Must Do Events in the USA 2012

Happy New Year from FH!

Well, 2012 is here and it’s time to reflect on all the fabulous things you did in 2011, get out your bucket list and plan those trips and events you’ve dreamt and talked about doing forever and make them happen in 2012!

When my plane touched down on US soil in 2010, I knew I had to get cracking on all the things I said I had to do whilst living in the US.  Sport, Music, Wine & Food, Fashion & Art – some of the best events in the world were all at my doorstep and the list was overwhelming.

What I learnt in my first year was that most of the big US events take place in the four month span between March & June.  It’s the time of year with the best weather across most of the country, so it does make sense.  Not much happens in the hot, busy summer school holidays of June-August and then a few things kick off again from Sept-Nov.

It is likely you will need to book flights, accommodation and tickets to your must-do events of 2012 so you need to get organised in the first few months of the year, otherwise you will find things get too expensive or you will simply be over-run with choices as the months fly by.

To help you get started, we have listed some of the biggest and best US events for 2012 – most are annual so if you love them the first time you can indulge yourself and go back again!  There are a few events we have been to personally and can categorically say – MUST DO!!!  And we hope to see ya’ll at a few we will be heading along to as well.


  • 19th-29th – Sundance Film Festival, Park City, UT (Annual) – The largest independent cinema festival in the US, the Sundance Film Festival is the premier showcase for new work from American and international independent filmmakers.  Combine with a ski and board trip!


  • 5th – NFL Superbowl, Indianapolis, IN (Annual) – US sports biggest Sunday is this year staged in Indianapolis, IN.  If you have a spare $2,500 then get along.  GO TEXANS!!!
  • New Orleans Mardi Gras

    21st – Mardi Gras, New Orleans, LA (Annual) – If you think NOL is crazy on an ordinary Saturday night – think again!  The biggest & craziest street party in the world culminates 2 weeks of parades and partying in the state. Not for the meek mannered or faint hearted… MUST DO!!  

  • 26th – Daytona 500, FL (Annual) – Forty-three of the top drivers in the world compete in “The Great American Race,” NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious motorsports event.


  • Feb 28th-Mar 18th – Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, TX (Annual) – Not just cause it’s in Houston, this is one of the best events we have been to in the world! Cowboys and concerts in an amazing stadium, it will keep you coming back everyday for 3 weeks!  The World Championship BBQ Competition the weekend preceding is an

    Houston Rodeo

    amazing food fest experience too.  Blog coming soon.  MUST DO!!! 

  • 9th-18th – SXSW Festival, Austin, TX (Annual) – One of the largest music and film festivals in the world, with more than 2,000 performers playing in more than 90 venues over four days.  Focuses on new talent in music, film and interactive mediums and proves why Austin really is the coolest city in the US. MUST DO!!!


  • US Masters Augusta

    2nd-8th – US Masters Golf, Augusta, GA (Annual) –  Golf Heaven.  A pilgrimage for any mad golfer to watch history being made on this revered golf course. You CAN get tickets too – the last day is around $900 on Stubhub. Go earlier in the week to avoid crowds and high prices. The Aussies have done quite well of late too so fingers crossed for 2012.  MUST DO!!!

  • 16th – Boston Marathon, MA (Annual) – A Boston tradition for more than 112 years, the 26 mile, 385 yard Boston Marathon has distinguished itself as the pinnacle event within the sport of road racing by virtue of its traditions, longevity and method of gaining entry into the race. To qualify to run the Boston Marathon, entrants must run a qualifying time at a certified marathon. We might sit this one out…
  • 19th-29th – San Antonio Fiesta, TX (Annual) – The festival began as a single event to honor the memory of the battles of The Alamo and San Jacinto.  More than 100 official events—parades, festivals, concerts, coronations, athletic events, art exhibits & more. A big Texas party.
  • NOL Jazz Festival

    Apr 27th-May 6th – New Orleans Jazz Festival, LA (Annual) – The Louisiana Heritage Fair at the Fair Grounds Race Course showcases unforgettable music on multiple stages, delicious Louisiana cuisine in two large food areas, and crafts artisans from the region and around the world demonstrating and selling their work. Spread over 2 long weekends this year’s line up includes Foo Fighters, Florence & The Machine, The Eagles, Beach Boys & Tom Petty and many more world class jazz, blues and gospel musicians.  MUST DO!!!


  • Kentucky Derby

    4th-5th – Kentucky Oaks & Derby, Louisville, KY (Annual) – Ok, so this was in my bucket list Top 3 and in 2011 I got there, sat in the grandstand AND had the winner!  An unbelievable day.  Make sure you get along to the Oaks the day before too and book NOW! Stay tuned for our upcoming blog in Jan.  MUST DO!!!

  • 27th – Indy 500, Indianapolis, IN (Annual) – Considered one of the 3 most significant motor events in the world.  The official attendance is not disclosed, but the permanent seating capacity is more than 257,000 people, and infield seating raises capacity to an approximate 400,000!!!  Bring the earplugs.


  • 7th-10th – CMA Music Festival, Nashville, TN (Annual) – Four days of country music concerts and musician and fan interactions. Over 400 artists attend the event each year to hold up to 30 hours of autograph and “meet-and-greet” sessions – we’ll be there in 2012 boots and all!  MUST DO!!!
  • 14th-17th – US Open Golf, San Francisco, CA (Annual) – One of the four majors in world golf, along with the US Masters in Augusta, this tournament changes location each year allowing you to visit amazing golf courses.  More affordable than the Masters, tickets on the last Sunday start at $160.
  • 15th-17th – Food & Wine Classic, Aspen, CO (Annual) – The FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012 as America’s premier culinary event. It consists of three incomparable days of cooking demonstrations, wine tastings and panel discussions by world-class chefs and wine experts. YUM! And a great time of  year to visit to Rockies.
  • End of June – NBA Final Play-Offs (Annual)  – The NBA Finals is the championship series of the NBA. The team with the better regular season record has home court advantage. Tickets are very getable. Dallas Mavericks last year…Houston Rockets this year???


  • 4th – Independence Day Celebrations (Annual) – NYC, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Wherever!! – The biggest celebrations are in north eastern cities where America declared independence from the British.  However fireworks and celebrations are huge everywhere including Houston’s ‘Freedom Over Texas’ which we will detail closer to the event.  MUST DO!!!   
  • 11th-15th – Taste of Chicago Festival, IL (Annual) – This is the world’s largest food festival held in beautiful Grant Park.  In 2012 it has been shortened to 5 days and will not coincide with 4th July celebrations… and crazy number of tourists.


  • Maine Lobster Festival

    1st Week of August – Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland, MA (Annual) – 20,000 pounds of lobster – and the best lobster you can get! This festival has enticed seafood lovers for 64 years. In addition to whole lobster served with butter, you can try steamed and fried regional clams, shrimp and mussels. A beautiful part of the word too – See our blog on New England Fall Foliage trip.  MUST DO!!!

  • 9th-12th – US PGA Championship, Kiawah Is, SC (Annual) – Ok…another golf one, but this is being held in 2012, in a beautiful part of the US.  Great food, beaches and hundreds of world class golf courses to practice on your own game.  Another one of the big four in golf, tickets are similar prices to the US Open at around $170 for the last day. Make a trip of it down south!


  • US Open Tennis

    29th Aug-12th Sept – US Open Tennis, New York, NY – The fourth and final tennis major of the Grand Slam, the hardcourts of Flushing Meadow make for some exciting tennis watching – with NYC celebs courtside also.  The tournament runs over 2 weeks and with a public holiday weekend in the middle – it’s a great long weekend trip to lock in.  MUST DO!!!

  • 13th-16th – PEI International Shellfish Festival, Prince Edward Island, Canada (Annual) – Not just home to Anne of Green Gables, thousands of foodies flock to PEI for this four-day event packed with culinary demos, celebrity chefs(Curtis Stone!), chowder championships and oyster shucking competitions. A beautiful part of the world. MUST DO!!!
  • 13th-20th – NYC Fashion Week Spring/Summer, New York, NY(Annual) – New York Fashion Week kicks off the global calendar of Fashion Weeks, and is immediately followed by Fashion Weeks in London, Milan and Paris. World leading designers stage shows at a variety of locations around Manhattan. Make sure to pack your best wardrobe!
  • 28th Sept-Oct 21st – State Fair of Texas, Dallas, TX (Annual) – Of course everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. It boasts that it’s the largest in size and, at 24 days, the longest.  Stay tuned for our blog on this one.  MUST DO!!!


  • All of Oct – Baseball World Series – The annual championship series of Major League Baseball, played between the American League and National League champions since 1903. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff.


  • F1 Grand Prix Austin

    16th-18th – F1 Grand Prix, Austin, TX – contrary to rumors, the Formula One’s 2012 calendar with the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin on Nov. 18 was approved in Dec 2011. Race organizers announced a 10-year deal ending a contract dispute that threatened to kill the race and a new $300 million track being built for it. The Austin race will mark F1’s first in the United States since 2007.  MUST DO!!!

  • 22nd – Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, New York, NY – This popular event now attracts more than 2.5 million people and another 44 million tune in to watch the balloons, floats, bands and celebrities in the most spectacular Thanksgiving holiday celebration in the world. The route in 2012 will change but wherever it is make sure to get your spot early!  Or just sit at home with your turkey and watch it on TV…


  • 1st Week of Dec – Christmas Tree Lighting, Various Cities – Kick off the holiday season with the traditional lighting of the Christmas tree and a pageant featuring holiday music and performances in any city of the US.  The tree at Rockefeller Centre in New York is the most famous but even the smallest towns celebrate and show off their lights with enormous pride.

We look forward to your thoughts and recommendations on our list and please let us know any other events you think are Must Do’s whilst you are living or visiting the US. 

Events in Houston 2012 will be coming soon! 

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One Response to Must Do Events in the USA 2012

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