Although held each year on the first Monday of September, Labor Day has become much more than a 24-hour celebration.
The public holiday, in honor of working people in the United States, signifies the end of summer for many. So it is little wonder that the entire three-day weekend boasts festive events to which people travel from coast to coast.
Here are eight destinations that have some of the best Labor Day events, and click the links at the end of the article for more information on them:
San Diego: U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge and Dimensional Art Exposition
Labor Day weekend celebrations across America in 2019
This event is so major that the city says it is renaming itself from August 31 to September 3. During this four-day period, it will be known not as San Diego but SAND iego.
World master sculptors will be creating art from quarry sand (the event’s co-executive producer Gordon Summer says it is easier to work with than beach sand) and taking part in a competition.
Summer says the event is great for spectators because building sand castles is “something everyone can do and relate to, even if they’re not on this [competitive] level.”
New Orleans: Southern Decadence
Down in Louisiana is an event called Southern Decadence, a festive weekend for the LGBT community and friends that’s been 47 years in the making. Last year, over 210,000 people were in attendance.
He notes the free family-focused concert on Saturday night but promises that ambitious, freewheeling partygoers can still mingle all night at the downtown bars that never close.
New York City: West Indian American Day Carnival
In New York City, the West Indian American Day Carnival Association will put on its event of the year along Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway near Prospect Park. From carnival costumes to Caribbean food, there’s plenty for the 1.5 million attendees to love. A reggae night on Thursday, August 30, kicks things off.
Festivities actually start on Thursday (August 29) with music at the Brooklyn Museum. And events run all the way to Monday (September 2), when the fun culminates with the annual the parade, which starts at 11 a.m. Monday and lasts for seven hours.
Rhea Smith, marketing and PR committee member, highlights some of the food options: jerk chicken and fish, rice and peas, curries, fried chicken, arepas and traditional Spanish dishes such as arroz con pollo.
While the event is dry, attendees can pop into a nearby bar or restaurant for a drink if they want a break from the scene. As Smith puts it: “On carnival day, everybody’s open for business.”
Denver: Taste of Colorado
Food tends to be an important part of holiday celebrations, and Labor Day is no different.
In Denver, foodies can partake in the Taste of Colorado. Marketing/Event Manager Cary Krukowski explains that the former Festival of Mountain and Plain always involved good eating, but as food became the focus, the festival was renamed. Krukowski calls the event a “staple of Colorado,” but says that they’ll see people from all over the country.
Don’t worry about stuffing your face – you’ll have a chance to dance all those calories off with performers such as KC and Sunshine Band, Dwight Yoakam and Toad the Wet Sprocket.
Chicago: Chicago Jazz Festival
Speaking of music, the Chicago Jazz Festival is a Labor Day tradition in the windy city. Mary May with City of Chicago’s marketing and communications, anticipates about 150,000 in attendance throughout the big holiday weekend.
You can catch performances for the big events from Thursday (August 29) to Sunday (September 1) at the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park. Performers in 2019 include: Freddy Cole in tribute to his brother, Nat King Cole; the Art Ensemble of Chicago; and the Eddie Palmieri Sextet.
The Millennium Park portion of the festival – the main event – will feature food trucks and places to buy wine and beer, the ultimate jazz-listening accessories.
Detroit: Detroit Jazz Festival
Not to be outdone by Chicago, Great Lakes rival city Detroit also has its own jazz festival.
The 40th annual event will be held from Friday, August 30, to Labor Day itself.
Performers will include 2019 Artist-in-Residence: Stanley Clarke, Macy Gray, University of Michigan Jazz Ensemble and the Kenny Garrett Quintet.
And your cost for all this great music? It’s free.
Brookfield, Missouri: Great Pershing Balloon Derby
Another notable Midwest option is the Great Pershing Balloon Derby in Brookfield, Missouri. The schedule of events begins the Friday before Labor Day and continues throughout the long weekend. Balloon flights, 45 minutes to one hour, take place in the morning and in the evening, so long as winds don’t go above 10 mph.
But the derby is about more than just balloons. Attendees can shop at craft vendors, fuel up at food trucks and search for flea market finds.
Amana, Iowa: The Festival of Iowa Beers
In Amana, one of seven villages in the Amana Colonies not too far from Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, tickets for this increasingly popular event are selling for $30. This buys guests a souvenir glass and unlimited samples. Designated drivers pay $15 for a glass and a range of tasty nonalcoholic options.
There will be a wide variety of beer on tap, and food vendors will be sprinkled throughout the grounds. Pulpit Rock Brewing out of Decorah, Iowa, will be in high demand, J Wilson, event organizer and ‘minister of Iowa Beer’ predicts.
Pomona, California: L.A. County Fair
Last but not least is the L.A. County Fair. The fair runs from late August to September 23, and opening weekend is Labor Day when The Commodores are the headliner event.
From Cirque Mechanics and Barnyard Racers to a stellar music line up, the fair is one the area’s premier end-of-summer hits.
Get more details
U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge and Dimensional Art Exposition, 1000 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
Southern Decadence, New Orleans, LA
West Indian American Day Carnival, Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn NY
Taste of Colorado, Civic Center Park, Denver, CO
Chicago Jazz Festival, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL
Detroit Jazz Festival, Hart Plaza to Campus Martius Park, downtown Detroit, MI
Great Pershing Balloon Derby, Myron Peacher Memorial Launch Site, Brookfield, MO
The Festival of Iowa Beers, Millstream Brewing Company, 835 48th Ave., Amana, IA
L.A. County Fair, Fairplex, Pomona, CA
CNN’s Forrest Brown contributed to this article.