Delaware has no national parks, national seashores, national historic sites, national battlefields, national memorials, or national monuments. However, it does have a number of places of interest such as botanical gardens, museums, wildlife refuges, parks, houses, lighthouses, and other historic places. Delaware also boasts the longest twin span suspension bridge in the world. The state was playfully mocked for its lack of renown as a vacation destination in the movie Wayne's World and the TV show, The Simpsons.
The Big August Quarterly is an annual religious festival held in Wilmington, Delaware, and is sometimes called "Big Quarterly" or "August Quarterly." The festival began in 1814 by Peter Spencer in connection with the "quarterly" meeting (or "conference") of the African Union Church. Out of the four meetings during the year, the one in August became the "annual conference" of the Church when ministers' assignments for the next year were announced, among other business - it was a time for free blacks and slaves alike to come together (from the multi-state area) and celebrate their faith with singing, dancing, testifying, and feasting. It is the oldest such celebration in the country. Senator Biden's remarks on the significance of the "Big Quarterly" were published in the Congressional Record for 30 July 1981 (Vol. 127, No. 117) and for 9 August 1984 (Vol 130, No. 106).
Every year, the Delaware Sangerbund (German for Singers Alliance) holds a three day long Oktoberfest. Although the cultural significance of the Sangerbund has diminished over the years, the festival is extremely popular and attracts visitors from all over the East Coast.
The city of Wilmington is home to several ethnic festivals, including the Puerto Rican Festival, which includes a parade, the Polish Festival, the Greek Festival held at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, and the Italian Festival held at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church. Wilmington's substantial Polish-American population supports a yearly Pulaski Day Parade in March as well as a summer Polish Festival, hosted by Saint Hedwig's Roman Catholic Church. The Italian Festival is held in an area of Wilmington known as Little Italy by Saint Anthony's Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington, and covers several blocks. It runs from sunup to sundown for a week, and features Italian food, merchandise, live music, bars, amusement park rides, and the All Saints parade on the closing night of the festival.
In Bethany Beach, the end of the summer season is honored each year with a traditional jazz funeral down the town's boardwalk. And at the end of October, Rehoboth Beach holds its annual "Sea Witch Halloween and Fiddlers' Festival." Rehoboth Beach also hosts the Polar Bear Plunge every February and the Independent Film Festival in November.
The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival is a free jazz music festival held annually at Rodney Square in Wilmington, Delaware. The first festival was held in 1989 on the open lawn in the central area of the city and has remained free to the public. The event is held in honor of Clifford Brown who died in a traffic accident in 1956.
The Wilmington Flower Market is a carnival-style festival held each May in Wilmington's Rockford Park. The Flower Market is a three-day long festival which serves as a fundraiser for charitable organizations which benefit Delaware's children.
Another unique tradition is Sussex County's Punkin Chunkin, where specially grown pumpkins are shot from devices such as air-powered cannons, trebuchets, catapults, and various other contraptions. The goal is to see which device can hurl a pumpkin the greatest distance, with some currently reaching distances of almost a mile. The carnival atmosphere is themed in pumpkins with more and more attractions added each year.
During the second weekend in October, Bridgeville hosts the annual Apple Scrapple Festival. The fun begins Friday night with a carnival, food court and street dance. Saturday morning starts out with an all you can eat scrapple breakfast. Other activities include kids' games, scrapple chunkin, scrapple carving, live entertainment, car show, tractor pull, trade show, and craft shows. When you get hungry the food court has apple fritters, scrapple sandwiches, crabcake sandwiches, oyster sandwiches, hamburgers and hotdogs, barbecue beef sandwiches, boardwalk fries, apple dumplings, ice cream and more. On the second Saturday in March each year the Chocolate Festival at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center features chocolate made by professionals, amatures, bakeries, and children.
Another unique Delaware rite is Return Day, which occurs every two years on the Thursday following the November general election. Believed to be the only event of its kind in the United States, and recognized as such by Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., and the U.S. Congress, it is a continuation of a tradition that dates back to Delaware's earliest days in the 18th century. Residents of Sussex County at that time would travel to Georgetown, the county seat, to cast their ballots and then wait, in the days following, to hear the results, or "returns." Today, the immediacy of television, newspapers, radio and the Internet would make such an event obsolete, but it has thrived as a matter of tradition and celebration. Festivities include the reading of election results from the Sussex County Courthouse balcony by the town crier, a parade in which winners and losers ride together, the roasting of an ox behind the courthouse, and the ceremonial burying of the hatchet in sand from Lewes Beach.