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Staff Report

Fun Festivals for the Whole Family

There are no dull moments in Northwest Arkansas this summer. Along with weekly offerings of farmers markets, concerts and downtown gatherings, there is a plethora of unique festivals for all to enjoy during the second half of the summer. Gather your friends and family for a fantasy-filled experience, a historical celebration of grapes or an event soaring through new heights — all in the community we call home.


Firefly Fling Festival


The highly anticipated Firefly Fling Festival is set to illuminate Botanical Garden of the Ozarks on July 20 from 5 to 10 p.m. As one of Northwest Arkansas’ most eagerly awaited mid-summer celebrations, this festival promises to captivate families with a magical experience filled with wonder and excitement.


Drawing many families from the area each year, the Firefly Fling Festival invites guests to embrace the spirit of the event by dressing up as a fairy, pirate, superhero or any other magical being! The garden will transform into a whimsical realm, inspiring its guests to embrace the magic of the outdoors.


Before the sun sets, stop at community booths offering engaging activities and interactive stations. Grab dinner and a sweet treat from various food trucks and stands. Express yourself with face painting and henna tattoos. Take pictures with real-life mermaids, fairies and pirates. Explore the art of fairy house building, marvel at giant bubbles floating through the air and be enthralled by captivating roaming performers. Dance and sing along with an exciting lineup of performers, and be amazed by fire dancers and a laser light show to close the event.


Ticket prices for BGO members is $20 for adults and $10 for kids ages 3-17. Prices for non-members is $30 for adults and $15 for kids ages 3-17. (Photos courtesy of Botanical Garden of the Ozarks)

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Tontitown Grape Festival


Another always-fun festival in Northwest Arkansas is Tontitown Grape Festival, taking place Aug. 6-10. This community tradition, now in its 125th year, dates back to when grapes were more widely grown in the area. The festival, which was started by the Italian founding families of Tontitown, originated as a celebration of the annual grape harvest. Today it is a festival dedicated to honoring traditions and bringing the community together. You can learn more about the history of the city at the nearby Tontitown Historical Museum.

Taking place at the Grape Festival Grounds on U.S. Highway 412 in Tontitown, next to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, the event offers free, family-friendly nightly music entertainment. The festival has no charge for admission or parking, so families can come enjoy live music at no cost. The festival also features one of the largest carnivals in Northwest Arkansas, including amusement rides for every age group. Armbands are sold nightly for the carnival.

The food is one of the highlights of this festival — the traditionally cooked Italian chicken and spaghetti dinners in particular.


Tontitown Grape Festival also features an arts and crafts fair where guests can purchase food and goods, including dried pasta. Guests can buy grape ice cream at the festival as well, a treat many look forward to each year. Other activities during this event include bingo, a 5K walk/run for adults, a fun run for kids, the crowning of Queen Concordia and a grand-prize giveaway. Guests who want to take part in a truly unique activity can try grape stomping, a fun but messy endeavor.


Spaghetti dinners are sold Thursday through Saturday for $15 for adults and $10 for kids ages 10 and under. Carnival armbands are $30 for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night and $35 for Friday night and a Saturday all-day pass. (Photos by Brenda Pianalto)

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Soar through the sky during the fourth annual SOAR NWA, hosted by Open Avenues, Aug. 16 and 17 at the Benton County Fairgrounds in Bentonville.


This outdoor event, with presenting sponsor Sam’s Furniture, is a family-friendly festival with something for everyone. Gates will open for ticketed guests Friday and Saturday evening from 5 to 10 p.m.


Activities include tethered hot air balloon rides, nighttime balloon glows, live musical entertainment, helicopter rides, circus performers, a kids zone, car exhibit, beer garden, food trucks, vendor booths and more. All hot air balloon activities are wind and weather permitting.


“We’re extremely excited to be able to bring this unique event back to Northwest Arkansas,” said Kelly Sampson, development director at Open Avenues. “In addition to the amazing fun it brings for attendees, it’s an important fundraiser for Open Avenues, raising money to allow us to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities.”


Both one- and two-day ticket options are available. Advance purchase one-day tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for kids ages 3-10, and free for ages 2 and under. Advance purchase two-day tickets are $25 for adults, $8 for kids ages 3-10, and free for ages 2 and under. Ticket prices go up at the gate and are not guaranteed, as the event is expected to sell out. Hot air balloon and helicopter rides as well as various other activities have additional costs. (Photos by Jennifer Hartman Photography)

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