I Went to the Roswell UFO Festival
Summertime, small town, backyard fun!
The Roswell UFO Festival is an annual celebration held in Roswell, New Mexico over the 4th of July weekend.
The festival commemorates and celebrates the crash (and subsequent government cover-up) of a UFO northwest of Roswell, NM in 1947. The festival events usually spread across four days, from an opening celebration on Thursday evening to a closing fireworks display Sunday night.
Festival activities center around the Roswell UFO Museum located in downtown Roswell. The museum is located in the converted movie theater. Not much about downtown Roswell has changed since 1947, which makes a great backdrop for this truly original, American celebration.
The whole town decorates in anticipation of the festival and much of the artwork in shop windows stays in place througout the year. Looks like this year's festival is going to be the best ever.
I attended the 2011 Roswell UFO Festival. Here are some of the events we saw and advice on attending the festival and visiting Roswell.
See where Roswell is located
How To Get to Roswell
Roswell, New Mexico is located in the southeast quadrant of the state. There are direct flights from Los Angeles and Dallas to the Roswell airport.
You can also fly into Albuquerque, rent a car and drive to Roswell. Here is a link to Google maps for directions from ABQ airport to downtown Roswell. Driving can take anywhere from 3.5 to 4.5 hours depending upon which route you take.
Getting Around Roswell
Although there was a rumor that a shuttle bus could take you into downtown (Roswell's modern hotels are located in a centralized area), we found it much easier to drive in (it takes all of two-three minutes--there is one main street and you can't miss downtown) and park the car on the streets or side streets of downtown.
In fact, we parked about four car lengths from the front door of the UFO Museum late Saturday afternoon for the evening panel and party in the park (much to our disappointment, the parade was cancelled in 2011). That's front row parking. Side streets are easy parking too. Plus, you can keep a cooler with water and food in the car and get to it pretty easily throughout the day.
What Really Happened at Roswell in 1947?
Things You Will Need to Bring
- Water. Not just a few bottles but many bottles of water. It's hot and you can get dehydrated quickly if you don't keep drinking fresh water--not sodas. On Saturday, the festival was handing out free bottled water to people on the streets and while we were really impressed by this you shouldn't count on this ocurring--bring your own water.
- Sunblock. Don't think you are going to work on your tan while you are there--no time for that. FYI Notice how tan the locals are and know that they got that way from months of being in the sunny, hot weather and not from one or two days in the sun.
- Walking shoes. Roswell is a small town and you can walk to just about every event but you will need comfortable shoes to walk around in. Some venues may be 6 to 10 blocks from the center of town.
- A hat, umbrella or some other way of shading yourself. There is a wonderful, shaded park area on the main town square. If you choose to wander into the older, nearby neighborhoods you will have lots of older trees to shade you. However, main street is wide and unshaded except for shadows cast by the sun--bring a hat.
- Sunglasses--protect your eyes from sun glare.
- Camera. There is no way to explain to anyone what you see at the Roswell UFO festival. Pictures are the only way to even get close to a good explanation.
This is the one item I wish I had when I was in Roswell. It sure would have made my day a lot more comfortable. The heat can overtake you quickly and a cooling towel or somethings similar would have helped me with my stamina.
Festival Videos - Videos are mostly from festival years 2011, 2010
2010 was a phenomenal year for the Roswell festival. There must have been big money sponsors which allowed the festival organizers to load up the venues with celebrities, great music and comedians. 2011 was more low-key and small town America.
Famous People at the UFO Festival
Roundtables and discussions occur throughout each day of the festival. Venues can vary so read through the list of events to find out where each one is.
Most speakers or panelists are authors or folks who have personally investigated various aspects of the crash, the crash site, items found at the site, the cover-up or the various characters in the story of the Roswell UFO crash.
If you are at all familiar with the Roswell story, Stanton Friedman will be a name you recognize. Stanton was a speaker at the 2011 Roswell UFO Festival. Although uncredited for his role, Stanton did much of the original research for the first book about the cover-up titled "The Roswell Incident".
Stanton went on to write numerous books on the subject of UFO's and to uncover details that support the stories witnesses told about their experience.
Stanton autographed books inside the UFO Museum during the festival.
Photo is copyright aha-creative 2011.
The Best Reason to Go to the Roswell UFO Festival
Without a doubt, the best reason to go to the festival is for the costume contests (and the parade, I would guess, but they cancelled it in 2011).
Both are held on Saturday. In 2011, the pet contest was held outdoors around mid-morning at a grassy and shaded spot outside the Roswell Civic Center. The human costume contest is held Saturday afternoon at an indoor, auditorium venue.
The pet contest is really cute and some folks create "vehicles" that their pets arrive in. Tip: Unless you get a center stage viewing spot it may be difficult to see the antics folks perform with, and for, their pets.
People come from all over the world to see the adult costume contest and the competition grows every year. The costumes are home grown, raucous and fun. Participants write stories about their characters (yes, even the participants in the pet contest do this) that explain what part of the galaxy they came from, how they got here, what their favorite foods and hobbies are and may also go into detail about their outfits and why they look the way they do.
Winners have usually done some amazing costume building -- the child winner at the 2011 contest had amazingly talented parents who built a transformer/alien costume--the kid, on cue, went from a standing alien transformer character to dropping to his knees and folding himself into a car--the crowd LOVED it!
Photos from Human Costume ContestClick thumbnail to view full-size
Pet Costume ContestClick thumbnail to view full-size
Enter the Human Costume Contest - And the Alien Parade
Make your own costume and enter the alien costume contest.
Here is a link to detailed information about the Costume Contests.
Typically you can register up to several hours before the costume contest begins. Throw together a costume and have some fun hamming it up on stage--it's expected that each contestant will have its own walk, talk and story!
Other Places to Visit in Roswell
Laser shows at the Robert H. Goddard Planetarium
Roswell Art Museum - Really worth the visit--world class exhibits and artists. (NOTE: This is not the "art show" advertised with the festival and is not oriented toward alien or ufo stories.)
Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art -- another world class art museum.
Walker Aviation Museum
Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge - located 9 miles northeast of Roswell.
Funny Festival ImagesClick thumbnail to view full-size
The UFO Museum
The Official UFO Museum in Roswell refers to the UFO festival as the "Galaxy Fest".
The museum has its own event schedule that is separate from the city's festival schedule. The museum provides the lectures, discussions and panel presentations that occur during festival week.
You can tour the museum exhibits for a small fee during most of the year and definitely during festival week.
The museum has a great gift shop with lots of fun items. I love my "alien shotglass" and alien glitter stickers I bought there.
Bring an easy going attitude
Not everything runs exactly on time and that's what makes this festival a true All american event. It's home grown and a lot of fun--not professionally run and very small town, backyard America.
Making our own fun at the festival
We bought Neon Glow Wire and wrapped it around us, keeping some length to swing and twirl.
You get great photos when the glow wire is in motion. If we had thought to buy bulk glow wire at wholesale we could have sold tons of it on the street during the evening hours of the festival.
Make sure the glow wire you purchase has a battery pack attached otherwise it won't glow.
This product is similar to the one you see us wearing in the photo. Buy these in several colors if you want a more colorful look. Swinging the el wire is a fun experience and gets a lot of attention. They should sell this at the UFO festival but we didn't see anyone doing that in 2011. People loved this item and kept stopping us and asking where to buy it.