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Your Kansas City summer bucket list

Make the most of the warm weather with this list of the best local events and activities happening this summer.

Picture of people in green walking around Crown Center during Irish Fest.

Say hello to festival season. | Photo by KCtoday

Summer’s here and Kansas City is so ready. From live music and Memorial Day celebrations to hiking and festivals, summer is when the City of Fountains comes alive.

Bonus: Print this list off, stick it to your fridge, and see how many items you can check off.


Brookside Art Annual | Friday, May 3-Sunday, Sunday, May 5 | Times vary | Brookside Neighborhood, KCMO | The first art festival of the summer transforms this quaint part of town into an eclectic open-air market for artists of all stripes.

KC Water Latern Festival | Saturday, May 18 | 5:30-9:30 p.m. | Theis Park, KCMO | Light up the night as fest-goers release hundreds of paper lanterns on to Brush Creek.

Vaile Strawberry Festival | Saturday, June 1 | 9 a.m.-4 p.m. | Vaile Mansion, Independance, MO | Step into the historic home as it transforms into this sweet fest celebrating all things strawberry.

Old Shawnee Days | Thursday, June 6-Sunday, June 9 | Times vary | Shawnee Town 1929, Shawnee, KS | Historical reenactments and crafts meet modern day fun at a fest featuring carnival rides and live music.

Foodie favorites

KC Summer Beer Fest | Saturday, May 11 | 6 p.m.-10 p.m. | GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, KCMO | Those looking to party on the Chiefs’ home turf can celebrate with 60 breweries and 150 beers.

Great Lenexa Barbecue Battle | Friday, June 21-Saturday, June 22 | Times vary | Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park, Lenexa, KS | This official state championship brings the best in berbecue to compete in categories like brisket, pork ribs, and sausage.

Q BBQ Fest | Friday, June 21-June 22 | Times vary | GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, KCMO | It’s pure smoked bliss at this competition bringing together metro masters and award-winning pitmasters from across the country.

Outdoor + animal adventures

Celebration at the Station | Sunday, May 26 | 5 p.m. | Union Station + National WWI Memorial, KCMO | Spread out on the lawn and listen as the Kansas City Symphony perform patriotic classics at this Memorial Day tradition.

Jazzoo | Friday, June 7 | 7:30 p.m. | Kansas City Zoo + Aquarium, KCMO | This sea otter soiree promises the best in local food, drinks, and entertainment — all supporting the org’s amazing animals.

Stars + Stripes Picnic | Thursday, July 4 | Time TBA | National WWI Memorial, KCMO | Summer in the city isn’t complete without the largest fireworks display in Kansas City.

Festival of Butterflies | Thursday, July 18-Sunday, August 4 | Hours of operation | Powell Garden, Kingsville, MO | See tropical and native butterflies among beautiful botanic displays.

KC Lawn Party | Sunday, July 21 | 4-8 p.m. | Theis Park + The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, KCMO | It’s the lawn parties to end all lawn parties with live music, food trucks, art activities, and games stretching from the Nelson-Atkins to Brush Creek.

Boulevardia 2023

Craft beer and live music — what more could you want?

Photo via Boulevardia

Live music + performances

Miller Lite Hot Country Nights | Every Thursday, June 6-Aug. 22 | Times vary | KC Live!, KCMO | Grab your cowboy boots and saddle on down to the weekly event bringing hot names in country music to the heart of KC.

Future Stages Festival | Sunday, June 9 | 12-5 p.m. | Kauffman Center, KCMO | Hundreds of youth-performers from around the metro take the stage at this free arts extravaganza.

Heart of America Shakespeare Festival | June 11-June 30 | Times vary | Southmoreland Park, KCMO | Grab some Shakes Beer and experience free performances of the English master’s work all month long.

Summer Concerts in the Park | June 13, July 11, Aug. 8 | 7:30 p.m. | Thompson Park, Overland Park, KS | This free concert series brings talented musicians for unforgettable shows under the stars.

Boulevardia | Friday, June 14-Saturday, June 15 | Times vary | Crown Center, KCMO | Boulevard Brewing throws one of the best block parties of the year with food trucks, concerts, maker booths, a family carnival, and craft brews.

KC Fringe Festival | Friday, July 12-Sunday, July 28 | Times vary | Location TBA | There’s something for every kind of creative at this two-week showcase spotlighting theater, dance, circus, film, and visual arts.

Cultural celebrations

Festa Italiana | Friday, May 30-Sunday, June 2 | Times vary | Zona Rosa, KCMO | KC North turns into Little Italy for one weekend only with iconic foods, an Italian motorsports show, and craft fair.

KC PrideFest + Parade | Friday, June 7-Sunday, June 9 | Times vary | KCMO | There’s a lot to love at this weekend celebration of all things LGBTQ, including live music and performances.

Ethnic Enrichment Festival | Friday, August 16-Sunday, August 18 | Times vary | Swope Park, KCMO | Experience dozens of international cultures alive-and-well in the Kansas City community through food, dance, and music.

Spotlight Charlie Parker | Saturday, Aug. 24 | Time + Location TBA | Celebrate local jazz legend Charlie “Bird” Parker with this multi-day event featuring the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra + other live performances.

Kansas City Irish Fest | Friday, August 30-Sunday, September 1 | Times vary | Crown Center, KCMO | Paint the city green with three days of live music, special performances, and drinks celebrating Celtic heritage.

Seasonal essentials

  • Tired of losing your sunglasses in the water? These floating sunglasses provide optimal clarity and comfort for all your summer adventures.
  • Shield yourself from the sun while adding a touch of flair to your outfit with one of our hats.
  • This iceless cooler keeps your drinks cold for 7 hours.
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