The Best Festivals and Fairs in Indianapolis and Indiana

by Paul Joseph  |  Updated January 16, 2024

Indiana and the state capital of Indianapolis play host to a huge roster of annual festivals and fairs each year, many of which celebrate the region’s rich culture and history.

(Photo: Athenaeum Foundation)

Spanning the Midwest and Great Lakes region, the state of Indiana boasts an eclectic mix of man-made and natural landscapes. From Tibetan temples and spooky labyrinths to sand dunes and deep caves, it’s a place of true wonder and intrigue, attracting large numbers of visitors each year. If you’re planning a trip to Indiana, we’ve dug deep and picked out some of the state’s best festivals and fairs.


Originally celebrated by pre-Christians as a means of driving out the evil spirits of winter and welcoming springtime, today this festival retains many of its Middle Ages traditions but with a healthy injection of contemporary revelry. Modelled after the annual carnival held in the German city of Cologne, sister city to Indianapolis, the event brims with entertainment, including live music, lashings of authentic German food and beer, court jesters, and displays of various customs and rituals that offer a nod to the festival’s ancient origins.

Basile Theatre at the Historic Athenaeum, Indianapolis / January

Winterfest Craft Beer Festival

A staple of Indianapolis’s annual winter entertainment calendar for many years now, Winterfest offers revellers the chance to sample hundreds of beers, ciders, and meads brewed by dozens of local breweries while enjoying local food, shopping, games, and more. Taking place at the West Pavilion in the Indiana State Fairgrounds, and hosted by the Indiana Brewer’s Guild, the festival also sees a swanky VIP event called Winter Woodlands take place the night before opening.

Indiana State Fairgrounds West Pavilion, downtown Indianapolis / February 

World of Wheels

Petrol heads visiting Indiana in February will be in for a treat thanks to the World of Wheels custom car show which comes to town each year. Featuring some of the finest collections and individual automobiles you’ll find anywhere in the US, the Indiana edition of this national roadshow includes a hotly-contested ‘best in show’ competition for car owners, along with celebrity autograph sessions and car altering ‘chop shop’ demonstrations among other auto-themed events and activities.

Indiana State Fairgrounds / March

Cars lined up at the Autorama World of Wheels (Photo: Autorama)

Jay County Fiber Arts Festival

Live demonstrations, expert-led classes and workshops, craft and food vendors, on-site sheep shearing, music performances and a dedicated kids’ area are among the regular attractions at this two-day event in Jay County, which is centred around unique fibres of every kind. In recent years the festival has upped sticks and moved to Jay Community Center, where visitors assemble to see how fibres are turned into yarn, and join in with a whole host of other fun-packed activities.

Jay Community Center, Portland / March 


The iconic plastic bricks known universally as LEGO played a major role in many of our childhoods and every year Indiana State Fairgrounds attracts huge numbers of LEGO enthusiasts for this action-packed festival. The event plays host to an array of LEGO-themed activities, including play brick areas, imaginative displays, and the chance to meet and engage with a wide range of talented artists and engineers whose words of wisdom are certain to inspire your next LEGO creations.

Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis / March 

A creatively-made exhibit at Brickworld (Photo: PerspectivesInBrick via Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0)

Haute Hops and Vines Fest

One of the more recent additions to the region’s festival calendar, having launched in 2022, Haute Hops and Vines Fest gives visitors the chance to try unlimited samples and pours from over 20 craft breweries, wineries and distilleries hailing from across Indiana and beyond. Held in the distinguished environs of Terre Haute’s Historic Brewing District, home to America’s second oldest brewery, the event will also feature local artists’ booths, two amazing local bands playing on the big stage throughout, and food trucks aplenty. All attendees will receive a tasting cup when they arrive in which to enjoy as many of the event’s diverse beverages as they can handle.

Terre Haute Historic Brewing District / April

Festival goers raise a drink at Haute Hops and Vines Fest (Photo:  BoCo Collective)

Indiana Wine Fair

Wine has been produced in Indiana since the early days of European colonisation in the 18th century and today the state is home to several acclaimed wineries. One of the region’s longest running wine events, the Indiana Wine Fair celebrates this heritage by welcoming aficionados of the fermented grape to the small town of Story to sample everything from rieslings to malbecs to cabernets, and more. Now in its 18th year, the fair continues to attract large numbers of wine lovers from far and wide, keen to immerse themselves in the diverse world of Indiana wines. All attendees receive a keepsake wine glass as a memento.

Story Inn, Nashville / May 

Revellers relax on the lawn at the Indiana Wine Fair (Photo: Indiana Wine Fair)


Superb local, regional and national talents take to the streets of downtown Fort Wayne to celebrate the long-standing culture of busking at this well-attended annual festival. Visitors can look forward to every type of street act you could imagine, ranging from living statues, chalk artists and aerialists to fire dancers, jugglers and mime artists. Since the entertainment is free to watch, patrons are encouraged to tip the performers to reward their commendable efforts.

Country Heritage Winery, Downtown Fort Wayne / May

Middle Waves

Featuring more than twenty highly-regarded musical acts performing across multiple live stages at Fort Wayne’s Foellinger Theatre, Middle Waves is one of the region’s most eagerly awaited annual music festivals. Held over two full days, the not-for-profit event offers up an electric line-up of musical acts spanning  indie, hip-hop and rock and roll., along with engaging and interactive art installations, mouth-watering food trucks, a range of beverages, and plenty of kids’ activities too.

Foellinger Theatre, Fort Wayne / June 

A band performs at Middle Waves (Photo: Middle Waves)

Water Lantern Festival

Held in over 100 north American cities throughout the year, the Indianapolis edition of this dazzling – and, for many, emotionally moving – festival comes to Military Park, the city’s oldest urban park, each July. During the event, hundreds of lit lanterns are released into the park’s canal, creating a mesmerising spectacle for all who witness it, with the lanterns generating light and reflections on the water. Lanterns can be personalised before being set free, with participants encouraged to include messages of hope, love, happiness, healing, peace, and connection. As well as the water display, there are also food trucks, games and activities, local vendors and live music. Each adult ticket includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, and a marker to decorate your lantern.

Military Park, Indianapolis / July

Shimmering lanterns on the water at the Water Lantern Festival (Photo: Water Lantern Festival)

Three Rivers Festival

Attracting almost 500,000 visitors each year from near and far, this is another not-for-profit multi-day festival that serves up fun for all the family.  Fort Wayne’s favourite summer party since way back in 1969, when it was created to celebrate the heritage of the area, among the regular highlights are a Food Alley, Art in the Park, Bed Race, Three Rivers Festival Parade, Trivia Night, and Children’s Fest. There are also plenty of souvenirs to pick up and take home with you.

Three Rivers North, Fort Wayne / July 

Festival-goers race a cart along during Three Rivers Festival (Photo: Three Rivers Festival)

Indiana Microbrewers Festival

Indiana’s craft beer scene has been growing at a significant pace year on year and now this burgeoning industry sector has its own dedicated festival in the shape of the annual Indiana Microbrewers Festival. Providing a valuable platform for microbreweries from Indiana and beyond, the event showcases some of the very best craft beer that the region has to offer, helping to increase public awareness and appreciation of this mouth-watering, locally-produced amber nectar.

Military Park, Indianapolis / July 

Revellers pose for a snap during the Indiana Microbrewers Festival (Photo: Indiana Microbrewers Festival)

Indiana State Fair

One of America’s biggest and most well-attended state fairs, revellers flock to the Indiana State Fairgrounds each year to enjoy the glut of amusement park rides, farm animals, music concerts, and circus acts. Some of the major highlights each year include Super City, a hands-on interactive exhibit that allows kids to feel like a superhero; the Wine Garden, serving up award-winning regional tipples; and the Animal Town interactive experience featuring multiple barnyard animals.

Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis / August 

The entrance to Indiana State Fair (Photo: xrayspx via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Madison Ribberfest BBQ & Blues

BBQ and Blues come together in perfect harmony for this action-packed two-day event that sees some 50 professional barbecue teams from across the US go head to head in a hotly-contested Cook-Off. Budding pit-masters can also test their talents in an amateurs’ competition and there’s even a chance for the kids to try their hand at the art of cooking over fire. All the BBQ action takes place against the backdrop of top-class Blues music performed by local and national talents, and there’s also pig riding, a 5k run and a children’s play area.

Bicentennial Park, Madison / August 

Taste of the Arts

Fort Wayne’s vibrant arts community come together for this popular yearly festival that is open to all comers of every age and artistic predilection. There are local dancers, musicians, actors and buskers performing in front of audiences, as well as hands-on kids’ activities, plus the chance to peruse and purchase artwork created by talented local artists that can be taken home to adorn your living room walls. Lashings of food and drink help keep visitors well-refreshed throughout.

Venues across Fort Wayne / August 

A painter sits in front of his equestrian work at Taste of the Arts (Photo: Taste of the Arts)

Hancock County Fair

Visitors can come and enjoy the thrills and spills of a quintessential agricultural-based county fair in the county of Hancock, complete with live entertainment, exhilarating rides, exhibits, farm animals, livestock shows, tractors and a glut of street food options. The event provides a great opportunity for local community members to display and purchase any number of agriculture-themed products, and in doing so supporting local industries which so often find themselves under threat.

Hancock County Fairgrounds, Greenfield / August-September

Rides at Hancock County Fair (Photo: Benny Mazur via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Indy Jazz Fest

This festival sees venues across Indianapolis play host to the very best in international, local and amateur jazz, blues, gospel, soul and more. Some of the biggest names in music have appeared here down the years, including the likes of B.B King, Isaac Hayes, Chaka Khan, George Benson, Chris Isaak, Ray Charles, Bela Fleck, and Sonny Rollins, helping attract large numbers of jazz fans to venues such as the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, The Jazz Kitchen, and Indiana Landmarks Center. As well as the packed programme of live music, there’s also plenty of food and fun to be had.

Venues across Indianapolis / September 

Brewed in the Fort

The very best in Indiana craft beers take centre stage at this popular one-day festival, which raises money for Fort Wayne Trails, a special initiative that’s focussed on developing a system of connected trails throughout Allen County. Up to 2,000 beer lovers descend on the event each year, all tempted by the enviable prospect of sampling a broad selection of locally-produced brews while contributing to a worthy regional cause.

Headwaters Park, Fort Wayne / September 

A reveller holds a branded pint of beer aloft at Brewed in the Fort (Photo:

James Dean Festival

Held each year on the last weekend of September, this festival pays tribute to one of the town of Fairmount’s most iconic former residents – the late Hollywood heartthrob James Dean. Featuring a number of events that honour the famous American actor, including the James Dean Run and a four-day long remembrance celebration, the festival is a good-natured and upbeat affair that also sees car judging, flame throwing contests, music, trivia, a street fair, vendor booths, rides, and more.

Fairmount / September

Festival of Trees

There are not many things that symbolise the festive season quite like a Christmas tree. Each winter for around three months, the Indiana History Center hosts a magnificent exhibition of almost 100 elaborately designed and decorated trees, all packed into the venue’s grand building in Indianapolis. The trees on display are adorned with everything from balloons to tyres to books for the occasion. Visitors also get the chance to vote for their favourite tree during the event.

Indiana History Center, Indianapolis / DATES November-January 

An eye-catching exhibit at the Festival of Trees (Photo: Indiana History Center)