Flickr user Paul Hudson

While everyone knows that college is for learning and growing into a productive member of society, it’s important to have fun along the way. Colleges organize many events during the school year, from club fairs to concerts to rallies. One of the more common recreational events is a festival, usually thrown during a certain time of year. Many are held at the end of semesters to mark a break from the stress and insomnia of finals, but others come as a welcoming event at the beginning of the school year. Here’s a beginner’s guide to some of the most interesting college festivals nationwide, whether school-sanctioned or simply in the area:

Festival of Books

University of Southern California — Los Angeles, CA

The great Groucho Marx once said; “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.” Canine jokes aside, we all know the importance of reading, enjoying turning page after page and the feeling of accomplishment that goes along with closing a book for the last time. As if you needed more reasons to be jealous of students that go to USC, vivacious readers will be green with envy at the Festival of Books, held each spring on the Los Angeles campus. Last April, Trojan students were treated to a “literary extravaganza” which featured luminaries like Marvel comics legend Stan Lee, publisher Ariana Huffington and astronaut-slash-living legend Buzz Aldrin signing their newest works. The festival, which is going on its seventh year, is astoundingly well attended by students and locals alike, also featuring artwork, music and screenings of films. If you’re a bibliophile, this festival couldn’t get any more enticing.

Slope Day

Cornell University — Ithaca, NY

First of all, no, this is not a skiing competition. The (slightly misleading) name of Cornell’s annual big day refers to Libe Slope, a spot on the Ithaca campus where a longstanding tradition was born in 1979. Feeling the excitement in the air at the approaching last day of classes, the college decided to host a cookout on the slope, serving their eager students barbecued chicken. Since its modest inception, Slope Day has exploded into a day-long celebration of the semester’s end, buoyed by performances from music superstars, lawn games and a carnival-like atmosphere. Over the past few years, artists as varied as Chance the Rapper, Walk the Moon, Drake, Matt & Kim, Nelly, and TV On The Radio have graced the slope to play music for cheering students. Recently named one of the “Best College Parties in America” by Thrillist, Slope Day is only growing in popularity and serves as something to look forward to for hardworking Cornell students at the end of every semester.

Drake Relays

Drake University — Des Moines, IA

Athletics often serve as a point of unity for college students, an area where all on campus can come together and cheer on their teams. Iowa’s own Drake University is no different, evidenced by their annual Drake Relays event. One of the most prominent track and field events in the nation, the Relays annually draw student-athletes from all over the nation to participate in traditional track & field events. In addition, the events include a homecoming atmosphere for Drake students, with activities including painting streets, food stands, and even a bulldog-judging competition.

South by Southwest Festival

University of Texas — Austin, TX

The final entry on this list, unlike its predecessors, is not an event put on directly by a school, but one independently held. However, the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, held annually in Austin, has such close ties to the community culture that its relationship with the local University of Texas is as strong as the others to their schools. SXSW is a summit of culture, combining music, films, art, and live performances to become one of the most popular festivals anywhere in the country. Like California’s Coachella and New York’s Governors Ball, SXSW is a destination for music lovers, with a bevy of major artists performing their hits for thrilled crowds.

Over the past few years, the festival has grown to be the largest music festival in the world in terms of acts, with over a thousand individual artists performing. SXSW is a key part of Austin’s culture that is celebrated by UT students, who seek to preserve their unique identity through the slogan “Keep Austin Weird.” Some of the various events that have occurred at SXSW over the past few years include the introduction of virtual reality gaming, a speech by President Obama, recording artist Kelis cooking for fans, and even the inauguration of the head of the US Patent Office. Austin is weird and proud of it, and SXSW brings out University of Texas students in droves to celebrate the local culture.

Interested in any of these colleges? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to discover if they’re a great fit for you!