OU Outreach will present the 41st annual Medieval Fair March 31-April 2 at Reaves Park. The fair is the state’s largest weekend event, featuring more than 200 artisans and drawing in more than 300,000 visitors each year.
That’s pretty impressive, but did you know Norman is home to more than a dozen annual fairs, festivals and parades? Norman hosts a special event nearly every month of the year, earning the city the nickname the “City of Festivals.”
Here’s a list of Norman’s most popular festivals and what you can expect from each:
Each January, chocolate lovers flock to the Firehouse Art Center’s annual Chocolate Festival. Once held in OU’s Oklahoma Memorial Union, the festival has grown so much that it’s now held at the Marriott Conference Center at NCED off State Highway 9. Festival ticket holders get to sample a number of chocolate-themed foods from some of Norman’s most popular restaurants. Past events have offered everything from chocolate cinnamon rolls to chocolate chili. The best thing about this festival is you don’t have to feel guilty after indulging—proceeds benefit community art programs offered by the Firehouse Art Center.
If you can’t make it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, downtown Norman is the next best thing. Each February, the sights and sounds of Bourbon Street take over Main Street for the annual Mardi Gras Parade. The evening parade begins at sundown and features fire dancers, jazz bands and, of course, lots and lots of beads. Bring the whole family to toast the King and Queen of Mardi Gras and witness a cast of wild, wacky and unusual characters.
The Medieval Fair, hosted by OU Outreach, is held the first weekend in April at Reaves Park. Festivalgoers are taken back to the middle ages during this free, living history fair that features minstrels, mermaids and knights in shining armor. Highlights of the festival include a human chess board, jousting, live entertainment and medieval games. Don’t forget to grab a smoked turkey leg and handcrafted root beer as you stroll through the park visiting the many arts and crafts booths.
Norman’s Earth Day Festival is held annually on the third Sunday in April at Reaves Park. State agencies, local organizations and city departments join together to provide a day of fun, family activities and exhibits that promote the importance of protecting our planet’s air, water, forests, wildlife and natural resources.
There’s something for everyone at this free, three-day music festival. Held each April, the festival features more than 350 artists from a variety of musical genres on both indoor and outdoor stages. The festival also includes food and art vendors, as well as a children’s area with activities and children’s bands. Past festivals have featured the Chainsaw Kittens, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Leon Russell, Todd Snider and Polyphonic Spree. Expect more than 100,000 people to take over the downtown area for this much-anticipated event, which also features a carnival with rides and games.
The May Fair Arts Festival is held each year just before Mother’s Day at Andrews Park. Hosted by the Assistance League of Norman, the fair features original fine arts and crafts booths, a juried art show, a children’s art yard, live entertainment and food vendors. A 5K race is held in conjunction with the festival to benefit Operation School Bell, an Assistance League program that helps meet clothing needs for less fortunate children in the Norman area.
Jazz in June, another free, multi-day music festival, has brought local and national artists to Norman for more than 30 years. Held at different venues throughout Norman, this three-day celebration of jazz and blues is the perfect way to welcome summer weather while enjoying great music under the stars.
Each September, Groovefest is held at Andrews Park in Norman. Another free event, this internationally known festival features live music, art vendors and guest speakers all in an effort to promote human rights for everyone.
OU’s Max Westheimer Airport holds its free aviation festival each October to educate the community and cultivate interest in the aviation industry. The family friendly festival is a great way for children and adults alike to get up close and personal with all types of aircraft and talk to representatives from aviation-related organizations. Attendees can also take a tour of the airport control tower and enjoy hands-on activities in the children’s area.
Ghosts and goblins have free rein of Main Street when it closes down each year for this Halloween-themed festival. The event features trick-or-treating, games and activities for the whole family. The highlight of the evening is a costume contest with prizes.
The annual National Weather Festival, held each fall at the National Weather Center, highlights Oklahoma’s many weather-related organizations and activities. This event features hourly weather balloon launches, a chance to visit with TV meteorologists, emergency response vehicle and equipment displays, storm chaser vehicle displays and children’s activities. Visitors can also tour the Storm Prediction Center and National Weather Service.
The focus of this fall festival is wine and craft beer, when Oklahoma wineries, breweries and merchants set up under tents in Norman’s Brookhaven Village. Visitors can enjoy live music while sampling some of Oklahoma’s finest beverages and a variety of made-in-Oklahoma products.
This Norman tradition is held each December. Children and adults bundle up and line downtown Norman streets to take in bands, floats and classic cars. The parade is a perfect way to usher in the holiday season and get a first glimpse of Santa Claus.