Art festivals can include any number of art forms. Many of these deserve their own sections, including music festivals of all genres and film festivals. While some of the top world festivals include music as well as art, there are still plenty of just plain art festivals (without the accompanying music) to go around.
Perhaps the world's best art and craft festivals are found in Edinburgh Scotland under the umbrella of the Edinburgh Festival, which is a series of different fairs and festivals held in that capital city during the month of August. One of these is the Edinburgh Fringe, which is among the world's largest art festivals—if not the largest. The Fringe events are primarily in the performing arts genre, especially comedy and theatre. Nearly 2 million tickets are sold to see about 20,000 performers from at least 60 countries. The Edinburgh Fringe began in 1947. Today there are Fringe Festivals around the world, from New York City and Orlando, Florida to Prague in the Czech Republic and Adelaide in Australia, where it is that country's largest arts festival.
The best art and craft festivals for Americans generally imply handcrafts and making things. So, you will find crafts shows and festivals all over the United States that concentrate on handcrafts from a particular region, such as Amish crafts festivals held in Pennsylvania and neighboring states or Native American shows in the Southwest. The Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market held during March in Phoenix, Arizona is considered one of the country's most prestigious. The San Francisco Arts and Crafts Show held in March probably offers the widest variety, including exhibitions of everything from furniture and pottery to tours of famous craftsman homes in the city.
The largest of the free art festivals in the United States is Artscape Baltimore (Maryland) in July. Close to 400,000 attendees enjoy the work of more than 150 craftspeople and artists, including fashion and car designers, photographers and musicians, sculptors, singers, filmmakers, potters, jewelers, belly dancers, ballet dancers, rappers, and chefs.
Or you might want to head to Wassau, Wisconsin, in September for the Artrageous Weekend. Here, the entire family can enjoy two days of art hopping and shopping. It's held on both sides of the Wisconsin River in the green spaces of Marathon Park and in the downtown central business district. There are artist demonstrations, live performances of all sorts, and plenty of hands-on activities.
In the fine art category of art festivals is the Spoleto Festival that is held in Charleston, South Carolina. It begins in late May and runs for seventeen days into mid-June. It is named for the similar Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of Two Worlds) held in Spoleto, Italy since 1958. These are two of the most prestigious of their kind in the world and showcase opera, theatre, dance, contemporary circus, music, and visual arts.
Some of the best art and craft festivals in the United States can also be found at the state fairs of any of the 50 states. Virtually all of these have their roots in local rural culture and today prominently feature local arts and handcrafts. Among the largest of these are the State Fair of Texas, held in Dallas and the Minnesota State Fair held in St Paul.
Image: atrumb (flickr)