GEORGIA’S FESTIVAL “SEASON” actually encompasses much of the year. After a hard winter (meaning two days of snow) or a balmy one (wearing shorts in January), most of us are probably ready to step outside and do a little quiet, or not-so-quiet, reveling. Here’s a survey of festivals over the next three months, in chronological order.
Atlanta Dogwood Festival. April 11-13. Piedmont Park. Free. This 78-year-old event means spring has arrived, especially for the 200,000 or so that take in the blooms, artists booths, barbecue and brews from local eateries. For the kids, there are plenty of hands-on activities. An International Stage features music and dance from around the globe. No smoking, no outside food and no pets are allowed. Voted one of the Top 40 fine arts fests in the country by Sunshine Artist magazine. DETAILS.
SweetWater Brew 420 Fest. April 18-20. Centennial Olympic Park, downtown Atlanta. $10-$135 (discounts for buying online). This mostly musical party pairs with Earth Day each year to promote protection of the planet. Part of its motto: “Here for a good time” and planet Earth is “here for a long time.” Local and national music and comedy acts are featured. Conservation and green practices are encouraged. DETAILS.
Georgia Renaissance Festival. April 19-June 8. Fairburn. $10-$22. This rowdy, joust-y, jolly jubilee about five miles south of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has everything a modern medieval family could want: outdoor theater, a village full of artisans, hearty food, roving wenches, jesters, jugglers and 10 stages of entertainment. Details HERE or at 770.964.857.
Thomasville Rose Show & Festival. April 24-26. Downtown Thomasville in southwest Georgia. A 93-year-old tradition with two parades — one for roses, one for orchids, plus an art show, garden show, street dance, beauty contest, Bark in the Park event for dogs, and a car and truck show. DETAILS.
Inman Park Festival. April 25-27. Inman Park neighborhood, about two miles east of downtown Atlanta. Free. This, one of the more eclectic festivals in the city, was developed in the 1970s to highlight Inman Park and encourage restoration. The fest showcases the area’s Victorian homes and includes a street market, children’s activities, live music and dance, and a 5K fun run in which participants are encouraged to run in costume. Details HERE or 770.635.3711.
Taste of East Point. April 26. On West Cleveland Avenue in the city in the south metro area. Free. Taste tickets (for food) $1 each. A street party, art stroll, concert venue and food/wine fest featuring a gumbo mix of artists, players and chefs who live and work in the area. DETAILS.
Cotton Pickin’ Fair. May 3-4. In Gay, Ga., about 39 miles south of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. $3-$7. Artisans and antique specialists bring back a simpler time with this old-fashioned fest centered around rural sustainability. Includes art, food, family entertainment and bluegrass music. DETAILS.
Fiesta Atlanta. May 4. Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. Free. This daylong Cinco de Mayo celebration is in its eighth year. Includes international acts and food, a 5K run/walk, youth soccer clinics, dance contests, and arts and crafts. Details HERE or at 404.350.0200.
Sweet Auburn SpringFest. May 9-11. Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta. Mostly free; some events are ticketed. Expect big crowds at this event, founded in 1984. It features a mixture of dance, music, food and always a tip of the hat to the people and events who made and keep “Sweet Auburn” humming. DETAILS.
Shaky Knees Music Festival. May 9-11. Atlantic Station. $84-$575 (advance tickets and passes often sell out). The 2-year-old event is a major music festival with national recording artists on multiple stages over a three-day weekend plus special late-night shows added at various venues and ticketed separately. DETAILS.
Atlanta Jazz Festival. May 23-25. Piedmont Park. Free. Midtown comes alive with one of the country’s largest free jazz jams. This year’s fest starts Friday and includes a local stage in addition to the usual national and international stages. DETAILS.
AtlantaFest. June 11-14. Stone Mountain Park. $45 and up (plus parking).The faithful gather by the thousands for four days of Christian music and ministry. Includes four stages, and more than 70 bands and speakers. Details HERE or at 1.800.783.8839.
Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games. June 14-15. Meeks Park, Blairsville. $10 and up. Pipes and drums, pageantry, weaponry, games, kids’ activities and kilts-a-plenty at this popular annual gathering in the Georgia mountains. Includes a golf classic and such classic Scottish games as open stone, heavy hammer and caber toss, plus genealogy and clan workshops, musical acts and live demonstrations of working Border Collies and falcons. Axes, traditional weapons and bagpipes are allowed, alcohol is not. DETAILS.
Atlanta Summer Beer Fest. June 21. Masquerade Music Park on North Avenue. $35 advance; $40 after June 12; $50 day of event if available (includes souvenir cup and samples). A lively evening of music performances, food, fun and 150 brews on tap. Limited parking. Best accessed by cab or having a sober friend drop you off and pick you up. Details HERE or 404.931.6453.