two friends hold drinks at an outdoor festival

Enjoy food, music and cultural events at these festivals in Atlanta. (Photo: Getty Images)

Atlanta

These Top Atlanta Festivals Showcase the City’s Dazzling Food, Music and Culture

There’s always something going on in Atlanta, a city whose culinary, arts and nightlife scenes send ripples around the world. Whether you’re a first-time visitor, seasoned traveler or local, you’ll find that Atlanta highlights its best assets through food, music and cultural festivals throughout the year.  

While these festivals tend to have a central focus, you can expect delicious food options and vibe-setting music at most. As far as events timing goes, you’ll find that spring and summer are the best times to visit, so put these annual events on the calendar and plan your trip accordingly.  

As always, check for travel guidelines and closures before planning your trip. 

Best Music Festivals 

Atlanta Jazz Festival 

Held in Piedmont Park, one of the city’s largest green spaces, the Atlanta Jazz Festival has been a celebration of all things jazz since 1978, with programming that highlights the genre’s importance in American culture for both longtime fans and young music lovers.  

Catering to hundreds of thousands of attendees, this Atlanta music festival is free to attend and takes place over Memorial Day weekend. Famed musicians like Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock have previously graced its stages. 

When: Typically occurs in May 

Where to Stay: Atlanta Marriott Suites Midtown 

a guest room with a great view at Atlanta Marriott Suites Midtown
You can walk to Piedmont Park from Atlanta Marriott Suites Midtown. (Photo: Marriott International)

Shaky Knees Music Festival 

While newer to Atlanta’s music festival calendar than the Atlanta Jazz Festival, Shaky Knees has become one of the hottest tickets of the summer.

Generally focusing on rock music, the festival showcases more than 60 artists over the course of a weekend with multiple stages in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood’s Central Park, as well as exclusive late-night shows around town.

When: Typically occurs in May 

Where to Stay: Moxy Atlanta Midtown 

Moxy Atlanta Midtown 
Enjoy a drink or bite to eat at Moxy Atlanta Midtown. (Photo: Marriott International)

Best Arts Festivals 

Atlanta Film Festival 

Atlanta has grown into a leading film hub — even garnering the nickname “the Hollywood of the South.” Since 1977, the Atlanta Film Festival has run right alongside the local film industry’s development, fostering the creative community with screenings and discussions of indie, foreign and short films across all genres.  

The festival takes place every April and lasts about 11 days, so once you’ve snagged a pass or badge, there are plenty of opportunities to take part in the fun. It usually includes celebrity guests at the events, which take place at the Plaza and Tara theaters, the city’s arthouse spaces. 

When: Typically occurs in April and May 

Where to Stay: Bellyard, West Midtown Atlanta, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel 

a seating area at Bellyard, West Midtown Atlanta, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel 
Catch up with friends in the vibrant Garden Courtyard at Bellyard, West Midtown Atlanta. (Photo: Marriott International)

Dogwood Festival 

Springtime doesn’t (unofficially) start in Atlanta until the Dogwood Festival in April. The long-running arts festival is named for the omnipresent bloom found around the city and showcases works across a wide range of mediums, including painting, photography, pottery, sculpture and jewelry. 

The festival in Piedmont Park includes an artist market and juried awards, plus a children’s area, live music and cultural performances. It’s also free to attend, making it a popular day out for families.  

When: Typically occurs in April 

Where to Stay: Element Atlanta Midtown 

a guest space at Element Atlanta Midtown 
After a day of browsing art, relax at Element Atlanta Midtown. (Photo: Marriott International)

Best Food Festivals 

Atlanta Food and Wine Festival 

Set in Historic Fourth Ward Park, Atlanta Food and Wine Festival brings together the best culinary professionals from around the region for three days of delicious bites and sips. The September event includes a tasting village, demonstrations from chefs and special dinners at restaurants across the city. If you’re a foodie, this is one you won’t want to miss. 

When: Typically occurs in September 

Where to Stay: Epicurean Atlanta, Autograph Collection 

the dining area at Reverence restaurant, located at Epicurean Atlanta, Autograph Collection 
Epicurean Atlanta, Autograph Collection is an ideal retreat for foodies. (Photo: Marriott International)

Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival 

Taking its name from the 1978 film, the Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival is a celebration of Georgia’s farmers. The one-day event invites the city’s best chefs and bartenders to create a signature dish or drink using the ingredient. From bloody marys to pastries, it’s a paradise for tomato lovers.  

Usually held in Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood, the event also has an auction and live music. 

When: Typically occurs in July 

Where to Stay: W Atlanta – Downtown 

a guest seating area at W Atlanta - Downtown 
W Atlanta – Downtown has a luxe, eye-catching design. (Photo: Marriott International)

Best Quirky Annual Events 

Little Five Points Halloween Festival & Parade 

The fiercely independent neighborhood of Little Five Points gets its name from the intersection of five streets. (Not to be confused with the historic “Five Points” intersection in the heart of downtown Atlanta.). And the annual two-day Little Five Points Halloween Festival & Parade runs from Austin Avenue to Freedom Park, with local groups in costume and themed floats.  

The event also boasts food, drink, vintage and local art vendors, and live music sets a festive mood.  

When: Typically occurs in October 

Where to Stay: Glenn Hotel, Autograph Collection 

seating areas at SkyLounge Rooftop at Glenn Hotel, Autograph Collection 
Glenn Hotel, Autograph Collection is conveniently located in downtown Atlanta. (Photo: Marriott International)

Georgia Renaissance Festival 

Step back in time at the annual Georgia Renaissance Festival, held on weekends from mid-April to June in the suburb of Fairburn. Expect all of the favorites, like turkey legs, jousting demonstrations, crafts and performances.  

This festival, which is a favorite among kids and their families, also has themed weekends where attendees dress as pirates, superheroes, Vikings and wizards.  

When: Typically occurs in April, May and June 

Where to Stay: Trilith Guesthouse, Fayetteville, GA, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel   

the library at Trilith Guesthouse, Fayetteville, GA, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel
Trilith Guesthouse, Fayetteville, GA, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel embraces the art of storytelling. (Photo: Marriott International)

DragonCon 

Every Labor Day weekend, gaming, pop-culture and film-fan communities descend upon downtown Atlanta for five days of celebrity panels, art sales and cosplay.  

DragonCon itself is a members-only ticketed convention (although anyone can become a member), but visitors to Atlanta will love the parade, where the celebrity grand marshal appears alongside different cosplay groups featuring attire inspired by popular sci-fi and fantasy franchises.  

When: Typically occurs in September 

Where to Stay: Atlanta Marriott Marquis 

a guest room at Atlanta Marriott Marquis 
Between festival events, enjoy rest and relaxation at Atlanta Marriott Marquis. (Photo: Marriott International)