American Culture, Life at KU

Extraordinarily Lawrence

Lawrence is a city of locally-owned shops, and of residents who love celebrating the Arts and cultural traditions. In order by month, here is a list of must-see festivals and events that every local and visitor should attend while living in Lawrence.

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One event that should be added to your calendar each month throughout the entire year is Final Friday. On the last Friday of each month, downtown Lawrence transforms its streets, shops, and art galleries into exhibitions, performance spaces and provides fun activities for the entire family.



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Martin Luther King Jr Day concert and commemoration events.  Events change year to year so interested persons should look at the Lawrence city event calendar for more information.

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In mid-January, Lawrence Restaurant Week begins and it lasts for one week. Participating restaurants offer a special menu of coursed meals of their distinct entrees at an affordable price. It’s a great opportunity to taste the variety of cuisines available in Lawrence.


A quiet month in Lawrence.



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On March 17th, Lawrence is transformed into a city of green. Although there are very few Irish heritages in Lawrence, there is an annual St. Patrick’s day parade through downtown Lawrence. Traditionally everyone should wear green on St. Patrick’s day to not get pinched.

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Anyone who is a fan of college basketball knows what March Madness means to the community of Lawrence and the to University of Kansas. March Madness is the NCAA basketball tournament and the city of Lawrence cheers on the Jayhawks throughout the tournament.



The Kansas Relays and Downtown Shotput is a large high school, college and professional track meet held at Rock Chalk Park.  Each year the professional shotput event is held downtown in the intersection of 8th street and New Hampshire street.  This event often features Olympians and a collection of ten or so of the world’s strongest men. It draws in more than 2,000 spectators, and is followed by a small music and food festival.


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Art in the Park is an outdoor art festival of fine arts and crafts with live music, food vendors, and many fun activities for the entire family. Its hosted by the Lawrence Art Guild and attracts more than 10,000 people.

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The Busker Festival will entice and wow audiences with more than twenty-five performances on five stages in three days. Street performers descend upon Mass Street during this annual weekend event.

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Each Wednesday evening in May through mid July, Lawrence residents and visitors go to South Park and listen to the City Band Concerts. New bands perform each week and entertain the city during its long summer evenings.



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A true summer festival that is one week full of film, music, and arts. The Free State Festival is a must-see that includes more than fifty international and national feature and short films, outdoor concerts, and art installations in the heart of Lawrence.

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This two-day event celebrating the diversity of the Mexican American culture in Lawrence. The St. John’s Mexican Fiesta is packed full of live music, dancing and authentic Mexican food.


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Celebrate our nation’s birthday by watching the 4th of July fireworks display along the Kansas River. Before nightfall, celebrate with other Lawrence residents and visitors listening to live music, carnival games, and food vendors in a nearby park.

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The Tour of Lawrence is a three-day cycling competition downtown and in the Lawrence area. Think Tour de France, but in Lawrence.

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For those who love shopping, this will be your favorite Lawrence event of the year. The Lawrence Sidewalk sale, the third Thursday of July, is a major shopping day in Lawrence with local businesses selling their merchandise at a discounted price that lasts from sunrise to sunset. This event normally draws 20,000 people to town.


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The Douglas County Fair is an American classic. A free seven-day event that includes the best in show of crafts and livestock, yep, that means seeing the best cows, pigs, and sheep in Douglas County. There are also demolition derby cars, carnival rides, live bands, and traditional fair food, such as pickle on a stick to enjoy.

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Bluegrass and Jazz music is an important part of our Midwest culture. The Kansas State Picking and Fiddling competition is a weekend long event that feature competitors, several competitors who are second and third generations of their family who participate each year. This competition is held in South Park with food vendors and other artists.




American College football is one of the most popular sports in the United States. Before each game played in KU’s Memorial Stadium, KU students, faculty, staff, and the Lawrence community tailgate by grilling and preparing food, socializing with friends and family and other football fans before the KU band leads the tailgaters and other spectators into the stadium for the game to begin.

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The Haskell Indian Art market and powwow is held every September at the Haskell Indian Nations University and is open to the public. The event provides cross-cultural understanding, beautiful arts, crafts, and jewelry made by various members of native American tribes for purchase, and a symbolic powwow.


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Late Night in the Phog symbolizes the beginning of college basketball season at KU. It’s a free event with first come, first serve seating to watch performances from bands, other KU athletes and coaches, and finally to watch the first KU men’s basketball practice. This is a very popular event in Lawrence, so it is recommended to stand in line for seating early in the day.

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Hayrides and pumpkin picking is an American tradition in October to prepare for Halloween and celebrating the fall season. Lawrence residents visit Shaake’s Pumpkin Patch each year to pick and buy pumpkins, go through the corn maze, and take a hayride around the farm.


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A unique tradition in Lawrence is the annual Holiday lights ceremony and rescuing Santa from the roof of historic Weaver’s department store. This event takes place the Friday evening after Thanksgiving. The Lawrence community celebrates downtown with hot drinks, and an opportunity for children to tell Santa what is on their wish list.


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For more than twenty years, Lawrence has hosted an Old Fashioned Christmas Parade with horse-drawn carriages parading down Mass street. Spectators wrap themselves in blankets, sip hot drinks and enjoy the grandeur of the decorated carriages in garland and bells.


Enjoy the holiday season by attending the KU Holiday Vespers at the Lied Center hosted by the KU School of Music. Each year, students perform a concert featuring traditional holiday music. At the end of the performance, the audience participates in a sing-a-long.

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