7 Festivals That'll Make You Want to Celebrate the Weather

If you're a festivalgoer, you know that checking your weather forecast before heading outdoors is a must. But festivals aren't just for fall or fair weather. The following events prove this; they don't just depend on weather, they exist because of it. Any of these unique festivals are intriguing enough to make your travel bucket list.

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Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo, Japan)

Snow sculptures at Sapporo Snow Festival
Getty Images/Steve Kaufman

No matter how much snow and ice you may see this winter, you haven't truly walked in a winter wonderland until you've experienced the Sapporo Snow Festival. 

Held every February in​ Sapporo (a city in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido), the festival is one of the world's largest snow and ice events and welcomes nearly 2 million tourists from around the world. Its festivities stretch over three of the city's districts and include snow slides, snow rafting, and life-sized snow statue and ice sculpture displays. Almost as monumental as the festival's sculpture creations is the fact that much of the snow is real. After all, the city (which sees 20 inches of snowfall on average each year) is one of the snowiest on Earth! In years when accumulations are low, Japan's military forces actually bring in snow from outside city walls.

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Midnight Sun Festival (Fairbanks, AK)

Midnight Sun Multiple Exposure Arctic Alaska /nIce Floating Summer Sunset
Design Pics Inc / Getty Images

If you're a heliophile and a night owl, Alaska's Midnight Sun Festival is not to be missed. The one-day event (which is part picnic, part campout, and part tailgate) makes use of the 24-hour sunlight of the "midnight sun" -- a phenomenon that occurs at the poles around the summer solstice when the sun stays above the horizon (doesn't set) even as late as midnight local time.

Held every year, the party offers guests a chance to enjoy a number of daytime activities at night, including a midnight baseball game and a round of golf -- that is if they can stay awake!  

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Groundhog Day Celebration (Punxsutawney, PA)

Annual Winter Tradition Of Groundhog Day Celebrated In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
Getty Images News/Jeff Swensen

Groundhog Day is one of the weather's biggest dates, so it's quite fitting that it has a grand celebration to match.

Sure, you're familiar with the prediction the morning of February 2, but did you also know the festivities (held yearly in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania) start long before that day? Phil-themed events actually begin in the town as early as January 31, and include a ball, receptions, a jog, craft shows, as well as walking tours. Of course, all of these lead up to the "Trek to Gobbler's Knob" -- the main event where Phil reveals his prediction for winter's end: either six more weeks of it or an early spring.

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Woolly Worm Festivals

Woolly Worm
Cheryl Zibisky / Getty Images

In the weather world, the groundhog isn't the only prognosticator of prognosticatorsWoolly worms -- caterpillars that emerge in autumn and whose black and brown segments (according to weather folklore) forecast the weather for the coming winter season -- have become so popular, several festivals have sprouted up across the US to honor them. The longest-running festivals are celebrated in: 

Vermilion, OH. Ohio's annual Woollybear Festival, held in October, is one of the longest-running in the US. The festival started more than four decades ago, when TV weatherman, Mr. Dick Goddard, proposed the idea of a celebration built around using the worm to forecast the upcoming winter. He still hosts the festival to this day.

Banner Elk, NC. North Carolina's Annual Woolly Worm Festival is the next longest-running and always takes place the third weekend in October. 

Beattyville, KY. Beattyville's Woolly Worm Festival is a true street festival themed around the worm. There's food, vendors, entertainment, and even a worm race off! The event always takes place the last full weekend in October.

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Rain Day Festival (Waynesburg, PA)

Happy woman standing with arms outstretched in rain
Getty Images/CaiaImage/Sam Edwards

Waynesburg, Pennsylvania's Rain Day Festival gives the phrase "rain on your parade" a whole new meaning. That's because the premise for the street festival is based on a legend that it always rains in the town on July 29th. (To date, it has rained 114 of the past 143 years!)

Held annually on July 29, the one-day festival's activities include umbrella and window decorating contests, rain-themed snacks, and a chance to meet the Rain Day mascot, "Wayne Drop."

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Close up of glass ball with rain cloud and sun in center
Getty Images/Adam Gault

Hosted by the American Meteorological Society (AMS), WeatherFest is a free and fun event that's open to weather enthusiasts of all ages. Festival events include hands-on interactive experiments and booths led by teachers, scientists, and meteorologists; weather forecasts in front of a real green screen; and special guest appearances by television meteorologists.  

WeatherFest is held in January at the opening of the Annual AMS Meeting -- the world's largest yearly gathering for the weather, water, and climate community. 

Can't make it to Seattle this year? Not to worry. WeatherFest and the AMS Meeting is held in a different city every year. The current list of host cities includes Austin, TX; Phoenix, AZ; Boston, MA; New Orleans, LA; Houston, TX; Denver, CO; and Baltimore, MD.

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National Weather Festival (Norman, OK)

national wx center norman ok
A bird's eye view of the National Weather Center, Norman, OK. State Farm / Flickr

With the National Severe Storms Laboratory, National Weather Center, and local weather forecast office all housed in Norman, Oklahoma it's no wonder that the city is a hub for all things weather -- including weather festivals.

Every November, these organizations partner to host the ultimate gathering for weather geeks across the central part of the state. Event activities include tours of the weather center, hourly weather balloon launches, emergency response vehicle and equipment displays, children's activities, and much more!