Already strapped in, with a stranger tightening my parachute, it becomes jarringly clear Red Bull race planes don’t have ejection seats. “In the event of an emergency, the canopy flies open, and I’ll be yelling ‘Bail! Bail! Bail!’” instructs François Le Vot, my French aerobatic pilot.
Keeping the good times always close at hand
Today we’re happy reintroduce our guide to the 50 Best Festivals in America in the form of a handy, downloadable eBook (PDF) that’s been revamped with even more photography, insight and trivia than before. It’s a ready-to-go handbook for your iOS, Android or Kindle device — never out of reach the next time the road comes calling. Oh, and it’s free. Download it here.
1.16 miles and 300 feet of elevation gain in (less than) one minute
The annual Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England centers around a storied Hillclimb, which winds 1.16 miles through event founder Lord March’s private estate and rises 300 feet. Drivers — piloting any type of car, new or old, from sports cars to supercars to deft Formula 1 racers to Nascar stock car growlers — rip through the narrow course in under a minute.
You were looking for something to do?
Americans, we’re a people who enjoy a good gathering. It’s right there in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution: the right of the people to peaceably assemble, adopted on December 15, 1791 — and darn it we’ve been doing it something serious since then. We caucus to select political representation, we gather around grills on July 4, we congregate in town squares to see who grew the biggest pumpkin. Most of all, we just like to get together and have a rollicking good time.
That’s what this story is all about. It’s a survey of America’s greatest festivals, from a small-town California celebration of the local garlic crop to a skull-rattling military air show to the greatest collection of musical performers at one venue, on Earth. We’ve taken certain liberties in defining a festival, so you’ll also find a few conferences that have made an important impact in popular culture. Mark your calendars. Fill up your gas tanks. Pack some beef jerky. These are the 50 best festivals in America.
Why Rare Books Are Really, Really Expensive
We visited the New York Antiquarian Book Fair with a single question: in an age of $1.99 Kindle Singles, why would a book cost thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of dollars?
A Weekend at the Big Dance
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is a full-blown cultural phenomenon, complete with its own vernacular and pseudoscience. We headed down to Dallas to experience this year’s finale and and snapped some photos in between occasional showers, shortages of $9 Miller Lites and gridlocked crowds.
Keep Austin Geared
You’ve done it: flight, rental car and hotel booked, $1,700 Gold Badge purchased. You are about to attend the most diversified festival in the country — SXSW. Now it’s time to pack. What does one take to this event featuring A-list celebs, billion dollar corporations and the CEOs of the next big thing? Here’s what we brought to stay connected, light on our feet and ready to make a strong first impression for all those meet-and-greet networking sessions (not to mention the VIP parties).
From hash to hashtags
SXSW is a culture unto itself today, defined as much by its concentration of Google glass, hashtags and corporate bar tabs as it is by concerts, movie premiers and software launches. Spend enough time here and you might start believing the internet is a real live place. Looking at it all through the lens of the present, it’s hard to believe the festival was started 27 years ago by a few staffers at the Austin Chronicle who wanted to attract bands and artists from around the world to the eclectic music scene of Austin in hopes of exposing the city as a hotbed of talent. Here’s how to make your visit a great one.
Seeking the Reel Deal
This year was the 30th anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival, when Park City, UT, becomes the center of the celluloid universe and nearly 50,000 people descend on a mountain town of 7,500 inhabitants. Sundance is widely considered the most important film festival in the U.S., the incubator for films that resonate deeply in American popular culture. What’s more, the festival makes for a raucous week in the Wasatch Range. We were on hand this year to see how it all works. Here’s our guide on where to stay, what to eat and, most importantly, how to go about your festival week.
Blowing $25 million at the 30th anniversary of the Breeders' Cup
Ask any casual fan what the Superbowl of horse racing is and they’ll answer the Kentucky Derby. Pose the same question to a member of the horse racing community and they’ll quickly point to the Breeders’ Cup. Deciding who’s right depends on the measuring stick. History, attendance records and cultural recognition easily favor the Derby. But when it comes to cold hard cash, the Breeders’ Cup is clearly king.
We were invited to experience the scene for ourselves during the 30th anniversary of the lauded event at historic Santa Anita park, California’s oldest race track.
On the scene of America's biggest art festival
What exactly is Art Basel? You’re not alone in asking. Mixed messages are both a problem and an asset when it comes to the annual December event. Technically speaking, the festivities that culturally connected Americans learn about through New York Times writeups and a flood of social media humble bragging are officially known as Art Basel Miami Beach. We were on the scene to explore and try to define this captivating art wonderland
What is the measure of a man? And can we ever meet it?
Staging artistic wrestling events in full Luchador regalia against invisible opponents, taking on semi-pro football players in full pads during mock bull-in-the-ring practice drills and painting larger-than-life self portraits of himself as a superhero are just a few examples of the creative work of artist Shaun “El C.” Leonardo. If you’re looking for a theme, know this — it’s all about being a man. We caught up with Brooklyn-based artist from Queens and former college football player before his upcoming show at KETEL ONE® Vodka’s artist studio at Art Basel Miami 2013 to gain some insight on his work and his thoughts on masculinity today.
We visit Red Bull Battle Grounds, a two-day tournament in which eight of the world’s best Starcraft II players send angry virtual military units across a digital landscape to destroy their enemy’s virtual bases. Does this event (and the many others like it) signal a shift in gaming’s social legitimacy? Read on for an exploration and a photo essay of the event.
A taste of the Northwest
Feast Portland is more than just the story of food or chefs in the Rose City. While the bulk of the festival’s events take place in Downtown Portland, Feast is about all of Oregon and its bounties: locally sourced meat and produce; fish from the Columbia River and surrounding waterways; wines of the Willamette Valley; and a craft beer industry that has made Oregon the number one state for brew artists and Portland the state’s epicenter. GP stopped in to enjoy the tastes.
These are a few of our favorite things
One of my favorite things to do on a Saturday is roll out of bed at 5:30 a.m., grab a camera and my jacket and drive 48 miles from LA to a business park in Irvine. There, on any given Saturday, hundreds of cars worth millions of dollars gather for Cars and Coffee, a special event where two common denominators create a mood of friendship, relaxation and shared passion.
End of a terror
Like you, we’ve watched the brain-eating zombie apocalypse theme get played out — zombie movies, zombie television programs, zombie costumes, books about zombies (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is only slightly less tiresome than Austen’s original). However, Wish brings a fresh take on the meme with the Zombie Mall Experience, thrusting you from mindless observer…
Everything I learned in life I learned in rally school.
5:30 AM, Los Angeles | Waking up at the crack of dawn for school is hardly an ideal way to start the day. Unless, of course, you’re getting up early to attend rally driving school for a crash course in four-wheeled mayhem. Over the course of our day we partook in rapid-fire lessons on the…
Final Cut, Bro
In recent years, stalwart denim purveyor Levi’s has expanded into beyond their blue-collar roots offering not only fashion forward goods suited for coal miners but for agency ladder climbers, as well. The brand’s social accessibility and blend of fashion/practicality have led to the Levi’s Workshop — a pop-up style event that offers exposure, equipment, training…
This past Saturday, one of our favorite type foundries House Industries was in town displaying some of their latest creations. As a self-admitted typography nut, I have collected several of their stunning fonts over the past few years. It didn’t take much more than an email to make sure their display at Partners & Spade…
Southern Hospitality at Its Best
Fashion week is in full swing here in New York. Besides drastically improving the ratio of tall beautiful women walking the streets, it also means a lot of long nights and days for our staff as we check out what’s to come from major men’s brands. First up on our list of events, Billy Reid’s…
In Support of Better Beer
In college, my Dutch finance professor once postulated, “Why is drinking American beer akin to making love on a canoe?” His response: “Because it’s fuc%@g near water”. Bull. Like water no more, American beer has gone the distance. It goes without saying that the revival of craft brewers is in full force and these titans…
Paintball fans looking to take the experience to the next level should consider hopping the pond and heading to Souhfields Farm at Leicestershire in the UK. There you’ll find a one of kind warfare simulation experience known puntastically as Armourgeddon. If the name didn’t give it away, this facility teaches visitors how to operate real…
Yesterday in the midst of Windows 7 Launch craziness, the New York based Gear Patrol staff took some time away from the gear-review mayhem to go see Engadget editor-in-chief Josh Topolsky grill Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on everything from the new Window 7’s improvement over it’s dismal predecessor Vista, to Ballmer’s knowledge of the elusive…
The Smithsonian of Gadgets? It Just Might Be.
As we hinted earlier through Twitter, Gear Patrol got the invite to check out the 2009 Gizmodo Gallery this evening before the general public’s admission, which starts tomorrow (or, about the time you’re reading this). Considering some of the highlights in the gallery such as the Chefstack automatic pancake maker, a return of the 103…
Venerable Gear Outfitter Gets Modern And Gets You Adventurous
Several weeks ago, Gear Patrol had the opportunity to check out the venerable gear outfitter, EMS. Now known for fully as Eastern Mountain Sports (ems.com), we went hands-on at their new flagship store here in New York’s SoHo. Better yet, we had the place virtually all to ourselves. It goes without saying that there are…