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10 Capital District Festivals Not to Miss

Updated on September 17, 2014
kerbev profile image

I love everything weird and colorful in this world and I try to live a life that will make the world a little better once I'm gone.

New York's Capital Region is rich with events and happenings. We've got festivals and family events of all sorts throughout the year, throughout Albany, Troy, Schenectady, and Saratoga. These are my ten favorites. They are events worth going to at least once, and I'm sure you'll want to go again the next year.

Tulips in Washington Park near King Memorial Fountain
Tulips in Washington Park near King Memorial Fountain | Source

1. Albany Tulip Festival

Albany was settled by the Dutch, and we celebrate that every year at the spectacular Albany Tulip Festival in Washington Park.

With 100,000 tulips in full bloom, this is a gorgeous event. You simply must have a camera with you.

The Albany Tulip Festival is held Mother's Day weekend, and kicks off with a traditional street scrubbing (traditional as in with brooms and wooden shoes). It features great music, vendors, the Coronation of the Albany Tulip Queen with a procession. There is also a formal ball with the event you could get tickets for.

If the crowds are too much for you, visit the park just before the event to take a quieter stroll through the flowers. They don't last long after the festival.

Official Site for the Albany Tulip Festival

Pig Out BBQ

Doesn't he look adorably delicious?
Doesn't he look adorably delicious? | Source

2. Troy Pig Out & Bacon Fest

Troy has really done a lot to utilize the newly vamped up Riverfront Park. The Troy Pig Out is one of those events. The Pig Out is held on a Saturday, and therefore piggy backing (pun intended) on the weekly farmers market (which is a great one, and I highly recommend), but because BBQ is just so amazing, it carries over to Sunday.

The Troy Pig Out usually takes place in July. There is free street parking as well as free parking in the parking garage by the Atrium.

Official Page of the Troy Pig Out and Bacon Fest

Waterford Tugboat Roundup Push-Off Contest

3. Waterford Tugboat Roundup

Held the weekend after Labor Day, the Waterford Tugboat Roundup is a great family event. Along the waterfront, there are booths with things to buy, look at, and eat. Go down to the dock level and walk along the tugboats, even getting to board and tour some of the tugboats. Watch the Tugboats face-off, take a boat ride on the river, listen to some music, and have an overall great time. There are activities for the young and the old.

Plus....there's fireworks!

Official Website for the Tugboat Roundup

If you like this event, you'd also like Waterford Steamboat Meet, held in the same location the weekend they celebrate Fourth of July.

I took this at the Adirondack Balloon Festival in 2012.
I took this at the Adirondack Balloon Festival in 2012. | Source

4. Adirondack Balloon Festival

This hot air balloon festival, in Glens Falls, NY, is quite a sight to see. At dawn and dusk, the sky fills with the beautiful colors of the balloons.

Watch the balloons lift off, watch demonstrations, and even walk into a balloon it see it from the inside. Have your cameras ready because you will have a chance for some beautiful shots.

The balloons lift off very early in the morning, and for kids the event goes by quote quickly. Extend the fun by bringing a kite with you to the event. Once the balloons are gone, the wind starts to kick up and the kites come out. There are usually kites available for purchase, but they can be quite pricey. Save yourself the money and bring your own.

Official Website for the Adirondack Balloon Festival

Two Victorian Events

Which Victorian event do you prefer?

See results

5. Saratoga Victorian Streetwalk

Broadway in Downtown Saratoga is a beautiful street to stroll down any day, but for the Victorian Streetwalk it becomes a Christmas wonderland.

There is something that makes you feel warm and fuzzy about listening to Christmas carols sung by people who look like the Christmas carolers in every cartoon you watched as a child.

The Victorian Streewalk is filled with Victorian costumes, lots of music, traditional holiday decor, and an overall feeling of Christmas joy.

Troy has a similar event, the Victorian Stroll, which they are known for, but frankly, last year at least, Saratoga beat them by far in making an interesting and fun event, in my opinion.

Learn more about the Saratoga Victorian Streetwalk

Fireworks over Empire Plaza in Albany
Fireworks over Empire Plaza in Albany | Source

6. Albany Fourth of July Celebration

Every town and city in the area has a Fourth of July celebration, but Albany is the place to be. This is by far the longest firework display in the area. This year, it started as amazing as you'd expect a finale to be. There are tons of vendors with food. You can spend the day there with your friends or family.

This is a crowded event. There's no getting around that. You can see the fireworks from around the city, or even across the river, however being there on the plaza under the BOOMS is incomparable. If the crowds scare you away from here, I suggest the Waterford fireworks, usually held a different night. You can get in and out very easily and still be right in front of the action.

7. Capital District Scottish Games

Get out your bagpipes and kilts for the Capital District Scottish Games!

Held at the Altamont Fair Grounds, this festival is great fun. Run the 5K and then meet your clan at the beer tent. Enjoy some celtic music and dance, watch the Parade of Tartans and some traditional competitions. There are activities for the kids too.

Official Site of the Scottish Games:

Now there's some real Pipers Piping & Drummers Drumming!

8. Goold's Apple Festival & Craft Show

This is autumn at it's best. Pick your own apples, snack on some apple cider donuts, tour the craft and wine tents, and watch some entertainment under the tent. You can even pick a pumpkin.

Official Website for Goold's Apple Festival & Craft Show

But what about Bowman Orchard's in Rexford? People love bowman's, I know. I suppose it's great for little ones, but for me, I like to pick an apple from an nice tall apple tree. Bowman's trees are tiny. I feel like I'm picking from Apple bushes.

9. Lark Fest

Okay, so to me, this is not a kids event. This is a livelier, drunker, city party than other festivals on the list. This is where the college students will be. This is the event where the people of Albany just let loose and party.

It's not for everyone, but it is a blast.

10. Canal Fest

The Erie Canal had a huge impact on the history of this area, and still is an important part of our community.

We celebrate the canal down at the lock in Waterford each year at Canal Fest. It's got boats, music, kids activities, vendors, and a nice view.

Village of Waterford & RiverSpark Canal Fest

If it's your first time there, be sure to look down at the bricks you are walking on and you can follow a map of the canal locks.

© 2014 Kerri Bee


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