From art, music and theater to community, diversity and pride, St. Louis’ signature events cover a range of topics that will keep you enthralled throughout the year.
These signature events are only the beginning, though. For a complete list of what’s happening in St. Louis, check our events calendar.
One of St. Louis’ coolest signature events takes place in the Delmar Loop. Held in January every year, the Loop Ice Carnival celebrates the season with live ice-carving demonstrations, astounding ice sculptures, impressive fire performers and festive stilt walkers. You can also join the playful scavenger hunt, roast marshmallows for s’mores and have your face painted.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the nation’s second largest Mardi Gras celebration takes place in Soulard, the St. Louis neighborhood with a French name that means “drunkard” when translated into English. With boozy drinks and delectable eats, colorful beads and epic events – including the world’s largest parade of costumed pets – Mardi Gras in St. Louis will exceed your expectations. If you bleed purple, green and gold, you won’t want to miss this party. For more information, peruse our Mardi Gras guide, which includes previews of the funnest festivities, places to satisfy your Cajun cravings and a variety of downtown accommodations.
Looking for a slam dunk on our list of signature events? The State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Championship – affectionately known as Arch Madness – is a spectacular showcase for the league. Held in St. Louis for more than 32 seasons in a row, the games feature rip-roaring competition that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Make plans to attend the event at Enterprise Center, as all 12 teams will be battling for a trip to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Art in Bloom, the Saint Louis Art Museum’s annual celebration of flowers and fine art, remains one of the most arresting signature events in the region. With every iteration, dozens of works from the museum’s collection are imaginatively interpreted through floral designs by the area’s most talented florists. In addition to the floral displays, the festival includes special ticketed events, family activities, dining and shopping.
From festive parades to fun runs to green beer, there’s no shortage of ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the Gateway City. On the Saturday before March 17, the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade fills the streets of downtown St. Louis with elaborate floats, colorful balloons and marching bands. There are also multiple races throughout the region – may the luck of the Irish be with you! On the big day, though, Dogtown is the place to be. The neighborhood hosts its own parade and festival to highlight the unique spirit and vibrant history of the area.
The GO! St. Louis Marathon & Family Fitness Weekend brings the area’s favorite running tradition to the city streets, historic landmarks and beautiful parks of our unique neighborhoods, from downtown to Forest Park. Held at the beginning of April, the annual Marathon Weekend includes races and festivities for everyone in the family, including a marathon relay, 5k and kids’ fun run.
The St. Louis Earth Day Festival is a community tradition. At the two-day event, guests learn about sustainable products and services offered by area businesses and organizations, including 4 Hands Brewing Co., Alpacas of Troy, Baetje Farms, Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum, Kakao Chocolate, Schlafly Beer, Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. and the World Bird Sanctuary. You can also meet local nonprofits, such as the Gateway Arch Park Foundation, which share Earth Day values, and try local restaurants, such as Salt + Smoke, which comprise the Green Dining Alliance – all while enjoying live entertainment. Whether you come for the activities, the food or the music, the St. Louis Earth Day Festival will leave you feeling inspired by the real progress being made to preserve our planet.
¡Vamos de fiesta! Every year, more than 100 vendors pack Cherokee Street for the Cinco de Mayo Street Festival. The stalls offer everything from traditional Mexican street food to margaritas served in real pineapples to eye-catching apparel. The festival footprint, which stretches from South Jefferson to Nebraska avenues, also features two stages with all-day entertainment for a variety of interests. Cherokee Street has the largest concentration of Hispanic-owned and -operated bakeries, restaurants, groceries and shops in St. Louis, and their presence maintains the exuberance of the area, making this the best place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the region.
For three days every year, you can shop for one-of-a-kind artwork, savor tasty food and drinks, enjoy live music and entertainment and get creative with hands-on activities at one of the most unique attractions in St. Louis. Laumeier Sculpture Park is one of the first and largest dedicated sculpture parks in the U.S. – and the perfect setting for this exciting event. Attracting more than 17,000 patrons annually, the Laumeier Art Fair showcases 150 juried artists from across the country, who exhibit work in 10 media categories: ceramics, fiber/textiles, glass, jewelry, 2D mixed media, painting, photography/digital, printmaking/drawing, sculpture and wood.
As part of its mission to ensure a vibrant future for opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis hosts an annual festival season. Through the talents of hundreds of local, national and international artists, the company offers a signature mix of beloved classical operas and bold contemporary works. Audiences experience the magic of innovative storytelling as they travel between fantasy and reality, comedy and tragedy, love and revenge. All the operas are sung in English and accompanied by the Grammy Award-winning St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
Shakespeare has never sounded so good! Every year, the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival stages one of the great writer’s plays in Forest Park under the stars. All performances are free and open to the public, so grab a blanket, pack a picnic and find your spot in the grass of Shakespeare Glen.
The Missouri Botanical Garden is an idyllic place to listen to live music. On Wednesday evenings throughout the summer, the garden hosts free, open-air concerts as part of the annual Whitaker Music Festival. To date, more than one million people have participated in the cherished St. Louis tradition, which promotes common heritage, celebrates diversity and encourages vitality within the community. Visitors can bring their own picnics, and food, beer, wine and sno-cones will be available for purchase.
Spotlighting the diverse and dynamic LGBTQIA+ community and bringing awareness and support to the historically marginalized group, PrideFest is one of St. Louis’ signature events. During PrideFest, local, national and international talent grace the main stage; vendors dot the lawn between St. Louis City Hall and Soldiers Memorial Military Museum; and The Hive welcomes people aged 25 and younger to talk, listen, dance and celebrate Pride in a safe space. Every year, the spirited celebrations culminate in the Grand Pride Parade, which draws thousands of revelers to downtown St. Louis. PrideFest events are open to the queer community and its allies. It’s an opportunity to celebrate our uniqueness and uplift each other.
A celebration of the arts and a whimsical tribute to Bastille Day, Let Them Eat Art takes place in Maplewood. As you stroll through the streets and shops of the historic downtown, enjoy the sights and sounds of the annual festival. Let Them Eat Art usually features live art demonstrations, performances by regional musicians and children’s activities – plus, food and drinks from the neighborhood’s award-winning purveyors.
Lights, camera, action! The St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, presented by Cinema St. Louis, screens films written, directed and produced by St. Louis residents as well as films shot in the St. Louis region. During the showcase, audiences can watch a range of films, including narrative features, documentaries and multi-film compilations of fiction, documentary and experimental shorts. Cinema St. Louis aims to create cinematic experiences, such as the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, that enrich, educate and entertain our community.
Blues at the Arch will keep you in the groove until the end of summer. Hosted by the Gateway Arch Park Foundation, in partnership with the National Blues Museum and the National Park Service, Blues at the Arch pays tribute to St. Louis’ storied blues history and showcases the talents of local and national artists. Held at Gateway Arch National Park, the free music festival is the only one of its kind to take place on national park grounds.
Let’s eat! Taste of St. Louis offers a flavor-filled weekend for foodies, friends and families alike. Held at Ballpark Village, the festival boasts more than 30 local eateries, and eventgoers can order everything from snack-size samples to complete entrées. Taste of St. Louis also features culinary exhibits, local merchandise vendors and live music.
The beauty of St. Louis lies in the diversity of its people. At Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park, we celebrate the myriad cultures that make up the Gateway City, honoring each other’s individuality, rejoicing in our differences and cultivating a more prosperous region for all. Bringing an energy that you can’t find anywhere else, Festival of Nations, produced by the International Institute of St. Louis, is the region’s largest multicultural event of the year, representing more than 75 nations. Originating in 1934, the two-day festival is open to the public and attended by more than 100,000 people. Here, you can ignite your senses with cuisines from around the world, dance to music spanning genres, shop international and local arts and goods and do it all with purpose. When people from different cultures gather to share food, music, art and traditions, we get to know each other on a deeper level. We create a spirit of unity where every culture is seen as special and no culture is truly foreign.
Are you ready for the next evolution? A new music festival has shaken things up in St. Louis, bringing music, bourbon and barbecue to Forest Park. At Evolution Festival, the live music is infused with a bold beverage experience, while the food spotlights traditional recipes as well as cutting-edge trends from some of the most recognizable pitmasters in the Show-Me State.
Drivers to your cars! The annual Bommarito Automotive Group 500 IndyCar Series race draws NTT IndyCar drivers from across the globe to World Wide Technology Raceway. Racing enthusiasts can enjoy a pre-race party, an autograph session and the highest class of regional North American open-wheel racing in the U.S.
Spotlighting and celebrating the history, culture and people of Japan, the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the U.S. Every year, thousands of visitors flock to the garden to absorb the traditional Japanese art, food and entertainment on display. If you have time, consider taking one of the special tours offered in conjunction with the event. Explore the private Teahouse Island on a guided public tour, or marvel at the Japanese Garden, splendidly illuminated by shoji lamps, on a self-guided, evening-hours stroll.
An explosion of color in the streets of Clayton, the Saint Louis Art Fair attracts a variety of high-quality artists and enthusiastic art-lovers, plus some of St. Louis’ best restaurants. Whether you’re looking for a piece of fine art to fill your home or a fun-filled day in the sun, you should stop by this three-day event.
“I don’t want realism; I want magic!” Tennessee Williams wrote in A Streetcar Named Desire. And magic is what you’ll find at the Tennessee Williams Festival. To enrich the cultural life of St. Louis, the annual theater festival features artistic and educational events that celebrate the timeless work and strong influence of the American playwright and screenwriter, who lived in St. Louis for 20 years.
Music and heritage meet at this festival in the Grand Center Arts District. Every rendition of Music at the Intersection, a civic-led effort presented by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, encompasses multiple stages set up in streets and green spaces throughout the neighborhood. St. Louis-based musicians as well as national acts spanning musical genres, including blues, jazz, soul, R&B, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop, come together in this celebration of St. Louis’ musical, cultural and artistic legacy.
One of St. Louis’ most idyllic events, The Great Forest Park Balloon Glow and Race is not to be missed. Event organizers say that it’s the oldest and best-attended hot air balloon race in the world – you might want to scope out the perfect viewing area for you and your family ahead of time.
Every autumn, the Best of Missouri Market returns to the Missouri Botanical Garden with approximately 100 vendors, offering unique handicrafts, locally produced foodstuffs, bespoke jewelry, native plants and more.
This annual street festival promotes The Grove neighborhood of St. Louis with everything from African dancers to fire performers and a bubble bus to a fashion show. The main stage hosts electrifying entertainment, and in between acts, you can fuel up at the Food Village – or test your luck in the hot dog eating contest.
Attracting more than 100,000 visitors each year, the Apple Butter Festival is the largest event in Kimmswick, Missouri. While participants can enjoy the small-town ambiance, live entertainment and between 500 and 600 food, drink and craft vendors, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, too. On Friday, the Kimmswick Historical Society gathers to peel and prepare the apples. Then, before dawn on Saturday and Sunday, the apples are cooked in a kettle over a wood-burning fire until the fragrant spread is thick enough to seal in jars. After one taste of the apple butter, you’ll want to stock your pantry with the indulgence.
Calling all film buffs! The St. Louis International Film Festival showcases cutting-edge features and shorts from around the world, many of which will receive their only exposure in St. Louis.
The Polar Express Train Ride at St. Louis Union Station is an important holiday tradition. Set to The Polar Express motion picture soundtrack, the magical experience takes guests on a journey to the North Pole aboard beautifully decorated trains. Families are encouraged to interact with the train conductor, The Polar Express characters, Santa Claus and his elves – and to wear their favorite seasonal pajamas for the occasion.
Gobble your way to the Ameren Thanks-For-Giving Parade on Turkey Day. Every year, the joyful celebration features parade units, including musical floats and displays, dance groups, drumlines and marching bands from the St. Louis region. Santa Claus also attends the festivities to wish everyone a happy holiday season.
Do you prefer prints? You’re going to love the Print Bazaar on Cherokee. One of the largest print sales in the Midwest, the annual event showcases more than 100 local and regional artists whose work embodies the ever-evolving creative energy of Cherokee Street. Expect everything from lithographs to woodcuts and etchings to screen prints. Add a cup of hot coffee or a tasty taco and this might become a new tradition for you.
Ice skating and s’more stations and igloos, oh my! Gateway Arch Park Foundation’s Winterfest features these fan favorites and more under 70,000 twinkling lights. The festivities kick off with the annual Winterfest 5K and Kids Fun Run and end with a family-friendly New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
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