hill, Bethlehem, and Lisbon — hosts the three-week long event to celebrate the awe-inspiring wildflowers that bloom all over the region from early to mid-June. Activities include:
- historic walking tours
- live music
- gardening workshops
- contests of various kinds
- vendors selling everything from food to crafts.
Greenwood, South Carolina
The South Carolina Festival of Flowers
Uniquely held towards the end of spring in June, The South Carolina Festival of Flowers has been taking place in the small town of Greenwood for nearly 50 years. While the festival includes fun community events such as Cessna flights, a classic car show, and a dog parade, it’s flowers that take the main stage. A number of talented floral artists take part in presentations and exhibitions. A flower sale draws hundreds looking to spruce up their gardens for the upcoming summer.
Hanapepe, Kauai, Hawaii
The Kauai Orchid & Art Festival
Located near the old sugar plantations, the small town of Hanapepe on Kauai is one of the most traditionally Hawaiian towns to be found anywhere among the Islands. At the end of March, Hanapepe Town Park hosts The Kauai Orchid & Art Festival. The purpose of this event is to showcase exotic orchids like the edible vanilla orchid. However, the festival also includes a juried art show, arts and crafts, and various family-friendly activities.
In case its name didn’t give it away, the small town of Holland, Michigan boasts a proud Dutch heritage. That heritage comes alive in May when more than 5 million tulips burst through the soil and the town hosts its world-famous Tulip Time Festival. Thousands of visitors flock here to:
- walk the six-mile Tulip Lane
- participate in traditional Dutch performances
- parade around with wooden clogs
- don authentic Dutch attire.
Hood River, Oregon
Oregon Lavender DAZE Festival
Each July, the Oregon town of Hood River hosts the weekend-long Oregon Lavender DAZE Festival. Though the event includes vendor booths and activities for kids, the main purpose of this great flower festival is relaxation. Visitors are encouraged to meander and picnic among the lavender fields while listening to live music and sipping sample wines produced right there in Oregon.
The Lompoc Valley Flower Festival
Each year, over the last full weekend of June, the small town of Lompoc, California hosts The Lompoc Valley Flower Festival. This five-day event celebrates the large commercial flower industry for which Lompoc and its surrounding area is so well known. Festival goers can take part in carnival games and rides, live music and other entertainment, arts and crafts exhibitions, and a pageant to crown the new Flower Festival Queen.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Just when you thought Mackinac Island couldn’t get any more charming, it goes and hosts its annual Lilac Festival. Located off the coast of northern Michigan, it’s less than an hour south of the Canadian border. This car-less island is known for its 360-degree water views, a grand hotel, and its quaint main street lined with fudge shops and horse-drawn carriages. And apparently, lilacs. Held on the island every year since 1949, the 10-day Lilac Festival attracts approximately 15,000 people, and features unique events such as the world’s longest horse hitch parade. There’s even a fireworks display.
Meriden, Connecticut is another East Coast small town which loves its daffodils. This fun community event — which actually draws festival goers from all around Connecticut and beyond — kicks off with the crowning of the new Little Miss Daffodil. What follows are:
- concerts by local bands
- a tag sale
- an amateur boxing tournament
It’s all to celebrate the more than 600,000 daffodils which bloom in Meriden each spring.
Mount Vernon, Washington
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Every April, the small town of Mount Vernon, Washington welcomes spring with the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Spanning the month of April, the festival attracts an estimated one million people keen to see the massive fields of colorful tulips. Besides the stunning floral spectacle, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival includes:
- bike tours
- walking paths
- an art show
- and interestingly, a salmon barbecue.
The Azalea Festival
Due to the short blooms of so many spring flowers, most flower festivals span only a few days. The Azalea Festival in Muskogee, Oklahoma, however, runs the entire month of April. Declared the town’s premiere event, The Azalea Festival features thousands of flowers, a great selection of food vendors, family-friendly activities, and much more. More than 300,000 visitors flock to the festival each year, which has been named by the national Bus Association as one of America’s “Top 100 Events.”
Nantucket, a favorite summertime destination for Massachusetts residents and beyond, is just as charming and welcoming in springtime. At the end of April, Nantucket is home to thousands of blooming daffodils, the inspiration for the town’s Daffodil Festival. The festival began during the 1970s. It has evolved over the years from an antique car parade to the pageant-, music-, and flower-filled spectacle it is today.
Lighted Dogwood Trail
Paducah, Kentucky’s Lighted Dogwood Trail is such a significant event the Library of Congress has it listed as a Local Legacy Project. Come April, the town’s 12-mile trail is blooming with colorful and fragrant dogwoods, which folks may enjoy via car, bike, or just a leisurely stroll. There’s even a trolley which covers the trail for a dollar a ride. Besides the dogwoods, the Lighted Dogwood Festival includes:
- arts and crafts
- live music
- a photography exhibition.
Come spring time, daffodils are a big hit in the small town of Puyallup, Washington. The town’s Daffodil Festival kicks off with the crowning of 24 Daffodil Princesses, then culminates in the Grand Floral Street Parade. This grand parade, which takes place rain or shine, features more than 40 floats decorated with freshly cut yellow daffodils, and travels through Puyallup, Sumner, Orting, and even Tacoma.
St. Joseph, Michigan
The Blossomtime Festival
Every year in early May, the small town of St. Joseph, Michigan co-hosts (along with nearby Benton Harbor) the Blossomtime Festival. Spanning more than a century, this colorful celebration features:
- a two-mile-long Grand Floral Parade along Lake Michigan
- carefully decorated flower displays
- and of course, a massive flower sale
The festival takes place over the course of a week, and attracts visitors from all over the 24 participating lakeside towns.
The Roses Show & Festival
The small town of Thomasville, Georgia has been hosting The Roses Show & Festival since the 1920s. More than 20,000 people attend the show, which is steeped in history and tradition, the likes of which is usually reserved for flower shows in places like England. While the many displays of roses are certainly the show’s highlight, the festival also includes:
- a parade
- various arts and crafts shows
- food vendors
- and even some rose-themed sporting events.
The Azalea and Spring Flower Trail
From the end of March through approximately mid-April, the small Texas town of Tyler becomes awash with pink and white — the effect of azaleas blooming throughout the city. Azaleas have been an important part of Tyler’s local culture for more than 50 years. In fact, the town was officially given the nickname of Azalea City in 2007. Each spring, Tyler hosts the Azalea and Spring Flower Trail, a miles-long walking trail through residential gardens and city parks. Azalea, dogwoods, and other spring flowers steal the show, though there are also other activities such as plant sales, art shows, and craft exhibits.
Washington State Apple Blossom Festival
Washington may be known for its apples, but come springtime, it’s all about the apple blossoms. Or at least, it is in the small town of Wenatchee. For nearly 100 years, the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival has rung in spring with:
- 11 days of thousands of colorful blooms
- a waterfront carnival
- live music and concerts
- and even a golf tournament.
Wilmington, North Carolina
No one does an Azalea Festival quite like Wilmington, North Carolina! The event has a history that goes back to 1948. Today, Wilmington’s Azalea Festival is the largest festival of its kind in North Carolina. Taking place over three days in mid-April, the Azalea Festival features:
- a riverfront fair
- food trucks and vendors
- a gala
- arts and crafts shows
- stunning displays of the flower of honor
The festival ends with an impressive fireworks display.
Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival
The Shenandoah Valley, the part of Virginia where Winchester is located, is known as one of the most beautiful regions in the United States. Every year between April and May, Winchester hosts the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival. Over the course of its history, the festival has become so popular that it is now attracts upwards of 250,000 people. Visitors come in from as far away as Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia. The town comes alive with blooming apple blossoms, a vision complemented by the festival’s hosted carnival, parades, a band competition, and even an apple pie baking competition.
Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
Woodburn, Oregon’s Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm plays host to the annual Tulip Fest, the largest of its kind to be found outside Holland. The Tulip Fest attracts families and flower lovers from all over the state, all of whom are eager to enjoy activities like:
- wine tasting
- riding the farm’s famous “cow train”
- picnicking among the more than 40 acres of colorful tulip flowers.
By TVR Staff