Experience State College

Play Downtown. Celebrate anything and everything.

Our festivals and events pay homage to everything from the New Year to the world’s arts and culture. The Summer’s Best Music Fest fills downtown with tunes, and the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts brings hundreds of thousands artists and art lovers downtown each July. Check out our list of festivals below to find the experience you’re looking for.

First Night State College

Ring in the New Year with Downtown’s First Night community celebration. First Night State College is a creative and healthy New Year’s celebration of the visual and performing arts. The festival offers a variety activities for young and old, singles and families, townsfolk and visitors.

A display of outdoor ice carving, ice sculptures of all sizes lining the streets, and the ever­-popular Russian Ice Slide, for kids of all ages to take a ride in their sleds, are highlights of First Night.

The festival features music, theatre, and variety acts in addition to resolution sculptures, a 5K Resolution Run, horse-­drawn carriage rides, and ice skating at the Pegula Ice

First Friday

Relax. Play. Shop. Stay.

Experience the cool vibe of downtown State College during our monthly First Friday events. A casual atmosphere features art, people­watching, mingling with friends, shopping, and dining at the diverse and delectable State College restaurants. First Friday goers will experience after­hours access to galleries and shops, free bites and beverages, live music and entertainment, retail and restaurant specials, and more. And there’s free parking in the Pugh, Fraser and Beaver garages with validations from participating merchants.

Check out our events calendar for our monthly themes throughout the year.

Happy Valley Music Fest

Downtown State College’s tribute to music fills the streets with sweet melodies, cool jams, and thumping beats during the day, with a convergence of local, regional, national, and up and coming musicians. After dark, many of our local watering holes feature even more great music.

Central PA 4th Fest

In State College the fireworks at 4thFest have been rated among the top five largest, biggest, best Fourth of July fireworks shows in the U.S. On July fourth, the vibrant downtown offers residents and visitors dose of Americana, with live music, fun festivals, a road race, and of course, vibrant fireworks that light up the night sky. This year’s show is expected to draw 80,000-­100,000 people to watch four shells launch per second throughout the 45­minute fireworks show.


The Central PA Theatre & Dance Festival

The Central PA Theatre & Dance Festival (June 21-23 2019) brings 19 local performance groups and schools together to create the many ticketed performances throughout the festival, as well as panel discussions, and classes.

Creating a general understanding of the arts in everyday life and fostering new audience members for performances and classes throughout the year in our region is the mission. Imagine, being able to take a class in modern dance just to try it out–no strings attached! Or being able to try Improv or make your own puppets in a safe and friendly environment. We think that if our community meets these local arts organizations in fun and friendly ways, they will be more likely to attend their performances throughout the year. The connections that we make during the Festival will have a lasting impact as citizens recognize the strength of our local arts community as well as the challenges they face in building audiences.

Many of the events are designed to bring people of all ages together. A community that laughs together will look for the joy in others; people that play and imagine together will believe and trust in the possibilities within each other; and that a town that celebrates the arts together is a town that fosters lasting friendships beyond the Festival’s weekend.


The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts

The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts brings 125,000 people to State College and Penn State over five days each July. In 2015, the Arts Festival was ranked number one best outdoor fine art and fine art craft fair out of 100 in the U.S. by Sunshine Artist magazine.

The festival produces the nation’s premier outdoor fine art and craft event, bringing excitement and energy to downtown. The Arts Festival promises great art and entertainment, a variety of food, and plenty of fun.

Not only do locals look forward to the Arts Festival, but artists and visitors from around the world come to celebrate the arts in Happy Valley. The festival features the nationally recognized Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition, a juried gallery exhibition, Children and Youth Day, the Downtown State College Italian Street Painting Festival, educational  opportunities, music, dance and theatrical performances in a variety of outdoor and indoor venues.