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UFO Festival: An Out of This World Experience in the Alien Capital of the World

Gaining worldwide notoriety during the summer of 1947 when a mysterious craft crashed just outside the city, Roswell remains a place of intrigue not only as a pop-culture icon, but for its unique community events, one-of-a-kind attractions, and variety of outdoor activities. Visitors curious about the crash can take a tour with Roswell UFO Tours, which highlights the facts and circumstances surrounding the crash as well as tours of the crash site itself. The city is also home to a variety of high-quality museums highlighting everything from fine art to aviation. A few to check out include Roswell Museum and Art Center, International UFO Museum and Research Center, and Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art.


The UFO Festival has observed the anniversary of the 1947 Roswell Crash for the past 23 years, and it will take place July 6-8 in Downtown Roswell. Attendees will encounter a free to attend celebration that highlights UFO’s, aliens, space, and sci-fi. This one-of-a-kind bash comes complete with live entertainment throughout, costume contests, speakers, a parade, a car and bike show, unique exhibits, and more. At the Robert H. Goddard Planetarium, people can see movies about space and science, as well as laser light shows set to popular music. Live entertainment at the event includes free concerts, street performers, plus performances by 501st Dewback Ridge Garrison and entertainer Obediah Thomas. The Alien Chase is a running/walking event where participants can compete in 10K and 5K runs, or 10K and 5K walks. The Xcel Energy UFO Festival Light Parade promises to dazzle the masses with its unique light displays and vibrant floats. This year’s event also features live speakers including Stanton Friedman, Stephen Bassett, and more. Patrons in search of meals and refreshments can purchase items from excellent local vendors including El Chupacabra Food Truck and Black Betty Food Truck. For a full breakdown of all the activities the event has to offer please visit their website. interviewed Executive Director of Mainstreet Roswell, Kathy Lay, to learn more about this one-of-a-kind event.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

KL: 2018 will be the 23rd Roswell UFO Festival. It started in 1995 as a fun local event to commemorate the famous 1947 Roswell Incident (Was it a UFO or a weather balloon?). Interest surrounding the incident is still going strong 71 years later and has made Roswell known around the world. The UFO Festival drew worldwide attention in 1997 (on the 50th anniversary of the Roswell Incident) and changed from a fun local festival to a fantastic international event.


RAL: How many annual attendees do you draw?

KL: Roughly 38,000 people attended last year.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

KL: The celebration brings in a diverse demographic, the variety of our activities offers something for everyone. MainStreet Roswell organizes the UFO Festival, but it is a multi-organizational event with many different activities and things happening all around the city.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

KL: This event revolves around UFOs, aliens, space, and the great mystery that appeals to a full range from the serious believer to the tongue-in-cheek sci-fi fan. There are so many different things to enjoy, and one of the unique aspects is that the festival is FREE to attend, with free parking and a variety of free activities and entertainment.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?

KL: Here is a breakdown of some of the activities people can expect:

  • New Mexico Museum of Space History from Alamogordo Bringing six alien bodies for an experiential exhibit “Alien Autopsy”

  • NASA exhibit – authentic space suit selfie stop – step into the space suit staged in front of a space background, for an out of this world selfie (free)

  • People Alien/Cosplay/Steampunk costume contest

  • A free outdoor movie “Independence Day” Friday night

  • Alien Chase (5K & 10K run/walk)

  • Car & Bike show

  • Way Way Off Broadway performing UFO-USO Show Saturday (fun USO style song and dance show)

  • Reading of the “War of the Worlds” at Roswell Museum and Art Center Friday & Saturday

  • Roswell Community Theater performing The Great FooDeey Magic & Alien Encounter family comedy play – Saturday

  • Xcel Energy UFO Light Parade

    • Saturday, July 7 at 9:00 pm on Main world-renowned physicist Stanton Friedman will be our Grand Marshal this year

For the full list of activities, stop by the event website.


RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?

KL: Yes, here is a list:

  • Stanton Friedman – famous astrophysicist well known from many TV appearances and books

  • Curtis Grimes – free concert, meet and greet

  • Drake Hayes Band – free concert, meet and greet

  • 501st Dewback Ridge Garrison

  • Official Star Wars group (wearing official Star Wars clothing/costumes)

  • Darth Vader will be here along with a troop of others in various outfits

  • Stormtroopers, Jedis, Jawas will also be making appearances throughout the festival


RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?

KL: During our 2017 UFO Festival, the Food Network sent a show “Carnival Eats” to feature four of our food vendors. All four of those featured will be in Roswell again:

RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

KL: There are many hotels and lodging options in Roswell, as well as guest ranches. Information can be found here.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

KL: The City of Roswell recognizes the Festival as one of only four “Signature Events” for the community. It fills the city's and area's lodging providers, and many business owners report having record sales. Restaurant owners said they had the best three-day sales in their 27-year history during the 2017 UFO Festival, so it helps support economic vitality for the entire community.


RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?

KL: Local school groups, non-profits, and other organizations all come together to help make this even happen. The groups can meet their volunteer hour requirements by participating in this event, as well as to help promote their organization.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

KL: Some people that started attending this event years ago have now made it an annual trip. The event is affordable, filled with many fun things to do at no cost (or very minimal cost), and it offers diverse things to see and do. It's an out of this world event that offers more than one short article can express!

For more information about the UFO Festival, please visit the event website.

Photography Credit: Juliana Halvorson