Oh, April 20 … you and your loaded connotations are causing trouble yet again.
The circus of it all gets bigger every year with a cluttered calendar of all-out smoke fests, cloudy concerts and rowdy rallies across the country. I’m an activist and enthusiast, but I avoid it all together.
Beyond our unofficial national holiday though, there are now more special events popping up year-round than ever before. In Colorado alone, arty dinners, joint- and sushi-rolling classes, green-themed wedding expos and cannabis tours are the new norm. Cannabis-infused culinary experiences are trending, too, with celebrity chefs like Hosea Rosenberg leading the charge.
But newer to the scene are multi-day festivals and event series tailored to cannabis-friendly fun. From a third annual film festival in Brooklyn to a spa-like retreat in Ojai, California, we might be closer to the Coachella of cannabis than you think. Speaking of, ganjapreneurs organized a full-fledged “Weed Oasis” just a few miles down the road from the Empire Polo Club this year. The Official Coachella Guide still explicitly state that cannabis is not allowed on the privately owned festival grounds (which even applies to those with medical cards). LOL.
So, whether you are a new or veteran consumer, here are the 11 best 420-friendly events to put on your radar for the year ahead (organized by date, not ranked):
Multiple dates, cities
Arguably the event that started it all, it technically counts for this list with the next medical competition set for SoCal (April 21-23). Presented by High Times, the Cannabis Cup also travels to NorCal, Michigan, Rhode Island and Jamaica later this year and still stands as the one of the most influential gathering places for the global cannabis community.
Learn more: cannabiscup.com
SweetWater 420 Festival
April 21-23, Atlanta, Georgia
Widespread Panic, Trey Anastasio Band, and Ween headline SweetWater Brewing Company’s 13th annual three-day music, art, food, and craft beer celebration at Centennial Olympic Park. With a focus on environmental awareness, the festival’s Planet 420 Eco-Village features hands-on workshops from non-profit sustainability partners. (This is Georgia, though, so take care with consumption and the local authorities.)
Learn more: sweetwater420fest.com
National Cannabis Festival
April 22 , Washington D.C.
Get involved in shaping the future of cannabis culture across the country at the 2nd annual in our nation’s capital, which brings together activists, business owners, and enthusiasts alike. Talib Kweli and The Pharcyde headline the full-day celebration which features an Advocacy Village, Grower’s Corner, Education Pavilion, Vendor Fair, and Munchies Court.
Learn more: nationalcannabisfestival.com
June 22-26, Ojai, California
Founded by Sari Gabbay to create the ultimate mind expanding, spirit awakening, retreat experience, she says of hosting the first ever 5-day experience, “it’s not just a smoke weed and do yoga type of retreat.” Guests at Black Walnut Ranch will also participate in meditation, spiritual ceremonies, group hikes, creative visionary workshops, nature explroations, drum circles, sound baths and more — all elevated thanks to its official medical cannabis partner Humboldt Brothers.
Learn more: cannablissretreats.com
Mason Jar Events
Multiple dates, Boulder, Colorado
Food, wine, yoga, and cannabis are a few of Mason Jar Events’ owner Kendal Norris favorite things. She blends them beautifully together at her her signature Seasonal Pairing Dinners (July 13 & October 5) and ever-so-blissful Yoga With a View (August 28).
Learn more: masonjareventgroup.com
The 420 Games
Multiple dates, cities
Established to erase the stigma that cannabis consumers are lazy and unmotivated, this 2nd annual athletic competition tour has expanded from six to eight stops for 2017: Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Boulder, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. All events feature a 4.20 mile running course, a beer tasting garden, educational speeches, and live music at the finish.
Learn more: 420games.org
Cannabis Liberation Day
June 11, Amsterdam, Holland
Ricardo Baca, our former fearless leader here at The Cannabist, will join a roster of renowned experts from around the world at “Cannabis University” as part of the daylong celebration of international cannabis culture. Its “Hemp Market” showcases the latest technology in producing the crop as a sustainable resource with live music and DJs rounding out the lineup.
Learn more: cannabisliberationday.org
Multiple dates, Malibu, California
This showcase of Northern California’s finest sun-grown medical cultivators–named in honor of the area’s “Emerald Triangle”–heads south to Malibu for a pop-up farmer’s market-esque experience at a private estate (the next two-day event is slated for August).
Learn more: emeraldexchangeca.com
August 10-12, Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada
Over 8,000 enthusiasts will head north for three days and nights to take in more than 15 of Canada’s best classic rock bands. It’s presented by longtime partner Crop King Marijuana Seeds and this year, will feature “Marijuana Mornings as its new educational program.
Learn more: cannafest.ca
August 18-20, Seattle, Washington
One of the longest running, premier events on the cannabis culture scene, the 26th Annual Seattle Hempfest lives up to its designation as the “largest annual cannabis policy reform event in the world.” While all about activism, it’s a sophisticated and socially responsible weekend celebration with five stages of speakers and bands with close to 500 arts, crafts, food, and informational booths scattered throughout the parlk.
Learn more: hempfest.org
New York City Cannabis Film Festival
October 21, Manhattan, New York
Now in its third year, NYC CFF is a one-day showcase of cannabis genre films–both the entertaining and the educational–in hopes to further transform and stimulate change within the local pro-legalization community. Organizers are also rolling a traveling extension this year–the CannaBus Culture Film Festival–which starts in NYC (June 17) and heads to Fort Collins (September TBA) with 2018 stops planned in Seattle and San Francisco.
Learn more: nyccff.com