Mar 24, 2015 Spring in Atlanta is High Season for Festivals
Atlanta is a hotbed of seasonal festivals celebrating a wide range of interests. While events run all year long, the spring is especially packed. There are numerous smaller local festivals, such as the Spring Jonquil Festival in Smyrna that we mentioned in an earlier post, as well as large festivals, many of which attract visitors from around the country. Below is a partial listing of some of the festivals Atlantans look forward to each spring.
Atlanta Film Festival (March 20 – 29)
The Atlanta Film Festival brings roughly 25,000 film lovers from around the
country each year. The festival packs 150 films into 10 days and offers a wide range of indie films for all kinds of movie buffs. This year’s festival just kicked off this past weekend and runs through Sunday. You can learn more on the festival’s site.
Atlanta Dogwood Festival (April 10 – 12)
In its 79th year, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival celebrates the blossoming of the city’s native dogwood trees. The festival takes place in Midtown Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, marking the occasion with live music, arts and crafts, food booths, and family-friendly activities. The live music offers anything from bluegrass and country to rock and soul. Among the festival’s highlights: the quirky but fun U.S. Disc Dog Southern Nationals, a world-class competition starring the top Frisbee dogs in the nation. Best of all, admission to the festival is free.
Sweetwater 420 Festival (April 17 – 19)
This one is a must-attend for music, comedy, and beer fans. A long list of diverse bands—from Snoop Dog to Thievery Corporation—perform for three days. All the while, comedy performers entertain audiences, great DJs keep the dance floor moving, and beer tastings provide top-notch libations. The festival takes place downtown in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park. Tickets can still be had, so if you’re going to be in the area then, peruse the schedule for the bands you’d like to hear and the events you’d like to attend.
Atlanta Steeplechase (April 18)
While not a festival in name, the Atlanta Steeplechase is just as much an Atlanta springtime tradition as any other festival, with a long history dating back to the mid-60s. This charity event brings in the crowds for various family-friendly contests and activities, with the main event being a series of horse races that include jump races and a flat-terrain race. The event takes place in the countryside about an hour outside of Atlanta proper. While known to be popular with a well-heeled Atlanta crowd, a wide range of tickets is available, from the posh Chairman’s Tent ticket to student tickets and affordable general admission passes. You can see videos of the races here and get a glimpse of other activities, such as the annual hat contest, tailgating, and picnics.
Georgia Renaissance Festival (April 18 – June 7)
Let’s face it; no city that claims a long list of festivals can be without a Renaissance fair! The Georgia Renaissance Festival takes place in Fairburn, just a few miles southwest of the Perimeter. You can expect interactive entertainment such as wandering minstrels, and visitors can shop the wares of more than 150 skilled artisans in the festivals cottages. This long-running festival offers themed weekends, including kids-attend-free weekend, pet-friendly weekend, and time-warp weekend (where you can expect Star Wars characters and comic book heroes to mingle with jousters and fair maidens). See a complete list of special weekends here.
Inman Park Festival & Tour of Homes (April 24 – 26)
Known for its eclectic nature, this colorful festival began in the 1970s as a way to attract attention to the gentrifying neighborhood, and it soon became a community tradition. Visitors will find musical performances, a dance festival, tours of area homes, and a whacky parade with fun and floats. There’s also an extensive crafts market, whose exhibitors are listed here. For a schedule of events, click here. The festival is free, except for the home tours.
Shaky Knees Musical Festival (May 8 – 10)
Shaky Knees, a major new musical festival, joins the spring ensemble this year with a massive lineup of country music performers, which you can see here. The festival takes place in the Old Fourth Ward’s Central Park. Tickets are still available, but if prices look too steep for all-day passes, check out the late-night-show bargains here.
Sweet Auburn Springfest (May 8 – 10)
For more than 25 years this festival has assembled live entertainment, food, and plenty of activities for the whole family here in the neighborhood that is the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The event first came about when civil rights icon Hosea Williams produced the first festival in an effort to bring people back to Auburn Avenue. Today, the event is one of the largest outdoor festivals in the Southeast. Highlights of the event include the neighborhood walking tour. Learn more about this festival here.
Chastain Park Arts Festival (May 9 – 10)
The Chastain Park Arts Festival hosts around 185 artists and artisans and invites visitors to explore their creations while enjoying local food and beverage concessions, including Atlanta’s favorite gourmet food trucks. The event includes a kids’ area, and all can enjoy great music from acoustic musicians. The festival is free to all. For more details, see the festival’s site.
Annual Caribbean Carnival (May 9, May 23)
The main event, the Caribbean Carnival, takes place on May 23rd in the Historic Fourth Ward Park. The day’s festivities include shows by many Caribbean performers as well as an incredibly colorful and lively parade. Earlier in the month on May 9th, the Children’s Carnival takes place. At both events, you can expect incredible performers, costumes, and plenty of Caribbean music. See the site here for more details.
Atlanta Jazz Festival (May 22 – 24)
Throughout the month of May, Atlanta enjoys 31 Days of Jazz, with the musical events culminating Memorial Day weekend with Atlanta Jazz Festival, which takes place in Piedmont Park. No matter where you are, there’s always a way to catch a little jazz, thanks to events held throughout the month at MARTA stations, museums, jazz clubs, restaurants, and local neighborhood parks. You can learn more about the festival here .
Decatur Arts Festival (May 23 – 24)
This annual event celebrates the community’s creativity, starting with the ArtWalk, a leisurely stroll through the city as local shops host free receptions for new art shows. The festival offers music, performance art, dancing and special events just for kids and teens. See more details here.
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival (May 28 – 31)
If you want to get to know Southern cuisine, consider this weekend a crash course of good Southern eating. An array of styles, from down-home cookin’ to complex and edgy fusion, are sure to satisfy anyone who appreciates great food. Participants have the chance to take part in exclusive wine and food tastings featuring more than 250 restaurants, artisans, chefs and producers. And for those who want to learn how to make some spectacular dishes of their own, there are more than 90 classes offered on regional flavors and traditions. For more information on classes, download the class schedule. For more specifics about the festival, see the main site here.