Pennsylvania’s 2023 Festival Season Gets Weird and Wonderful With These 21 Unusual Celebrations

Pennsylvania’s 2023 Festival Season Gets Weird and Wonderful With These 21 Unusual Celebrations

Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Lumber Museum's Facebook page

By Claire Mainprize

June 21, 2023

Celebrating everything from pirates and lumberjacks to bees and bacon, these funky Pennsylvania festivals offer a different kind of fun.

This year, you may want to consider eschewing the ordinary fruit and music festivals and opt for a few of the state’s more unique gatherings instead. Good times will be had and, friends and memories will be made.

With 21 different options to choose from, there’s something for everyone!

Enchanted Valley Fairy and Pirate Festival

Pennsylvania’s 2023 Festival Season Gets Weird and Wonderful With These 21 Unusual Celebrations
Photo courtesy of Actors Guild of Schuylkill County & Kelsey Theater’s Facebook page

Where: Pottsville

When: June 24

Cost: Adults: $10, children: $5 (3 and under are free)

The 24th day of June — also known as Midsummer — is a day dedicated to appreciating the myriad gifts nature gives us. Although the holiday began in Sweden, it’s now celebrated by people across the globe, often with festivals and other traditional activities.

If you want to take part in the fun, Pottsville’s Enchanted Valley Fairy and Pirate Festival is the place to be. The Actors Guild of Schuylkill County is putting on the event, so you can expect to meet numerous decked-out characters—and you’re encouraged to dress up too!

The event will include a petting zoo, food trucks, games, live music, and a special surprise from the Four Faerie Queens of the Enchanted Valley.

To learn more, click here.

Cross Fork Snake Hunt

Where: Cross Fork

When: June 24–25

Cost: Free

This unconventional festival isn’t for everyone—so if the words “snake” and “hunt” give you the shivers, you may want to sit this one out.

However, curious kiddos and reptile lovers are sure to enjoy the 51st annual snake hunt, which includes an exotic snake show, fireman’s parade, raffles (including one for a whopping $10,000!), educational talks, the yearly horseshoe tournament, and more.

To learn more, click here.

PA Firefly Festival

Where: Tionesta

When: June 30–July 1

Cost: $50

The Pennsylvania Firefly Festival isn’t just a beautiful sight to behold, it’s also educational and mission-driven.

The last weekend of June marks the peak of firefly mating season when the glittering bugs put on some spectacular displays. You can come and camp (or even better: glamp!) for the whole weekend or simply show up for the food, music, and fun. The event is limited to 50 people per night and works off of a lottery system.

In addition to the event itself, the festival is promoting a public awareness campaign called “Lights Out For Lightning Bugs” from June 24–30. During this time, Pennsylvanians are encouraged to turn off outdoor lights to fight Artificial Light at Night (ALAN), which has a detrimental effect on the firefly population.

To learn more, click here.

Bark Peelers’ Festival

Where: Ulysses

When: July 1–2

Cost: Adults: $10, children: $5 (3 and under are free)

Pennsylvanians are so into the lumberjack life that they created their own name for flannel-clad workers in the industry: woodhicks! And woodhick skills like log rolling, birling, blacksmithing, and crosscut sawing are put on full display at the annual Bark Peelers’ Festival.

Whether you wish to compete in the timber sport competitions for your chance to become the “Grand Champion Barkpeeler” or prefer to just watch in wonder, the town’s biggest event of the year is sure to be amusing. Plus, this year will mark the first-ever Beard & Mustache competition, so start growing out those whiskers!

To learn more, click here.

Eliot Ness Fest

Where: Coudersport

When: July 14–16

Cost: Free (but some activities, like the theater performance and museum tours, cost money)

Be transported back to the Roaring ‘20s at Eliot Ness Fest, which celebrates the fascinating life of Coudersport’s very own Eliot Ness: the American crime fighter and Prohibition agent who took on Al Capone.

In addition to a biographical performance, the festivities include a bus tour of prohibition sites, a classic car parade, live music, a charity picnic, and more. Don’t forget to dress up!

To learn more, click here.

Inclusion Festival

Pennsylvania’s 2023 Festival Season Gets Weird and Wonderful With These 21 Unusual Celebrations
Photo courtesy of Inclusion Festival’s Facebook page

Where: Kempton

When: July 14–16

Cost: free–$85

Kempton’s Inclusion Festival is “an inclusive and accessible experience showcasing how we can support and empower ALL PEOPLE to feel welcome and included.”

Focusing on music and wellness, the three-day event is chock-full of interesting workshops, from “Juggling for ALL” to sign language, soul cards, and sensory toolkits. As expected, there will also be a wide range of live music and food. All ages and abilities are truly welcome here.

To learn more, click here.

Blobfest

Where: Phoenixville

When: July 14–16

Cost: Free, but select events and movie screenings are $10+

Cinephiles from across the Keystone State can unite at The Colonial Theatre’s annual Blobfest weekend.

Paying tribute to the 1958 horror flick “The Blob,” this festival hosts screenings of various monster-themed, vintage classics in addition to stage shows, the Blob Ball, a Mx. Blobfest Universe contest, a street fair, and a self-guided driving tour of film locations.

Whether you’re a bonafide horror film buff or prefer sticking to 90s chick flicks, this festival is bound to be a good time.

To learn more, click here.

Sangria Around the World Festival

Where: Saylorsburg

When: July 15

Cost: $5–$25

This event takes the ordinary wine festival to the next level. Sipping on local wines is fun and all, but trying sangria from all around the world is way more interesting.

Purchasing a “passport” for this event, which is held at the idyllic Stone Lake Inn, grants you access to food and sangria samples from various countries. If you fill up your passport, you get a prize!

Designated “pilots” (DDs) are encouraged to come along, and the hosts also suggest bringing your own blanket to sit by the lake!

To learn more, click here.

Picklesburgh

Pennsylvania’s 2023 Festival Season Gets Weird and Wonderful With These 21 Unusual Celebrations
Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Facebook page

Where: Pittsburgh

When: July 21–23

Cost: Free

For three days in July, an area of Pittsburgh will transform into Picklesburgh, a place where pickle lovers from across the state will come together to celebrate and enjoy the crunchy snack.

Rated by USA Today as the #1 Best Specialty Food Festival in America three years in a row, the most notable part of Picklesburg is the gigantic pickle balloon that looms above the festivities. Beneath it, there will be music, food (obviously!), and the highly anticipated pickle juice drinking contest. Just close your eyes and pretend it’s a dirty martini!

To learn more, click here.

UFO Festival

Pennsylvania’s 2023 Festival Season Gets Weird and Wonderful With These 21 Unusual Celebrations
Photo courtesy of PA Bucket List’s Facebook page

Where: Kecksburg

When: July 21–23

Cost: Free

On December 9, 1965, people from all over the Northeastern part of the US reported seeing a blazing object zooming across the sky. Kecksberg witnesses said it crashed in the woods nearby, which resulted in a search by the US military, scientific studies, numerous conflicting accounts, and even a lawsuit against NASA.

Sometimes called “Pennsylvania’s Roswell,” the small town of Kecksburg became a hub for all things paranormal, and it goes all in each summer with its UFO Festival. There are alien costumes, paranormal investigators, exhibits, live music, fireworks, a hot dog eating contest, and a life-size replica of the acorn-shaped object townspeople reported seeing in the woods.

To learn more, click here.

Paranormal Plants Arts Fair

Where: Brookline

When: July 23

Cost: Adults: $8–$10, kids 17 and under are free

Those fascinated with the paranormal might have to squeeze two different festivals (in different corners of the state) into one weekend because the last day of Kecksville’s UFO Festival also marks the day of Brookline’s Paranormal Plants Arts Fair. However, the latter event is less about aliens and more about witchery, henna, crystals, and overall wellness.

But don’t be fooled—there will be a costume contest and only the best plant, ghost, or spirit will win the top prize!

To learn more, click here.

Rain Day

Where: Waynesburg

When: July 29

Cost: Free

This festival has quite a story behind it. It all began in the late 1800s when a local farmer told the town pharmacist that it always rained on his birthday, which was June 29. Every year thereafter, the pharmacist recorded the rainfall on that day. Even after he passed, the record-keeping was continued by others and eventually became a local observance.

Over the years, Rain Day grew into what it is today: a festival that includes a pageant, carnival, umbrella decorating content, hometown food, and more. You won’t want to raincheck on this one!

To learn more, click here.

Honey Bee Day

Where: Harrison Township

When: July 29

Cost: N/A

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a beekeeper, this is your chance to find out.

On Honey Bee Day, you can hold a frame of bees (don’t worry: proper attire will be provided), taste honey straight from the hive, make crafts with the PA State Honey Princess, buy beeswax and other bee-themed products, and tour the historic Burtner House, where the event is held. Aren’t you just buzzing with excitement?

To learn more, click here.

Asian Lantern Festival

Where: Pittsburgh

When: Select nights between Aug. 11 and Oct. 30

Cost: General admission tickets go on sale July 8

The Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium’s 125th annual Asian Lantern Festival will take you on an amusing and multicultural adventure where you can gaze at the colorful and intricate lanterns while learning about conservation efforts around the world. Visitors can also enjoy themed food and entertainment, as well as all that the zoo and aquarium have to offer.

Every summer, more than 100,000 Pennsylvanians partake in the fun!

To learn more, click here.

Barrel & Flow Fest

Pennsylvania’s 2023 Festival Season Gets Weird and Wonderful With These 21 Unusual Celebrations
Photo courtesy of Barrel & Flow’s Instagram page

Where: Pittsburgh

When: Aug. 12

Cost: $20–$205

If your 20233 summer is all about vibing and imbibing, this is the festival for you.

Barrel & Flow is America’s first festival celebrating black-owned breweries. The 2023 event will feature exclusive beer collaborations, nationally recognized deejays and bands, a crafters market, and educational and job opportunities.

Although the main festivities take place on Aug. 12, there are other fun events taking place the day before and after, so be sure to check the event schedule.

To learn more, click here.

Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

Pennsylvania’s 2023 Festival Season Gets Weird and Wonderful With These 21 Unusual Celebrations
Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire’s Facebook page

Where: Manheim

When: Weekends between Aug. 19 and Oct. 29

Cost: Adults: $32.95, children (5–11): $16.95 (4 and under are free)—prices go up in October

Each year, the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire doesn’t just choose a theme—they have an entirely fictional scenario that comes into play. For 2023, the Shire of Mount Hope is preparing to welcome Queen Elizabeth for her opulent birthday celebration.

The party will include jousting knights, costumed villagers, magic acts, and other daily shows in addition to a market and workshops. The faire also includes tons of themed restaurants, like the Queen’s Confectionary and Macbeth’s Mac n’ Cheese. You’ll feel like you stepped out of a time machine and into the best of Olde England.

To learn more, click here.

Peanut Butter Festival

Where: New Bethlehem

When: Sept. 16–18

Cost: Free (but there’s a charge for event entries)

Those poor souls who are allergic to peanuts will want to steer clear of this festival (sorry!), but everyone else will go nuts for it.

Come September, New Bethlehem’s quaint downtown will turn into an entire peanut butter-themed festival, complete with a parade, carnival, bike race, tractor show, 5K, fireworks, music, and a surprise eating contest (although we’re pretty sure what the main ingredient will be).

There’s also an annual cook-off where every contestant is given a free jar of peanut butter to use in their creations. Who’s hungry?

To learn more, click here.

Stahlstown Flax Scutching Festival

Where: Stahlstown

When: Sept. 16–17

Cost: Adults: $5, children under 12 get in free

Scutching refers to the time-honored process of making linen out of the flax plant, but the great people of Stahlstown already know that!

Every year, they host a festival that takes attendees back to the time of the settlers, with scutching demonstrations, antique farm equipment, crafts, homemade food, and civil war and covered wagon train encampments. One of the most thrilling aspects of the weekend is the staged raid that portrays a realistic battle between Native Americans and settlers.

To learn more, click here.

WoofStock

Where: Harrisburg

When: Sept. 17

Cost: Free

Woodstock sounded like a fun time and all, but have you ever been to WoofStock?

Hosted by the Central PA Animal Alliance, this annual event is the largest festival for dogs and their owners on the East Coast. There will be 6 food trucks, 15 animal nonprofits, 11 pet-themed vendors, and so much more.

If you’re coming from out of town, there are plenty of pet-friendly hotels in the area to choose from.

To learn more, click here.

Johnny Appleseed Festival

Where: Sheffield

When: Oct. 13–15

Cost: Free

Named after the American pioneer who brought apple trees to Pennsylvania and other states, the annual Johnny Appleseed Festival is a lumberjack’s paradise. In fact, it has become a premier stop on the professional lumberjack circuit in the US, bringing some of the timber sport competitors from the country and beyond.

The event also features fan-favorite activities like the draft horse and antique tractor pulls, sawdust pile dive, pumpkin walk, apple pie baking contest, fireworks show, and more!

To learn more, click here.

PA Bacon Fest

Where: Easton

When: Nov. 4–5

Cost: N/A

In short, the PA Bacon Fest is “two days of grease, love, and happiness.” If that sounds like your kind of festival, head on over to downtown Easton the first weekend of November—but make sure you come hungry!

Named one of the country’s “5 Can’t-Miss Bacon Festivals” by Parade, this event includes every kind of bacon treat imaginable as well as pig and wiener dog races, bungee jumping, a bacon eating contest, hog-calling contest, and more. Mark your calendars, carnivores!

To learn more, click here.

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