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It's time to start planning for a spring and summer vacation. These Tennessee spring and summer city and local town festivals offer music, entertainment, food and more. Check out the unique festivals happening across the state.
Spring Festivals in Tennessee
Celebrate the coming of spring in Bell Buckle during the Daffodil Day & Best of the Butts BBQ Cook-Off March 18, 2023. You'll see thousands of daffodils line the roads and farmlands for a six-mile stretch of highway leading into Bell Buckle. Once in town, enjoy the flower show where youth and adult gardeners compete for ribbons. At the Cook-Off, watch barbecue masters compete for bragging rights and get a taste to pick your favorite. Tickets to sample are $10.
Yes, Tennessee has a "Mule Capital" of the world and it's in Columbia. Mule Day is March 27-April 2, 2023 and hosts dancing, music, food, competitions like log-loading and pony mule pulling, and parades of mules and their miniature counterparts. It's an adorable festival kids of all ages love to attend.
Celebrate why Nashville is hailed as Music City as it hosts big-name songwriters and performers all April-long. The city promises a major event every weekend of the month like Nashville Fashion Week, Cherry Blossom Festival, Nashville Film Festival, and the Wild West Comedy Festival. Keep your calendar empty and your eyes sharp for event announcements.
A new family-friendly food and art festival celebrates hot slaw - a mustard, mayo and secret sauce concoction - in Cleveland, Tennessee. Mark your calendars for next year. The Hot Slaw and Art Y'all! festival takes place April 1, 2023 with live music, artist exhibitors, pop-up street performances, food vendors, contests and, of course, hot slaw smothered on burgers, hot dogs and more.
Dollywood is your springtime destination as the award-winning, family-friendly attraction introduces a new event, Flower & Food Festival April 21 - June 11, 2023. Marvel at the topiary structures, crafted by horticultural artists, reaching up to 14 feet. Take a selfie underneath Umbrella Sky, a tapestry of colorful umbrellas suspended over Showstreet. Keep your calendar open for the in-the-kitchen demonstrations and special culinary events that highlight the fresh ingredients of spring.
Find out what a ramp is and how to use it in meals at this unique culinary festival dedicated to the ramp April 21-22, 2023 at this 4-H Camp McCroy in Reliance, Tennessee. The Ramp Tramp Festival kicks off with bluegrass music and servings of white beans, cornbread and ramps. Saturday is a full day with a ramp meal featuring fried ramps in eggs, fried potatoes, streaked meat, white beans and cornbread. Music fills the air all day and local craftsmen have handmade items for sale. Buck dancing and clogging happen later on in the afternoon.
Thousands of people flock to the small town of Paris April 24-29, 2023 for the five tons of fried catfish that is served during the all-you-can-eat feast each April. Stay an extra day to enjoy the World's Biggest Fish Fry's Grand Parade, pageants, catfish races, and arts and crafts.
Memphis in May International Festival packs the month of May with unforgettable events like Beale Street Music Festival which has hosted artists like Lil Wayne, The Avett Brothers, Three 6 Mafia, The Lumineers and more than 60 other top musical acts May 5-7, 2023; the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest May 17-20, 2023, where barbecue teams from around the world compete for the title of World Champion and prize money. Thousands flock to watch and taste barbecue with a trip through BBQ Alley by Big Green Egg & Friends and more; and the Great American River Run May 27, 2023 which introduces an inaugural 10k run along with the half marathon and 5k routes. Take in Memphis as you run along the banks of the Mississippi River and through downtown Memphis. Post-race fun includes music, food and beverages.
Let your sweet tooth lead you to downtown Humboldt for the annual West Tennessee Strawberry Festival, Tennessee's largest and longest-running festival since 1934 that takes place May 7-13, 2023. An art extravaganza, fireworks, a contest for the best strawberry recipe, shortcake in the park, the Strawberry Market, live music and entertainment, parades and pageants make this festival a must-attend for any traveler.
Middle Tennessee Strawberry Festival - Portland
The annual Middle Tennessee Strawberry Festival includes new offerings like magic show performances, live music and Robocars May 12-13, 2023 in downtown Portland. Be sure to catch the Strawberry Slam Wrestling Event, story hour, pancake breakfast, more than 150 food, craft and information vendors, strawberry farmers and much more. Stay for the strawberry festival parade and fireworks that cap off the festival.
More than 25,000 spectators come to the beautiful Percy Warner Park in Nashville for the time-honored tradition of Iroquois Steeplechase May 13, 2023. Southern fashions, incredible food and thrilling horse races make this a crowd-pleasing event. Tailgating, furnished tents and family areas are available for guests to make the day a truly enjoyable experience.
Mill Spring Makers Market, a small business located in downtown Jonesborough, bi-annually hosts their next Makers Faire each May along Spring Street and throughout Mill Spring Park in downtown Jonesborough. The Mill Spring Makers Faire features 60 of the region's best artists, craftsmen and makers. Browse a great selection of handmade goods including pottery, fine art, furniture & wood crafts, jewelry, clothing and stained glass, as well as garden decor, flowers and plants. Art demonstrations, music and food also take place.
Celebrate the gorgeous mountain laurel blooms in Wartburg during the Tennessee Mountain Laurel Festival with hikes along several trails as well as fun activities and events including live music, beer tastings, car show, children's games, Irish Road Bowling demonstrations and so much more. The 2023 festival takes place on Courthouse Square May 20, 2023.
Riverbend Music Festival, Chattanooga's longest-running, award-winning music festival brings music lovers together for performances on four stages June 2-4, 2023 at Ross's Landing on Riverfront Parkway. Enjoy views of the Tennessee River while listening to Brothers Osborne, Blackberry Smoke, Ashley McBryde, Here Come The Mummies, Mavis Staples, Darius Rucker, The Cadillac Three and many more.
Summer Festivals in Tennessee
Travel to the small town of Lexington to enjoy music under the stars during First Friday Nights on the town square. A variety of local and regional artists play the first Friday in June through August. Arrive early to shop the local boutiques and enjoy a meal at restaurants downtown. Follow their Facebook page for the upcoming lineup announcement.
Promise Land Annual Music & Arts Festival - Charlotte
Enjoy the new, family-friendly Promise Land annual Music & Arts Festival June 3, 2023 at Promise Land Historic Site in Charlotte. The new event features craft and food vendors, a children's pavilion, a Parade of Hats for Healthy Hearts at 11 a.m. and musical guests WWB Singers, Lane College Choir and The Shindellas. The Promise Land Community was settled by former slaves during 1870-1875 in Charlotte, Tennessee. The community encompassed more than 50 homes, several stores, three churches and an elementary school. Today, the Promise Land Heritage Association preserves and interprets the community's history.
The garlic, breads, pastas, and cheeses will lead your cravings for good food to the Memphis Italian Festival June 1-3, 2023. Enjoy dinner in the air conditioned Luigi's Cafe while overlooking Marquette Park. Live music, cooking demonstrations, a slew of food vendors and arts and crafts will also be featured. Kids and kids at heart will love Luigi Land, a collection of carnival games like Plinko, Roller Bowler, Balloon Pop and more along with mini carnival rides, mechanical bull and others. Smaller children can enjoy the inflatable bounce houses.
CMA Music Festival comes back bigger and better than ever for its 49th installment of the festival this year. Mark your calendar for June 8-11, 2023 where the brightest stars in country flock to Nashville for the biggest party in the city. Check out continued updates on CMA Fest including tickets, the star-studded lineup, stages and more.
The Museum of Science & History and Overton Park Shell are teaming up for a summer concert series in the Memphis Museum of Science & History AutoZone Dome at the Sharpe Planetarium. Get ready for a music experience like no other with Laser Live! on summer Saturdays June 10, July 15, Aug. 19 and Sept. 30. All concerts are accompanied by a full laser show inspired by the musician's work.
Second Saturday & Main Street LIVE Concert Series - McMinnville
Visit McMinnville for local shopping and live music all summer long. Local businesses are open late and live music can be heard during Second Saturday events. Enjoy shopping at local shops like The Doodle Fish, The Vintage Market, Three Sisters Candle Co. and Southern Traditions. Main Street LIVE is an outdoor concert series in downtown McMinnville June and July 2023 with a variety of music throughout the summer from country to Motown & R&B to classic rock.
Artists like Kenrick Lamar, Odesza, Foo Fighters, Lil Nas X and more will play for music fans who will once again flock to the 700-acre farm for Bonnaroo June 15-18, 2023 in Manchester. The farm becomes a city with various events like yoga, Broo'ers Festival, sustainable fun at Planet Roo, the classic Ferris Wheel, Splash-A-Roo and a village market with curated crafts, art and experiences. Tickets and packages are on sale now.
Make your summer bigger, brighter and sweeter at Dollywood this summer during the Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration June 16-Aug. 6, 2023. The Sweet Summer Nights drone and fireworks show returns with new illuminated scenes. Gazillion Bubble Show Aurora returns to the stages. Watch as millions of bubbles envelop the entire theater that all ages will love, featuring an homage to Dolly and the Great Smoky Mountains. Additionally, a garden hose fountain, rainbow art installations and an explosion of brilliant color will spread across the park.
Lavender Festival - Oak Ridge
The Lavender Festival, the oldest lavender festival in the Southeast takes place on Historic Jackson Square in Oak Ridge. The free festival 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 17 includes live music, 150 artisan vendors and lavender learning sessions including how to grow lavender in East Tennessee, how to make local products from lavender and cooking with herbs demonstration and more. Children will love bubbles and sidewalk chalk, splash fountain in Jackson Square, building workshops, free train rides, The Art Spot and much more.
The RC-MoonPie Festival is a wacky festival that celebrates the classic Southern combo, RC Cola and MoonPie June 17, 2023 in downtown Bell Buckle. You'll find music, fun contests, cloggers, MoonPie games and a colorful parade among other activities.
Bluff City Balloon Jamboree - Memphis
The Bluff City Balloon Jamboree is a family-friendly event featuring more than 20 hot air balloons. Get there early to see the morning balloon launch and snag your spot for the afternoon tethered rides (tickets are $25 per person). In the evening, all balloons light up the night sky as part of the evening balloon glow. Carnival rides, balloon basket photo booth, food trucks, arts and crafts vendors and music round out the summer festivities.
Knoxville has a flourishing brewery community and what better way to local craft beer than at Knoxville Brewfest? Featuring more than 20 local, regional and national breweries, Brewfest takes place June 24, 2023 at World's Fair Park Lake. It is a celebration of beer and the city's community spirit. Tickets include event admission, a commemorative tasting glass and beer tasting.
Heralded as "The official festival for the state of Tennessee," the annual Smithville Fiddlers' Jamboree June 30-July 1, 2023 in Smithville is a celebration of the music and art of Appalachia. Hundreds of musicians and crafts people come to Smithville and thousands of attendees come to enjoy timeless bluegrass tunes and shop the wide variety of crafts.
Have a taste of summer at the Watermelon Festival (included with general admission) July 1, 2023 at Lucky Ladd Farm. Savor a free slice of watermelon and either participate for prizes or watch for fun the watermelon crawl and watermelon eating contests. When the temperatures get a bit high, cool off in the splash zone where you'll find a splash pad, bubble blast pool, inflatable water slides and more.
You'll want to be at The Caverns for the new Big Mouth Bluegrass Festival July 1-2, 2023. Award-winning bluegrass artists perform during the weekend full of fireworks, cook outs, cave tours, camping and more. The lineup includes Dan Tyminski Band, Larry Sparks & The Lonesome Ramblers, Russell Moore & Illrd Tyme Out, Lonesome River Band, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Sister Sadie and many more.
Fun Fest takes place July 14-22, 2023 and features more than 80 events in over 30 locations in Kingsport. Enjoy the variety of events which include moonlight hikes, outdoor movies, hot air balloons, concerts, food trucks, block parties, fireworks and 8K races. The headliners for the Sunset Concert Series include Danny Gokey, Boyz II Men, Chris Lane and Clay Walker.
Attend the Tri-State Outdoors Fest July 15, 2023 to learn about the numerous outdoor opportunities in and around Cumberland Gap like hiking, kayaking, canoeing, hunting, fishing, boating and more. Seminars and guided hikes led by world-renowned outdoor experts will take place. A children's area will include a kid-friendly obstacle course, archery, open-fire cooking demonstrations and more. Sample craft beer from Clinch River Brewing Company, enter drawings for prizes and enjoy live music. A large community clean up effort will happen on Sunday.
The annual Jefferson Street Jazz & Blues Festival takes place July 23, 2022 on Fisk University's campus. The festival celebrates and highlights the rich music history of Jefferson Street, historically one of America's best-known jazz, blues and rhythm & blues districts. Famous African American musicians played in the clubs like Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles and Memphis Slim among others. Local businesses and culture are showcased during the festival with music performances happening all day. It is the largest annual public community music festival in North Nashville and Middle Tennessee.
Celebrate African culture in Diaspora featuring music, performances and the always-popular African World Marketplace during the Kuumba Festival June 24-26, 2022 in Knoxville. Festivities on June 24 take place on Market Square and events continue July 28-29, 2023 at Morningside Park. See traditional crafts, clothing and food from all over the world. Enjoy the West African Drum and Dance Community Circle where everyone in attendance is welcome to participate. A local talent show, Kuumba Watoto Dance and Drum Village extravaganza and live music and entertainment are also highlights.
Meet the makers of Northeast Tennessee during the Monteagle Mountain Market Arts & Crafts July 30-31, 2022 behind City Hall in downtown Monteagle. Featuring over 100 artisans and crafters, browse and purchase handmade creations including fine art, leather work, woodcrafts, jewelry, metal art, glass art, primitive furniture and more. When you're hungry, head to one of the food vendors offering barbecue, burgers, homemade ice cream, turkey legs, kettle corn and fresh lemonade.
The 127 Yard Sale, considered the world's largest yard sale, spreads across Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama for 690 miles and featuring thousands of vendors each year. Here in Tennessee, you can shop for antiques, handmade items and more at booths and stops in Pall Mall, Jamestown, Clarkrange, Crossville, Pikeville, Dunlap, Signal Mountain and Chattanooga among others. Celebrities have even been spotted hunting for treasured pieces. This year's event takes place Aug. 3-6, 2023.
Appalachian Trail Vista Summit - Johnson City
Hiking enthusiasts will love attending the new Appalachian Trail Vista Summit Aug. 4-7, 2023 for 40 guided hikes, 30 workshops and Appalachian Trail excursions like whitewater rafting, rock climbing, fishing, tours and more. The summit will offer educational, cultural and historical learning programs while also showcasing the beauty and adventure found on The Appalachian Trail. You can also enjoy browsing local outdoor-related vendors and live entertainment.
Elvis Week at Graceland - Memphis
Elvis fans from all over the world gather at Graceland Aug. 9-17, 2023 in Memphis to celebrate the King of Rock n' Roll. Join in on the fun-filled week full of live music, contests, screening, panels and more. Highlights include Aloha from Hawaii 50th Anniversary Concert featuring Elvis on the big screen backed by a live band; the annual Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest; Conversations on Elvis featuring a panel of those who knew Elvis best sharing their memories and stories; and, of course, the annual Candlelight Vigil where fans gather in quiet remembrance of the King.
Ten days of fair fun including music, competitions and exhibits will take place during the Wilson County Fair-Tennessee State Fair Aug. 17-26, 2023 at the Wilson County Exposition Center in Lebanon, Tennessee. Live music and entertainment by local and regional artists, cloggers and square dancers will take place on five stages. See live stock shows, antique car show, dog shows, a cat competition, food competitions, robotics challenge and so much more. Have a ride on one of the carnival rides like the classic Ferris wheel or swings.
Get acquainted with Northeast Tennessee's great outdoors during Meet the Mountains Festival Aug. 18-19, 2023 in Johnson City. Become an experiences outdoor enthusiast through numerous outdoor activities from paddling to hiking, mountain biking and fishing. The gear, people and resources are available to help you enjoy the vast landscape. Split into three zones - water zone, air zone and earth zone - the festival has activity stations like a zipline, rock wall, kayak demos, dock diving by Ultimate Air Dogs, mountain bike skills clinic, axe throwing and archery. Come out for two days of family-friendly outdoor fun.
The Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival provides a visually stunning display of hot air balloons set against majestic mountains Aug. 19, 2023. Be one of only 300 participants of the VIP lift off package which includes parking, tented seating for the balloon viewing, ability to chat with balloonists, a balloon ride, commemorative gifts, food, tickets for adult beverages and unlimited non-alcoholic drinks. Family-friendly activities include live entertainment, balloon viewing, tethered balloon rides, crafters, food truck court and beer tent.
The Delta Fair & Music Fest, happening Sept. 1-10, 2023, has live music with performances by Jason D Williams, Big Smo, Lathan Warlick and The Josephines. Festival food, helicopter rides, pig races, bike night, street performers and carnival rides for the kids make this “Everyone’s Fair.”
These festivals and so many more can be experienced during your vacation to Tennessee. Check out even more festival fun on the calendar.