Whoever said April showers bring May flowers may have been from the mountains and valleys of East Tennessee. Why? Well, for starters, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone boasts somewhere around 1,500 varieties of flowering plants. All through the month of May, you'll find blooms with names that are just as colorful as their petals - from Dutchman Britches and Indian Paintbrushes to Jack in the Pulpits.
In East Tennessee, flowers aren't the only thing you can expect to be coming alive this May. From the Tri-Cities down to Chattanooga, there is a whole string of undeniably Made in Tennessee events that you need to know about:
Speaking of flowers, there are two festivals coming up this May that are dedicated specifically to Southern Appalachia's springtime blooms. The Tennessee Mountain Laurel Festival is being held at the courthouse square in Wartburg May 21, 2016 to celebrate the vibrancy of those pink and white clusters that appear this time of year.
(Credit: Greeneville Iris Festival)
That very same weekend, Greeneville's celebrates an endlessly colorful perennial at the town's annual Iris Festival May 21-22, 2016. Both festivals feature craft vendors, food, live music and antique car shows.
There are also a number of food festivals to look forward to including the Tennessee Strawberry Festival, - also known as "Strawberries in Candyland" - held annually May 6-7 in Dayton.
Knoxville's tribute to a southern staple occurs May 12-14, 2016 at the International Biscuit Festival held in Market Square. As part of this event, the chefs and authors who make up the renowned Southern Food Writing Conference elevate the humble biscuit from a variety of bread to a true American icon, with discussions and speakers at the East Tennessee History Center.
Just down the parkway from Knoxville in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge are a pair of overlapping happenings that shouldn't be missed.
First, Pigeon Forge's Wilderness Wildlife Week May 18-22, 2016 is a free weeklong event for nature enthusiasts, featuring a whole list of "outdoor excursions" designed to bring you to the area's most treasured natural wonders. Then, on Friday and Saturday nights, you can unwind from your hike in downtown Sevierville at the one and only Bloomin' Barbeque & Bluegrass, which is a free event that'll give visitors exactly what the name promises.
Chattanooga is a must-visit location this May. For starters, every Sunday from mid-April through November, you can visit the Chattanooga Market for artisan and farm-fresh foods, local arts and crafts and live entertainment.
And for concertgoers, The Tivoli Theatre and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium have an incredible artist lineup, including Made In Tennessee originals Old Crow Medicine Show & Brandi Carlile May 4, 2016 and Sturgill Simpson May 18, 2016, as well as the legendary Rick Springfield May 22, 2016.
The Red Bank Jubilee Parade & MoonPie Festival on May 7 is a can't-miss festival celebrating Chattanooga's own confectionary masterpiece.
(Credit: Tennessee Whiskey Festival)
For aficionados of that distinct Tennessee spirit, the Tennessee Whiskey Festival kicks off on Saturday, May 21 at the First Tennessee Pavilion. Sip small batches of handcrafted drink and stroll through vendors like George Dickel, Prichards Distillery, Chattanooga Whiskey, Thunder Road Distillery, Leiper's Fork Distillery, Clyde May's, Yellow Rose Rye and many others.