10 Best Festivals in Burlington Vermont

Festival of Fools

Burlington, Vermont is an idyllic city tucked away between the New York and Vermont border, along Lake Champlain. Chartered in 1763, Burlington was originally a military post named after the Burling family, who were pioneer landowners. Burlington saw action during the War of 1812, as there were several battles between land troops and British warships in Battery Park.

Burlington pivoted away from military operations in the 20th century and gradually became the tourism centered town we know it as today. The University of Vermont was created in 1791 and was the first college to declare freedom of religion. They were also one of the first colleges to admit female students, beginning in 1871. And, as is well known, Ben and Jerry’s was founded in Burlington, in a renovated gas station, bringing ice cream goodness to all.

Burlington Vermont is also well known for its festivals of all types, from art to craft beer. In this article, we’ll look at the best festivals to attend. Don't forget to check out our very own conference & festival, Synaptic Supercollider💥 if you want to be a part of a fresh, new celebration of thought while taking in the fall foliage.

Vermont International Film Festival

The Vermont International Film Festival (VTIFF) showcases new, independent films from the USA and around the world. Their mission is to enrich the community and bring the world to Vermont through film. VTIFF also presents the Made Here Film Festival in May, featuring new films from Vermont, Quebec and the New England region.

VTIFF takes place over 8-10 days in October and features daily receptions, panel discussions and filmmaker mixers. The festival is open to the public and individuals can buy single tickets to each film as well as a full festival package and membership perks. This is one of the biggest and best film festivals in New England.

In addition to the festival, VTIFF is a vibrant hub and resource for the film community. They provide a platform for the appreciation of film as an art form and a way for the film community to gather and exchange ideas.

Vermont Maple Festival

The Vermont Maple Festival lasts three days and is held in St.Albans during the last weekend of April. It’s about 30 minutes North of Burlington, but it’s worthy of mention. The festival features a pancake breakfast, a parade, an antiques show and the crowning of maple syrup royalty: the festival’s Maple Syrup King and Queen. It’s also a celebration of the first harvest of the year in Vermont. The farmers can harvest their crops, and you can harvest all the maple flavored food your wallet can handle.

Vermont Farm Show

Speaking of harvests, if you like farm equipment, you’ll love the Vermont Farm Show. Held in the Champlain Valley Exposition, in Essex, it’s just outside the Burlington area and features the latest in agricultural equipment every year. As an extra incentive, there’s the Consumer Night, where attendees can taste the many dishes Vermont has to offer. If you’ve ever wondered what a cooking competition looks like done the Vermont way, pull up a chair for the Capital Cookoff, where Legislative and Agency personnel roll up their sleeves to create dishes using only local ingredients. It’s a timed, judged competition. Stay and watch, you won’t be disappointed. Entry to the Farm Show is free and open to the public.

Vermont Brewers Festival

Keeping in step with the culinary aspect of Vermont, here’s the Vermont Brewers Festival. Vermont is well known for it’s many craft breweries, and what better way to sample their efforts than in Burlington at the brewers festival? In fact, the Vermont Brewers Festival is one of the world’s premier beer festivals. Entry fee is $8, and 15 beer tickets are given with admission. A word of warning, beers with higher alcohol content require 2 beer tickets as opposed to 1 normally. There’s even a band lineup, with artists such as Funk Shui and Big Dirty Bucket. The Vermont Brewers Festival is best enjoyed with friends, so grab your friend group and get sampling!

Oktoberfest Vermont

The next festival on our list is in keeping with the Brewers Festival. Oktoberfest is held in the waterfront park in Burlington over two days and features 40+ brewers to sample from. The Frisbee size pretzels obviously deserve a mention. For the price of admission you have access to over 100 different beers, yards of food, carnival games, a band lineup and more. What better way to experience Oktoberfest than on the lakefront in Burlington?

Burlington Wine & Food Festival

The Burlington Wine & Food Festival is a brilliant opportunity to spend a Saturday afternoon in Burlington sipping world-class wines and eating food prepared by Vermont’s best chefs. For the $70 ticket, you experience Vermont-made spirits, alongside locally produced chocolate, cheese, meat and more. There are even seminars by acclaimed chefs and winemakers. If you’ve never been to a wine tasting before, this festival is for you.

Vermont International Festival

If you haven’t had your fill of international festivals yet, the Vermont International Festival runs each December at the Champlain Valley Exposition. There’s over 50 vendors there and some even come from Asia, Africa and South America to help put on a show. They have three stages running non-stop with a variety of ethnic music, dancing, martial arts and more. There are also many opportunities to join in onstage as well.

Vermont Discover Jazz Festival

Continuing the artistic trend, we have the Vermont Discover Jazz Festival. This isn’t in a venue, it’s held on Church Street in a 10 day celebration of all things jazz. The whole inner city is overtaken by the blaze of music and noise. This is definitely a must for anyone wanting to attend a festival in Burlington.

Festival of Fools

For anyone wanting to unleash their inner goofball, there’s the Festival of Fools in August on the streets of Burlington. It’s a street festival devoted to putting on shows of circus art, music and comedy for families, and it features international street performers too. The best part? It’s free to enter. Festival of Fools draws over 100,000 people every year, and you should be one of them.

Burlington South End Art Hop

Finally, we have the South End Art Hop. This is held every September after Labor Day. The South End Art district begins on the south side of Main Street, runs down Pine Street and finishes at Home Avenue. All the businesses in the Art district open their doors to the community for Art Hop to show off their latest work and hopefully sell some. It’s a brilliant event with lovely people, beautiful art and you should absolutely attend it.

Jonah Madill
Jonah Madill
Outreach, Synaptic Supercollider

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