Whether you just can’t get enough ukulele, you want to continue to develop as a player, or you want to be surrounded by a community of ukulele lovers, festivals represent an excellent opportunity to explore your passion in greater depth, become a better player, and get connected with other players.
There are a lot of great festivals all over the world, and in this guide, we’ll be looking at a bunch of them.
The ukulele community is thriving in the United States, a country with roughly 330 million people. Whether it’s west coast, east coast, or even middle America, chances are unless you live in the middle of nowhere, you can find festivals and communities near you.
Here we’ll look at several U.S. ukulele festivals that still seem to be active in some capacity (through the pandemic).
Midwest Uke & Harmonica Camp
Midwest Uke & Harmonica Camp (or simply Midwest Uke Camp) was created by Mighty Uke Day’s Ben Hassenger, and Elderly Instruments’ Stan Werbin.
The success of the Midwest Banjo Camp ultimately led to the creation of this ukulele and harmonica camp, combining the excitement of a festival atmosphere with workshop and community-oriented activities like instructor concerts, group strums, open mics, workshops for players of all levels, and spontaneous get-togethers and jams.
This year, for obvious reasons, Midwest Uke Camp was held online, from June 25 to 27 for registrants across the world. Best we can tell, they hold annual events, but it’s worth checking their website periodically to see what else they might have in store for you.
The Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival
The Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival was created by Hawaii born and raised Mitch Chang of Kala Koa Entertainment, and it was developed with families and ukulele enthusiasts of all ages in mind. It’s community oriented with an encouraging atmosphere.
The next festival is slated for Saturday, September 24, 2022, at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center. Players of all levels are encouraged to attend, and even if you’ve never touched or played a uke in your life, it’s a friendly place to gather.
The event is filled to the brim with all-day all-star performances, unlimited workshop access, Ohana family theater (for beginners and kids), a ukulele marketplace, and awesome prizes. They also post photo and video highlights from the festival on their website.
Ukulele Festival Hawaii
Oahu, Waikoloa, Kauai, and Maui, HI
The Ukulele Festival Hawaii is held in various parts of Hawaii, with a focus on laughter, love, and hope for ukulele and music loving people of all ages. It was created by Roy and Kathy Sakuma, who’ve made it their mission to spread the joy of ukulele through various means – lessons, festivals, and community events.
They held their 51st annual event, along with a virtual silent auction, hosted by Roy Sakuma, Jake Shimabukuro (now there’s a name you should know), and Herb Ohta, Jr. on July 18, 2021. They have had to cancel some events, for what we imagine are obvious reasons, but the festival has fast become a summer tradition, so if you’re in Hawaii when it’s happening, you should check it out.
Utah Ukulele Festival
The Utah Ukulele Festival emphasizes unity, humility, and harmony. This free, family-friendly outdoor event highlights the music of the ukulele and the culture of the Polynesian islands, and it is now in its seventh year.
The festival is home to performances, workshops and classes, open mic competitions, prizes, as well as vendors and concessions.
The Utah Ukulele Festival has been a little quiet as of late, but as larger gatherings become more commonplace again, they will likely be resuming activity.
Reno Ukulele Festival
Dani Joy & Perry Stauffer have been chosen as the new producers of the Reno Ukulele Festival, after the retirement of the Reynolds family.
The pictures and videos on their website depict a lot of fun performances, and it looks like they’ve even gotten creative with their “mask-tume” party at their latest event.
West Coast ‘Ukulele Retreat
Morro Bay, CA
This year’s West Coast ‘Ukulele Retreat just ended, but as the name would suggest, it looks like a fun, relaxing opportunity by the seaside. If you’re interested in workshops and in becoming a better uke player (but also need a bit of time away from your busy schedule), this sounds like an excellent opportunity.
Canada’s population might be about 10% of the States’, but there is still plenty of musical talent. There are always pockets of the musical community spread across major cities, especially those that have effectively developed into significant music hubs (e.g., Vancouver, Toronto, etc.).
The pandemic has all but decimated most festival activity in Canada, but here are a few festivals that are sure to make a strong return long-term.
Vancouver Ukulele Festival
Although the Vancouver Ukulele Festival has been on hold for 2021, they’re sure to resume activities as soon as they’re able. The festival was founded by Daphne ‘Ruby’ Roubini, who is also the founder, director, and producer of the festival.
Their events and activities are made up of performances by acclaimed tutors, workshops, gala events, and more.
Midland Uke Fest
The 2021 Midland Uke Fest was cancelled, but they are excited about the possibility of resuming activity in 2022. Typically, their events are hosted at the beautiful Midland Cultural Centre.
This is a one-of-a-kind three-day festival in Ontario, featuring jam sessions, workshops, concerts, and more. Past events have seen 150 attendees.
Royal City Uke Fest
As with most Canadian ukulele festivals, the Royal City Uke Fest paused activity for 2021 but are planning to get together again in 2022.
Royal City Uke Fest’s director is Cynthia Kinnunen, and she is surrounded by a team of other ukulele lovers.
The ukulele community is alive and well in the United Kingdom, and in addition to festivals, there are also clubs, communities, and other gatherings where the ukulele is the central focus. Let’s look at what UK has to offer in terms of uke festivals.
Bracklesham Ukulele Weekends
The Bracklesham Ukulele Weekends take place twice per year, by the sea, at the Queens Hotel. They’ve featured many performers at their events, from Peter Moss and Sam Brown to Plastic Jeezus, The Hedge Inspectors, and more.
Their events include workshops, performances, open mics, and jam sessions to appeal to all types of ukulele lovers and enthusiasts.
Be sure to check their website for the next weekend.
Winchester Ukulele Festival
The Winchester Ukulele Festival is held in Winchester, England, at the Winchester RFC. Their events feature workshops and artists, and tickets are currently on sale for their June 2022 event.
If you’d like to see what their events are like, they have videos from past events on their website (2016, 2017, and 2018).
Grand Northern Ukulele Festival
The Grand Northern Ukulele Festival (or GNUF) is slated to return in-person in June 2022.
This celebration of the ukulele features performances by various artists, performance art, musical experiences, and you can watch videos of past events on their website too. Overall, it looks like a ton of fun!
Ukulele Festival Of Scotland
The Ukulele Festival Of Scotland is a popular festival held in Dumfries. Their activity since 2019 has been on the downlow, but with so many rave reviews and a strong online presence, they’re sure to make a return soon.
This festival is built on the three-legged stool of live performances, workshops, and jam sessions to get participants engaged.
They also have a downloadable songbook on their website, which includes 82 lead sheets (lyrics and chords) of various popular songs.
Population wise, Australia is about the size of Canada. Music is a favorite pastime there, and let’s face it – they’re a little closer to Hawaii than the rest of North America. Here we’ll highlight a few Australian ukulele festivals, but we’re sure you can find more if you look.
Hills Ukulele Festival
The Hills Ukulele Festival is pretty much exactly as it sounds. Though their activity has primarily been online as of late, due to health restrictions, their events are usually held in the beautiful suburb of Emerald, Victoria, and area.
Their website is sparse and a little weirdly designed (that’s what you get in a community sometimes), but thankfully they do share regular updates on Facebook and Instagram. Keep an eye out for online and live events.
Melbourne Ukulele Festival
The Next Melbourne Ukulele Festival is scheduled for March 2022. It features a range of inspiring artists, workshops, open mics, market stalls, and a great deal more.
The website features droves of media from past events, dating all the way back to 2011. You can also purchase branded badges and stickers directly from their site.
Sunshine Coast Ukulele Festival
The Sunshine Coast Ukulele Festival features a range of jams, programs, performances, and workshops. Their three-day program is quite diverse, with Tai Chi, opportunities to learn bass uke and the blues, drum circles, and more. For those who love variety, it sounds like an excellent festival to attend.
The landlocked Czech Republic shares borders with Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Poland. Its population is just over 10 million.
Here’s a Czech ukulele festival that’s sure to be of interest if you happen to be in the Czech Republic in the summer:
Czech Ukulele Festival
This year’s Czech Ukulele Festival happened in July, and each year, they host performances, open mics, workshops, and more.
Their website is mostly contained on a single page, so there isn’t too much to see there, but if you’re looking for tickets, you can certainly get them, and they do have a few videos as well as a songbook posted on their site.
Best Ukulele Festivals Near You, Final Thoughts
If you’re looking to grow as a ukulele player, the best way is to surround yourself in the culture and get immersed in the world of ukulele. What better way than to get into it than to attend festivals?
Long-term, festivals will prove a lot of fun too, because you’ll get to explore new products, meet more people, see talented and experienced artists perform, and more.
So, get yourself out there and start attending ukulele festivals!