Hot Springs has steadily added to its list of annual events over the years, and come 2022 the Spa City is looking at a year packed full of fun. From bathtub races to the World’s Shortest St. Pat’s Parade, your itinerary will be as unique as ever, no matter what season you find yourself in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Read on to check out the top 20 events happening in 2022!
For the first time in its 15-year history, Low Key Arts’ Arkansas Shorts Short Film Festival will be not one night, but two full nights of short films at the Historic Malco Theatre. You won’t want to miss this chance to grab some popcorn, kick back and relax as you watch insightful and moving films from the seats of a historic theatre. The program will consist primarily of work from Arkansas filmmakers, but will also include shorts from filmmakers around the world. Tickets for purchase and the robust two-day schedule can be found at lowkeyarts.org.
The long-awaited five-field Majestic Ball Park is complete, and what better way to ring in its first-ever tournament than an invitational honoring late baseball historian and key figure in the park’s inception Mike Dugan? Dugan had a dream of bringing baseball from all over to Hot Springs, where the baseball history is rich, and thanks to him it’s finally happening. The Dugan Invitational will host nine college teams across four states coming together to play three days of baseball. For the full schedule, visit hotsprings.org.
It’s back! The World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade is back for another year of incredible quirky, green, festivitie fun. In its 19th year, tradition will remain in 40 floats — along with dancers, marchers and leprechauns of course — parading down the 98-foot-long Bridge Street in historic downtown Hot Springs. This 19th year will also bring celebrity guests like Cheech Marin and Danny Trejo, as well as musical guest Sugar Ray! There will be a lot packed into this short parade, so put this free event on your “can’t-miss” list in 2022.
For the second year in a row, the 18th Annual Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival will once again take place at Cedar Glades Park. Presented by Low Key Arts, this festival will have a lineup of musical artists from around the country performing for, and partying with, festival goers all. weekend. long. This rocking weekend is complete with incredible foods, vendors, art installations, camping, hiking, disc golf, kids activities and more. Day and weekend passes will be available for purchase at lowkeyarts.org.
Horse racing at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort is cherished and traditional, and there’s almost nothing better than dressing to the nines on a fine spring morning and heading to the track for the annual Arkansas Derby. Bet on a few Kentucky Derby hopefuls in this million dollar stakes race, but also enjoy some of your day from the infield where you will find live music, foods and beverages of the variety (including Oaklawn’s famous corned beef sandwiches) and a good ole’ time.
Check out the local arts scene at this 10-day festival! Produced by the Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance, the festival takes place primarily throughout downtown Hot Springs. It includes everything from live performances, workshops, children’s events and art exhibitions. There are different workshops and activities scheduled throughout the duration of the festival, and numerous local businesses that participate. And the best part about this lengthy festival is you have 10 days to experience at least one of the plethora of things it has to offer. Go forth and conquer.
As the weather starts to warm, Magic Springs Theme and Water Park will be open for the season just in time. It’s a sign summer has arrived, and so has a whole lot of fun. Get your adrenaline pumping with rides like the Gauntlet, X-Coaster, Brain Drain and Plummet Summit. Afterward, cool off and head to the water park. Here, you’ll find countless water slides for both the fun and fear-seekers. Check out the summer’s concert lineup too, and end your day with a concert at the park’s amphitheater. Catering to multiple age groups, there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy at Magic Springs. Visit the website for season and day passes, and the 2022 concert lineup.
The annual free firework displays for Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day will once again be held on Lake Hamilton at dark. You won’t want to miss one of these three chances to see this exploding beauty of a display over the water! The fireworks will be shot from the middle of Lake Hamilton from barges located on the east side of Highway 7 at the first Highway 7 bridge opposite the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. Bring a chair or blanket and watch from the lawn, or from the water by boat. In case of rain, the show will be scheduled the following day.
The Bridge Street LIVE! Concert Series will return for its second year in 2022, holding a free concert in downtown’s Bridge Street Live Entertainment District every Thursday in June. If a block party setting with free concerts, an array of local restaurant food and beverage options, games and merchants appeals to you, head on down to Hot Springs’ shortest street this June for one fun, family-friendly time.
The 39th Annual Phoenix Bass Fishing League will be held on Lake Hamilton in 2022. Calling all anglers: a $120,000 cash prize is on the line! There is no entry-fee for this three-day tournament, and it will be marked as the sixth All-American to be held in Hot Springs, which is a record for any amount of times a city has held the tournament in its 39 years. Visit Hot Springs said it will provide an estimated $1 million economic impact to the region. For more information and updated details, visit majorleaguefishing.com.
Decorated bathtubs on wheels being raced down the street while thousands dressed in robes and slippers shoot super soakers at them is a celebrated reality every year in the Spa City. Since 2005, every June people have gathered alongside the street in front of Bathhouse Row to cheer on their favorite team dressed in whacky themes during The Stueart Pennington World Championship Running of the Tubs. Over the years this bathtub race has even grown to require ESPN coverage. It’s truly unlike anything you will ever experience.
The Fifth Annual Baseball Weekend will be in full swing this August. As one of the first locations for baseball Spring Training, Hot Springs has a rich history in baseball, and this is a weekend full of celebrating just that. Baseball fans of the plenty are invited to come out to meet famous players, see the city’s newest five-filed Majestic Baseball Park, attend a variety of panel discussions and more!
Spa-Con VI — a comicon that appeals to the masses — will be held this September. Calling all comic book lovers, gamers, cosplayers, superfans, artists, otakus, collectors and simply just the curious: You have got to check out this one-of-a-kind comicon. With past celebrity guests like Rodger Bumpass, the voice actor for Squidward Tentacles in the Nickelodeon series Spongebob Squarepants, and Nichelle Nichols, the actress who played Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series, you never know who might be in store for the upcoming year, but they will surely blow you away.
Low Key Arts Hot Water Hills Music and Arts Festival will return in 2022. Taking place in downtown’s Hill Wheatley Plaza, this festival will be a weekend full of good tunes, good art and good vibes. There will be original music and artists from around the country at this highly-anticipated event. It’s also family friendly, so come one come all, and enjoy such a fun festival in the heart of the Spa City. Day and weekend passes will be available for purchase at lowkeyarts.org.
The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is an annual 9-day event that not only champions documentary filmmakers of the south, but also curates a compelling lineup of unforgettable stories from around the world. In its 31st year, HSDFF is the longest running all-documentary festival in North America. The festival takes place at various venues around historic downtown Hot Springs, and includes screenings of roughly 100 documentary films, along with a range of industry panels and workshops, providing exposure to internationally acclaimed filmmakers and special guests. You won’t want to miss this extraordinary opportunity to kick back and watch some genuinely good films produced by some of the best filmmakers of our time.
Thanks to amenities like the Northwoods Trail System, Hot Springs’ biking community has exploded in the past years, and come 2022 Hot Springs will be the host city for the Arkansaw High Country Race. This 1,037-mile bike race is not for the weak. Up to 100 riders will start in Hot Springs on Oct. 8, and the trek will take up to five days to complete. Who will make it back first? Only time will tell, but don’t miss the monumental moment when it happens right here in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas.
After setting attendance records in 2021, the Gudrun: Northwoods MTB Festival will return in 2022 with high expectations. With mountain bikers coming from near and far, this competitive festival is a time to compete and celebrate in the love of biking. It’s anticipated to be bigger than ever, and with an array of activities being held throughout the weekend it’s not solely for bikers, but for observers too. When day and weekend passes and registration are available, they can be found at northwoodstrails.org.
No matter your age, and whether you’r a walker, pacer, jogger or elite runner, the Spa City Running Festival invites all to come out and join the race that showcases the beauty of Hot Springs. Available treks include a half marathon, 10k, 5K and 1K Squirt Race. Having run for over 40 years, this festival helps people get out and enjoy the scenery Hot Springs National Park has to offer during “peak fall foliage season.” So come on, what are you waiting for? Don’t be shy. To register for the festival, visit hotsprings.org.
The Tom Daniel Annual Hot Springs Chili Cook Off is a $5 all you can eat chili competition held in downtown Hot Springs. Try a little bit of all the competitors’ chili, but only give your single vote to the booth that wins over your stomach. The event is also an event that signals when the most wonderful time of the year begins in Hot Springs, as it starts the lighting of the thousands of lights decorating downtown for the holiday season. This beloved local tradition is one you won’t want to miss out on as you prepare to go into the holiday season.
The Oaklawn Rotary Club Christmas Parade is one of the best ways to close out a year in Hot Springs. Bringing together a slew of locally crafted floats, this Christmas Parade is a time to celebrate the people, businesses and events that kept the town turning over the previous year. And of course, it’s one heck of a festive way to start off the month of Christmas.
Cassidy is a Hot Springs-based freelance journalist. She spends most of her time exploring and writing about the city for her online platform The Hot Springs Post. In her freetime she enjoys skating, swimming, car camping and spending time with her nieces and nephews. Cassidy aspires to create a positive impact with her writing, be it fun or informative.