5 Must-Attend Events in 2024: From Eeyore's Party to Bay to Breakers

Written by: Robyn Blaze

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Time to read 13 min

In a world teeming with extraordinary experiences and vibrant festivals, there lies a treasure trove of events that stand out not merely for their popularity but for their uniqueness and the indelible memories they promise to leave. As we look ahead to 2024, the quest for these remarkable occasions has led us to curate a list of five bucket-list events that beckon with the allure of adventure, culture, and sheer, unadulterated joy. Each event selected for this list offers a glimpse into the soul of the communities that host them, embodying traditions, stories, and experiences that are as diverse as they are unforgettable.



The events we've chosen are far from the usual tourist traps; they are the heartbeats of their locales, offering an authentic dive into experiences that define and distinguish their origins. From the quirky and eccentric to the grand and historical, these gatherings span the spectrum of human celebration, inviting attendees to not just observe but immerse themselves in festivities that resonate on a deeply personal level.



Our selection criteria went beyond the sheer scale and entered the realms of cultural significance, community spirit, and the unique flavor each event brings to the table. These are not the biggest events you’ll find in travel brochures across the US, but they are, without doubt, among the most memorable. They beckon with the promise of experiences that challenge the mundane, invite the extraordinary, and leave an imprint on your heart and mind. Join us as we unveil these five must-attend events for 2024, each a portal to stories untold and adventures awaiting.

Sculture of Eeyore Located at  Eastwoods Park
TerraFrost, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

1. Eeyore’s Birthday Party: A Unique Austin Tradition

History and Origin: Nestled in the vibrant city of Austin, Texas, Eeyore’s Birthday Party is a celebration that began with the most humble of beginnings in 1963. Born out of a springtime picnic organized by Plan II students and faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, this event was initially a whimsical nod to Eeyore, the classic, lovably glum donkey from A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh. The celebration was inspired by a story in which Eeyore believes his birthday has been forgotten, only to find his friends have planned a surprise party in his honor. What started as a small gathering at Eastwoods Park with a trashcan of lemonade, honey sandwiches, and a flower-draped donkey, has evolved into a beloved local tradition, deeply embedded in Austin's cultural fabric.



Evolution Over the Years: From its inception, Eeyore’s Birthday Party has transformed dramatically. What was once a quaint picnic has grown into a major annual festival, attracting thousands from all walks of life. Over the decades, the event has seen various organizers, from the Friends of the Forest Foundation to the University YMCA, each contributing to the festival's expansion and the addition of new traditions, including live music, food and drink vendors, and a variety of contests and games. The festival has remained true to its roots, celebrating Austin's unique culture and community spirit.



What to Expect: Today, Eeyore’s Birthday Party is a kaleidoscope of color and sound, a gathering that transcends age and background. Attendees can expect a day filled with live music spanning various genres, bringing together local bands and musicians to create an unforgettable auditory experience. The park buzzes with family-friendly activities, from arts and crafts to carnival games, ensuring that visitors of all ages find joy and entertainment. The tradition of costumes remains a vibrant part of the festival, with attendees encouraged to let their imaginations run wild, be it through elaborate outfits or simple, whimsical accessories. The iconic live donkey and may pole stand as symbols of the event’s enduring connection to its original iteration, inviting attendees to partake in a shared, historical moment of joy.



Attending the Event: For those planning to join the festivities, a few tips can enhance the experience. Transportation to the park can be tricky due to the high attendance and limited parking. Utilizing the festival’s shuttle service from designated areas is a convenient way to avoid the hassle of parking. Attendees are encouraged to embrace the spirit of the event through costumes, whether by channeling the whimsy of Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood or creating something uniquely their own. Participating in the event’s traditions, from dancing around the may pole to joining in the communal singing on the shuttle bus, is a must for the full Eeyore’s Birthday experience. Remember to bring refillable water bottles, as the festival provides purified water stations to keep everyone hydrated.



Eeyore’s Birthday Party is more than just an event; it’s a testament to Austin’s ability to foster a sense of community and creativity. This unique tradition invites locals and visitors alike to come together in a celebration of whimsy, friendship, and the simple joys of life.

Mardi Gras Float during Parade.
Carol M. Highsmith, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

2. Mardi Gras in New Orleans: The Ultimate Carnival Experience

Cultural Significance: Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the crescendo of the Carnival season, a time of festivity and indulgence that precedes the solemn season of Lent in the Christian calendar. Its roots in New Orleans are deep and vibrant, reflecting the city's rich tapestry of French, Spanish, and African cultures. Celebrated with an intensity and fervor unmatched anywhere else in the world, Mardi Gras embodies the spirit of New Orleans: a blend of history, tradition, and a touch of the mystical. The event is not just a day but a season, beginning on January 6th, known as Twelfth Night, and spanning until Ash Wednesday. It's a time when the city is alight with color, music, and the joyous energy of its people.



Parades and Krewes: The heart of Mardi Gras lies in its extravagant parades, organized by social clubs known as krewes. Each krewe has its unique history, traditions, and theme. From the opulent floats of Rex and Bacchus to the historical elegance of Zulu, these parades are a feast for the senses. Participants throw trinkets, or "throws," to the crowd, which include beads, coins (doubloons), and specialty items that vary from krewe to krewe. The meticulous planning and creativity that go into the floats and throws exemplify the communal effort and spirit of the season.



Beyond Bourbon Street: While Bourbon Street's revelry is well-publicized, the soul of Mardi Gras beats strongest in the heart of the city's neighborhoods. Uptown and Mid-City host some of the most traditional and family-friendly parades, offering a different perspective on the celebration. Venturing beyond the French Quarter allows visitors to experience Mardi Gras as the locals do, complete with block parties, neighborhood gatherings, and street performances.



Planning Your Visit: Attending Mardi Gras requires some foresight. Accommodations should be booked well in advance, as the city fills up quickly. When planning parade viewing, arrive early to secure a good spot, particularly for the most popular parades like Endymion and Bacchus. Consider the parade schedule and route when planning your day, as traffic can be heavy, and some streets may be closed. Lastly, embrace the local customs and traditions by joining in the festivities, dressing up, and, most importantly, keeping an open heart and mind to the myriad experiences Mardi Gras in New Orleans has to offer.



Mardi Gras in New Orleans is more than just a party; it's a living, breathing manifestation of the city's history, culture, and communal spirit. It's an experience that encapsulates the essence of joy, resilience, and celebration, inviting all who attend to partake in something truly magical.

A Juggalo on his bicycle
Brodiesel710, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

3. Gathering of the Juggalos: Embracing the Extraordinary

What is the Gathering?: The Gathering of the Juggalos stands as a testament to the extraordinary, a festival that defies conventional norms and celebrates individuality. Founded by the Insane Clown Posse and their label, Psychopathic Records, in 2000, this annual music festival has grown into a cultural phenomenon. Originally conceived as a space for fans of the band, known affectionately as Juggalos, to come together, it has evolved into a massive five-day event that encompasses music, wrestling, games, and a variety of other entertainment forms. The Gathering is a unique blend of concert, carnival, and community gathering, creating an environment where everyone is welcome and anything goes.



Activities and Attractions: The Gathering boasts a packed itinerary that caters to a wide range of interests. From the main stage featuring performances by well-known musical acts and artists under the Psychopathic Records label to the wrestling ring where Juggalo Championship Wrestling events unfold, there's never a dull moment. Activities extend beyond the music and mosh pits into realms of karaoke, comedy shows, and even seminars with artists. Unique events like the Juggalo Karaoke and late-night parties offer attendees the chance to immerse themselves fully in the festival's culture. Carnival rides, midway games, and autograph sessions with performers add layers to the experience, ensuring that the Gathering remains an unforgettable event.



Why Attend?: The Gathering of the Juggalos is more than just a music festival; it's a celebration of community and acceptance. The appeal lies in the diversity of experiences and the unjudged expression of self that the Gathering promotes. People watching becomes a fascinating activity as you're likely to encounter a kaleidoscope of personalities and styles. The sense of belonging is palpable, with veterans and newcomers alike embracing the ethos of camaraderie and non-judgment. The Gathering creates a space where everyone can be themselves, free from the confines of societal expectations, making it a uniquely liberating experience.



Tips for First-Timers: For those attending the Gathering for the first time, preparation is key. Expect the unexpected, but also take practical steps to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Stay hydrated and be mindful of the weather, as the event is outdoors and conditions can vary. Dress comfortably and considerately, keeping in mind the communal nature of the Gathering. Engage with the community—Juggalos are known for their welcoming spirit and shared love for the music and culture of the Insane Clown Posse. Finally, keep an open mind. The Gathering is unlike any other festival, and embracing its uniqueness is the best way to enjoy the full experience.



The Gathering of the Juggalos is an extraordinary event that offers a window into a distinct subculture within the music industry. It's an invitation to explore, participate, and connect in ways that go beyond the music, making it a must-visit for those looking to experience something genuinely different.

Tuff Shed Cryogenic Mausoleum Art Piece
rickpawl, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Frozen Dead Guy Days: Nederland's Chilliest Festival

Origins of the Festival: Frozen Dead Guy Days finds its roots in a story that is as bizarre as it is true, centered around the cryogenically preserved body of Bredo Morstoel. After his death in 1989, Morstoel's grandson had him frozen in the hopes that future technology could revive him. Bredo's body was stored in a Tuff Shed in the small mountain town of Nederland, Colorado, leading to the festival's inception in 2002. This peculiar backstory set the stage for what would become one of the most unique and oddly endearing festivals in the United States, celebrating the life and legacy of "Grandpa Bredo" through a weekend of whimsical and chilly festivities.



Festival Highlights: Frozen Dead Guy Days boasts a variety of events that embody the festival's quirky spirit. Activities range from coffin races, where teams sprint with a teammate in a coffin, to the polar plunge, inviting the bravest souls to dive into icy waters. There's also a parade of hearses, ice turkey bowling, and the creation of intricate snow sculptures. The festival includes music performances, food vendors offering everything from comfort food to gourmet bites, and a plethora of themed contests such as the frozen t-shirt competition. These unique activities not only celebrate Grandpa Bredo's frozen state but also bring together people from all walks of life to enjoy the festivity's eccentric charm.



Why It's a Must-Visit: Frozen Dead Guy Days stands out for its unparalleled blend of humor, community spirit, and sheer oddity. It's a festival that not only embraces but celebrates the quirkiness of human nature and the bizarre stories that life can offer. This event encourages attendees to revel in the unconventional, fostering a sense of belonging among those who appreciate the lighter side of death and the celebration of life. The communal atmosphere, combined with the festival's unique theme, makes it a standout experience that promises laughter, camaraderie, and a touch of the macabre.



Practical Information: Given its mountain location, attendees should prepare for cold weather conditions, dressing warmly and in layers to enjoy the outdoor activities comfortably. Nederland is a small town, so accommodation options may be limited. Visitors are encouraged to book their stay well in advance or consider nearby towns for more options. Participating in the festival's events often requires registration, so it's advisable to check the official website for details on how to sign up for races, plunges, and contests. Lastly, embrace the festival's spirit—come with an open mind and be ready to join in the fun and peculiarities that make Frozen Dead Guy Days a truly one-of-a-kind festival.



Frozen Dead Guy Days offers a rare opportunity to celebrate life, community, and the whimsy of human eccentricity against the backdrop of Colorado's stunning landscapes. It's a testament to the power of storytelling and the ability of a community to come together to celebrate something as unconventional as cryopreservation. Whether you're there for the chilly thrills or the warm sense of community, Frozen Dead Guy Days promises an experience unlike any other.

Person dressed in a pink gorilla costume running race
Geoffrey Weber, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

5. Bay to Breakers: San Francisco’s Iconic Footrace

Historical Background: Bay to Breakers has its roots deeply embedded in the history of San Francisco, born from the ashes of the devastating 1906 earthquake. Established in 1912 as a way to lift the city's spirits, this footrace has grown into a celebrated annual event. The race spans from the San Francisco Bay, cutting through the city, and finishing at the Pacific coast, hence the name "Bay to Breakers". Over the years, it has become a symbol of resilience, community spirit, and the vibrant diversity that defines San Francisco.



The Race Today: Currently, Bay to Breakers is renowned not just for its athletic challenge but also for its dynamic, inclusive celebration of life and creativity. Participants often don costumes ranging from the whimsical to the elaborate, embodying everything from topical humor to beloved characters and inventive original concepts. The race concludes with the Finish Line Festival, a gathering that extends the day's festivities with music, entertainment, and activities that celebrate the race's participants and the city itself.



Experience Beyond the Race: Bay to Breakers transcends the boundaries of a traditional footrace, impacting San Francisco's cultural and social landscape. It fosters a sense of community and unity, inviting not only runners but also spectators to partake in the day's jubilance. Neighborhoods along the racecourse often host parties and cheer zones, turning the event into a city-wide celebration. The inclusive atmosphere and the spectacle of costumes create a day filled with joy, laughter, and camaraderie.



Joining the Fun: Participation in Bay to Breakers is open to everyone, from serious runners to casual participants and costume-clad marchers. Registration is straightforward through the event's official website, where participants can also find information on race day logistics. For those looking to join in the costume tradition, creativity is key; whether you're crafting a group ensemble or an individual getup, the goal is to add to the vibrant tapestry that makes the race so special. Spectators, too, can enjoy the day by lining up along the course to cheer on participants and taking part in the various neighborhood festivities.

Conclusion

From the whimsical celebration of Eeyore’s Birthday Party in Austin to the pulsating heart of New Orleans' Mardi Gras; from the extraordinary Gathering of the Juggalos to Nederland's chillingly unique Frozen Dead Guy Days; and culminating in the spirited Bay to Breakers footrace in San Francisco, each event we’ve explored offers a distinct experience rooted in community, tradition, and a dash of the extraordinary. These events showcase the diverse fabric of celebrations across the United States, each with its unique appeal to different interests and desires for unforgettable experiences.



As we look towards 2024, these gatherings not only promise fun and festivity but also an opportunity to immerse oneself in the heartbeat of diverse communities, to celebrate life’s eccentricities, and to connect with others in joyous, shared human experiences. Whether drawn to the music, the costumes, the sports, or simply the spectacle of it all, there's something in each event for everyone. We encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, mark your calendars, and dive into these unique celebrations for memories that will last a lifetime.

Robin Blaze - Cultural Correspondent & Cannabis Connoisseur

Robin Blaze

Cultural Correspondent & Cannabis Connoisseur


Robyn Blaze is a dynamic force in the world of journalism, known for her spirited exploration of cannabis culture. With a keen eye for the evolving landscape of modern culture and a deep understanding of cannabis trends, Robyn has become a trusted voice for readers seeking insight beyond the mainstream.


Beyond her written work, Robyn is a vibrant speaker and advocate for cannabis education, demystifying the plant's culture and science at conferences and public forums. Her commitment to uncovering the stories that matter, combined with her approachable demeanor, has endeared her to a diverse audience.


When she's not chasing stories or demystifying the latest cannabis products, Robyn finds joy in the simple pleasures of life. A lover of the outdoors, she often retreats to nature for inspiration, believing that the greatest stories are written by living life to the fullest.