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Mark Your Calendar for These Events

From Mardi Gras to music, chowder to Christmas, America is full of phenomena worth celebrating.

Thousands of festivals and special events take place throughout the country each year. And although some are small-town affairs, others are major undertakings that draw thousands of visitors. For groups, these events can make a great cornerstone experience for a tour itinerary, so long as the travel planners know which festivals to choose.

To help give you some ideas to consider for your group, we asked tourism organizations around the country to send us information about their best group events. From the many that were submitted, here are 10 that promise to keep you and your group smiling.


Tupelo Elvis Festival

Tupelo, Mississippi

June 6-9, 2019

Elvis Presley is the most legendary person to come out of Tupelo, Mississippi, and locals celebrate his life and legacy each year during the Tupelo Elvis Festival. This three-day event began in 2008 and attracts more than 15,000 people, who come for headlining musical acts, an Elvis tribute artist competition, living-history demonstrations and much more.

Highlight for Groups: The festival features conversations with people who knew and worked with Elvis, as well as a gospel concert. Groups can package their festival tickets with admission to area attractions such as the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum.

Booking Window: Six to eight months in advance of the festival

Event Contact: Craig Helmuth


Cajun Country VIP Mardi Gras

Lafayette, Louisiana

March 2-5, 2019

Mardi Gras celebrations of various sizes take place each winter in destinations throughout Louisiana, as well as in some other Gulf-front cities. But in Lafayette, the capital of Louisiana’s Cajun culture, visitors can experience an event full of music, food and parades. In 2016, the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission created an exclusive VIP Mardi Gras experience to take the party to the next level.

Highlight for Groups: The VIP experience includes free motorcoach parking, access to a VIP grandstand and a viewing area with covered seating and private restrooms. Groups also get Mardi Gras specialties such as boudin and king cake, as well as the city’s signature cocktail, the Rouler.

Booking Window: Six to 12 months in advance of Mardi Gras

Event Contact: Eugenie Mitchell


Christmas on the Prairie

Benton, Kansas

November 22-December 21, 2019

Through most of the year, the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon offers travelers a traditional cowboy dinner and musical experience in Kansas’ Flint Hills region. But between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the attraction is transformed into a winter wonderland, offering horse-drawn carriage rides, Christmas movies and a live music show that features favorite Christmas songs.

Highlight for Groups: The Prairie Rose Chuckwagon is about 15 minutes outside Wichita, and the local CVB can help groups get reserved seating for the shows, which sell out well in advance. The site’s Opera House accommodates only 300 guests at a time.

Booking Window: One year in advance for the most popular dates

Event Contact: J.W. Johnson


Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.