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The Surf City Surf Dog Festival.
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5 Must-Go Dog Festivals for 2018

Mark your calendars! 2018 is looking pawisitively fun with dog festivals focused on everything from Halloween parades to canines hanging ten.

Sharon McDonnell  |  Jan 2nd 2018


You’ll know 2018 is the year of the dog with dog festivals like these celebrating K-9 adorability or special skills in which you may want to pawticipate. Plus, photo ops galore!

1. Everybody’s gone Surf City Surf Dog

Surf City Surf Dog.

Surf City Surf Dog festival. Photography ©ZUMA Press, Inc. | Alamy Photo.

Why let humans have all the fun? Talented dog surfers compete in Huntington Beach, Southern California (aka Surf City USA) every September. Watching a Bulldog, Labrador Retriever or Cavalier King Charles Spaniel hold steady on a surfboard and confidently ride a wave (or perhaps practice downward dog) is an unforgettable sight. Each dog gets 12 minutes and is judged on length of time on the board and ride difficulty. Lifeguards stand by in case waves get ruff. The contest is divided into size categories and combos — like two dogs or standup paddleboarding (SUP) with a dog’s human. Catch more of this wave at surfdogevents.com.

2. Spooktacular Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade

Spooktacular Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade.

Spooktacular Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade. Photography ©IPACIFIC PRESS | Alamy Photo.

Called the world’s biggest costumed dog parade, with hundreds of dogs and thousands of spectators, this parade in New York City’s East Village in Tompkins Square Park is known for unusually wild costumes that are creative inspiration to us all. (New Yorkers can be competitive.) Here’s where to find a dog dressed as spaghetti and meatballs, a Chinese takeout container, rock musicians like Prince or KISS, in matching mermaid costumes with her human or even a trio of dogs as a candy shop (the winner one year). No wonder: The Best in Show prize is thousands of dollars. You’ll always see a dog who dislikes his or her costume, but most are good sports about their humans’ delight in dress-up. It’s all here at tompkinssquaredogrun.com.

3. I love a Barkus Parade

I love a Barkus Parade.

I love a Barkus Parade. Photography ©Vespasian | Alamy Photo.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans means two solid weeks of costume parades, elaborately decorated floats and brass bands from many private clubs called krewes before Ash Wednesday. Dogs get their own special day: The Mystic Krewe of Barkus, whose costumed dogs, floats and royal court parade in the French Quarter past Jackson Square. In 2017, the parade’s 25th year, the Queen, a regal snow-white Pomeranian, and her King, employed as a mental health technician in his doctor mom’s practice, had their coronation ball at the Windsor Court Hotel and lunch at Galatoire’s restaurant. Barkus is your chance to view show-stopping sights, like a giant English Mastiff dressed as a blonde Saints cheerleader. Registration needed for your dog to parade. Additional info at barkus.org.

4. It’s Corgi Con

Corgicon.

Corgicon. Photography by Sharon McDonnell.

Almost 1,000 Pembroke Welsh Corgis, their pet parents and admirers from all over Northern California descend upon San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, next to the Pacific Ocean, to frolic twice a year in June and October. The convention for Queen Elizabeth II’s dog of choice (she’s had Corgis for 80 years) features races, an agility course and a costume contest for Corgis clad in everything from sunglasses and sailor outfits to tutus. How crazy is Corgifornia about the breadbox-shaped breed? A tent sells Corgi SWAG like T-shirts, hoodies, beach towels, tote bags and smartphone cases. It may not be the Buckingham Palace gift shop, with Corgi stuffed animals and keychains, but it benefits a good pawse. I mean, cause: Queen’s Stumpy Dog Rescue. Details at corgicon.com.

5. Whoa doggies to the Yukon Quest

Yukon Quest.

Yukon Quest. Photography by Yukon Quest | Julien Schroder.

This Alaska-Canada winter sled dog race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory (or vice versa), through frozen wilderness and over four mountain ranges in subzero temperatures, traces the historic 1,000-mile Gold Rush route. Best opportunities to watch are at the starting point (in 2018, February 3 in Fairbanks) or finish line (week of February 12 to 17 in Whitehorse). Usually mixed-breed Huskies, the dogs are hardy, fast and surprisingly small. Volunteers come from all over the world to check in mushers and their athlete teams at checkpoints where they chow down and snooze, or to cook, bartend, and help with crowd control. Hike to yukonquest.com.

Thumbnail: Photography ©ZUMA Press, Inc. | Alamy Photo.

Sharon McDonnell is a San Francisco- based travel, food and beverage writer and dog mom to the aptly named Fluffy, a cuddly Bichon Frise/Poodle mix. Check out more of her work at sharonmcdonnell.contently.com.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you

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