DogwoodFestival_UnderTheDogwoods_Raftermen Photography
Under the dogwoods during the Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park. Photo: Rafterman Photography

SOME DAYS you can almost smell it in the air, that tease of spring — warmer breezes, greener trees, loamy earth and the promise of scent-laden festivals that celebrate frost-free beginnings.

Metro Atlanta warms to this out of doors exodus with its most vibrant festival season of the year, featuring everything from art exhibitions to weekend-long concerts to celebratory libations. Check out the chronological list below and let us know if we’ve missed your favorite (email Let’s all raise a glass to spring!

Atlanta Dogwood Festival

April 8-10 | Piedmont Park. This spring the Atlanta Dogwood Festival will be celebrating 80 years! With an expansive artists’ market and live music stages, Dogwood Festival has something for everyone. On one end of the park, the International Village showcases performances from around the globe, while on the other end dogs whiz through the air catching frisbees in the Disc Dog Southern Nationals – all of it connected by artists’ stands and snack shacks. Free. Good for all ages. No dogs allowed. Details HERE.

Sandy Springs Artsapalooza

April 16-17. This outdoor event turns downtown Sandy Springs into an artists’ gallery that showcases local, regional and national artists as well as interactive art stations where visitors can test their own creativity. All the merrymaking is for a good cause. Artsapalooza benefits a scholarship fund for local artists administered by the Georgia Foundation for Public Spaces.  Free. Good for all ages. Details HERE.

renfestjesterGeorgia Renaissance Festival

April 16-June 5 | Fairburn. Not many festivals promise chivalry, romance and turkey legs. Ren Fest returns for another season of jousting and good fun in an immersive medieval Europe experience. Check out “themed weekends” for deals and sights. $8-$22 (cheaper online). For all ages. Details HERE.

SweetWater 420 Fest

April 22-24 | Centennial Olympic Park. Perhaps Atlanta’s most famous beer and music fest. It combines the brewery’s tasty beer, a 5K run and a weekend-long lineup of live music. This year’s acts include the Roots, Kid Rock, Ludacris and Bastille. Admission TBA. Under 10 free. Age 17 and under must be with an adult. Details HERE.

Inman Park Festival & Tour of Homes

April 30-May 1 I Inman Park. This little-bit-of-everything fest showcases the intown neighborhood with a parade, an arts & crafts market, a dance festival, live music and a tour of homes. “Atlanta’s most spirited and eclectic festival,” as it calls itself, is free except for tour of homes tickets ($15-$20). Good for all ages. Details HERE.

Taste of East Point

May 7 | Downtown East Point. This six-hour (3-9 p.m.) event boasts one of the broader mixes of food, drink and art in the south metro area. With a margarita or draft beer in hand, browse paintings and prints, jewelry and handmade wood products from local artists. Also: Tastes from local eateries ($1 each) and live music. Free admission, family-friendly. Details HERE

420FestPoster_Courtesy of SweetWater BreweryShaky Knees Music Festival

May 13-15 | Centennial Olympic Park. The 4-year-old fest is a music lover’s paradise. Expect five stages and more than 75 bands. Headliners include Florence + the Machine, Huey Lewis & the News, Jane’s Addiction and the Decemberists. Food trucks and snack booths stand ready to sate your appetite between performances. Single-day, three-day and VIP packages available ($97-$614). Details HERE.

Food That Rocks

May 14 | Sandy Springs. Eat, drink and party for charity in the one-night (7-11 p.m.) inaugural event that spotlights more than 25 restaurants and, for a single price, cover food, wine, beer, cocktail samples and local bands.  Beneficiaries are the Sandy Springs-based nonprofits Second Helpings, Ian’s Friends Foundation and the Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance. Must be 21. $55 advance; $65 at the door. Details HERE.

atljazzAtlanta Jazz Festival

May 27-29 | Piedmont Park. One of the largest free jazz festivals in the country is produced by the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Expect jazz greats and new artists — dozens and dozens of them — for both longtime aficionados and new fans. Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Nina Simone have played previous fests. Pre-fest, check out the monthlong “31 Days of Jazz” with events throughout the city. Free and for all ages. Details HERE.

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

June 2-5 | Midtown. Part taste-a-thon and part foodie education. It brings together some of the Southeast’s finest restaurants and wine bars, promising great bites and sips plus live demonstrations. Follow “tasting trails” through specific regions or try a signature dinner cooked by a renowned chef. Tickets (prices not yet announced) go on sale now. Early-bird pricing good through April 15. Details HERE.

Virginia-Highland Summerfest

June 4-5 | Virginia-Highland. The 33rd version of this event includes a juried artist market, live music, an acoustic music street party, a KidsFest, a 5K road race (and Tot Trot) and food from fest vendors and metro restaurants, everything from lobster tacos to homemade barbecue, beer, wine and cocktails. Admission is free. You’ll find the fest on Virginia Avenue between North Highland Avenue and Park Drive. Details HERE.

About Hally Joseph

Hally Joseph has an M.F.A. in writing from SCAD and has been published in Encore Atlanta and BurnAway Magazine. Her essay “An Open Letter to the Man Who Stole My Father’s Hash Brown in a McDonald’s in Panama” was published in Atticus Review. She talks writing and reading on Twitter as @hally_joseph.

View all posts by Hally Joseph