WHEN THE WEATHER COOLS in metro Atlanta, many of us rush outdoors for fresh air and festivities. Downtown becomes a playscape for monsters and superheroes. Piedmont Park morphs into a tree-shaded art gallery. And streets everywhere fill with great eats and live music. Atlanta’s festival season has something for everyone. Here are at least some of the don’t-miss events.
AJC Decatur Book Festival | Sept. 4-6
One of the largest independent book festivals in the country returns with author readings, signings, panel discussions, poetry slams, writing workshops, live music and an all-ages shopping market. Look, too, for performances by theater and dance companies via art|DBF, a fest within a fest. The event has kicked up its arts profile in recent years. Perfect for everyone from dedicated wordsmiths to beginning bookworms. Be aware that this weekend-long celebration takes over all of downtown Decatur. Fear of Flying author Erica Jong is the keynote speaker. Free. Details and schedule HERE. (See related story HERE.)
Dragon Con | Sept. 4-7
Touted as the world’s largest fantasy/science-fiction convention (which might or might not be true). What is true is that Dragon Con is one of Atlanta’s most colorful weekends. Fans from across the country travel here to see and snap photos with their favorite TV actors, celebrating with an all-out costume party that takes over downtown. You may not want to pay the minimum $50 for daily admission, so know that the best part of this fest can be grabbing a cocktail across the street and people-watching as Peachtree Street becomes a fantasyland of Storm Troopers, X-Men and Harry Potters. The parade is at 10 a.m. Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Details HERE.
Yellow Daisy Festival | Sept. 10-13
The 47th annual Yellow Daisy Festival is a four-day, family-friendly event at Stone Mountain Park. It began as a small arts and crafts festival but has grown to include more than 400 artists and crafters from around the country. Go for the wide range of activities, eats and shopping. Free with paid parking admission ($15 per day, $40 annual permit). Details HERE.
Music Midtown | Sept. 18-19
Atlanta’s loudest weekend is back with such headliners as Elton John, Drake, Van Halen, Sam Smith, Lenny Kravitz, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Hozier and Billy Idol. The event essentially shuts down Piedmont Park for the duration of the weekend. $125 two-day passes; $600 VIP passes. Details HERE.
Atlanta Greek Festival | Sept. 24-27
Expect food, fun, crowds and opa! This event has returned every fall since 1974. Buy a souvenir at the shops before sampling authentic foods like moussaka, souvlaki and baklava. Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Briarcliff Road. $5; age 12 and under free; age 65-plus free on Friday. Details HERE.
Taste of Atlanta | Sept. 25-27
A huge festival for foodies, craft beer connoisseurs and oenophiles. More than 90 metro restaurants will serves bites and plates all weekend long, everything from innovative concepts to local favorites. Participants can snack while watching presentations, cooking workshops and grilling challenges. Midtown Atlanta at Tech Square. Details HERE.
Also in September: ONE MusicFest (urban alternative music, Sept. 12, Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood); JapanFest (Sept. 19-20, Gwinnett Center); Marietta StreetFest (Sept. 19-20); Sandy Springs Festival (Sept. 19-20); Fall Folklife Festival (Sept. 26, Atlanta History Center); and Alpharetta Art in the Park (through Sept. 27).
Fall Festival on Ponce | Oct. 17-18
Arts and crafts in Olmstead Linear Park, designed by one of America’s most famous landscape architects, Frederick Law Olmstead Sr. (New York’s Central Park, Atlanta’s Piedmont Park). Enjoy the serenity of this park off Ponce while taking in the 125 art displays, local food and drink, and children’s activities. Free. Details HERE.
Atlanta Arts Festival | Oct. 24-25
Shop the Artist Market, featuring 200 painters, photographers, sculptors, glass blowers and more from across the nation. Try your hand at an art class or learn about local arts and culture organizations. Traditional festival foods plus bites and demonstrations from the folks at Krog Street Market. Free. Piedmont Park. Details HERE.
Also in October: Atlanta Pride, Little 5 Points Halloween Festival and Parade, Candler Park Fall Fest, Stone Mountain Scottish Festival and Highland Fling and the Harvest Square Arts & Crafts Festival (Marietta).
Cabbagetown Chomp and Stomp | Nov. 7
A quirky fest with major flavor that grows bigger every year. The chili cookoff and bluegrass festival saw 129 chili entries in 2014. Grab a $5 spoon and head down “the chili rows” to taste for yourself. The event features a 5K, artist market and “Brussels sprouts bobbing” on the main stage. Cabbagetown Park on Kirkwood Avenue S.E. Details HERE.
Chastain Park Arts Festival | Nov. 7-8
For artists, by artists, with an emphasis on local and Georgian artists. This family-friendly fest expects 185 artists and artisans showing and selling paintings, blown glass, sculpture, photography and more. The event benefits a scholarship fund for local artists administered by the Georgia Foundation for Public Spaces. Free. Chastain Park on Park Drive. Details HERE.