How does your social calendar look these days? If you and your dog have some free time in the months to come, you can fill it up very quickly. That’s because dog festivals are growing in popularity, with events scheduled all over the continent. Here are a few favorites you can check out with your furry pal:
When Woofstock launched in 2003, the Toronto Star called it “the summer of canine love.” Held in the St. Lawrence Market Neighborhood of Toronto, the festival draws some 300,000 dog lovers and their four-legged friends each year for the ultra-popular doggie love-in.
“Founder Marlene Cook was inspired by her late dog, Barkley, to start the festival,” says Liz Jukovsky, a Woofstock spokeswoman. “She now runs the festival in his memory and takes joy in bringing her two Wheaten Terriers, Addison and Sydney, to the festival each year.”
The Celebrity Doggelganger High Tea event was a huge hit last year, with dog celebrity impersonators doing their best Elvis, Natalie Portman in Black Swan, Lady Gaga and more. Other events include the Mr. & Ms. Canine Canada Pageant, the Woofstock Fashion Show, and the Stupid Dog Trick Contest. “Poo Parks” and water stations take care of canine needs. Guests can stay at the dog-friendly Le Meridien King Edward hotel at special rates.
And be on the lookout for Woofstock in your area too. Jukovsky says the buzz is it could expand to the U.S. in a few years.
Doggie Street Festivals
June 10, San Diego
June 24, Los Angeles
These street fests are California’s largest pet adoption–focused festivals. Even if you have your dog in tow, you can support homeless pets and have fun for a great cause.
“Last year, 130 dogs found new homes (at just one of the events),” founder and says organizer Jude Artenstein. “This is the go-to dog celebration you just can’t miss!”
Spring Dog Festival
Santa Cruz County, Calif.
The proceeds from this fun-raising event for dogs and their people go to the preservation and creation of off-leash doggie exercise options, education about responsible dog ownership, and dog-related charities.
“We have something for everyone -- a doggy costume parade, weenie bobbing contest, doxie races, and various dog sports demonstrations to wow the crowds,” says Suse Kelley of Spring Dog Festival. She adds that lure coursing is always ultra-popular. “Seeing the dogs stand in line for their turn reminds me of kids waiting in line for rides at Disneyland!”
Boxerstock is a family- and dog-friendly event created by Atlanta Boxer Rescue Inc. People and their pets enjoy concerts featuring rock, folk and blues musicians. Other planned events include children’s activities, a silent auction, a dog costume contest and canine demos.
“Atlanta Boxer Rescue provides adoption services, fostering and education to aid boxers,” shares Lisa Demma, president of the group. “The funds we raise at Boxerstock, our largest annual fundraiser, will allow us to continue our boxer rescue efforts.”
Yet another great Atlanta dog festival, this event celebrates Dachshunds. In past years, the hot dog–shaped canines have come dressed as the Doxie-Lama, a herd of Doxens, a Flamenco Dachshund Dancer and more. You haven’t lived until you’ve also seen the Dachshund Dash Race, watching their little legs really go.
“Howl-O-Weenie attracts not only Dachshund owners, but dog lovers of all kinds who enjoy the sight of Dachshunds in creative and elaborate costumes,” says Ivy Carruth of DREAM (Dachshund Rescue, Education, Awareness and Mentoring). “While we focus on having fun at the event, our primary goal is to promote awareness of the needs of abandoned Dachshunds and raise money to help those in shelters through no fault of their own.”
Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Picturesque Lewes Harbor plays host to romantic couples and their dogs right before Valentine’s Day each year. The event started as a way to showcase the area during offseason, since tourists usually visit during warmer months. But Barkfest has turned out to be a hit in its own right. It includes “Delaware’s biggest beach party of the winter” and fun canine events like a “yappy hour” and pet pageants.
We’ve only scratched the surface of dog festivals you can attend together. So if you can’t make any of the above, check local magazines for events held in your area. Please note: Information on organization websites is often updated closer to the event dates.