A town on the brink of breaking into the big leagues, Reno is having a moment. And one could argue that summer is one of the best times to check out the growing outdoor and culinary scene, thanks to a handful of festivals that showcase Reno at its best. From a town-wide art festival to a hot air balloon festival that covers the sky with inflatable art, here are our favorites.
1. Artown Wingfield Park (July 1 to August 1)
Encompassing a month of arts with upwards of 500 events, 100 workshops, and 30 ongoing programs throughout Reno, Artown canvases the desert city with arts and culture. Featuring live music, dance, theater, visual arts, multicultural events, fashion shows, and tours, more than 60 percent of all the events are free. The hub of the month-long festival is Wingfield Park, just off the Truckee River in downtown Reno.
2. Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival (July 10 t0 August 23)
Against the stunning natural backdrop of Lake Tahoe, the actors of Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival know how to pull focus when it comes to telling a story. A 50-minute drive from Downtown Reno, a night of theater under the stars makes for the perfect night away from the city. This year’s productions are Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and the timeless musical “The Fantasticks.” We recommend bringing a bottle of wine, a picnic basket filled with gourmet goodies, and a blanket for a casual evening of culture on the lakeshore.
3. Wanderlust (July 16-19)
Yoga mats sprawl across the city as yogis descend on Reno, South Lake Tahoe, and Sparks to celebrate health and wellness with Wanderlust. Lasting four days, Wanderlust welcomes top-level yoga and meditation instructors, musicians, speakers, artists, and chefs to the region with a focus on mindful living. Peace and serenity do come at a price: One-day tickets can reach up to $175, depending on the day.
4. Hot August Nights (August 4-9)
Hot August Nights is the largest classic car rally in the U.S. Held every year since 1986 to raise awareness for local charities as well as attract visitors to Reno in the sweltering hot nights of August, more than 5,000 classic cars participate in the festival. Visitors can expect drag races, plenty of live music concerts, a swap meet, a 50s sock hop, and even a car-themed prom.
5: The Great Reno Balloon Race (September 11-13)
The Great Reno Balloon Race makes an art of helium. Up to 100 balloons float into the clouds in the world’s largest free hot air ballooning event, a record Reno holds with pride. For those who can handle an early wake up call, we highly recommend checking out the 5:15 a.m. Super Glow Show — the festival’s new event that coordinates more than 20 balloons to twinkle and glow to music throughout the main field. The official event website provides a well-organized guide of all the balloons slated to participate this year, a helpful compendium in identifying the art-centric mass globes.