Family Fun Under The Big Sky

Families needn’t look far when searching for entertaining things to do in Montana. Montana is steeped in history, culture and beauty -- all things that Montanans celebrate often and with their families. With just a few months of charitable weather, summers are rich in family fun, though it’s not unusual for a skiing town to host an outdoor winter event. Here is just a small sampling of Montana family events and festivals to put on the calendar.

Whitefish winter carnival

May to October: Missoula Farmers Market

Sunset magazine included Missoula in its top 10 farmers markets -- a list that also included Honolulu Hawaii. That's because Sunset figured out what everyone in Montana already knows. Missoula's Farmer's Market is fun for the whole family. Naturally it has fresh fruits and vegetables, impressive not only for its selection (including native, melt-in-your-mouth huckleberries) but also because of the region's incredibly short growing season. Missoula's Farmer's Market includes a separate market of booths displaying the wares of vendors. Missoula is also known for its artisan bakeries, home-grown meats and dairy and culinary delights, many of which are represented at the farmer's market. The sights, smells and tastes of the Missoula Farmer's Market make it a Montana favorite.

July 14 to 15: Summer Fair, Billings

Every year, Yellowstone Art Museum and its generous sponsors pull out all the stops and host Summer Fair. Artists near and far all gather in the park to display handmade jewelry, one-of-a-kind-paintings, clever wood-workings, unique wind-chimes and artistic iron-works to name a few. While Mom and Dad "ooh and ahh" over so much talent in one place, the kids are charmed by all the colorful displays. There is also live entertainment, food and art lessons for the kids. Summer Fair is the highlight of the locals' summer calendar.

August 4 to 5: Festival of Nations, Red Lodge

The Festival of Nations in Red Lodge, Montana is steeped in tradition and heritage. The roots of this Aspen-like ski town come from early 20th-century European miners who were often earning money for their families to come to America. As the mining dwindled, so did the population -- but the diverse community and culture remained. Today, that diversity of culture is celebrated with the Festival of Nations where countries like Italy, Germany, England, Scotland and Ireland are represented. Flags of various nations line Red Lodge's Main Street during this two-day festival, and visitors will see people wearing costumes from all over the globe. The parade, food, dancing and games make this an event you and your family won't want to miss!

Early February: Whitefish Winter Carnival, Whitefish

Every winter, Whitefish Montana honors the God of Snow with this fun-filled festival. Residents and visitors pay homage with ice sculptures, a parade, kid activities, a cross-country skiing race and more. A few brave folks even partake in the Penguin Plunge, which is -- you guessed it -- a dip in the frigid water! Whitefish is one of Montana's premier tourist destinations with lake activities, unparalleled golf, fantastic skiing and surprising shopping opportunities. They have a reason to celebrate winter, and you and your family should join them. It is an event you won't soon forget!

Image courtesy of Whitefish Winter Carnival

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