Mars New Year Festival – Mars, Pennsylvania

The Mars New Year Festival is a town festival that takes place every two years to coincide with the planet’s revolution. Along with vendors, food and entertainment, the festival offers visitors the chance to talk with NASA on current missions, learn about new technological innovations via participating exhibitors and get hands-on experience with robots at the Robotic Village.

2025 DATE: TBA
Location: Downtown Mars, Pennsylvania


The following post documents my experience from Friday, June 9 to Saturday, June 10, 2023.

Festival Structure

The Mars New Year Festival takes place in the center of Mars, Pennsylvania, a town of nearly 1500 residents. The borough closes off two smaller street for an Art Alley and Space Row as well as a main road (Grand Avenue) where there are exhibitors, food vendors, a kids’ area and Robotic Village.

The heart of the festival can be found at the corner of Space Row (Pittsburgh Street) and Grand Avenue, where a silver spaceship at the festival is used as both a climbing tool and a popular photo op.

The spaceship is located at the edge of a park where an entertainment stage is set up along with a dining/sitting area for guests who can easily carry over purchases from nearby food and drink vendors.

Also at this corner, the festival has a souvenir area with a variety of T-shirts and canned purified water that’s implied to be from the planet Mars (but more likely from the borough Mars instead).

Such humor and playfulness can also be seen in the alien-themed decor found on the windows of area businesses.


Festival History

The borough of Mars has been playing around with its planetary connection for a while.

The famous silver spaceship has been grounded in town since 1973 and borough businesses happily embrace their location in their signage.

So, when Mars Mayor Gregg Hartung had an idea to put on a festival that was connected to the Mars New Year, it definitely made sense. He called the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and talked to Jeff Webster, who told him the next New Year would be June 18-19, 2015. From there, the borough used those dates to set up a three day street festival, inviting NASA to participate, and NASA happily did.

The first festival was a success and it continued every 22 months, growing with NASA’s participation, as well as the participation of many other organizations and businesses involved with either travel to the Moon or to Mars.


Festival Participants

What makes this festival different than others is that it’s primarily an educational festival, meaning the the majority of participants was made up of organizations or businesses that shared or taught info about what they were doing.

With the exception of space-related art and books, which were from local artists and authors, the participants really weren’t there to sell anything.

NASA, for example, who was the main participant along Space Row, had exhibitions that taught about air pressure in space, a future mission that will collect samples from Mars, how Mars’ atmosphere affects sound and the upcoming 2024 Solar Eclipse.

Other exhibiting participants had knowledge to share about robotics, lasers, technology, rockets, the military, glass blowing and so much more. Many tables also had fun prizes or gifts, some had challenges, others had demonstrations, and a few even allowed you to get hands-on with technology.


Festival Activities

Kids were able to do all sorts of fun activities at the festival.

One of the main attractions for this was Robotic Village.

Here, visitors could find various robotic exhibitions/demonstrations. One demonstration, for example, had a robot that would gather a pillow-like cube and toss it to a child, who would toss it back into an area for the robot to collect again. In another part of the village, children were able to use remote controls to move small robots over a map of Mars.

There was also a Lego challenge to create a robot.


Not far from the Robotic Village was a kids’ play area with a UFO inflatable, dunk tank and other fun things.

Both were great for burning off energy, especially if you consumed too many Red Planet Sodas.

The Mini-Martian activities spaced along the festival grounds also helped burn off some sugar.


Food and Drink

Most food and drink vendors could be found on Space Row, near the park and festival souvenir area, but there were also some food trucks and tables along Grand Avenue as well as local businesses.

Some of the food options included pierogies, gourmet hot dogs, street tacos and nachos, while locally made beer and wine were also present.

For a space-related treat, The Snowman ice cream truck was selling the Martian Yeti Sundae, which had ice cream encompassed by green slush and topped with whipped cream and Martian head candies.



During the day, the entertainment stage was used primarily for various lectures and presentations, many of which were made by NASA employees.

There was also a costume contest.

During each evening, the stage was used for music entertainment as a band each night performed into the evening hours.

Beyond the main stage, the festival had rocket launches, which could be found by the ballfield, and a nightly Drone Show that I did not get to see in person.

Fortunately, I did find this video on Youtube from Spongebob_gamer45, in case you wanted to check it out for yourself…