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February 13, 2012

Cold Beer, Fake Celebrities, and Stinky Sneakers: Spring's Best Festivals

By Kate Chandler

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Washington DC cherry blossom festival(iStockphoto,Thinkstock)
Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival(iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

As far as festivals go, Mardi Gras (or Carnival, depending on where you are) gets all the love this time of year. But with Fat Tuesday quickly approaching on February 21, if you haven’t already made plans to get down to NOLA (or, we suggest, Mobile), then you’re probably out of luck. Here, instead, are some other interesting festivals and events happening in February and March. Enjoy!

Animal sexpert Jane Tollini headlines Woo at the Zoo, a Valentine’s Day dinner event at the San Francisco Zoo. For you East Coasters, the National Zoo in D.C. has a similar event on February 11. Maybe you’ll finally learn the origin of the phrase “spank the money.”

If animal love doesn’t ignite any romance, it might be time for more drastic measures. Book a flight to Japan for one of many festivals in February and March that celebrate the male form. Whether you go to the Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Festival) in Okayama, the Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) in Kawasaki, or the Chiwawa Matsuri (Penis Festival) in Komaki, you’ll probably never be able to go into a sushi bar with a straight face again. Real mature, I know.

The Academy Awards take place in Hollywood on February 26, but assuming you probably don’t have an invite to this red-carpet event, I give you the next best thing: The Celebrity Impersonators Convention in Las Vegas on February 20. Various performance events are open to the public, and tickets cost as little as $10. Yeah, baby! (That was my impersonation of Austin Powers. Pretty good, huh?)

You might be missing out on King Cake this year, but there are a whole slew of festivals coming up where you can eat and drink stuff, including the totally obscure Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting Competition (Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, February 25) to the small but delicious Chocolate Lovers Festival (Fairfax, Virginia, March 3).

Also in this category are the beer festivals…thankfully oh so many of them. You may have thought Oktoberfest was the only big beer celebration in Germany, but not so. Fasching is like the German version of Carnival, and its festivities have even spread to the United States. New Ulm, Minnesota, hosts a Fasching party on February 18, the same day that local brewery Schell’s hosts Bock Fest. A win-win. If U.S. versions of German holidays just won’t do, book a ticket to Munich for the Starkbierzeit (Strong Beer) Festival, from March 9 through 25. If the Germans are specifically calling out this beer as “strong,” well, the results should be fabulous and disastrous at the same time.

For those of you who actually take care of you bodies, several marathons fill the schedule this spring, including the Los Angeles Marathon on March 18. After you finish the race, you might consider submitting your shoes into the Odor-Eaters Stinky Sneakers Contest in Montpelier, Vermont, on March 27.

And don’t forget St. Patrick’s Day, the best excuse besides Mardi Gras to drink lots of beer and vie for plastic beads, is coming up soon as well, on March 17. So from the truly weird (like the Frozen Dead Guy Days Festival in Nederland, Colorado, March 2) to the truly grand (like the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., March 20 through April 27), the coming months hold plenty of reasons to get out there and travel.

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Related Topics: Holidays, Events, & Festivals


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