Summer has officially begun, which means a Northern Nevada special event is happening almost every weekend for the next four months. From outdoor concerts to classic car shows to balloon races, there’s an unlimited number of opportunities for fun. So, whether you just moved here or need a refresher, we’re sharing some local insider tips to ensure you enjoy everything the region offers. Here’s what you need to know.

Local Insider: Your Northern Nevada Special Event Season Survival Guide


A nationally recognized, premier art festival, Artown is a Northern Nevada special event that brings literally dozens of events, activities, and shows to the region every day from July 1 to 31, 2022. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, from artist workshops to comedy shows to dancing by the river. Read more here to make the most of your summer at Artown, read more here, and follow these local tips.

Tip 1: Create an account at to save your favorite events, create and print your personalized itinerary, and download a special desktop image of this year’s poster.

Tip 2: Get an easy-to-transport, comfortable folding chair for all the outdoor activities and concerts Artown offers.

Hot August Nights

reno events - Hot August Nights
Photo by Marcello Rostagni

Many Northern Nevada special event favorites are featured throughout the year, but one of the most anticipated is Hot August Nights. From July 29 to Aug. 7, 2022, this region-wide event celebrates classic cars and rock n’ roll on the streets of Virginia City, Reno, and Sparks. Whether you are a die-hard classic car enthusiast or simply looking for a fun way to spend a summer evening, Hot August Nights is the event for you. For more information, click here.

Tip 3: Daydream about owning a classic car, or put those dreams into motion, all in the comfort of the air-conditioned Reno/Sparks Convention Center during the Hot August Nights Collector Car Auction presented by Motorsport Auction Group (MAG).

Dragon Lights Reno - July Things To Do In Reno 2022Dragon Lights Reno

As one of the most unique Northern Nevada special event displays, Dragon Lights will return to illuminate the Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Rancho San Rafael Park from July 1 to Aug. 12, 2022. With 42 larger-than-life lantern sculptures and thousands of LED lights, this immersive walk-through represents Reno’s culturally vibrant and growing art scene. For more information, click here.

Tip 4: A limited number of tickets will be available at the box office each night, but it may close early if the festival exceeds its capacity for the night. So, purchasing tickets online is the way to go.

Shakespeare Festival

This summer, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival (LTSF) will celebrate its 50th anniversary season by bringing entertainment, food, family, and friends to the shores of Lake Tahoe, Nevada. You can watch Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” or the feel-good musical “Mamma Mia!” beneath the stars. Tickets are available July 1 through August 22. For more information, click here.

Tip 5: While there’s not a bad seat in the house, upgrading to the premium seats is worth it. You’ll get the most intimate view of the performance, roomy Adirondack chairs, and food and beverage service before the show and at intermission. Order your dinner and drinks ahead from Shakespeare’s Kitchen and get ready to enjoy the event like royalty.

Burning Man

Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, and self-expression, attracts thousands of people annually to the Black Rock Desert in Northern Nevada. While the pandemic interrupted operations for the last two years, this gathering will return this year from Aug. 28 to Sept. 5, 2022. For more information, visit the Burning Man website.

Tip 6: Headed to the playa? Whether you’re a first-timer or a Burning Man veteran, read the most recent survival guide. Preparation is critical for surviving the brutal desert environment at this one-of-a-kind Northern Nevada special event—and one of Burning Man’s 10 Principles is Radical Self-Reliance.

Tip 7: Not up for the dust? If you’re Biggest Little City-bound, stock up on your household food and supplies before the influx of people headed to Black Rock City clear out the store shelves.

Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-of

With more than 20 of the country’s best barbeque teams competing for bragging rights and prize money, the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off is considered the Super Bowl of rib competitions on the national BBQ competition circuit. But it’s more than just meat! This Northern Nevada special event brings live activities and entertainment galore to more than six city blocks in the heart of downtown Sparks, Nevada, from Aug. 31 to Sept. 5, 2022, at Victorian Square near the Nugget Casino. For more information, click here.

Tip 8: Beat the lines and the heat by going mid-week at 11 a.m. or after the sun goes down. There’s nothing better than feeling the cool evening breeze on your face while eating the best ribs with the ones you love.

Tip 9: For eaters with a big appetite, you can get a VIP table at the Rib Village with access to an all-you-can-eat rib buffet, side dishes, beverages, ice cream, and more.

Great Reno Balloon Race

The Great Reno Balloon Race - September calendar of events in Reno

In Reno, during the first week of September, you can see up to 100 balloons of all shapes and sizes floating in the Northern Nevada sky. The Great Reno Balloon Race is truly a sight to behold as the world’s largest free hot-air ballooning event. Located at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, the whole family is in for a bright, fun morning from Sept. 9­–11, 2022. For more information, click here.

Tip 10: If you miss out on Cloud 9 VIP parking, general public parking will be available at Rancho San Rafael Park for a $20 donation to the event. There will also be free parking at the University of Nevada, Reno, near Mackay Stadium. For more parking information, click here. Don’t want to drive? The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County adds extra service to the RAPID Virginia Line and extends the route to Rancho San Rafael Park during the event.

Tip 11: Many people wonder if chairs are allowed. The answer is yes. You can bring lawn chairs, sleeping bags, and blankets. But be sure to use designated viewing areas and avoid blocking the view of those with blankets.

Tip 12: If you’re debating whether to attend the Super Glow Show or Dawn Patrol, we’re here to tell you that it’s 100% worth setting your alarm clock for the early wake-up. Bundle up in layers, as it is coldest before dawn.

STIHL National Championship Air Races

From Sept. 14–18, the Reno Air Racing Association will celebrate more than 50 years of the fastest motorsport on earth with the STIHL National Championship Air Races. This event started as a small gathering of aviation enthusiasts and has become a world-renowned event, attracting pilots and spectators from across the globe to the Reno-Stead Airport. For more information, click here.

Tip 13: Take your aviation knowledge one step further and reserve a Chairman’s Hospitality Tent, go on an aircraft tour, or bring a pair of binoculars to get an up-close view of the planes racing through the sky.

The Great Italian Festival

For 40 years, this epicurean festival has offered visitors a variety of fun activities, from grape stomping to Italian farmers markets to food vendors and more. Best of all, there is no entry fee for The Great Italian Festival. So, come one, come all, and don’t miss this Northern Nevada special event as it transforms downtown Reno into little Italy from Oct. 8–9, 2022. For more information, click here.

Tip 14: This festival is the perfect opportunity to try delicious authentic foods, such as chicken parmesan, Gnocchetti pesto, fried ravioli, fried calamari, and mushroom ravioli with porcini cream sauce, and more. So, don’t wear your favorite shirt—things may get messy quickly.

International Camel & Ostrich Races

Sydney Martinez/TravelNevada

This event began more than 60 years ago as a prank between two newspaper editors and has since become a Northen Nevada tradition. As a comical racing spectacle, jockeys—amateur and professional—race camels, ostriches, and zebras around the track during the International Camel & Ostrich Races. You’re almost guaranteed to hear laughter from the crowd rolling down the hills to Reno, with four shows happening between Sept. 9–11, 2022. For information, click here.

Tip 15: Make a weekend getaway of this event and enjoy Virginia City’s historic charm. But, plan ahead and book a room—lodging in town is limited and sells out quickly.

World Championship Outhouse Races

32nd Annual World Championship Outhouse Races - October Calendar Of Events In RenoThis Northern Nevada special event dates to when outdoor plumbing was outlawed in Virginia City, and angry residents stormed the streets with their outhouses. Since then, it has become the World Championship Outhouse Races, where teams of dressed racers compete in a full-blown potty race. Don’t miss this year’s event on Oct. 2, 2022. For more information, click here.

Tip 16: Be part of the fun and register your team of outhouse racers. If you don’t know how to build a potty, racing shacks are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Nevada Day Parade

As a grand finale to the Northern Nevada special event season, the Nevada Day parade in Carson City takes place on Oct. 29, 2022, to celebrate Nevada’s heritage and its founding on October 31, 1862. In addition to the parade, there will be a rock drilling contest, battle of bands, beard contest, various sporting events, and more. So, whether you’re a local Nevadan or just visiting for the day, check out the Nevada Day festivities in our state’s capital. For more information, click here.

Tip 17: If you’re planning on attending the parade, it’s best to arrive early to claim a parking spot down Carson Street, and don’t forget to bring chairs to watch the festivities and snacks to keep your energy up.

Tip 18: Remember, it’s pronounced Ne-VAD-uh.

At Dickson Realty, our team of local experts knows how to make the most of the Northern Nevada special event season. To learn more about living in Reno and Sparks, contact one of our Realtors today.