Popular Annual Events in Montana
Wondering what events happen in Montana every year? There are countless annual events and activities happening throughout the state of Montana, but I wanted to give you my shortlist to those that I think are fun, and unique! Some might be worth trying to work into your vacation so that you can attend! The following Montana events are in no particular order:
1. Chokecherry Festival
Each year, the first Saturday after Labor Day, around 4,000 people gather to celebrate the chokecherry in Lewistown, in central Montana. This maroon-colored fruit ripens in August and is used in syrups, jam, wine and jelly! There is the usual arts and crafts and food vendors, topped off with a culinary and pit spitting contest! There is also a 5k and 10k run. Find out more info here.
2. Huckleberry Days
The Huckleberry Days is an annual three-day event in downtown Whitefish, Montana, celebrating the delicious “huckleberry”: a wild, purple berry that tastes better than a blueberry! And you can eat it right off of the bush in the wild! You will find arts and crafts, a lot of baked goods containing this fruit, and a huckleberry bake-off. Each year they have something fun for the kids, whether it is bungee jumping, or a bounce house.
3. Whitefish Winter Carnival
Whitefish Winter Carnival is a really fun event for the family with a variety of activities. This three-day event takes place all over Whitefish. The Grand Parade goes through downtown Whitefish, there are fireworks and a torchlight parade on Whitefish Mountain Resort, and a Penguin Plunge at Whitefish Lake! This is a great time to plan your ski vacation to Whitefish, Montana.
Each year they also have a different theme; 2014 is Viva Las Vegas! Find out more info here.
4. Lewis & Clark Festival in Great Falls
Each year, the Lewis & Clark Festival descends upon Great Falls, Montana, to celebrate Lewis and Clark. You will learn a lot about their journey through Montana and Montana history, as you join in float trips, demonstrations, children’s activities, and exhibits. This event takes place at the end of June each year. Click here for more.
5. Evel Knievel Days
Held every year on the last weekend in July, riders travel a long way to perform car and motorcycle stunts in memory of Robert Craig “Evil” Knievel. This event began in 2002, and draws people to Butte, Montana, Evel Knievel’s hometown. In addition to the stunts, there is live music downtown. This is a three-day, FREE event, but I have heard it gets pretty wild!
6. Folk Festival
Another Butte, Montana, annual event — the Montana Folk Festival is the largest FREE outdoor music festival in the northwest. This event is held the second weekend in July each year for three days. There are a variety of stages set up with continuous live performances, as well as festival and ethnic foods, and Folklife workshops and demonstrations that focus on a new theme each year highlighting Montana’s heritage. I love that special attention is given to children in the large Family Area — providing games, crafts, storytelling and workshops for children to enjoy. There is fun for the entire family at this event!
7. Billings Wine and Food Festival
The Billings Wine and Food Festival takes place in May of each year. This is a popular event, and is a great chance to try authentic Montana food and drink. There are local chefs and chefs from other places that come just for the event. Book a cooking class ahead of time to be sure you get in! Click here for more.
8. Last Chance Bluegrass Festival in June – Helena
Every year at the end of June this event draws bluegrass performers and admirers to Helena, Montana, to enjoy the entertainment. More here.
9. Sweet Pea Festival
This three-day festival is held at the beginning of August each year in Bozeman, Montana. The festival hosts Shakespeare, music, vendors, arts and crafts, a flower show, and lots of family-friendly entertainment. This is a popular festival in this area! Click here for more information!
10. Yellowstone Ski Festival
The Yellowstone Ski Festival is a fun winter festival in West Yellowstone, Montana, taking place during Thanksgiving week every year. Cross country skiers from around the US travel here to participate in ski clinics and find the best ski gear and accessories. Click here for more.
11. Montana Dragon Boat Festival
A fairly new event, this race takes place the first weekend after Labor Day in Bigfork, Montana at the Flathead Lake Lodge. This event draws thousands of spectators, and in 2013 had nearly 100 teams competing. (I competed in 2013, and it is an awesome event!) There is food, a kids area, and lots of places to sit by the lake and enjoy the races. Of course, it is more fun to compete if you can! I highly recommend entering the competition! Click here for more info.
12. Custer’s Last Stand Reenactment
Custer’s Last Stand Reenactment is an annual event six miles west of Hardin, Montana. This takes place every June, on or as close to June 25th as possible. This is a fun way to celebrate Montana history by watching 300 actors reenact the events and telling the story from the Indian’s perspective. Click here for everything you need to know.
REMEMBER — this is not an all-inclusive list! There are so many events happening throughout the year all over the state of Montana. These are some of the most unique and most popular events that I thought were worth mentioning.
Warm Wishes from Big Sky Country,
Alex M. Neill
Montana Vacation Blog