Celebrate spam, red poppies, ukuleles, and light.
Spring has officially sprung, bringing with it plenty of fresh blooms and a dizzying number of cheap and free outdoor festivals and adventures you can’t afford to miss. Even in some of the nation's most notoriously expensive cities, like Honolulu, it's possible to participate without cracking open your wallet even once.
Related: The Best Places to Travel in April
From ukulele performances to 1960s-themed festivals, these are seven of the most interesting free and cheap events worth traveling for this April.
Fiestas in San Antonio, Texas
April in San Antonio ushers in a series of festivals and events, including ¡Viva Hemisfair! (April 6 to 8) in San Antonio’s Hemisfair Park. Marking the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 World’s Fair — which was held with great fanfare in the Alamo City — the three-day festival will include free music and cultural performances, public art, historical exhibits, a 1960s-themed fashion show, and other fun throwbacks to the 1968 fair. As a bonus, the Institute of Texan Cultures will offer free and reduced admission during the festival.
Later in the month, travelers can check out the 11-day Fiesta San Antonio (April 19 to 29). What started with a single parade back in 1891 now features multiple parades and more than 100 other free and ticketed events, including carnivals, galas, arts fairs, concerts, and more to streets and venues across the city.
Ukulele Performances in Mendocino, California
Fans of ukuleles (and ukulele music) will gather in Fort Bragg, California on April 13 and 14 for the Mendocino Coast UkeFest. A cool $30 covers a full day of workshops, open mic events, musical performances, and other ukulele-focused entertainment on Saturday, April 14 — but admission to the fun Friday night ukulele jam-fest is free for all.
Light Shows in Baltimore, Maryland
Light City — a free large-scale light, music, and innovation festival — take overs the waterfront in Baltimore, Maryland from April 14 to 21 with a full line-up of performances and free concerts (ranging from a 10-piece brass ensemble to hip hop legend Grandmaster Flash), an opening night parade, closing night fireworks, and 21 brand new juried light installations by artists from around the world.
SPAM Street Festival in Honolulu, Hawaii
Waikiki’s SPAM Jam festival returns to Honolulu, Hawaii on April 28. The annual street festival offers three stages hosting free musical concerts along with crafts, souvenirs, and food booths serving up (you guessed it) a wide and surprising variety of dishes incorporating the canned ham product first introduced in 1937. Spam remains especially popular with locals, and if you're in town for the festival, be sure to order at least one loco moco breakfast with rice, a fried egg, and spam.
National Parks in the United States
While most of the country's 400 national parks are free, more than 100 sites — including the stunning Capitol Reef National Park in southern Utah — normally charge an entrance fee. Travelers can avoid the fees in every park on April 21, the first day of National Park Week (April 21 to 29 in 2018). Many parks also offer special programs and events, as well.
Red Poppy Party in Georgetown, Texas
Georgetown, Texas — some 27 miles north of Austin — celebrates its status at the “Red Poppy Capital of Texas” with the annual Red Poppy Festival, taking place this year from April 27 until 29. The free event includes a “Paint Georgetown Red” parade (if you go, wear red), dance performances, music concerts, a car show, and plenty of family-oriented entertainment. Admission to the Red Poppy Festival is free for all.
Book Festival in Berkeley, California
The free two-day Bay Area Book Festival (April 28 to 29) returns to downtown Berkeley, California for the fourth year with a full line-up of authors and speakers, children’s programs, arts installations, and hundreds of literary exhibitions. There’s also a series of conversations and film screenings (albeit ticketed) about literature in partnership with the Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive.