5-Don’t-Miss Festivals Across the U.S. (MSNBC)

By Sarah Schlichter

updated 4/13/2011 9:44:12 AM ET2011-04-13T13:44:12

Food, wine, parades, live music and finally getting outdoors after a  long winter … what’s not to love about the spring festival season? If you’re  seeking inspiration for a last-minute spring trip, don’t miss the festivities  going on around the U.S. in celebration of everything from strawberries to Cinco  de Mayo. Read on for info on our five favorite upcoming spring festivals.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival New  Orleans, La. Despite its name, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage  Festival showcases much more than just jazz music; headliners this year include  Jimmy Buffett, Robert Plant & the Band of Joy, Cyndi Lauper, Wilco, Wyclef  Jean and dozens of other artists in every musical genre you can imagine. In  addition to live concerts every day, the festival — which runs for 10 days from  April 29 through May 8 — also offers a Louisiana Folklife Village and a Native  American Village where visitors can watch crafts demonstrations and enjoy  traditional local music. And don’t forget the food! This is your chance to  sample N’awlins favorites like muffuletta, red beans and rice, po’boys, and  crawfish pie.

California Strawberry Festival Oxnard, Calif. Whether you like ’em baked into a shortcake, dipped in chocolate, slathered  with whipped cream or even tossed on top of a pizza, strawberries are the center  of the action at Oxnard, California’s annual Strawberry Festival on May 21 and  22. Check out the Strawberry Promenade to watch cooking demonstrations and take  in an informative exhibit on the “Life of a Strawberry.” Live music, a kids’  area, and locally made arts and crafts round out the offerings.

Cinco in the Park Denver, Colo. Denver celebrates  Mexican culture and heritage with its annual Cinco in the Park festival,  scheduled this year for May 7 and 8. The holiday of Cinco de Mayo commemorates a  battle in which the Mexican town of Puebla overcame the French back in 1862; in  modern-day Denver, the fiesta includes music, dancing, a parade and a Green  Chili Bowl Cook-Off, in which local restaurants duke it out over who has the  best spicy recipe.

Nantucket Daffodil Festival Nantucket,  Mass. After a long and snowy winter, the island of Nantucket  celebrates the spring thaw each year with its colorful Nantucket Daffodil  Festival. This year’s festivities, which run from April 29 through May 1, will  feature annual events such as the antique car parade (the vehicles are, of  course, bedecked with daffodil blooms), the daffy hat pageant (how many flowers  can you fit onto your baseball cap?) and the daffy dog parade (a  daffodil-decorated Fido might lack a little dignity, but he’ll sure look  pretty).

Vidalia Onion Festival Vidalia, Ga. Did you know  that the Vidalia sweet onion is Georgia’s official state vegetable? Help  celebrate all things onion at the 34th annual Vidalia Onion Festival, which runs  from April 28 through May 1. The town goes all out for the festivities, which  include an air show, a concert (with “American Idol” alum Kellie Pickler as the  headliner), a Miss Vidalia Onion pageant, a rodeo, a motorcycle rally and, of  course, plenty of opportunities to sample those yummy onions! Try the sweet  onion rings, available downtown all day during the festival, or attend the  Vidalia Onion Culinary Extravaganza with a local chef and cookbook author. Those  with iron stomachs can join the onion eating contest.