Seeing people and pups from all walks of life come together for a shared experience is a rare and wonderful thing. Add music, food and sun-kissed days, and you’ve got all the ingredients for pet-friendly summer festivals to remember. Just like the mixtape Fido gave that pooch at the dog park, this is an eclectic list of dog-friendly events around the globe. But before you apply Fido’s sunscreen, remember that events like these can get loud and hectic at times. Keep your dog on a short leash and only bring him if he’s used to the crowds.
1. Tomato Art FestNashville, TN
The Tomato Art Fest may have started life as a celebration of the beloved and versatile fruit (it’s not a vegetable, Fido!), but it’s become much more than that. This pet-friendly festival splats all the senses, with parades and floats, a Bloody Mary garden party, a redhead competition, a tomato haiku contest, and much more. An annual highlight is the Faux Paw Fashion show, which encourages dog owners to think outside the (tomato) box and get creative with their dog’s costume. Previous attendees have rocked tomato bow ties, tomato hats and even tomato soup costumes.
Tomato Art Fest takes place on August 9-10 in Five Points, East Nashville, TN. The main parade starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, so make sure you ketchup with the others and showcase your pup’s costume.
2. West Fest ChicagoChicago, IL
West Fest takes over Chicago Avenue on the hip West side of the city for one weekend each summer. Last year’s event saw 60,000 revelers gather to rock out to local bands, national touring acts and big-name DJs across three stages. Dogs are welcome to wander through the rows of tents as long as they are leashed and don’t mind the crowds. But your pooch would much rather join the rest of the Chicagoan canine crew at Pet Fest. To gain entry to this dog-centric side of the festivities, just give a donation to the local shelter. Once inside, dogs will discover an agility course, a mud pit and paw painting, among other activities. Fido shouldn’t be afraid to get messy; they even have a charity dog wash on site.
West Fest takes place from July 5 to 7 at 1819 West Chicago Avenue and the surrounding area. A $5 donation is suggested. Dogs enter for free.
3. Shrewsbury Folk FestivalShropshire, GB
You can’t get more quintessentially British than Shrewsbury Folk Festival in Shropshire, England. This year marks the 14th in a row in which the historic town has played host to the eclectic family- and pet-friendly festival. The music and entertainment on offer range from top-notch folk to roots reggae, world music and more. Pups are invited to stay in the campgrounds with their owners and join them around most of the festival site. Unfortunately, due to the high volume of the main speakers, they aren’t allowed in the main music venues.
Shrewsbury Folk Festival is held on Gravel Hill Lane in Shrewsbury. You can join in the revelry from Aug. 23 to 26, 2019. Weekend tickets are £135 without camping and £162 with camping. The closer to the event you buy, the more expensive tickets become. Dogs enter for free.
4. Maine Lobster FestivalRockland, ME
There’s only one place for canine fans of rock lobsters to visit this summer, and that’s the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland. This fantastic five-day event is a big hit among locals and visiting pooches who love tasting different varieties of the beloved crustacean. Beyond the star (ingredient) of the show, the festival also hosts entertainers, cooking contests, carnival rides, and local arts and crafts. There are even races held annually in which dogs and their owners can participate together. Leashed pups can wander alongside their humans and enjoy a few scraps of lobster (in moderation, of course). As an added bonus, some of the money that you splash will go toward supporting good causes like local food pantries.
Maine Lobster Festival takes place from July 31 to Aug. 4, 2019 in Rockland Harbor Park, Rockland, ME. Dogs are welcome to enjoy the festivities for free. Tickets are $1 for adults on Wednesday, July 31; and $8 Thursday, Aug. 1 to Saturday, Aug. 4.
5. Rockbridge FestivalBuena Vista, VA
David Lynch probably wouldn’t like us including Rockbridge on our list of festivals. He once described the mountain folk gathering as “Virginia’s best kept secret.” Sorry Dave, but people need to hear about this one. This pet-friendly event at the end of summer gives talented musicians who typically don’t fill stadiums a unique stage where they can strum, pick and play their way into people’s hearts. It’s also one of the better options on this list if your dog doesn’t like crowds; intimate and sparsely attended compared to other summer festivals, Rockbridge gives your pup plenty of room to stretch her paws.
Rockbridge Festival is held at Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista, VA, near the Blue Ridge Parkway and just five miles east of Lexington; it’s worth the trip just for the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding the area. The two-day event runs from Sept. 6 to 7, 2019. Entrance is $15 plus a $5 camping fee per day.
6. Foodies FestivalOxford, GB
Foodies Festival, the UK’s largest food festival, invites two- and four-legged gourmands to events held throughout the country. In addition to human treats served up by top celebrity chefs, innovative vendors and former Great British Bake Off contestants, there are many vendors specializing in food for dogs. Scrumbles makes gently cooked, gut-friendly natural pet food created with human-grade meat. Sounds scrumptious, right Fido? They’ll be at festivals in Brighton and London. Then there’s a stall in Bristol, Birmingham, Tatton Park and Oxford by Butternut Box, a service that delivers freshly prepared, home-cooked dog food straight to your door. Your hungry hound needs somewhere to eat all this stuff, so check out Paws for Dinner in Bristol for a cool, raised food bowl. These are just a few of the many dog-friendly products you'll find at these events.
As long as Fido is on a leash, he can also join you for masterclasses, live music and seminars by top chefs on baking (these skills can be applied to baking dog treats at home, too). As an added bonus, the Brighton festival will be the home of a Dog Arena, offering fun activities and competitions for the canine community. Dogs and their owners can take part in a lookalike competition followed by a best in show contest. There’s also a Dog's Got Talent show, dog handling displays and demonstrations from police pups.
Foodies Festivals are held from June 21 to 23 at Birmingham Cannon Hills Park; June 28 to 30 at Cambridge Parkers Piece; July 12 to 14 at Tatton Park in Cheshire; Aug. 2 to 4 at Inverleith Park in Edinburgh; and Aug. 24 to 26 at South Parks in Oxford. A day ticket is £19, a weekend ticket is £29 and a weekend family ticket is £58 (admitting two adults and up to four children). Dogs enter for free.