With a thriving creative arts scene, eclectic mix of entertainment and die-hard sports—it's safe to say there's something for everyone, find your favorite event in Kansas City, Missouri.
First Fridays in the Crossroads Arts District
Discover one of the nation's biggest free art walks in Kansas City's Crossroads Arts District, a collection of 100 galleries, shops and restaurants. Area restaurants and boutiques stay open late, too, giving you plenty to see, sample and shop in one of downtown's most vibrant neighborhoods.
Once home to Kansas City's thriving stockyards, the West Bottoms now host an eclectic mix of antique and vintage stores that invite visitors to shop ‘till they drop the first weekend of every month. Search for treasures in sprawling spaces that often encompass multiple building floors. One important tip? Wear comfy shoes!
Indulge in multi-course menus at more than 150 restaurants, the perfect time to discover a new favorite or rekindle the spark of a longtime (culinary) love. A portion of Restaurant Week proceeds benefits Harvesters—The Community Food Network, so the more you participate, the better!
Grab your beads and masks and join fellow revelers for Mardi Gras Kansas City, a weekend-long celebration complete with a 5K, street festival, a Cajun cook-off and a masquerade party. Laissez les bon temps rouler , indeed!
Big 12 Men's Basketball Championships
The road to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship goes through Kansas City as Big 12 teams battle for conference supremacy. Enjoy all the fast-paced courtside action you can handle. And between games, celebrate the history of hoops—and indulge your inner athlete—at the adjacent College Basketball Experience.
This favorite Northland tradition is a beloved part of the St. Patrick's Day season in Kansas City. Family-friendly fun abounds throughout North Kansas City, starting with a parade. Don't forget to wear your green!
Kansas City St. Patrick's Day Parade
One of the largest St. Patrick's Day Parades in the country is also a beloved St. Patrick's Day tradition. Hundreds of floats, many created by local Irish families and community organizations, proceed through Midtown, ending at Kansas City's Westport district where the Celtic-themed revelry continues into the wee hours.
Kansas City Easter Parade
Break out your Easter finest and prepare to participate in the Kansas City Easter Parade. The family-friendly fun in Zona Rosa includes a best-dressed contest, visits with the Easter Bunny, games, entertainment and more. Did we mention your pets can be in the parade, too? Don't forget to dress up your four-legged friend!
Kansas City is said to have more fountains than Rome, which is why the city unites each year to recognize the “opening day” of the city-owned waterworks. How many local fountains can you see in a day? Selfies or it didn't happen!
Middle of the Map Fest
April 27 - May 7
Immerse yourself in music, films and forums during Middle of the Map Fest, quickly becoming one of Kansas City's favorite local events. From forward-thinking discussions about art, culture and technology to performances from local, national and emerging artists to film screenings that combine local creations with cinema classics, Middle of the Map Fest offers something for everyone.
Kansas City FilmFest
Grab your popcorn and enjoy more than 100 local, regional, national and international films during this annual juried film festival. If you're an aspiring filmmaker, don't miss an opportunity to learn from successful filmmakers who unite in Kansas City to speak and judge the festival entries.
If you've always wanted to relive the excitement and glamour of the Roaring ‘20s, now's your chance—no time machine required! The Excelsior Springs Cultural Guild hosts Gatsby Days, which explores the culture and history of the 1920s with street artists, live demonstrations, music, vintage cars, fashion and more.
Brookside Art Annual
April 29-30, May 1
The Kansas City art festival season kicks off with the Brookside Art Annual, during which the welcoming, tree-lined streets of the charming Brookside neighborhood transform into al fresco gallery spaces. While you stroll through the exhibits, enjoy tasty treats from local restaurants and, in the evenings, live music.
Truman Heritage Festival
While he was growing up, President Harry S. Truman's family lived in Grandview before moving to nearby Independence, MO. Now, the City of Grandview celebrates the Truman legacy with the Truman Heritage Festival, complete with a carnival, parade, food, drinks, live music, a barbecue contest and a beer garden. Cheers to you, President Truman!
NASCAR at Kansas Speedway
Feel the need—the need for speed? Head to Kansas Speedway for fast-paced NASCAR action during the thrilling Sprint Cup Series. Kansas City is one of only a handful of cities in the U.S. to host two weekends of the series, giving you a double dose of high-octane fun.
From polka to pierogis, Polski Day is your source for all things Polish. Throughout the festival, enjoy ethnic foods, cold beer, dancing, games and a Polka mass, all while celebrating the rich heritage and history of Kansas City, Kansas' Polish community.
Gather with 50,000 of your friends for Rock Fest, an all-day rock festival held on the grounds of Liberty Memorial. At one time, Rock Fest was recognized as North America's largest one-day musical festival. With multiple stages, you'll have no shortage of opportunities to rock out. It's time to start perfecting your air guitar.
Turkey Creek Festival
Get to know Merriam, Kan., during the Turkey Creek Festival, a day-long event that includes everything from a pancake breakfast and a 5K to live music and a Kid Zone at the picturesque Antioch Park. The festival also includes the Summertime Arts & Craft Show, a popular annual destination for those who love to browse (and buy) handmade, artisan goods.
Celebration at the Station
Start your summer with Celebration at the Station, the largest free Memorial Day weekend event in the Midwest. Against the majestic backdrop of Union Station, the Kansas City Symphony performs patriotic favorites with appearances from special guests. Don't forget a blanket and a picnic dinner.
Old Shawnee Days
Past meets present during Old Shawnee Days, a four-day event that celebrates the history and community of Shawnee, Kan. Rides, music, games, historical re-enactments, arts and crafts offer plenty to do throughout the festival. Don't miss a chance to tour Shawnee Town and experience a typical day in a 1920s farm community.
KC Pride Fest
See why The Advocate named KC Pride Fest one of the top 10 LGBT festivals in the nation. Throughout the weekend-long event, celebrate inclusion, diversity and pride with live music and performances from local and national headliners. Events leading up to the festival during Pride Week include educational symposiums and Kansas City Gay Pride Royalty Court.
Eat and drink your way through Italy—no passport required! Italian culture takes center stage during Festa Italiana at Zona Rosa, which includes food, a beer garden, an Italian car show and novelty booths. Bring the kids, too, for a children's area that includes inflatable bounce houses and slides. Ciao, bella!
Fiesta Kansas City
Join the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Grater Kansas City for the annual Fiesta Kansas City, a celebration of Latino heritage. The three-day event at Crown Center Square includes a mouthwatering variety of food, cold drinks, vendor booths and live entertainment on two stages.
Crown Center Antique Festival
More than 100 antique dealers gather at Crown Center to create an antique shopping experience like no other. Dealers and visitors alike agree that the Crown Center Antique Festival is one of the top antique shows in the Midwest, thanks in part to a dizzying array of wares ranging from furniture and jewelry to pottery and linens.
Scottish Highland Games
Transport yourself to the Scottish highlands without leaving Kansas City. The Scottish Highland Games & Celtic Festival celebrates all things Scot, hence the show's motto: “Come be a Scot, even if you're not!” The two-day event includes authentic Highland dancing, Scottish athletic games, Celtic music and exhibits that include Gaelic lessons, Highland wrestling and Scottish history.
Heart of America Shakespeare Festival (June-July)
June 14-July 3
To festival, or not to festival? At the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, that's not even a question. Each year, the free festival features multiple performances of a Shakespearean masterpiece. Bring a picnic to enjoy during the show or grab a bite at one of the on-site food vendors. Just be sure to arrive early for pre-show performances and presentations, including a parody version of the festival play.
Take a walk on the wild side during Jazoo, an annual fundraiser at the Kansas City Zoo. Creative black tie attire makes for an unlimited number of fashionable photo opps. Be sure to bring your appetite, as dozens of local restaurants offer samples. The best part? You're partying for a great cause. Proceeds benefit the Kansas City Zoo, including providing food for animals and supporting the Zoo Learning Fund.
The Midwest's largest free music festival has become a favorite summer activity in the Kansas City area. Held at Corporate Woods in Overland Park, SoJo Summerfest, formerly Jazz in the Woods, showcases a variety of music over two days, including traditional jazz, blues and ragtime. Open seating is available on the grass in Corporate Woods, so be sure to bring blankets and/or lawn chairs.
Maker Faire Kansas City
History is typically the focus at Union Station, but during Maker Faire Kansas City, it's all about the future and the art of the possible. Cutting-edge technology like 3-D printing and robotics combines with more traditional creative pursuits like art and jewelry-making to create a festival that celebrates what people create.
Vaile Strawberry Festival
The beautiful and historic Vaile Mansion hosts the annual Vaile Strawberry Festival, which welcomes craft and antique dealers who set up their wares throughout the mansion. While you shop, enjoy strawberry treats from the Vaile Society. For an additional cost, you can tour the mansion, a premier example of Second Empire Victorian architecture that dates back to 1881.
Book your trip to Boulevarida, a magical nation that overflows with beer, food and music. During the Father's Day weekend festival, KC's West Bottoms transforms into a new destination complete with food vendors and trucks, concerts, maker booths, a family carnival and, of course, beer stations that offer local, regional and national craft brews. Pro tip? Be sure to snap a photo of Kansas City when you're at the top of Boulevardia's Ferris wheel.
Where better to celebrate the Fourth of July than on the banks of the Missouri River? The festival at Berkley Riverfront Park begins with live music, children's activities and food and culminates with one of the largest fireworks shows in the Midwest, which is especially captivating as the fireworks explode over the water.
Watching movies is fun, but watching movies outside is much better. Crown Center hosts film favorites on a huge outdoor screen. And did we mention the movies are free? Bring your lawn chairs or blankets and kick back, relax and enjoy the show.
There's no better time to celebrate Kansas City's vibrant creativity than during this 11-day showcase of local performing and visual arts. To make the most of the event, consider purchasing a Fringe button, which gets you access to every event. You can also relive your favorites during the Best of Fringe, which features events with the best average attendance at each venue during an encore performance.
Amelia Earhart Festival
Head to Atchison, Kan., Amelia Earhart's birthplace, for an annual celebration of this aviation icon. The festival is jam-packed with events, including an outdoor concert, carnival rides, a food and crafts fair, aerobatic performances and the grand finale: a Concert in the Sky fireworks show. While you're there, you can also tour the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum.
Heart of America Hot Dog Festival
What two things go together better than baseball and hot dogs? The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum welcomes hot dog aficionados to sample delicious ballpark hot dogs, including the signature Kansas City Monarch Dog. Live music provides the ideal soundtrack throughout the event, and festival tickets also include admission to the museum, a must-see for any baseball fan.
Ethnic Enrichment Festival
The varied and diverse cultures of Kansas City unite at the Ethnic Enrichment Festival, a weekend extravaganza that includes food, dancing and music representing dozens of countries, as well as several ethnic groups recognized by Ethnic Enrichment Committee. If you've dreamed of traveling the world without the need for luggage or a passport, here's your chance.
Bacon has officially arrived. Celebrate this savory, addictive food during Bacon Fest, home to bacon, beer and bands. Local restaurants showcase their culinary skills by creating dishes that feature bacon or pork. Feeling really hungry? Don't miss the bacon-eating contest or spare your stomach and enter the bacon- or pork-themed T-shirt contest.
Eat your way through downtown Kansas City during Dine Downtown. Several restaurants throughout Kansas City's Power & Light District offer exclusive specialty menus for lunch and dinner so you can enjoy a multi-course dining experience. The only problem is deciding where to dine first.
Great Midwest Balloon Fest
If you love seeing a glimpse of a hot air balloon as it soars by, the Great Midwest Balloon Fest is the place for you. Hot air balloons from around the country glow and fly throughout the event, which also includes tethered hot air balloon rides that are perfect for kiddos. Don't miss the evening balloon glow, which is your perfect chance for a prime photo opportunity.
Break out your dancing shoes for Dancefestopia, a dance music festival that includes three days of nonstop music on three stages at Berkley Riverfront Park. If you can't tear yourself away from the music, riverside camping is available. And if you're feeling really brave, indulge your inner thrill-seeker with a zipline ride over the festival crowd.
Kansas City Irish Fest
Why should St. Patrick's Day have all the fun? The Kansas City Irish Fest, held at Crown Center, celebrates all things Irish with a Labor Day weekend of live music, Irish dancing, Celtic heritage and history exhibits and all the green merchandise you could ever want. Oh, and did we mention there's plenty of beer, too? Slainte!
This long-running Independence festival over Labor Day commemorates the origin of the Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails during the country's westward expansion. While paying homage to the festival's history, browse more than 500 artisan, crafter, food and commercial vendor booths, as well as a carnival, three free entertainment stages, car shows and a 5K run.
Kansas City Renaissance Festival (September-October)
Sept. 3 - Oct. 16
Step back in time at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, a medieval-themed village home to jousting knights, thrill-seeking acrobats and beautiful maidens. Keep your eyes peeled for the King and Queen while you explore the village shops and more than 20 stages of live entertainment. Food and drink abound, but make sure you don't leave the festival without trying a favorite: the roasted turkey leg.
Kansas City-area artists gather in the historic Westport neighborhood for Art Westport, a weekend-long event that showcases original art, jewelry, fine crafts and more in Kansas City's oldest established community. With live music and plenty of nearby restaurants and bars, you can easily turn Art Westport into a multiple-day adventure.
Craft cocktails are the focus of the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival, which combines seminars, live music, competitions and, of course, cocktails, all to promote the craft of bartending in Kansas City. What started as a regional competition has blossomed into a full-fledged festival that's a can't-miss for cocktail connoisseurs.
Plaza Art Fair
More than 200 artists exhibit their works over nine city blocks during the always-anticipated Plaza Art Fair. This nationally recognized art event typically draws crowds of more than 250,000 who gather for art, live music and food and drinks from a variety of Kansas City restaurants.
Ghosts, ghouls and other creatures of the night roam freely through Worlds of Fun during Halloween Haunt, which showcases the scarier side of the amusement park. Can't get enough heart-pumping action? Tour 13 extreme haunts or see spooky nighttime shows designed for maximum thrills, all while dodging zombies, monsters and more. Note: Halloween Haunt is recommended for guests 14 years of age and older.
Relive the excitement of the Wild West during Wild West Days at Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm Historic Site, a working 19th-century farm complete with oxen, horses and other livestock. Admission includes a stagecoach ride, live entertainment, a Chuckwagon Cook-Off and admission to the Mahaffie House, Agricultural Heritage Livestock Barn and Heritage Center.
American Royal Livestock, Horse Show and Rodeo
Sept. 3 - Nov. 14
The American Royal Association dates back to 1899 and was created to celebrate the region's agricultural heritage through a combination of competition, education and entertainment. That mission continues during the annual American Royal festivities, which include a livestock, horse show and several rodeos, including PRCA and invitational youth rodeos.
You've probably enjoyed hot or cold apple cider, but have you had sparkling cider? Or a freshly made cider doughnut? Try all of this—and more—during the Louisburg Ciderfest, an annual event at the Louisburg Cider Mill, where you can watch how apples are pressed into cider. Don't miss the corn maze, and before you go, pick out your Halloween pumpkin at the Louisburg Pumpkin Patch.
Since KC's signature cuisine is barbecue, it's only fitting that the American Royal includes the world's largest barbecue competition. You can smell the delicious smoke from miles away as competitors vie for the sweet taste of victory during what's become one of fall's signature events. To get the most out of the experience at Arrowhead Stadium, opt for the weekend pass or pit tickets, which include all the barbecue and beverages you can handle.
The annual Weston Applefest is the perfect time to explore historic Weston, Mo. Arts and crafts booths line Main Street—don't forget to take a peek in the local shops, too. A tempting range of apple delicacies—dumplings, pies and cookies—is made by members of local churches. Bring the kids to enjoy pony rides, carnival-style games, face painting and pumpkin painting. What better way to spend a fall day?
What could be better than trick-or-treating throughout the Kansas City Zoo? Break out your best costumes and spend the day at the zoo. Kids will also love Halloween-themed activities and entertainment that offer plenty of treats—no tricks here!
One of the most beautiful nights of the year is WaterFire Kansas City, during which the internationally renowned art installation from Barnaby Evan floats serenely down Kansas City's Brush Creek. The lighted braziers are accompanied by music and fire performers, so be ready for a spectacular show.
There's no better place to celebrate jazz and blues than Kansas City's 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District, where the local jazz scene flourished throughout the early 20th century. During the annual festival, local, regional and national artists gather for a weekend dedicated to the unofficial soundtrack of the city. While you're there, don't miss a chance to tour the American Jazz Museum.
Missouri Town 1855 Festival of Arts, Crafts and Music
Travel back to the 1850s at Missouri Town 1855, site of the annual Festival of Arts, Crafts and Music. Sip a mug of hot apple cider while you listen to authentic music or watch the Master Blacksmith in action at the forge. Additional activities include historical reenactments, quilt displays, children's crafts and games.
NOVEMBER & DECEMBER
Crown Center Ice Terrace Opening
Opens Nov. 4
The Ice Terrace is a favorite family destination during the winter months thanks to the outdoor skating rink that offers fantastic views of the surrounding downtown area. There's a lot to see at Crown Center, but don't leave without a few spins around the ice. On-site skate rental is available.
Northern Lights at Zona Rosa
The spirit of a 1950s downtown Kansas City tradition lives on as several lighted crowns are suspended over the streets of Zona Rosa, creating the focal point for the Northern Lights at Zona Rosa lighting ceremony. The event also marks the official arrival of the holiday Fairy Princess and Santa Claus, so be sure to bring the kids!
CBE Hall of Fame Classic
Why wait for the end of basketball season for fast-paced tournament action? The CBE Hall of Fame Classic, named for The College Basketball Experience, is a season-opening college basketball tournament founded in 2001. Participating teams meet for the championship round in Kansas City, the perfect way to start a new season of collegiate basketball competition.
A Legendary Light Show at Legends Outlets (through early Jan.)
If you love holiday lights and music, don't miss A Legendary Light Show at Legends Outlets. Every 15 minutes, the outdoor outlet mall dazzles with dancing lights synchronized to holiday music. At the center is a 45-foot holiday tree at the Civic Courtyard Fountain, the perfect place for a holiday-themed photo opp.
Christmas in the Park at Longview Lake
Taking a drive to see holiday light displays is one of the best ways to celebrate the season, and Jackson County takes it to a new level with Christmas in the Park at Longview Lake. Grab a thermos of hot chocolate and enjoy a drive through the park, decorated with 300,000 lights and 175 animated figures. Admission is free, but donations for local charities are encouraged.
Plaza Lights (through mid-January)
It's hard to believe, but the Plaza Lights started with a mere 16 lights over a doorway. Now, thousands of people gather on Thanksgiving evening for the annual Plaza Lighting Ceremony, during which a celebrated guest flips the switch, illuminating 15 blocks of the Spanish-inspired shopping district.
Mayor's Christmas Tree (through early January)
No holiday visit to Kansas City is complete without a look at the 100-foot Mayor's Christmas Tree, one of the tallest holiday trees in the nation. Each year, the Mayor invites a celebrity guest to flip the switch and light the tree. After the holidays, wood from the tree is used to make commemorative ornaments, proceeds from which benefit the city's less fortunate through the Mayor's Christmas Tree Fund.
Experience the magic of the holidays during Downtown Dazzle, which features holiday-themed exhibits, shows, performances and attractions during the first three weeks of December. From free holiday fireworks displays and hot chocolate happy hours to Santa's Crayola Christmas Land and Whoville Holidays at the City Market, even the grumpiest Scrooge will find something to love. Pro tip? Download the Downtown Dazzle app to stay up-to-date on details and schedules.