Reno events to add to your calendar

Well, the secret’s out, Reno has been voted the happiest place to live in 2023. Of course, Northern Nevadans already knew that, and a big part of it has to do with the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape combined with the seemingly endless community activities that make life more exciting in the Biggest Little City. From an endless parade of bar crawls to streets filled with art and music and even a sky full of hot air balloons, there’s seemingly never a dull day in Reno. That’s why we put together a list of some of the Northern Nevada events that keep us looking forward to something year-round!

Reno Santa Crawl crowd gathers under Reno Arch

Bar Crawls

The residents of Reno love a good night out on the town, and our yearly calendar of themed bar crawls keeps things interesting! Far from a disorganized bacchanal, though, Reno’s bar crawls are put on by an official parent organization called Crawl Reno, which maintains a list of dates, themes, and important information about each event on their website. Currently, patrons can take part in the Leprechaun Crawl, Santa Crawl, Zombie Crawl, Onesie Crawl, Mimosa Day, and Margarita Day throughout the year.

For each event, guests can pay for a themed cup, which will get them discounted drinks at participating bars and clubs (of which you can count on at least a dozen throughout downtown). Theme-appropriate costumes are encouraged, but it’s important to know before you go: downtown Reno isn’t like the Vegas Strip, where alcohol can be purchased and consumed in public. Instead, establish how you’ll be getting downtown and how you’ll get home safely at the end of the night before starting your crawl, and be sure to keep your drinks inside the bar.

Check Crawl Reno ahead of time for a list of participating venues and a handy map to get you where you want to go!

Earth Day

Northern Nevadans owe a lot of our happiness to the outdoors, and every year we like to appreciate Mother Nature with one of many Earth Day celebrations on or around April 22. One of the biggest Earth Day celebrations happens at Idlewild Park on the banks of the Truckee River. With local vendors, performers, and volunteers, the event focuses on both entertainment and education, allowing attendees to learn about sustainability, recycling, energy, and much more from local nonprofit and educational groups.

As a tip, Reno’s Regional Transportation Commission offers free transportation to and from the Idlewild celebration between 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Other Northern Nevada festivals celebrating Earth Day include The Visitor Center at Galena Creek Recreation Area, the Village at Palisades Tahoe for the Tahoe/Truckee regional Earth Day celebration, and Lake Tahoe Community College in South Lake Tahoe.

Reno Jazz Festival

Reno’s a swingin’ town with a national reputation for producing some of the best jazz artists in the nation, and every year we show off our musical chops with the University of Nevada Reno’s Jazz Festival. Since 1962, the Reno Jazz Festival has hosted jazz students, instructors, performers, and fans at UNR’s School of the Arts to learn, listen, and play.

The three-day festival provides a non-competitive forum for students to perform for professional musicians, music educators and peers, and to learn from jazz masters via clinics, workshops, and concerts. The Reno Jazz Festival is one of the premier festivals of its kind on the West Coast, dedicated to helping young musicians forge professional connections and find community to build the next generation of jazz players. The 2024 festival takes place April 25-27 and will be headlined by avant-garde quartet George.

Reno Rodeo - Mutton Busting

Reno Rodeo

Among many other things, Reno is cowboy country, and no time is that more apparent than each June during the Reno Rodeo. Dubbed, the wildest, richest rodeo in the West, the Reno Rodeo attracts over 100,000 guests to the historic Reno Livestock Events Center for a week of racing, roping, and riding alongside typical carnival rides and food. Attendees can catch exciting, edge-of-your-seat events, buy authentic Western wear from local vendors, and then head on over to either the Jack Daniels or Coors tent for a boot-scootin’ good time.

Locals know that the Rodeo causes major traffic around both the Wells Avenue freeway exit and the surrounding neighborhoods, with minimal parking around the actual event space itself. Plan to get there early before the first event for an easier time parking, and look out for the numerous coned-off areas reserved for emergency services and police. Buy your tickets ahead of time to guarantee a spot and minimize your wait in line!

Burning Man Multiverse - Sydney Martinez - TravelNevada
Sydney Martinez – TravelNevada

Burning Man

Here it is, the mother of all Northern Nevada events and arguably one of the biggest desert events in the world every week before Labor Day. Burning Man is the capital of counterculture, avant-garde arts, and radical self-reliance — and Reno is its staging point. For decades now, intrepid “Burners” have colonized the Black Rock Playa a few hours outside of town, turning the barren, dusty expanse into Black Rock City, the third most populous town in Nevada, for one week every summer. Equal parts week-long party, miles-long art gallery, and spiritual experience, attendees from all over the world gather to live in one impromptu community deep in the Nevada desert.

Preparing for Burning Man should be its separate blog post, so be sure to do the appropriate amount of research if you’re thinking of heading out into the dust. However, the quick and dirty tips for any potential burner should be to first and foremost prepare for a survival situation. One of the key tenets of Burning Man is to come prepared to feed, clothe, and generally take care of yourself for as long as you’re out there — and only then should you worry about costumes or entertainment. Once you’re out there, though, many of the attendees find a vibrant, supportive community ready to help you out should you need it.


If you’re looking for a large-scale arts festival that’s a little more low-key and a lot closer to home than Burning Man, then Artown is your best bet. One of the Reno events best suited for families and guests of all ages, Artown is a month-long arts festival that takes place throughout July in downtown Reno and the surrounding neighborhoods. Each year, the Artown governing board puts together a theme and calendar of gallery events, live music, street entertainment, sculpture, and live performances—any artistic endeavor you can think of.

The best way to maximize your Artown fun is to get ahold of one of the handy guides published by the Artown organization each year that lists the times, dates, and types of exhibits that will be going on throughout the month. With so much going on, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the choices. But, with a solid plan, it’s easy to pick the events you find most interesting and plan something for each week—whether it’s a Friday concert in the park for the whole family or a simple coffee and trip to the gallery. Artown has something for everyone and all it takes is a little forethought.

Nugget Rib Cook-Off

How do you find the best BBQ in the West? Simple, you invite vendors and BBQ chefs from all over the country to take over Victorian Square in Sparks, Nevada, and you try them all one by one! The Nugget Casino’s Best in the West Rib Cook-Off is a summer tradition in Northern Nevada, one that brings dozens of different contestants and thousands of hungry customers to enjoy the street fare, live music, and crafts available in a pedestrian/family-friendly environment. Besides bragging rights, the winner receives $19,000 in cash at the end of the competition!

With long lines and plenty of different types and flavors of ribs, discerning patrons should consider coming with a group of like-minded friends. Aside from being more fun, a good strategy to try all the ribs available is to send different accomplices to wait in different lines, then meet up when you’ve secured all the orders you want and trade them around until everyone’s had a taste! It’s the easiest (not to mention cheapest) way to try everything this yearly battle of the BBQ has to offer.

The Great Reno Balloon Race

Great Reno Balloon Race

In most of the country, the sight of dozens of hot air balloons lifting off against a clear, blue morning sky would be a rare, dreamy treat. In Reno, it’s just how we say goodbye to summer. The Great Reno Balloon Race is one of our most beloved Northern Nevada events and one of the largest hot air balloon events in the entire country. Family-friendly, unique, and an all-around great time, the Balloon Race happens the first week of September every year at the Rancho San Rafael Park fields. Every morning, dozens of colorful hot air balloons take flight, dotting the sky around the valley for miles in every direction. On the ground, vendors and craftspeople sell their wares while the community gets to spend their morning enjoying the sights and the fresh air.

While it can be a bit of a hassle waking up early, locals know that the best way to enjoy the Balloon Race is during the Dawn Patrol — an early morning celebration where attendees get up before the sun to see the balloons prepare for their flight. One of the best moments of the entire event is called the “Glow Show,” where the balloon pilots fire their propane torches in time to classical music, illuminating the balloons against the night sky! Grab your blankets, coffee, or hot cocoa, and set your alarms early for a show you won’t forget.

While these are some of the most famous Northern Nevada events, they definitely aren’t all of them! For more information about fun and unique things to do in Northern Nevada, be sure to read more from our blog or contact Dickson Realty’s neighborhood experts directly.