2024 Spring Events in North America

total eclipse in the sky spring events in north america

Listen to this episode

From theme parks to March Madness, we are talking about various 2024 spring events in North America.

Walt Disney World

Spring is a great time to visit Walt Disney World, though keep in mind that some days will be quite crowded due to people on spring break also visiting. If you want to avoid crowds, come in April instead of March, especially the second half of March.

Enjoy Easter egg decorations at select deluxe resorts. I love all the Easter eggs made of chocolate at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. This year, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort will have a new Moana-inspired display, while Disney’s Beach Club Resort’s display is inspired by the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival. 

Back this year is the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival, through May 27th. This is my favorite EPCOT festival. It’s also a great time of year to take the Behind the Seeds tour through the Living with the Land. It’s recommended to make reservations in advance.  

If you enjoy dressing up or just want some great people-watching, plan to go to EPCOT on Saturday, April 20th and Magic Kingdom on Sunday, April 21st for Dapper Days. These days are great fun. People go all out, dressing in vintage styles or contemporary chic looks. That same weekend is the runDisney Springtime Surprise weekend, it actually starts on April 18th with sunrise yoga, then the following days are the 5K, 10K, and 10-miler. 

Disneyland

At Disney California Adventure, the Food & Wine Festival is happening through April 22nd. I went to this festival for the first time last year and enjoyed it. It’s pretty similar to the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival, except there are some differences in how you can purchase items. I definitely recommend getting a Sip and Savor pass if you’ll get more than a couple items. Also, there are beverage education seminars, dinners at Carthay Circle where a winemaker explains wines paired with food courses, and different events at hotels. The one that looked like a great time to me is the Mixology Class at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. Also, Soarin’ over California has left EPCOT, and it’s back to Soarin’ around the World, but during the Food & Wine Festival at DCA, Soarin’ reverts back to Soarin’ over California. 

The Disneyland Easter Egg-stravaganza is a very popular event at the Disneyland Resort that goes for 2-3 weeks around Easter. It’s an Easter egg scavenger hunt – you get a map and stickers, find eggs, and put the matching sticker on the map. Return the completed map, and get a prize. 

From the Disneyland website… Season of the Force will take place at Disneyland Park from April 5-June 2, 2024. This Star Wars celebration will feature the return of Hyperspace Mountain, themed food and beverage items, merchandise, and more. Guests will also be able to explore new scenes on Star Tours – The Adventures Continue and experience the Disneyland fireworks from a new perspective at Galaxy’s Edge with “galactic music” playing.

Disneyland of course also has Dapper Day and does it up BIG. April 6-7 with the Dapper Day Expo at Disneyland Hotel, with all kinds of merchandise and bands performing, and April 7th is Dapper Day at Disneyland. 

Lastly, Pixar Fest starts April 26th and goes through August 4th. From the Disneyland website: “​​from colorful décor and themed menu items to commemorative merchandise, the Disneyland Resort theme parks, hotels and Downtown Disney District will have a Pixar twist of friendly fun for a limited time. This festival of friendship is highlighted by heartwarming entertainment featuring Pixar stories. An all-new daytime parade, “Better Together: A Pixar Pals Celebration!”, will debut at Disney California Adventure park, and at Disneyland park, the emotional “Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular” returns with some all-new scenes. During the celebration, you may encounter new characters such as Ember and Wade from “Elemental,” Red Panda Mei from “Turning Red” and more. Additional entertainment and offerings will be announced at a later date.”

Dollywood

If you aren’t familiar with Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, go back and listen to Episode 062 for first visit tips from a Dollywood Insider, Episode 085 on when during the year to visit Dollywood, and Episode 102 about what was new for Dollywood in 2023. In that Episode 102, I had just returned from my spring visit to Dollywood. The park and the Great Smoky Mountains are gorgeous in the spring time. 

I love that the Dollywood website has highlights for each of the four seasons, it makes it very easy to look at the different offerings and to choose when to go. Here’s what the Dollywood website says about spring time: “​​As flowers begin to bloom, the sun begins to shine and the temperatures start to rise, the Smoky Mountains come to life in full color as springtime takes over the hills and valleys of Tennessee. At Dollywood Parks & Resorts, we invite you to experience this renewing season with exhilarating rides, show-stopping entertainment, fresh flavors and so much more.”

Dollywood reopens March 8th. The I Will Always Love You Music Festival will take place March 9th – April 14th. Then comes the Flower & Food Festival – April 19 – June 9. The plant sculptures are called Mosaic-cultures, and they are gorgeous. Plus, the colorful umbrella sky is beautiful and makes for great photos. Garden-fresh foods are delicious. 

Later this spring – the new Dolly Parton Experience opens. The Dollywood website says “In this all-new area, discover a number of interactive experiences and elements to make you feel as if you were alongside Dolly as she journeyed from Locust Ridge to stages around the world.”

Special Events

There are many special spring events in North America. Here are a couple of my favorites that I’m most looking forward to.

NCAA March Madness

NCAA March Madness is the men’s and women’s college basketball playoffs. 

I love basketball. Growing up in Indiana, loving basketball is pretty much a requirement. If you’ve seen the movie “Hoosiers”, then you understand. There’s an important saying for Indiana-born Purdue grads like me, though, and it goes like this: “Hoosier by birth, Boilermaker by the grace of God.” If you don’t know, Indiana University, whose mascot is the Hoosier, is the arch rival of Purdue, so that’s why we Boilermakers have to draw that line.

On to college basketball… I love watching both the men and women play. This year, history was made in women’s college basketball. Caitlin Clark, the 22-year old senior on the University of Iowa Hawkeyes basketball team, just last weekend passed Pete Maravich to set the all-time NCAA scoring record. 

It’s not unusual at all for people to plan trips around their favorite team’s games. I’ll go a step further… if you enjoy basketball, especially college basketball, then there’s nothing like attending March Madness games in person. And when you buy tickets, you often buy tickets for multiple games for that day or even that weekend. 

Taking a step back, first there are the conference tournaments, another great opportunity to see multiple games with one ticket. In 2018, right before I moved from NYC to Florida, the Big Ten Tournament was at Madison Square Garden in NYC. You know I was there for nearly every game, and thank goodness my Purdue Boilermakers made it to the final game, so I got to see them play 3 times.

I’ve been to a few March Madness games, and they are electrifying. There may be some playing near you, or go for a weekend road trip.

Let’s talk dates. Selection Sunday for the men and women is Sunday, March 17th – that’s when the brackets are set. So the conference tournaments are that weekend leading up to Selection Sunday. 

The women’s basketball March Madness dates are:

  • First round: March 22-23
  • Second round: March 24-25
  • Sweet 16: March 29-30
  • Elite Eight: March 31-April 1
  • Final Four: Friday, April 5 at 7:30 and 9 p.m. ET on ESPN, hosted at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio. 
  • NCAA championship game: Sunday, April 7 at 3 p.m. ET on ABC, hosted at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio.

The men’s basketball March Madness dates are:

  • First round: March 21-22
  • Second round: March 23-24 
  • Sweet 16: March 28-29 
  • Elite Eight: March 30-31 
  • Final Four: Saturday, April 6 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
  • NCAA championship game: Monday, April 8 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Total Eclipse on April 8, 2024

If you’re in North America, chances are that you’ve heard of the total eclipse coming on Monday, April 8th that will pass over parts of Mexico, the United States, and Canada. 

What is a total eclipse? It’s when the moon lines up perfectly between the Earth and the sun, effectively blocking out the sunlight.

Why is this one such a big deal? Part of it is the path and how big of a population will witness it. The next total eclipse over North America will be in 2033, and only over Alaska. There won’t be another total eclipse over the United States, coast to coast, until 2045. 

From the NASA website: “The total solar eclipse will begin over the South Pacific Ocean. Weather permitting, the first location in continental North America that will experience totality is Mexico’s Pacific coast at around 11:07 a.m. PDT. The path of the eclipse continues from Mexico, entering the United States in Texas, and traveling through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Small parts of Tennessee and Michigan will also experience the total solar eclipse. The eclipse will enter Canada in Southern Ontario, and continue through Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Cape Breton. The eclipse will exit continental North America on the Atlantic coast of Newfoundland, Canada, at 5:16 p.m. NDT.”

Several cities will be in the middle of the eclipse path, including: Dallas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Indianapolis, Cleveland, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; and Montreal — making for the continent’s biggest eclipse crowd. Plus, millions more are expected to travel to witness the eclipse. But even if you aren’t in the direct path, you’ll still notice a brief change in the sunlight if you’re in North America. 

If you’re going to watch the eclipse, regular sunglasses aren’t enough to protect your eyes. You’ll need special eclipse glasses. Amazon has a ton of these special eclipse glasses on sale, and there are even special solar filters to use on cameras and smartphones. 

Here are some events planned for Eclipse Day:

  • Towns up and down the path of totality are throwing star parties. Festivals, races, yoga retreats, drum circles and more will unfold at museums, fairgrounds, parks, stadiums, wineries, breweries and even one of Ohio’s oldest drive-in movie theaters.
  • The Air and Space Museum will partner with other Smithsonian Museums to bring a Solar Eclipse Festival to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on April 8 at noon local time. “There will be solar telescopes,” Edson said, along with “lots of different ways to view the sun and the eclipse safely.”
  • The city of Carbondale, Illinois, home of Southern Illinois University, is lucky enough to be in the path of totality for the second time in a row after the solar eclipse of 2017. The university will bring back its Southern Illinois Crossroads Eclipse Festival, featuring music, a 5k run, and an arts and crafts fair.
  • Some music lovers in Texas will get a double feature of festivals on April 8. Ground Zero music fest, which lasts five nights from April 5-9, lies directly in the path of the totality in Bandera, Texas, around 50 miles northwest of San Antonio.
  • The Texas Eclipse Festival, located in rural Reveille Peak Ranch by Buchanan Lake on the Colorado River, has a star-studded lineup of musicians, DJs, and speakers planned over four days. According to the festival’s website, 13 organizers from around the world will pitch in to transform the campgrounds into “Global Eclipse Village.”
  • A local vineyard in Fredericksburg, Texas, a city around 75 miles west of Austin, will hold a festival offering hot air balloon rides after a VIP dinner.
  • Total Eclipse Solar Event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, presented by Purdue University. If you don’t know Purdue’s history with astronomy, you may recognize some Purdue alum names like Neil Armstrong and Gus Grissom, and Gene Cernan. Yes, I’m a proud Purdue alumna, what can I say. There will be a STEM symposium with a Sun track and a Moon track, a NASA TV live broadcast, IndyCar demo laps (this is home to the Indianapolis 500, the greatest spectacle in auto racing, after all), and astronaut and driver autograph sessions.  
  • Brush up on moonwalking history at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio — Neil Armstrong’s hometown.

There are so many events, so definitely look for any that may be of interest to you. Check out NationalEclipse.com for a listing of events, I’ll link to it in the show notes.

Resources

Listen to Episode 080 for a review of all EPCOT festivals, and listen to Episode 093 for my first impressions from last year’s EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival. 

For Dollywood information, listen to Episodes 062, 085, and 102 for tips on when to visit and how to plan your trip there.

Find out more about the 2024 total eclipse on April 8th. Discover regional events at NationalEclipse.com

Join Our Community

Join the Me and the Magic Facebook community to share your love of solo travel, Disney travel, and more with new friends. Plus, share your thoughts and questions on this episode with the community!

Connect with Me

Is there a topic you’d like us to discuss? Email Amanda at amanda@meandthemagic.com.

Are you on Instagram? Follow Me and the Magic to see the latest posts, stories, and IGTV.

Subscribe to the Me and the Magic weekly newsletter for exclusive content, including solo travel tips!

Me and the Magic has voicemail! Leave a voicemail or text to 1-347-74MAGIC (1-347-746-2442). Share your thoughts about this episode, a future episode topic idea, or just say hi!

If you are enjoying the podcast, I’d greatly appreciate it if you could rate and review it on Apple Podcasts. The reviews help other people find this podcast.

Online Shop

Buy fun and magical travel and pop culture shirts, including the recently released Loungewear: Parks Edition and more, at our online shop!

Share This Content

Related Episodes

Why You Need to Visit Universal Orlando Resort

Why You Need to Visit Universal Orlando Resort

Best Places to Visit in the United States in Spring

Best Places to Visit in the United States in Spring

Best Places to Visit in Mexico in Spring

Best Places to Visit in Mexico in Spring

Thanks for connecting with me!

Let me know how I can help you, or share your story with me here. — Amanda

Contact