A Journey Through the History and Culture of 4/20: The Best 7 Cities to Celebrate

March 26, 2024

It's 4:19. Got a minute?

That's an oldie but a goodie, as the old folks say, and with the ever-anticipated 4/20 holiday right around the corner, the 420 jokes are in endless supply. Deemed by many to be the cannabis community's most coveted season, April 20th has been celebrated by potheads young and old, seemingly since the dawn of time.

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Where and how 420 originated? 

For those of us who've had the pleasure of calling California home, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the iconic numeric configuration actually stemmed from a group of kids from San Rafael High School in 1971.

Calling themselves The Waldos, the friends began meeting up after school to smoke pot near a wall adjacent to a statue of Louis Pasteur.

Eventually, the phrase "4:20 Louis" was adopted as a reminder to each other to meet up at their secret spot for a little afternoon refreshment. After being given a hand-drawn map to a secret pot stash near San Francisco, the phrase was shortened to simply "420," as their routine now included a treasure quest. Although they never found the secret stash, their 4:20 p.m. smoke sessions continued.

It didn't take long for the phrase to catch on, and it eventually landed in the ears of the founding members of The Grateful Dead, who later used the term on a concert flyer. 

7 Places to Celebrate April 20th 

With a history steeped in friendship and good vibes, it shouldn't come as a surprise that this simple phrase would electrify into the holiday celebrated by millions across not only the United States but around the world.

With that said, cannabis enthusiasts in the U.S. won't be hard-pressed to find an epic celebration this 4/20. Cities all across the nation have put together some of the greatest cannabis-infused events imaginable, and here are just a few:

  • Denver, Colorado: The Mile High 420 Festival in Denver is not just a celebration but a vibrant demonstration of cannabis culture and freedom. Civic Center Park transforms into a congregation of enthusiasts, advocates, and newcomers alike, engaging in a festival that's as much about education and advocacy as it is about celebration. With Colorado being a pioneer in cannabis legalization, the event attracts a diverse crowd from all corners of the globe. Free to attend for those over 21, the festival boasts a lineup of live music, informative booths, and a marketplace featuring cannabis-centric products and food. The atmosphere is electric, underscoring Denver's central role in the cannabis movement.

  • San Francisco, California: San Francisco’s 420 celebration at Hippie Hill is a historic gathering that epitomizes the city's longstanding embrace of counterculture and cannabis advocacy. The event is a kaleidoscope of activities ranging from yoga and meditation sessions to music performances, all set against the backdrop of Golden Gate Park's scenic beauty. Security and safety measures ensure a peaceful experience for attendees, while vendor booths provide a taste of local cannabis products and munchies. The communal spirit of the event is palpable, as people from diverse backgrounds come together to celebrate cannabis culture freely. While admission is free, enhancing the experience with VIP tickets offers additional perks.

  • Boston, Massachusetts, celebrates 420 through Boston Cannabis Week, focusing on empowering the community and uplifting all facets of the cannabis industry. Scheduled for September 15-21, 2024, the event caters to professionals, consumers, industry innovators, and the canna-curious. It features diverse programming across education, sports, media, networking, cuisine, fashion, wellness, art, and music. This inclusive week of events aims to normalize cannabis by creating platforms for dialogue, education, and the arts. For more information, visit Boston Cannabis Week.

  • Seattle, Washington: Seattle's approach to 4/20 is multifaceted, showcasing the city's rich cannabis culture through an array of events that cater to every taste. From comedy shows like The Dope Show, where comedians perform before and after partaking, to Cucci’s Spooky Weed, a drag event that combines humor with cannabis themes, the city offers unique entertainment options. The Laser 420 show adds a visual and auditory spectacle to the mix, while SPLIFF Film Fest brings cannabis-inspired short films to the forefront. Each event is a testament to Seattle's creative and inclusive community, providing both locals and visitors with memorable experiences.

  • Las Vegas, Nevada: Las Vegas offers a unique 4/20 experience that blends the city's flair for extravagance with the evolving cannabis culture. Events range from upscale cannabis-infused dinners to pool parties and nightclub events, catering to those seeking a luxurious celebration. Dispensaries and cannabis lounges throughout the city offer special deals and events, making Las Vegas a prime destination for cannabis enthusiasts looking for a high-end experience. The convergence of entertainment, hospitality, and cannabis culture in Las Vegas provides a 4/20 celebration like no other, underlined by the city's iconic nightlife and entertainment offerings.

  • Vancouver, Canada: Vancouver's 4/20 celebration at Sunset Beach stands as a monumental event within the cannabis community, blending activism with festivity. This waterfront event draws thousands annually to advocate for cannabis freedom and reform while enjoying a communal smoke-out. Vendors, live music, and speeches create an atmosphere of unity and celebration against the picturesque backdrop of Vancouver.


As the sun sets on another 4/20 celebration, the spirit of unity, joy, and advocacy in the cannabis community shines brighter than ever. From the historic fields of San Francisco's Hippie Hill to the vibrant streets of Denver, Boston, and beyond, this day serves as a reminder of the journey toward acceptance and legalization.

Each city, with its unique flavor and festivities, contributes to the rich tapestry of cannabis culture, inviting enthusiasts and the canna-curious alike to partake in the communal vibe. As we look forward to future celebrations, let's continue to foster a culture of education, empowerment, and inclusivity, ensuring that the essence of 4/20—friendship, freedom, and good vibes—remains at the heart of our gatherings. Here's to many more years of 4/20 celebrations that not only honor the plant but also the community that has grown with it.

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