Spring Festival Time Has Arrived!

By Tara Gary

Break out your short sleeve shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. Spring is finally here! One of the best things about springtime in our area is the abundance of festivals and events that entice us to leave our dreary winter blues behind. Atlanta is full of events celebrating the vibrant blooms of the many dogwoods and azaleas that line our streets, parks, and yards. It’s nearly impossible to stay indoors when there is such a huge variety of outdoor activities and events to attend.

One of my personal favorite outdoor activities is enjoying a nice cold craft brew while listening to live music and soaking up the sun. The Brookhaven Beer Festival Saturday, April 6 from 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. entails all of those things. With over 150 beers, wine, tasty food from local food trucks, and live music, it sounds like the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Georgia Breast Cancer Coalition Fund, which means you’ll be giving back while indulging your senses.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly event, a short drive to the Festival on Ponce Saturday, April 6-Sunday, April 7 may just be your answer. The festival will be held at Olmsted Linear Park. Designed by one of America’s most celebrated landscape architects, Frederick Olmsted Sr., enjoy strolling through this beautiful area and visit the arts and crafts market with 125 participating artists, Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. You know you won’t leave empty-handed, and with a children’s park, food, and live entertainment, everyone in the family will be happy.

Chequered Blue performs at the Dogwood Festival on Sunday, 1:00 p.m.

Now for this one, you’ll want to wear your most comfortable shoes. Plan on spending the day, or entire weekend, to walk through one of the largest festivals in the ATL. In its 83rd year, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival Friday, April 12 – Sunday, April 14 is not to be missed. This thing is huge! Thankfully, it’s three days long, so you’ll have plenty of time to take it all in. Hundreds of artists from around the country line the walkways of Piedmont Park. There is a kid’s village with huge inflatables, face painting, a 24-foot rock climbing wall, and midway rides. It makes me want to be a kid again. As if that’s not enough, the festival has two stages for your entertainment. The Main Stage music entertainers include The Jake Bartley Band and Jacob Bryant on Friday night. Saturday’s lineup includes Wren & The ­­­­­­Ravens, Blood on the Harp, BJ Wilbanks, The Wesley Pruitt Band, Jessica Meuse, and Stone Senate. For Sunday, Community Music Center of Atlanta Showcase, Chequered Blue, and PreacherVan (The Georgia Flood) play, with Clay Shelburn wrapping it up that evening. The International Stage, located on the Lake Clara Meer dock, brings hundreds of performers both professional and amateur to the stage representing countries throughout the world. Dancers, singers, martial artists, and many more acts will delight the crowd while representing the many international communities that live in Atlanta. Of course, there will be plenty of food, and you know the beverages will be flowing. I highly suggest taking Marta, Lyft, or Uber. Parking is not an easy task on a typical day around Piedmont Park.

If you are looking for a no-kids, no-pets, 21 and up festival on the same weekend as the Dogwood Festival, head down to Historic Fourth Ward Park. The Atlanta Spring Wine Festival Saturday, April 13 from 1:00-5:00 p.m. will have 50+ wines and also beer and ciders available for you to quench your thirst. There will be live music and a DJ. The park itself encompasses 17 acres of greenspace and a world class skate park. Spend the remainder of the day checking out how the area has redefined itself in recent years to become a hip community with incredible dining, bars, and nightlife.

Now if you still don’t think there is enough to keep you busy, I’ll offer up a cheesy option, the Atlanta Grilled Cheese Festival Saturday, April 13 in Atlantic Station. I mean seriously?! How can you go wrong? There is even going to be a Bloody Mary garden, and you can order a Bloody Mary flight. Frosty, seasonal craft beers and cocktails will also be available to tempt your taste buds. If you don’t like grilled cheese sandwiches (we probably couldn’t be friends), a variety of food trucks will be there as well. Did I mention they will have an adult game zone? I’m in and assuming it’s probably located next to the Bloody Mary garden. Also, no festival is truly a festival without music. The lineup consists of DJ OneNate, Alchemy, Citizen Gold, and All the Locals. There are two sessions to this event: 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and 2:30­-5:30­p.m.

If you’re looking for a festival that is OTP and on that same weekend, you can join the over 70,000 people expected to attend the Big Shanty Festival Saturday, April 13 – Sunday, April 14 in downtown Kennesaw. This event will have more than 200 arts and crafts booths, food, and entertainment on two different stages. I am amazed, and somewhat intrigued, at how many arts and crafts vendors could actually exist. There are so many festivals on the same weekend, and they all have a large number of vendors. Anyway, this festival kicks off with a parade Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m., that starts at Adams Park and ends in downtown Kennesaw, and closes Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Sunday it’s open from 12:00-5:00p.m.

“Robin Hood, a merry queen, something, something, juggling, men in tights who like to fight with sharp things in their hands.”

There is another huge festival opening this month that will run every weekend, 10:30a.m. – 6:00p.m. through June. It’s that festival with the jingle that I just can’t get out of my head, “Robin Hood, a merry queen, something, something, juggling, men in tights who like to fight with sharp things in their hands.” Yes, it’s time for the 34th season of the Georgia Renaissance Festival Saturdays and Sundays, April 13-June 2, as well as Memorial Day in Fairburn. Giant roasted turkey legs, a 32-acre 16th century English Village, 150 artisan craft shoppes, carnival games, 10 stages of entertainment, and yes, men in tights.

I’m sure there are even more festivals around us on the 13th, but I feel like I’ve given you plenty to choose from, and there are still more April festivals to cover. For instance, the following weekend, Art on the Chattahoochee Saturday, April 20 will be held from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Food trucks, live entertainment, an artist market, art demonstrations, a kid’s chalk art contest, and photos with the Easter Bunny will fill the Jones Bridge Park in Peachtree Corners on the Chattahoochee. Keep in mind, the 20th is also Free National Park Day, and a great time to visit the Chattahoochee River National Recreation area.

For a two-day event that same weekend, check out Sandy Springs Artsapalooza Saturday, April 20 –­ Sunday, April 21. This festival brings art to the streets of the city with over 150 artists participating and local musicians entertaining the crowds. A children’s play area will be available to keep the little ones busy, and there will even be interactive art stations for the artist within.

Lemonade days festival coaster
The coaster at Lemonade Days in Dunwoody (2018) .

Now the last weekend of April packs more festivals in than you may be able to attend, unless you just feel like running a marathon of festivals! Lemonade Days Wednesday, April 24-Sunday, April 28 at Brook Run Park in Dunwoody runs for four days! This festival is a biggie. It features more than 30 full-scale carnival rides, over 20 food and beverage vendors, a 5K run, three days of center stage performances, and the ever-popular Dunwoody Idol contest. During the week the festival is open from 4:00 – 10:00  p.m., Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., and Sunday, 12:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Widely regarded as Atlanta’s most spirited and eclectic neighborhood festival, and in its 48th year, is the Inman Park Festival & Tour of Homes Saturday, April 27-Sunday, April 28. (Tour of Homes begins Friday, April 26). What’s interesting about this festival is the Arts & Crafts Market consists of a jury selected group of more than 150 artists. The Street Market houses more than 250 booths of vendors selling antiques, handcrafted items, clothing, and a unique and large variety of other items. Every year artwork is selected to represent the festival. This year’s chosen artist is Sara Lehtman, a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), who now calls Inman Park home. She created the piece to represent her love for Inman Park and the neighborhood mascot, the butterfly. The Festival is free; you’ll need to purchase tickets for Tour of Homes.

The Tour of Homes is self-conducted and features some of the beautiful homes and buildings in Inman Park. See inside some of the glorious old Victorian homes and check out the beautiful remodeling jobs neighbors have completed on their houses. The home preview starts on Friday, April 26, 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. and continues through Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Also on the last weekend of April is a festival for artists by artists, the Duluth Arts Festival Saturday, April 27-Sunday, April 28. Located in the culturally diverse, fun, and vibrant community of Duluth, it allows the artists to have a voice in the creation and operations of the festival. This event will feature about 86 painters, photographers, sculptors, metalworkers, and more. Music, food trucks, and performances will fill the town center Saturday, 10:00 a.m. –  5:00 p.m. and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Yes, there are even more festivals! The Smyrna Spring Jonquil Festival Saturday, April 27-Sunday, April 28 is also a great choice. Located in downtown Smyrna, with over 175 arts and crafts booths, children’s activities, an entertainment stage, and 15 food vendors, the event will run Saturday, 10:00a.m. –  6:00 p.m. and Sunday, 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Our current choice is beer.

Personally, when I drink water, I prefer it to be filtered through a brewery first. The Fifth Annual No Water, No Beer Festival Saturday, April 27 will be held from 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. at The Garage at Monday Night Brewing, 933 Lee Street SW, Atlanta. Proceeds from this event will help to provide clean water to people in developing countries as well as helping efforts to keep our water supply clean right here in Georgia. Great food, music, and of course some of the best beer, make this an event to look forward to attending.

John Howell Park in Virginia Highland hosts the Great Southern Beer Fest Saturday, April 27 with two available sessions: the early session 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and afternoon session 3:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. This event is a huge contender for my Saturday entertainment, with over 75 regional craft beer tastings, live music with DJ OneNate and Moontower, food from Nana G’s Chicken & Waffles and The Deep South Biscuit Co., and backyard games—including cornhole, giant Jenga (one of my personal favorites), and life-sized Connect Four.

Just up the road from Virginia Highland, let’s not forget about the Kennesaw Beer & Wine Festival Saturday, April 27 being held this year at the Historic Kennesaw Church parking lot, while Depot Park is being renovated. This festival will feature more than 100 beers and over 25 wines, a bunch of ciders, and small samples from Lazy Guy Distillery. There will be live music on the main stage by Atlanta’s party rock heroes, The Geeks, a pop, rap, rock group. This event is from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m., meaning you’ll have to choose which event to attend. So many choices!

All of these amazing events in one month and guess what… I haven’t even mentioned the 5th Annual Roswell Azalea Festival Monday, April 1 – Tuesday, April 30. Yes, this festival spans the entire month of April! Events take place at numerous locations and on a variety of dates throughout the city. Included are a lantern parade on the river to celebrate the beauty of our local ecosystem, native plant sale at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, craft beer, musical performances, Roswell Farmers & Artisans Market, The Vintage Computer Festival Southeast 7.0, Invitational Art Exhibition Reception, and so much more. One of my favorite events is the returning of Alive in Roswell Thursday, April 18. This free, family-friendly festival is held the third Thursday of every month April – October from 5:00-9:00 p.m. Town Square, Canton Street, East Alley, and City Hall Lawn are filled with live music, food trucks, vendors, family-fun activities, and craft beer. I counted over 45 events on the Roswell Azalea Festival website. So many fun activities to participate in and celebrate the beauty of spring in Historic Roswell. For details visit roswellazaleafestival.com.

As I have said before, there is no excuse to sit idly at home when you live in and around the ATL. Every community seems to have more than its share of events to keep us entertained, bring us together, and provide opportunities for us to give back to those in need. Enjoy the sunshine and gorgeous blooms, and just try to avoid the yellow snow (pollen). Good luck with that! ❍