Best Places to Live

2013 10 Best Summer Festivals

We've picked the best summer festivals that exemplify the cities where they take place. These celebrations aren't just drawing tourists, they are treasured by their communities.

Photo: The Portland Rose Festival Foundation

To make our picks for best summer festivals for 2013, we looked for those most connected to their host cities' identities in terms of theme, the experiences to be had and community participation.

"Festivals often highlight the distinctiveness of a city and help it establish its unique brand," says Lee Fisher, president and CEO of CEOs for Cities. "Every city must discover its authenticity and use it as a comparative advantage."

As we wrote on the Best Places Blog, the best community festivals benefit cities in six major ways: create or reinforce branding efforts, increase tourism, educate, enhance community pride, encourage exercise and raise money.

Meanwhile, the American Bus Association, which represents the motorcoach tour and travel industry, suggested we also look for locations with attractions beyond the festivals that enhance itineraries for those who attend. The ABA releases its own annual festivals ranking, which is based on bus and tour operators' input.

With these factors in mind, we then consulted with a variety of festival organizers and travel professionals to identify festivals that fulfill most or all of these criteria.

Take a look at our picks for the 10 best festivals that connect with their cities.

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Ranking Criteria

Festival best showcasing community values
Number and diversity of festival activities
Community participation
Attractions beyond the festivals