The refreshing taste of an RC Cola and a Moon Pie; the beat of African drums; cheers from the crowd as thousands of athletes compete; and beautiful Tennessee natural backdrops can all be part of the beginning of your summer. Make your plans, pack a bag, and get ready for the start of Tennessee's sizzlin' summer events:
Tennessee is home to gorgeous amounts of Mountain Laurels and visitors come to enjoy their peak blooms throughout May 2018 in Wartburg, Rugby and Morgan County. Approximately 24 trails in Morgan County are designated for guided walks and talks. Stroll through The Big South Fork River and Recreation Area, Obed Scenic River, Frozen Head State Park, Pickett State Park, Cumberland Trail Scenic Walking Trail, and Lone Mountain State Park to enjoy these beautiful flowers. The Mountain Laurel Walks Festival takes place at the Morgan County Visitor Center and includes food, local artisans, music, and a plethora of other activities.
Ironman 70.3 - Chattanooga
Chattanooga, or Scenic City, welcomes athletes from around the globe to compete in Chattanooga. The Sunbelt Bakery Ironman 70.3 happening May 20, 2018 starts with a down-river swim in the Tennessee River. From there, competitors bike a 34-mile loop with expansive Lookout Mountain views and then endure a two-loop run along the Tennessee Riverwalk and Riverfront Parkway. The best place to see these athletes compete would be at Ross's Landing where the swim start and the finish line are located.
Memphis Italian Festival - Memphis
The garlic, breads, pastas, and cheeses will lead your cravings for good food to the Memphis Italian Festival May 31-June 2, 2018. Toasted ravioli, funnel cakes, and cannoli call to Italian food lovers everywhere to come to Memphis as a full course dinner is served up in Marquette Park thanks to Luigi's Café and Luigi's Market. Cooking demonstrations and an intense spaghetti gravy contest plus a bunch of other activities will also take place. The perfect soundtrack is created with music by bands like 3 Degrees, Idle & Wild, Snapdragon, Under the Radar, and Gin Blossoms. Rides, inflatables, bocci, cornhole games and team cooking challenges are also part of the fun event.
Secret City Festival - Oak Ridge
It's no secret this festival in Oak Ridge is one not to be missed, celebrating its 75th year June 8-9,2018. With entertainment , a cruise-in, bands, and orchestras, there's plenty to see and do in Oak Ridge, Tennessee's Secret City. Find out why the city has that nickname as you browse special exhibits. Craft demonstrations like pottery firing will take place; kids can let loose with the variety of games and entertainment scheduled. Authentic jeeps, armored vehicles, paratroopers and infantry will also make appearances.
RC-Moon Pie Festival and 10-Mile Run - Bell Buckle
Run 10 miles along beautiful roads of Bell Buckle with more than 1,000 runners and then enjoy one of the South's best pairings: RC Cola and Moon Pies June 16, 2018 in Bell Buckle. Even if you don't run, you can still enjoy this delicious combination. The pairing was started in the 1950s and has continued to refresh and satisfy everyone's sweet tooth. They're celebrated in all kinds of ways from a parade, the coronation of the King and Queen, games, appearances by Moon Pie herself and RC Cola, bluegrass music, dancing and so much more. Classic Americana comes together for the concluding cutting of the World's Largest Moon Pie. The event is free and open to the public.
Make a splash this summer by marking your calendar to participate in the Summer Celebration June 16-Aug. 5, 2018 at Dollywood. This year, to fit the 2018 theme "Season of Showstoppers," Dolly Parton's theme park hosts Drumline Live!, a synchronized music masterpiece taken from the 2002 movie; iLuminate performs dance routines and illusions while wearing glow-in-the-dark costumes; and Paint Jam where speed painting takes center stage to fuse art and entertainment. Ride some of the tallest water slides in the state at Dollywood's Splash Country Water Park and stay for the nightly fireworks display, a sweet end to a summer day well spent.
Kuumba Festival - Knoxville
The largest African American Cultural Arts Festival in East Tennessee takes place June 21-24, 2018 in Knoxville. The annual Kuumba Festival hosts hundreds of entertainers, a world-class African marketplace, food vendors, cultural shopping opportunities, and crafters. The event is free every day. African dance and drum and live music takes place at Morningside Park. Celebrate African American culture and societal contributions.
Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival - Smithville
This festival, about an hour and 20 minutes east of Nashville, celebrates and preserves Appalachian culture, music and tradition through music, buck dancing, Appalachian flatfoot dancing, clogging, and fiddling. Approximately 80,000 people come to the small town to experience the official national jamboree & craft festival each year. Mark your calendar for July 7-8, 2018 to see more than 35 music and dance categories, food booths and handmade crafts. The event is free and family-friendly.
More than 40,000 music lovers come to Murfreesboro each year to celebrate Uncle Dave Macon and his contributions to old-time, Americana music. He was the first star of The Barn Dance, then Grand Ole Opry on WSM. He was a legendary banjo picker, songwriter and unique performer from Rutherford County. Murfreesboro, about 40 minutes south of Nashville, hosts Uncle Dave Macon Days July 13-14, 2018 with famous Americana musicians like Rhonda Vincent, Flatt Lonesome, Ralph Stanley II, Hogslop String Band, The Isaacs, NewTown, The Cleverly's, Glade City Rounders and more. Music and dancing competitions take place while guests can enjoy food and family-friendly entertainment.
Fun Fest - Kingsport
Fun Fest 2018 takes place July 13-21, 2018 at J. Fred Johnson Stadium and features the Sunset Concert Series highlighting some of today's great music groups like The Avett Brothers, Casting Crowns, Passion, and Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo. See hot air balloons and enjoy ample food options at this festival that creates community unity.
Elvis fans from around the world make the pilgrimage to Graceland Aug. 9-18, 2018 during Elvis Week. Events like the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, panel discussions and special concerts serve to celebrate the life and legacy of the King of Rock n' Roll. The event ends with the Candlelight Vigil taking place at the gates of Graceland and leading to the Meditation Garden where attendees carry a lit candle, observing the mementos, flowers and shared memories left by fellow fans.
America's Night Race starts when the green flag flies Aug. 18, 2018 at Bristol Motor Speedway & Dragway. The most popular race in NASCAR attracts thousands of race fans to enjoy racing, campfires, heart-stopping finishes and clashes of the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. The world's fastest half-mile plays host to the top racers in the industry as they battle for top honors. Tickets for adults begin at $17 and kids' (12 & under) tickets are $10.