St. Louis Festivals

St. Louis is a great place for family outings, because exciting and diverse festivals seem to happen here every weekend. For a week every September, the Rotary Park just outside St. Louis transforms into a land of pirates for the St. Louis Pirate Festivals. The Budweiser Big Muddy Blues Festival is a bit more grown up and features countless musicians playing for thousands of fans. This free festival is held on the riverfront each year during Labor Day weekend. The St. Louis Earth Day celebration is one of the city's most popular and is the oldest Earth Day festival in the Midwest. Aiming to help St. Louis become more Earth friendly, this festival includes clean-up projects, educational programs and recycling awareness activities. Be sure to check the complete festival listing before heading to St. Louis—there will probably be something exciting going on.

St. Louis Mardi Gras

In the Soulard Neighborhood, 9th and Geyer, St. Louis, Missouri; Tel. 314.771.5110
Boasting the second largest Mardi Gras celebration in the US (New Orleans, of course, will always be the reigning Mardi Gras champ), St. Louis starts getting prepared for the traditional Mardi Gras party in January and keeps the festivities going right up until Fat Tuesday. More...

Saint Louis Strassenfest

Memorial Park (at Tucker and Market), St. Louis, Missouri; Tel. 636.225.1730
Free admission to a huge celebration of German Gemutlichkeit? It might be almost too good to be true, but believe your eyes because at the St. Louis Strassenfest, there's more than enough of the German tradition. Meaning something like coziness but more like social acceptance and belonging, Gemutlichkeit seems to be the German idea of spending time with friends and family, drinking and being merry. The Saint Louis festival held in the beginning of August has plenty of eating, drinking and being merry to go around. Across the street from the City Hall at Memorial Park in downtown St. Louis, the Strassenfest has three stages with traditional German music, swing, jazz, rock and ragtime as traditional accompaniment to the amazing selections of German beer and food. It just wouldn't be a festival without carnival rides, game booths, arts and crafts, so of course those are all there for the kiddies too. There's plenty to do at the St. Louis Strassenfest besides drink, but don't let that stop you from enjoying a stein.

St. Louis African Arts Festival

World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park
The African Heritage Association of St. Louis holds a four-day event in the end of May to allow the community to explore the richness of the African culture. The St. Louis African Arts Festival—located at the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park—recreates an African village environment bringing the culture to life. The village is filled with spectators, dancers, drummers, as well as African art, jewelry, authentic hair braiding and mask making. The St. Louis African Arts Festival is a celebration of the many contributions Africans and African-Americans have made to the multiculturalism in and around St. Louis and the overall impact on Western culture. Children and adults have plenty to see and experience at the African Arts Festival.

St. Louis Pirate Festival

Rotary Park, Wentzville, Missouri; Tel. 636.928.4141
A complete period island paradise and Caribbean village full of renaissance entertainment for all ages takes over Rotary Park just outside of St. Louis in the city of Wentzville for a week in September. Throughout the St. Louis Pirate Festival a story is told of a rich governor who has invited pirates to "Fort Royal" to legitimatize them as privateers. The fictional governor also has a daughter he spoils and the French military protecting him and his rum—but mostly the rum; definitely an enthralling woven tale that won't fail to capture the imagination of kids of all ages. As the story goes on, so do the village shops and artisans showing off their craft skills and cooking delights. Comedy, music and other entertainers fill the park and make the past come alive at the St. Louis Pirates Festival.

St. Louis Storytelling Festival

Various locations throughout St. Louis, Missouri; Tel. 314.516.4000
Several organizations in the St. Louis area team up to put on the St. Louis Storytelling Festival that takes place for four imaginative days in early May. The festival brings over 60 local and national storytellers to different locations in and around St. Louis for people of all ages to enjoy the gift of storytelling, and of course the St. Louis Storytelling Festival has free admission to all of the sponsored activities. Stories are shared from different cultures and backgrounds to enlighten children and adults about other cultural viewpoints. Several parks, local St. Louis bookstores and libraries in the St. Louis area are the venues for the storytellers to captivate audiences.

St. Louis Arts Fair

Clayton Business District, Clayton, Missouri; Tel. 314.863.0278
The most competitive art show in the nation takes over the Clayton Business District for one weekend in September.  The Saint Louis Art Fair  is a free, three-day celebration of the visual and performing arts. The main focus is an easy-access juried exhibition of gallery quality fine art and craft with 181 exhibiting artists. Each year over 1,400 artists from across the country and internationally apply for one of the coveted spots.  In addition to the visual artist, the Art Fair presents live performances, hands on activities for children, a chalk drawing competition, street performers and showcases some of St. Louis' top restaurants. Attendees have come to expect the best of the art world at this magnificent St. Louis event.

St. Louis Earth Day

Muny Grounds in Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri; 314.961.5838
Earth Day is annually celebrated on April 22 across the nation to inspire consciousness and appreciation for our planet. St. Louis citizens take their Earth Day Festival seriously, not only because they have the oldest and largest Earth Day Festival in the Midwest, but creating ecological friendly products is a large part of the St. Louis business outlook. Featured events at the St. Louis Earth Day include an Earth Day symposium at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, recycling programs and clean-up projects across St. Louis are all geared toward being or becoming eco-friendly citizens. The festival promotes environmental responsibility, education and cleanliness by bringing the community together for one day in collective celebration of the wonders of our planet and what we can do to help keep it green.

Budweiser Big Muddy Blues Festival

Laclede's Landing, St. Louis, Missouri; Tel. 314.241.5875
The summer winds down in a big way the first weekend in September with five stages, countless blues artists and thousands of blues music fans at the Budweiser Big Muddy Blues Festival. The St. Louis Riverfront becomes the festival grounds for the Budweiser Big Muddy Blues Festival on Labor Day weekend as local St. Louis and national blues musicians and bands take the stages. Laclede's Landing has plenty of grassy areas to set up a couple chairs or bring a blanket and a picnic basket for a cost-effective day at one of the best blues music festivals in the country. Best of all, the St. Louis Blues Festival is three days of always free music to enjoy.

St. Louis Wine Festival

Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri; Tel. 888.210.0074
At the St. Louis Wine Festival, one low priced adult—of course 21 and over for wine tasting—ticket gets festival goers a souvenir wine glass, ten tastings, a festival program, food and wine seminars, cooking demonstrations, live musical entertainment and the chance to buy featured wines. The 150 wines available for sampling come from all over the world and can be accompanied by some of the finest food St. Louis has to offer prepared by top St. Louis chefs. The St. Louis Wine Festival also has live blues, light rock and jazz as a backdrop for festival-goer's enjoyment. It's a whole day of fine food, wine and music and the St. Louis Wine Festival preaches responsibility, offering designated driver tickets that are available for a discounted price.

St. Louis International Film Festival

Tivoli Theatre, St. Louis, Missouri; Tel. 314.454.0042
The Tivoli Theatre, with its art-deco class, is the main host of the St. Louis International Film Festival for ten days in November. Several other theaters participate in the festival by showing films and holding programs, but the main galas and the most important films are always held at the Tivoli. Many of the cutting-edge features and shorts from around the world will only be shown in St. Louis at the festival so local film-lovers only have one opportunity to see the films without having to travel or rent. In years past the St. Louis International Film Festival has shown over 200 films from the top filmmakers and artists in the world. It's the best event in St. Louis to catch new international films, documentaries, features and shorts.
-- St. Louis festival reviews by Ryan Osterbeck