The Most Epic Beachside Festivals From Around The US

When it comes to mixing sun, sea, sand, and culture, the U.S. offers a fantastic range of events throughout the year. Whether you're a music lover, a foodie, or a budding artist, or you're just looking for a coastal vacation with an entertaining twist, there's no better setting for a festival than right beside the beach! From wine tasting to kite flying, from art installations to big-name headliner, and from sunset raving to lobster broiling, these epic festivals use their beachside locations to create an unforgettable experience.

The U.S. has miles of stunning coastline to explore, from the sandy shores of California to the rocky promontories of New England and the exotic lure of Hawaii. Combined with unmissable beachside events, these fantastic coastal destinations will inspire the vacation of your dreams. We've compiled a list of some of the most exciting events on the calendar to help you plan your next trip.

CRSSD Festival, San Diego

Held twice a year, with both spring and fall editions in March and September respectively, CRSSD is one of the biggest and best beachside music festivals in the U.S. The biannual event takes place at Waterfront Park in San Diego — right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, just across from San Diego Bay. The waves and the sand create a truly stunning environment in which to enjoy the tunes. And what better way to recover from a late night of dancing than a relaxing day on one of San Diego's beautiful beaches, which is at your doorstep?

The 12-acre park itself is home to water fountains and lots of green space, forming an urban oasis for festival-goers. It hosts a mixture of indie bands, house music, and techno DJs over the course of the weekend, attracting both world-famous headliners and up-and-coming or underground artists. There are three stages and more than 30 performers to enjoy during the two-day festival, as well as craft beer and a range of different foods to try. Make sure you book tickets in plenty of time, however: the festival attracts EDM fans from across the country and is routinely sold out.

Hawaii Food and Wine Festival

The epic Hawaii Food and Wine Festival also takes place on multiple occasions during the year. It spans three different annual dates and three different islands, hosting epicurean weekends during spring on Maui, October on the island of Hawaii, and November on Oahu. But what all three of these premier events have in common is culinary excellence and a feast for all your senses. They feature Michelin-starred chefs from around the world and celebrated winemakers, with more than 150 participants coming together each year. From children's cooking classes to luxury dining experiences, this beachside food and drink festival has something for everyone — and it all takes place against a backdrop of beautiful, tropical beachside settings.

What really makes this particular festival stand out from the crowd, however, is the fact that all the featured chefs must use locally sourced ingredients in their dishes, thus showcasing the islands' cuisine, culture, and diversity to its thousands of visitors, as well as the talents of the participants. Furthermore, the festival is run as a nonprofit organization, and ticket sales help raise millions of dollars to support agriculture and culinary education in Hawaii.

Washington State International Kite Festival

For a week each August, the blue skies above the coastal town of Long Beach in Washington are transformed into a riot of different colors. The cause? The Washington State International Kite Festival is the longest-running kite festival in North America. Drawing crowds of thousands of spectators and participants each year, a dazzling array of famous kite flyers, designers, builders, and manufacturers gather in Long Beach to celebrate kites and to make the most of Long Beach's vast, beautiful sands along the Pacific coast. The peninsula got its name from its 28-mile stretch of beach — the longest contiguous beach in the U.S.

The festival runs from Monday to Sunday and features a range of events, such as fireworks, choreographed kite ballet, exhibitions, fighter kites, and magical night flights that make the skies glow with lights. What's more, visitors are encouraged to participate as well as watch. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with flying, building, and other hands-on activities.

Barefoot Country Music Fest

Sun, sand, sea, and country music is a match made in heaven, and one of the best country music festivals in the U.S. is Barefoot Country Music Fest in Wildwood, New Jersey. Barefoot is held over four days every year in June, and visitors can enjoy the sounds of more than 40 different artists over the course of the festival on five different outdoor stages between the two famous Morey's piers. Acts range from some of the industry's best-known stars to local favorites and new sensations, and there are plenty of family-friendly activities, including fireworks displays each evening.

As well as the musical performances, Barefoot is also the perfect venue from which to explore the beaches and vibes of the Jersey Shore. Wildwood is the southernmost barrier island in New Jersey, and it is situated within easy reach of all the activities that make a vacation in this part of the U.S. coastline so iconic. Along with its arcades, water parks, amusements, and other fun summer activities, the five miles of pristine beach here is also recognized as one of the most naturally beautiful in the state.

We Belong Here Festival, Miami

The We Belong Here Festival is an important date on the electronic music calendar. It takes place at Miami's Virginia Key each February and combines the perpetual Florida sunshine with beautiful coastal views and epic music. This is the place to experience some of the biggest and coolest artists in the dance, house, and techno scenes. Another one of the highlights is the huge, immersive circular main stage, where this high energy festival hosts more than 50 acts each year. There are also two smaller beachside stages where you can dance the night away, and this boutique festival is becoming well known for its pop-up food markets, which offer a delectable range of cuisines to guests, as well as its luxury lounge seating and quality facilities. 

Festival-goers will also love the combination of sunny days and hedonistic nights in Miami; thanks to the beachside location, We Belong Here Festival boasts dreamy views over Florida's coastline, from boats along the shore to distant wetlands and islands. During the day, you can explore all the beauty and beaches that this area has to offer alongside the DJs and artists that flock to Virginia Key to perform every year.

Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival

One of the most popular beachside festivals in the U.S., this International Sand Sculpting festival draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the beaches of Massachusetts every year in July. Over the course of three days, vast quantities of sand — shipped in from Hudson, New Hampshire, for the occasion — are transformed into epic art installations along Revere Beach. Showcasing the beauty of the Atlantic coastline's beaches, these huge, intricate sand sculptures are created by renowned artists who come here from all over the country — and world — to showcase their talents. If you arrive before the official start of the festival on Friday, you might even catch a glimpse of these artists at work.

Budget travelers will love this festival — it's the largest free festival in Massachusetts, and there's a wide variety of entertainment on offer all weekend alongside the sculpting. Suitable for visitors of all ages, this includes fireworks displays, live acts, and lots of different food trucks. Located just north of Boston, and easily accessible from downtown via the T's (Boston's metro's) blue line, this festival is the perfect opportunity to explore this beautiful three-mile-long stretch of sand, which was also the first designated public beach in the U.S.

Ohana Festival, Dana Point

Ohana Festival is another epic music event with an incredible beachside location. It's hosted by the city of Dana Point on Doheny State Beach, one of California's most popular and pristine beaches, at the end of September each year. Across three stages, there are more than 35 performances from a wide variety of artists and music genres, offering something for everyone. Doheny State Beach is well known for its iconic waves, and Ohana Festival is the ideal combination of a classic California vacation — sun, sea, and surf — with world-class musical performances.

One of the most interesting aspects of this festival, however, is that it's not just about the music. Ohana Festival has a storytelling venue, with exhibitions and panels led by professional surfers that makes the most of the beachside location. There are also talks from leading environmentalists about the local ecosystem and conservation efforts in the area, and a portion of the profits are donated to California National Parks to help to ensure that beautiful locations like Doheny State Beach can continue to host visitors in the future.

Christmas by the Sea, Ogunquit

If you're looking for a winter vacation with a difference, you'll be pleased to know that it's not just the summer months that have beachside festivals on offer. You can head to Ogunquit in December for some epic seasonal entertainment. Known as Christmas by the Sea, this festival takes place each year in the run up to Christmas in the charming small town of Ogunquit in Maine. 

On the second weekend of December, both the beach and the streets around the town are transformed by holiday themed events and celebrations, such as concerts, parades, bonfires, and an arts and crafts fair. Family-friendly highlights include Santa arriving at Perkins Cove and a magical live Nativity, but there are lots more events that are geared towards getting visitors of all ages into the holiday spirit.

The festival also celebrates local culture and cuisine — particularly chocolate and chowder — and you can enjoy it all against the spectacular backdrop of one of the prettiest sections of the Maine coast. Ogunquit means "beautiful place by the sea" in the language of the Algonquin Indians and, with its scenic beaches, rocky cliffs, and dramatic shoreline, it's easy to see where this name originated from, as it's one of the best beaches in the Northeast

Carolina Beach Music Festival

The annual Carolina Beach Music Festival is one of the longest-running beachside festivals in the U.S. It started more than 30 years ago, inspired by the dance halls and "juke joints" — venues blasting out bebop, swing, and rhythm and blues from their jukeboxes — of the 1940s. Although most beachside music festivals host headlines from the dance or pop music worlds, the Carolina Beach Festival continues to host artists in the unique genre which originated just over the bridge in the community of Seabreeze. Known as "Beach Music," it's a type of upbeat rhythm and blues with its own style of swing dancing and fancy footwork known as "The Carolina Shag" that had a legendary influence on music in the South.

Today, the festival still takes place on the beach and the boardwalk in June each year, and you can dance barefoot on the North Carolina sands to these iconic Beach Music beats. There are events held throughout the weekend, with both big names in this genre and local rising stars taking to the stage. There's also a shag dance contest to close out the event on the Sunday — the perfect opportunity to showcase the moves you've been practicing over the weekend.

California Wine Festival, Santa Barbara

Although there are now other events held around the state, the original — and one of the biggest — wine festivals can be found in Santa Barbara. This is the signature event on the California Wine Festival calendar, held annually in July, and it attracts thousands of visitors to the Santa Barbara beachfront to sample hundreds of regional fine wines. Over the course of the two-day festival, visitors can enjoy sun, sea, sand, and music alongside the tasting events.

Held at Chase Palm Park, this open-air festival is located right next to the beach, with views across the white sands and crystal-clear waters of Santa Barbara's coastline. The wine and the food are definitely at the heart of the event, however. Once you've purchased your ticket, you're entitled to unlimited wine tasting privileges and complimentary appetizers, such as artisan cheeses, fresh fruits, and bread.

Hangout Music Fest, Gulf Shores

This Alabama festival — which takes place right on the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores — often appears on lists of the best music festivals in the USA — and around the world — because it attracts some of the most famous names in the industry. Hangout Fest is held in May each year, spanning three days, and has multiple stages to showcase a range of top international talent from diverse genres. The two main stages are set up at either end of the beach, with all the partying and events happening right on the sand in full view of the Gulf of Mexico. In between dancing and taking in the different performances, there are plenty of spots where you can simply find the space to sit on the beach with a beverage and enjoy watching the ocean, or take a dip among the inviting waves.

The most active visitors, however, will love the vast array of entertainment which is on offer all day and night. Events include roller discos, morning yoga sessions, and beach volleyball games — all of which have been carefully curated to make the most of the festival's beautiful beachside setting.

Key West Lobsterfest, Florida

Every August, Key West in Florida becomes the home of Lobsterfest for five days of varied summer activities. As the name suggests, much of the entertainment is themed around the cooking and eating of this delicacy, including lobster brunches and boils – the spiny lobsters that can be caught in the water around the Florida Keys have sweet, tender meat that has seafood fans flocking to Key West for the chance to devour it.

The festival is held annually to celebrate the opening of lobster season in the area, with the local restaurants and bars all serving up their favorite dishes of the freshly caught crustaceans in booths along the streets. In addition to the food on offer, there are more fun-filled events, ranging from pool parties to a huge, free street fair with music performances that mark the main event on the Saturday. There's also a giant pub crawl held through the town on the Friday night, and lobster is even featured in some of the specialty drinks and cocktails designed for the festival.