Lincoln’s Unique Festivals

Lincoln has a number of festivals during the year. Lincoln residents and visitors look forward to the activities and plan to enjoy the festival. Usually these events include music, food and a lot of fun.

Below you will find some of the many offerings of Lincoln, Nebraska. 

The Zoo Bar hosts Lincoln’s Zoofest every year. This bar has a long-standing tradition in Lincoln for blues and roots music. Zoofest brings the best of the best to Lincoln. In 2017, the Zoo Bar celebrated its 44th year of bringing great national and regional music to Lincoln, as well as being one of the coolest bars in town. Located on 14th Street between O and P Streets, this small but unique bar has a loyal following. 

Some of the top names in 2017 Zoofest; included Delbert McClinton, Irma Thomas, Rod Piazza, Junior Brown, Walter Trout and many more.

This music festival runs for two days. It is truly a magnificent way to enjoy all types of music, check in with old friends and meet new friends too. In addition to a two-day festival of music with great live entertainment, vendors sell a wide range of food and drinks including beer, and unique merchandise.

The music seems to never stop at Zoofest. It is one performer after another and they are all great.

Whether in the bar or outside on the street, you will find the perfect music to fit your mood, your desire, and you will have a wonderful evening. 

Jazz in June has long been one of my favorite ways to usher in the summer. What began as an outdoor concert each Tuesday in June has blossomed into a full festival each week of the month. Now, along with the music, you can find a place to picnic, buy some delicious treats from vendors, and watch the performers mingle with the crowd before the performance. This event is located right next to the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery in the midst of the beautiful sculptures beautiful green lawn.

A newer addition to this music event is a basic yoga class taught by instructors from the UNL Campus Recreation Group. Yoga begins at 5:30 p.m. and runs for an hour in the green space north of the Woods Art Building. What a great way to bring your body and soul in line and ready to listen to music that speaks to your heart. 

The 2017 lineup includes LaFrae Sci and Sonic Black featuring Lakecia Benjamin, Bill Wimmer’s Project Omaha featuring Victor Lewis, Terence Blanchard featuring The E-Collective and The Rad Trads. Every one of these jazz greats was a treat for Lincoln residents, and the free concerts were packed out as the weather usually complies in June.

In 2016, The Tizer Quartet featuring Grammy award-winning saxophonist Eric Marienthal returned to Jazz in June. To close out the 2016 Jazz in June season, a tour of the Swing Era, and the Cool Jazz period was presented on the lawn. The 2018 Jazz in June will be another stellar line up of performers. For more information check out

Every September, South Pointe Mall, on Pine Lake Road, hosts Lincoln Arts Festival Weekend. It becomes not only a place to shop, but also a place to feast your eyes on the creative and innovative work of many amazing artists. 

Many are from right here in Lincoln, such as Jane Chesnut who focuses on painting, and Geoffrey Ballet whose art comes alive through his jewelry. 

You will also find artists from across the country, including Indiana, Montana, Iowa, and Missouri to name but a few. 

Every kind of art you love, and some you didn’t know you wanted, but must have, is be found at this arts festival. Clay, photography, 2D and 3D, mixed media, leather, stained glass, wood, copper, drawing, sculpture, and fiber are but a few of the mediums represented here. 

It was interesting to see how different types of fabric, threads, canvas and cotton can be arranged into beautiful pieces of art one would be proud to display in one’s home. It is a good thing this festival is two days long, because there is so much to see and do! South Pointe has great restaurants and shops so you can take a break and get a bite or just go shopping.

In August, one of the most anticipated food festivals comes to Lincoln. Ribfest recently celebrated its 21st year. Located at the Pinnacle Bank Arena festival parking lot, you can hear the music, smell the enticing aroma of barbecue—simply follow the crowd to the gates. 

Nebraska Pork Producers Capital City Ribfest is one of Lincoln’s favorite events, and longest running summer festival. The Ribfest features award-winning barbecue from around the country and some of the best local and regional live music on the Ribfest Sound Stage.

Barbecue vendors always serve smoked varieties of ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken and more. The festival is unique to Lincoln in that barbecue is the focal point of the event. It offers the public a chance to sample a variety of barbecue recipes —Southern, Texas style, Australian, Memphis, and Southwestern BBQ—right in their backyard at the Pinnacle Bank Arena’s open air facility. Amazing music performed by local, regional and national performers start from 11.30 a.m. and go on through later hours at night.

Though the music is great, food is the main focus here. You can eat pork that will melt in your mouth, sauces that will take your breath away with its heat, or bring a smile to your face. The food is usually accompanied by the best corn bread, beans and roasted corn for miles around. 

Vendors from Ohio, Illinois, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Minnesota and even Australia bring their best aromas, flavors and smiles to Lincoln for our Ribfest. Many vendors come back year after year, and fans get to know the cooks at their favorite booths. And yet there is always the desire to try new recipes too. Three days is barely enough time. 

All of these folks are award winners in their own states, and across the U.S. Many boast being a favorite in Lincoln. 

On the first Sunday in May, the Pla Mor Ballroom on West O Street welcomes the Lincoln Czech Festival and admission is free. In its 47th year, this annual festival includes an Accordion Jam—where the public can bring in their own accordions to join in the fun. Plus Czech singer Dennis Klimes, the introduction of Czech royalty, polka bands, and many vendors offering scrumptious baked goods including kolaches. There is a raffle and vendors display garnet jewelry, Czech music CD’s, and hot Czech food is available until it is gone. So come early and hungry! 

On September 10th, the fourth annual Art in the Garden takes place in Lincoln’s Sunken Gardens, at 27th and Capitol Parkway. Sponsored by the Noyes Art Gallery, displays include paintings, pottery, photography, portraits, abstracts, greeting cards and much more. 

Now when strolling through the gardens, enjoying the spectacular flowers, you can also see easels set up with artists painting, or drawing, and sharing their love of art and nature with you.  

When summer is over, it is time to reflect on the great festivals of the last year and start dreaming of what Lincoln will offer us next year in the way of festivals.  


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