10 Terrific U.S. Beach Festivals to Check Out This Season

For those who think the beach is boring, plan your coastal getaway around a sand castle contest, multi-day concert, kite-flying extravaganza or even a mullet tossing competition (yes, you read that right).

By: Steve Larese


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Photo By: Boston Globe

Photo By: Kelli_Bullock_Photography

Photo By: Brian Tietz

Hangout Music Festival, Gulf Shores, Ala.

This beach blowout in Gulf Shores, Alabama, features a May weekend lineup of international music acts, EDM parties, classic arcade games, volleyball, art, food, a wedding chapel (with or without divorce!) and even a puppy kissing booth. Begun by the famous Hangout Restaurant in 2009, the music fest is billed as an event for adults, but kids age 5 and younger are free with a ticketed adult.

Washington State International Kite Festival, Long Beach, Wash.

Beach-goers want the wind at the Washington State International Kite Festival, during which thousands of spectators are awed by the skill and creations of some of the world’s foremost kite flyers. The week-long, annual festival is always the third full week in August. Definitely, bring your camera.

So Cal Corgi Nation Beach Day, Huntington Beach, Calif.

What’s better than corgis in costumes? Corgis in costumes on the beach. Huntington Dog Beach is crazy for corgis in April, and non-corgi owners are welcome to watch limbo contests, participate in the kissing booth and Instagram meet and greet, and just enjoy another perfect Southern California day, but with hundreds of corgis. Organized by So Cal Corgi Nation, the event draws corgi lovers from as far away as Japan, and 2017 saw 1,100 corgis at the gathering that benefits local dog rescue programs.

Interstate Mullet Toss and Gulf Coast's Greatest Beach Party, Fla./Ala.

Held the last full weekend in April, this event/party is so awesome it covers two states. Compete for distance by tossing a (not-living) mullet across the Florida and Alabama state line on Flor-Bama Beach, home of the famous Flora-Bama Lounge, Package & Oyster Bar. Then party like only the Gulf Coast can with live music, food and beach games all while raising money for local youth organizations.

Carolina Beach Music Festival, Carolina Beach, N.C.

One of the longest running — since 1985 — beach music festivals in the United States is held the first Saturday in June on Carolina Beach at the north end of Pleasure Island. The Carolina Beach Music Festival touts itself as "the biggest and only beach music festival actually held on the beach on the North Carolina coast". Afterward, make sure to explore the Carolina Beach Boardwalk.

Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival, Revere, Mass.

Take in these impressive ephemeral works of sandy art during July’s Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival near Boston, then enjoy live music and fireworks on the Saturday night of the festival weekend.

Life's a Beach Triathlon, Hampton, Va

With a turtle as a logo, this annual June triathlon is about as laid-back and fun as a triathlon can be. Bring your floaties for the "Almost Anything Goes" 200-meter swim, followed by a 5-mile bike ride and 2-mile run with inflatable obstacles that include the Turtle Crawl. Afterward, enjoy a beach party and knowing that proceeds help local nesting sea turtle beach patrols.

Duke's Oceanfest, Honolulu, Hawaii

Celebrate Hawaiian legend and Olympic gold medalist Duke Paoa Kahanamoku with surfing, paddleboarding, swimming and volleyball competitions and demonstrations. The nine-day festival in August on Waikiki Beach captures the aloha spirit with plenty of music and family-friendly events.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk Concerts, Santa Cruz, Calif.

Every Friday night is a beach party June through August at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk with free concerts that have featured national acts such as Eddie Money, Smash Mouth, Berlin and Blue Oyster Cult. Along with the music, enjoy the rides, arcades and other attractions that make Santa Cruz a premier family beach destination.

Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, Fort Myers and Captiva Island, Fla.

Come hear the next hottest act at Island Hopper Songwriter Fest in September. Various venues and beaches in Fort Myers and Captiva Island showcase up-and-coming performers and those just taking a break from touring with national acts. Think Jimmy Buffett in Nashville with Florida sand and perfect sunsets.