You’re probably feeling a little ho hum after the departure of all things festive. Fear not – there are plenty of community events to experience in 2024. Whether as a spectator or a participant, you’ll find goodies in OKC and Tulsa alike.
Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival, March 22-24. Held at the National Cowboy Museum & Western Heritage Center, Red Earth welcomes talented creators who showcase a myriad of contemporary and traditional art including paintings, jewelry and beadwork.
“Attendees will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in art from renowned Native artists,” says Jenna Lovelace, communications manager for Visit Oklahoma City. Additionally, spectators can enjoy Native dance presentations and musical performances.
OKC Memorial Marathon, April 26-28. Each race – be it a 5K, fun run, half or full marathon, begins with 168 seconds of silence in honor of those killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
“Whether you choose to participate in the race or cheer from the sidelines, the Memorial Marathon’s mission stays the same: remember,” says Lovelace.
The largest entered race is the half-marathon, which winds through downtown, the Capitol and around northeastern OKC. Runners and spectators from around the world gather to honor those killed, those who survived and those changed forever.
Paseo Arts Festival, May 24-27. More than 90 juried artists from across the country showcase their work, which ranges from painting and sculpture to jewelry and woven goods. Enjoy live performances from dancers, spoken word artists, folk singers and jazz musicians. Fun fact: The Paseo, which was built in 1929, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Women’s College World Series, May 30-June 7. The NCAA Women’s College World Series is held at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.
“We are incredibly proud to be home to the USA Softball Hall of Fame,” Lovelace says, “and we welcome the excitement surrounding softball season in Oklahoma City.”
Oklahoma Regatta Festival, TBD. This paddlesports event at RiverSport OKC features rowing, kayaking, dragon boating and whitewater rafting. The USRowing Club National Championships and USRowing Masters National Championships will be combined for 2024 and held in the state’s capital city. See both day and night racing on the Oklahoma River.
Fiestas de las Americas, TBD. This festival happens each year during the month-long celebration of Hispanic Heritage month that starts Sept. 15 and coincides with independence days in several Latin American countries. What began as a week-long celebration in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson was expanded to a month-long celebration by President Ronald Regan in 1988. Oklahoma’s festival starts off with a grand parade.
“Live performances, beautiful art and Spanish cuisine,” Lovelace says, “are just a few things guests can anticipate at this incredible festival.”
Mayfest, May 10-12. Located in downtown Tulsa, this annual (and truly beloved) event is dedicated to the promotion of education surrounding the arts and humanities. There is a notable roster of visual artists, music and food in celebration of all things creative, filling downtown Tulsa’s streets with beauty.
Saint Francis Tulsa Tough, June 7-9. Since 2006, this event on wheels has been anchored in downtown and rides along the banks of the Arkansas River.
“Each day of competition takes place in a different downtown district and offers options for all biking levels and ages,” says Renee McKenney, senior vice president of tourism for the Tulsa Regional Chamber and president of Tulsa Regional Tourism.
The event culminates at Riverside’s Cry Baby Hill, where spectators gather to cheer on the racers and celebrate in a Mardi-Gras-style block party.
Freedomfest, July 4. At River West Festival Park, watch the fireworks display over the Arkansas River. Enjoy the day with picnics, kids’ activities and live concerts.
Tulsa State Fair, Sept. 26-Oct. 6. This is the city’s largest family-friendly event, which provides educational experiences and entertainment to boot. Rides, delicious food, games –what more could you want?
Oktoberfest, Oct. 17-20. This annual event, which was recently ranked by USA Today voters as the fourth best of its kind in the nation, will return to River West Festival Park in 2024. The festival features over 200 taps of German and local beer, live bands, crafts and Bavarian cuisine. The event is modeled after Oktoberfest Munich in Bavaria, Germany, and Tulsa’s gathering has a lot to offer.
“One of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations outside of Germany, this immersive beer and cultural festival includes authentic food, carnival rides, kids’ activities and the highly anticipated Dachshund Dash, which provide fun for the whole family,” says McKenney.
Route 66 Marathon, Nov. 23-24. Run 26 miles on the famous Route 66 in Tulsa. Additional races include the half-marathon and marathon relay.
Concerts, Musicals, Showcases, Oh My!
Slough off the last few months of chaos by attending these entertaining events in early 2024.
Celebrity Attractions presents: Hairspray, Jan. 2-7. Broadway’s Tony award-winning musical comedy set in the 1960s plays at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
Celebrity Attractions presents: My Fair Lady, Feb. 27-March 3. With the help of Professor Henry Higgins, Eliza is molded into a lady by perfecting her speech and etiquette. Playing at the TPAC.
Tulsa Symphony presents: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone In Concert, March 9. Enjoy a live symphony orchestra performing at the TPAC, playing every note of this beloved movie’s score.
Tulsa Symphony presents: Chamber Music Series – Beethoven, March 15. Held at the First Presbyterian Church, this series offers an intimate musical look into one of the world’s most lauded composers.
OKC Broadway presents: Les Miserables, Jan. 16-21. Set against the backdrop of 19th century France, this Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption. Playing at the Civic Center Music Hall.
OKC Broadway presents: Wicked, Feb. 21-March 10. Discover what happened in the land of Oz from a different angle. After all, so much happened before Dorothy dropped in. Playing at Civic Center
OKC Philharmonic showcases at the Civic Center: Rachmaninoff, Jan. 13; Mariachi Los Camperos, Jan. 26-27; Brahms, Feb. 3; and Bravo Broadway, Feb. 16-17.
Can’t Miss Concerts
BOK Center, Tulsa:
Trey Songz with Monica, Carl Thomas and Adina Howard, Feb. 10
Eagles with Steely Dan, Feb. 13
Winter Jam with Crowder, Lecrae, Cain and Katy Nichole, March 1
LANY, March 5
Paycom Center, OKC:
Turnpike Troubadours and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Jan. 11
Drake with J. Cole, Jan. 21
Fallout Boy with Jimmy Eats World, March 9
Katt Williams, March 12
Winter Jam 2024, March 14
General Okie Goodness
If none of the previous options are putting you in a good mood, why not make a visit to some of Tulsa and OKC’s most beloved spots? No reservations – and oftentimes, no money – needed.
Delight in the myriad natural destinations in Tulsa.
“Nature lovers will not want to miss Tulsa’s floral hotspots this spring,” says McKenney.
The Gathering Place – Experience the gorgeous cherry tree blooms in the Chapman Adventure Playground. The collection of trees are inspired by Japan’s flowering displays.
Philbrook Museum – Stroll the museum’s formal gardens for the annual magnificent blooming of the tulips.
Woodward Park – See a variety of plants, trees and blooms at the Conservatory, which turns 100 this year.
Tulsa Botanic Garden – Explore the many plant varieties here and take a walk through beautifully manicured lawns.
“The Tulsa Botanic Garden recently opened their Stanford Family Liberty Garden and Bumgarner Lotus Pool,” McKenney says, “which will add even more vibrancy to the attraction this spring.”
Bricktown Canal Tour – This mile-long water taxi ride, located in the heart of downtown’s entertainment district, takes about 40 minutes. The tour guide will offer historical facts along the way.
Chuck Wagon Festival – Learn more about Western heritage at this annual event held at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Held May 25- 26 this year, the festival has food, demonstrations and contests.
“The museum goes all out to provide guests with an authentic cowboy experience,” says Lovelace.
Martin Park Nature Center – Learn about nature in this serene, suburban environment. Enjoy hikes along 2.5 miles of woodland trails, education programs and the interactive learning center.
Infrastructure Updates and Developments
Our state’s capital city is expecting many updates in 2024 due to the MAPS 4 initiative.
One of these is the Homelessness Project; it includes $55.7 million to address affordable housing and homelessness in Oklahoma City. Working in partnership with the Oklahoma City Housing Authority, the project will provide various affordable housing options. The MAPS 4 funding will be used to leverage other funds and partnerships, which will increase the investment to more than $450 million. Accompanied by wrap-around services from existing providers, the funding will be implemented using a “housing first” approach.
“This strategy focuses on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing, then providing additional services as needed,” says Kristy Yager, director of public information for the City of Oklahoma City.
Additionally, the OKC Fairgrounds Coliseum continues to make headway. The 216,164-square-foot coliseum, which is scheduled to be completed in 2025, will be the new home of major national, state and local events attracting visitors from around the world.
“This project is taking shape,” says Yager of the $126-million project, funded through MAPS 3, MAPS 4, hotel tax revenue and other funding sources.
Across the state, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is working diligently.
Recently, ODOT’s executive director Tim Gatz presented work plans to the nine-member Oklahoma Transportation Commission, which approved ODOT’s eight-year construction work plan for federal fiscal years 2024-2031. This plan contains close to $9 billion in state and federal investments in highway improvements. The commissioners also awarded 25 contracts totaling almost $90 million to improve highways, roads and bridges statewide.