South Dakota Events

In South Dakota, the calendar of events is full of fun things to do from the first day of the year to the last. In cities large and small, scenic outdoor settings, and unique attractions, travelers can gather to enjoy something special.

In August, one of the most popular of all events in South Dakota happens at the Redlin Art Center. The pride of Watertown, landscape artist Terry Redlin opened the gallery and gathering place as a gift to the people of South Dakota. The annual summertime festival features big-name entertainers, events for children, and a festival atmosphere, all on the lovely grounds of the Redlin Art Center.

Several South Dakota events take place in the scenic Black Hills region. One of the longest-running South Dakota festivals happens in Sturgis at the end of the summer. This scenic city welcomes thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts for seven days every August. Along with the planned events, bikers attending the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally can explore all the region has to offer, including Mount Rushmore, a 62-mile ride away, and the 20-mile trip to Spearfish Canyon.

In the fall, authors, bibliophiles, and readers flock to the South Dakota Festival of Books. With storytellers, book signings, and author meet-and-greets, festival-goers can set their imaginations soaring. The South Dakota Humanities Council, based in the city of Brookings, sponsors this festival, along with other events in South Dakota throughout the year at various locations.

Custer State Park, already a hotbed of activities in South Dakota, features a Western-themed event in the early fall. At the annual buffalo roundup, the ground literally rumbles as cowpokes and park crews saddle up the herd and bring them to winter pastures. An arts festival is also held in the days leading up to the big event.

Anglers look forward to South Dakota festivals, too. The community of Akaska along the Missouri River hosts the South Dakota Walleye Classic and Festival. This August event, a stop on the professional walleye fishing tour, also includes a range of activities for people of all interests.

Many South Dakota festivals happen as the holidays are fast approaching. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, vacationers can gather with local community members for special celebrations, open houses, caroling, parades, and tree lightings. In downtown Sioux Falls, Saturdays during the holiday season feature the chance to shop, visit with Santa, and take hayrides. The Brookings Arts Council hosts an annual festival of trees, beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving.

One of the most unique events in South Dakota, the Jingle in the Jungle at Reptile Gardens, celebrates the season in style. This nature-themed attraction in Rapid City fills its sky dome with more than 1,000 poinsettias and orchids and thousands of twinkling lights. Visitors will find a retreat from the cold winter when they step into Reptile Gardens' indoor showcase full of tropical plants and amazing animals. Jingle in the Jungle celebrates the season with the bright colors of holiday flowers and visits from Santa Claus.

The calendar of South Dakota events continues to be filled into the winter. On New Year's Eve, First Night Sioux Falls fills the city with arts performances and fireworks. Vermilion also rolls out the red carpet to celebrate the new year. Later, the Great Bear Recreation Park in Sioux Falls gears up to host the Media One FunSki at the end of January. This weekend festival features skiing and snowboarding, as well as activities such as team snow tubing, frozen-leg kickball, snow sculpture, and a 5K race.

The Center for Western Studies in Sioux falls is another option South Dakota events in the winter. Every February, it hosts the long-running Artists of the Plains Art Show, which celebrates regional artists and their work.

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