Tsukuba has two major festivals each year, the International Fair in May, and Matsuri Tsukuba, usually held on the first weekend in September. This year Matsuri Tsukuba is being held early to coincide with the opening of the Tsukuba Express train line.
Matsuri Tsukuba centers around a major parade on Saturday evening along Tsuchiura Gakuen Sen in the center of town between Nishi Odori and Higashi Odori. A number of spectacular Nebuta floats will be paraded along the route first towards the west and then back along the other side of the road to the East and back again. The Nebuta floats are brought out after it has gotten dark so that the internal lights glow brightly. They are made of thin strips of wood covered with colorful paper and lights inside the floats shine through to make a spectacular impression.
In order to get a good view, you should try to pick out a spot fairly early, around 5 pm or so. A number of interesting groups proceed along the parade route as a preliminary to the unveiling of the Nebuta floats at dusk. Along the bicycle path between Tsukuba Expo Center and Takezono Park, numerous vendors sell the typical carnival items, and so you can even get your dinner before the main event.
- Matsuri Tsukuba (in Japanese)