“One cannot have too large a party. A large party secures its own amusement.” America was only 39 years old when Jane Austen wrote that. Today, the United States has proven that bigger is better when it comes to celebrations, but what are the biggest events in every state? We found out and broke down all of the numbers in our infographic below.
The record for the largest event in the nation happens on a cold night for only a few seconds of excitement. Despite the low temps, New York City’s Times Square on December 31 remains the epitome of how to ring in the New Year. The giant light up ball has been dropping onto over two million people for the last 111 (of 114) years.
Other big events sprinkled throughout the country include many music fests, such as SXSW in Texas, Bonnaroo in Tennessee, and Musikfest in Pennsylvania, which claims to be the largest free non-gated music fest in the country. It’s fitting that the smallest state—Rhode Island—also has the smallest fest. The Newport Folk Fest has been pulling 10,000 people each July for folk-oriented music celebration for 59 years.
Food fests and sporting events also boast high attendance numbers in 14 states combined, and uncategorized events comprise the largest events for 10 states, including Evel Knievel Days in Montana, Burning Man in Nevada, and Balloon Fest in Albuquerque, which draws 100,000 pairs of eyes to watch the sky every October.
Of the seven state fairs on the list, the largest mostly take place in the Midwest: Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and North Dakota. South Carolina, Mississippi, and Wyoming also boast high attendance, further proving that Americans love fried food on a stick.
Other fun events include Vermont’s Strolling of the Heifers Parade and Festival. Modeled after Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls, 50,000 people arrive in Brattleboro, VT, to witness friendly heifer calves strolling the streets bedecked in colorful hats and flowers, (which sounds much cuter and less risky than Pamplona’s version).
Sometimes, a specific holiday sparks large events across the country. For example, St. Patrick’s Day is widely celebrated, but some states really go all out. Unsurprisingly, the largest St. Patrick’s Day event belongs to Massachusetts, where the Boston-based celebration has had more than 1 million people swigging green beer for over 117 years. In Connecticut, the parade is only 5 years old, yet draws 300,000 people. The St. Paddy’s party in Savannah, GA, has double the revelers (600-650,000) and has been going on for 190 years!
New Orleans is historically known as the biggest Mardi Gras party, drawing 1.4 million people in its 237 years. However it is Mobile, AL, that holds the title for oldest event. Residents have been parading floats and throwing beads since 1703—that’s over three centuries of king cake for nearly 1 million attendees. The baby of the bunch is the Soulard Mardi Gras party in St. Louis, Missouri, which brings in 500,000 people and has only been running for 38 years.
Whether it’s a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, SD, or one of the three Oktoberfest celebrations—in Ohio, Oklahoma, or Utah’s Oktoberfest in August—finding a place to party in America is as easy as can be.
Georgia Department of Economic Development
Mardi Gras, Inc.
Nebraska Tourism Commission
Michigan Economic Development Corporation
New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism
South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism
Washington Tourism Alliance
Great American Beer Festival