The state of festivals in the USA in 2021: back and often bigger than pre-pandemic times already

Published on June 24, 2021
Matthew Hicks
Director of Data Assurance

Depending on which state you’re in in the USA, festivals are either back and bigger than ever or beginning to rebound. In aggregate, the amount of people expected to attend festivals in the second half of 2021 is 87% of 2019 for the same period, but some states are expecting more than 200% of their 2019 festival impact.

In July 2021, there will be more than 1,830 festivals across the USA. In July 2019, there were more than 6,000. But while festivals are still recovering from the long COVID era, their impact in the second half of 2021 isn’t far off pre-pandemic times when you factor in predicted attendance because there are many much larger festivals clustered in the second half of 2021 compared to previous years. 

When comparing the aggregate predicted attendance at US festivals in 2021, we can see the promising sign that predicted attendance is already at 87% of 2019 levels.

Larger festivals in aggressively opened states are driving the festival recovery, which nationally is at 87% already

Assuming festivals will have 13% less impact on your demand that they did in 2019 would be inaccurate, because festivals are returning very differently per state. Comparing the total predicted attendance in the second half of 2021 to 2019 per state gives significantly different results. For example:

  • In Nevada, festivals will be attended by 201% the volume of people in the second half of 2021 compared to 2019. Much of this is due to a record-breaking EDC festival, which was rescheduled several times to enable maximum attendance.

  • In Texas, it’s even higher at 234%

  • In California, one of the most cautious states that only recently shedded its restrictions, festivals are at 60%

Below, we have aggregated the attendance for all US festivals events. This shows the stark decline of festivals in 2020, and the rebound now in context.

Festivals impact

Festivals are one of the fastest recovering event types as well as one of the most impactful

With more than 7,900 festivals scheduled in the US within the next six months, and more being scheduled every week, businesses are working to ensure all impactful festivals are in their forecasts. It is important to identify the individual events and their proximity to your locations, as they are spread across cities and states unevenly. 

Here is a heat map of the upcoming festivals within the next 90 days.

State of festivals heat map 2021

With so many festivals across the country, businesses need to focus only on those that drive impact for them. PredictHQ has seven years of verified, historical event data, and can work with you to identify what kind of festivals have impacted you the most historically, and then to identify upcoming similar festivals. Get in touch for a customized list of festivals for your needs today, and to explore how to gain access to all relevant events for your business in a scalable way.

Some of the best known festivals are state and county fairs. The second half of this year will have many with between 300,000 to 900,000 attendees. For example, in the next three months there will be Kern County Fair, Colorado State Fair, Erie County Fair, New Mexico State Fair, Missouri State Fair, Minnesota State Fair, Oklahoma State Fair, Kentucky State Fair and many more.

But state and county fairs are only the beginning. Some of the larger festivals in the USA in the coming months include:

  • Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival in Linn County, Iowa from June 14 to July 4 with 320,000 people expected to attend.

  • California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles, California  from July 21 to August 1 with 320,000 people expected to attend.

  • Best in the West Rib Cook-off in Washoe County, Nevada from September 1 to 6 with up to 360,000 people expected to attend.

  • Wawa Welcome America festival in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from June 19 to July 4 with 400,000 people expected to attend.

  • Marshall County Blueberry Festival in Plymouth, Indiana from September 2 to 6 with 400,000 people expected to attend

  • Musikfest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania from August 6 to 15 with up to 960,000 people expected to attend.

  • Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota from August 6 to 15 with 500,000 people expected to attend

Tapping into the demand impact of festivals

As festivals recover, businesses need to ensure their demand forecasts and strategies are keeping pace. Tracking events is valuable for smarter staffing, inventory managing, dynamic pricing and more.

Whether you’re an operations manager looking for information you can trust to build strategies; a data scientist looking to ingest forecast-grade data into your models or a revenue manager looking to create more accurate forecasts to drive your recovery strategies, you need to have festivals in your view of the world.

If festivals are impactful for your business, get in touch so our team can pull together a report on the upcoming games in your most important territories, including the modelled attendance for each to ensure your demand plans are accurate.