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The 14 best festivals in Atlanta

From book, film, food and gnome-related events (true story) to science fairs, these are the best festivals in Atlanta

Atlanta Dogwood Festival
Photograph: Shutterstock
By Lia Picard |
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Although there are a ton of things to do in Atlanta—from a tour of the city’s top attractions to entire days devoted to devouring BBQ and nights spent smoking hookah—the best festivals in Atlanta are the events that bring the community together and remind all of the spark and quirk that defines the capital of Georgia.

There is a festival for everyone: from craft beer enthusiasts to art fiends, lovers of comedy to book nerds, all personalities will find something delightful in town. Some of these festivals are free, some are ticketed and some are great for the whole family. But only one features folks dressed as gnomes.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Atlanta

Best festivals in Atlanta

1
The Atlanta Dogwood Festival
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Janos

Atlanta Dogwood Festival

When: April 12-14

This is the ultimate springtime fête, found in Piedmont Park. For over 80 years, the Dogwood Festival has brought the community together for an outdoors fine arts market. Among the artists selling their crafts are jewelers, painters, potters, photographers and others. The market sprawls throughout the park, allowing you to enjoy the scenery. There’s also a kids village if your tots need a chance to burn some energy in that fresh springtime air.

2
SweetWater 420 Fest
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Mark C.

SweetWater 420 Fest

When: April 19-21

Now in its 15th year, SweetWater 420 Fest is one of the city’s best harbingers of spring. Named after the brewery’s 420 Extra Pale Ale, the event is an Earth Day celebration that brings people together for live music, art and, of course, lots of craft beer. There’s even a tent dedicated to comedians and up-and-coming musical artists. This year, the festival takes place in Downtown’s Centennial Olympic Park. Headliners include Widespread Panic and The Avett Brothers.

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3
Atlanta Jewish Festival
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Analee Carpenter, Futography LLC

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival

When: February

Since its inception in 2000, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival has treated film buffs to international movies filmed through the Jewish lens. This festival takes place in February and the most recent installation featured 76 films from 24 different countries. In addition to the screenings, expect guest speakers and a host of events held throughout the year (including screenings at rotating locations).

4
Decatur Book Festival
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Priti J.

Decatur Book Festival

When: August 30-September 1

Calling all bibliophiles: this late summer festival held in Decatur is for you. It’s the largest independent book festival in the country and attracts authors from all over the world for presentations, writing workshops, readings and signings. It’s also a great excuse to visit Decatur Square, which is an Atlanta dining mecca.

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5
Atlanta Science Festival
Photograph: Courtesy flickr/cc/UGA CAES/Extension

Atlanta Science Festival

When: March 9-23

You don’t have to be a science buff to love the Atlanta Science Festival. The two-week festival hosts events all over town dedicated to local science and technology. There’s something for the scientifically inclined of all ages, like Complete the Circuit, where middle-school girls can meet women in science, and the Astrobiology of Star Wars, in which scientists compare the planets and creatures from the movies to real life.

6
Inman Park Festival and Tour of Homes
Photograph: Courtesy flickr/cc/NateTheApe21

Inman Park Festival and Tour of Homes

When: April 27-28

The event features art and live music but what sets it apart from other neighborhood affairs is its parade, held on Saturday. Get there early so you can grab a good spot and take in all the people watching. There’s the lively Seed & Feed Marching Abominables, people dressed as gnomes (last year, they attempted to break a world record) and other colorful sorts.

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7
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/John E.

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

When: May 30-June 2

What’s not to love about a festival dedicated to all things food and wine? Held at Midtown’s Loews Hotel, this is an event for hardcore food enthusiasts. You can buy tickets for the tasting tent and sample bites from chefs all over the region, or you can level up to a day pass which gives you access to learning experiences. If you want to nerd out over the nitty gritty of specific ingredients, spirits and wines, then this is the event for you.

8
Candler Park Fall Festival
Photograph: Courtesy flickr/cc/Hotlanta Voyeur

Candler Park Fall Festival

When: Late September

The Candler Park Fall Festival is a great excuse to visit the charming neighborhood known for its bungalows and craftsman homes. Held on the eponymous park in the center of the neighborhood, the festival is free and features two days of live music, a local arts market and plenty of tasty foods available for purchase. There are also fun ancillary events, like the tour of homes and 5K. 

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9
Atlanta Greek Festival
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Esther K.

Atlanta Greek Festival

When: Fall

The Atlanta Greek Festival is gearing up for its 45th installment. It’s organized by the Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation and is a total feast for the eyes, ears and stomach. Munch on Greek specialties like gyros and souvlaki and, in-between bites, take in the entertainment by Greek bands and dancers. Want to take bites home without participating in the festivities? Make use of the awesome drive-through.

10
Chomp and Stomp Chili Cook-Off
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Cynthia K.

Chomp and Stomp Chili Cook-Off

When: November

What’s better than chili when the weather starts to drop in November? Chomp and Stomp showcases the finest chilis made by professional chefs and at-home chili masters (anyone can enter!) for the perfect fall fest. Throughout the day, expect live blues music to keep your toes tapping and lots of beer flowing if you need something to quell the heat. All of this is for a good cause: proceeds from the fest benefit Cabbagetown’s parks and greenspaces.

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11
Taste of Atlanta
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Willie D.

Taste of Atlanta

When: Fall

Food enthusiasts flock to Historic Fourth Ward Park every fall to sample bites from over 80 Atlanta restaurants. Beer, wine and cocktails are also available for purchase (unless you splurge on VIP tickets, in which case you'll get to eat and drink for free). In addition to tastes and sips, the festival offers cooking demos and hands-on classes led by local chefs. Be warned: the festival gets busy and the lines can get long.

12
Atlanta Jazz Festival
Photograph: courtesy flickr/cc/muffinn

Atlanta Jazz Festival

When: May

The Atlanta Jazz Festival will keep jazz lovers swaying for the 40th year in a row this May. Not only does the festival attract top names, but it does so while offering free admission to guests. It runs throughout the entire month at a variety of venues including MARTA stations, hotels, parks and restaurants. There are even events for the youngest jazz lovers in the family.

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13
Chattahoochee Nature Center
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Andrea M.

Flying Colors Butterfly Festival

When: June 1-2

The Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell is easy to overlook if you’re in the city, but the butterfly festival is a good excuse to go visit. The nature center is peaceful with its bucolic setting near the river, and it’s especially a hit with kids. It takes place in June and features butterfly releases and encounters, crafts and plant sale.

14
Atlanta Ice Cream Festival
Photograph: Courtesy flickr/cc/John Ramspott

Atlanta Ice Cream Festival

When: Summer

In the thick of summer, you’ll be glad to find yourself at the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival in Piedmont Park. It’s not just about ice cream, though: the event also promotes balance by offering wellness and health activities. There’s even a Fight Cancer 5K, so you can run (or walk) it off for a good cause.

Hungry?

Bread & Butterfly
Photograph: Courtesy Bread & Butterfly
Restaurants

Eat the best brunch in Atlanta at these 14 spots

Local spots serving the best brunch in Atlanta are sun-filled sanctuaries where the devout show up in droves for delicious eats and plenty of boozy options that include Southern staples like biscuits with gravy, grits and home fries. 

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