8 Spring Festivals to Shake the Winter Chill

Shake the winter chill and make a beeline to one of Atlanta’s vibrant springtime festivals celebrating music, films, historic sites, exquisite art, tours and more.
  • Film buffs unite at the Atlanta Film Festival.
    Film buffs unite at the Atlanta Film Festival.
  • Dust off your gnome hat and head to Inman Park for Atlanta's most eclectic parade.
    Dust off your gnome hat and head to Inman Park for Atlanta's most eclectic parade.

The Atlanta Preservation Center’s (APC) annual Phoenix Flies citywide celebration canvases Atlanta through March 20. APC partners with more than 80 organizations to produce more than 250 free events enlightening guests on the importance of historic preservation in Atlanta. Phoenix Flies offers access to numerous historic sites including churches, museums, civil rights organizations, nonprofit groups, government entities and more – some that are not open to visitors at other times.

Go for the green at the 134th Atlanta St. Patrick’s Day Parade – Atlanta’s longest-running event and one of the country’s oldest St. Patrick’s Day parades – March 12. Stepping off at noon at 15th Street, the parade marches down Peachtree Street lined with celebrating spectators to view bands, bagpipe and drum corps, clowns, drill teams, floats and representatives from a variety of Irish groups.

Dim the lights and settle into the historic Plaza Theatre and other nearby venues for the 40th annual Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF) April 1-10. One of two dozen Academy Award-qualifying festivals, ATLFF screens more than 200 films selected from more than 4,750 submissions from around the world. Attendees also have the opportunity to interact with filmmakers and other professionals. A sneak preview from Kristy Breneman, ATLFF creative director and features programmer, reveals a timely slate of feature films: "As the U.S. approaches a pivotal election year, this 40th anniversary lineup builds upon six feature films whose subjects, communities and conflicts resonate with Atlanta and the world beyond."

The Atlanta Dogwood Festival — Atlanta’s longest-running festival — celebrates its 80th year April 8-10. Piedmont Park blossoms with three days of festivities including a fine artist market featuring 260 artists from around the world. Saturday’s Atlanta Dogwood Festival Mimosa 5K through Midtown culminates in a mimosa celebration. You’ll find more than 200 performers on the International Stage with blues, rock, country, R&B and '80s music to commemorate the festival’s 80th anniversary, as well as festival food and the Backyard Barbecue & Brews VIP food and drink experience. Families can find the kids' zone with inflatables, rides and activities, and don’t forget to see competing canines in the 26th Disc Dog Southern Nationals.

Imbibe in a rocking weekend at the SweetWater 420 Festival April 22-24 in Centennial Olympic Park. The jam-packed musical lineup is headlined by Kid Rock, Ben Harper & Innocent Criminals, Bastille and Ludacris along with other acts on four stages. Other faves include the SweetWater Experience tent with craft beer, a market featuring local artists, the 420 Lyrics & Laughter tent with live comedy and up-and-coming musical talent, 420 Fest 5K, food trucks and the Planet 420 environmental and nonprofit village.

Your kingdom awaits at the 31st season of the Georgia Renaissance Festival, April 16-June 5. Transport the family to a 16th-century European village for food, fun and laughter in a medieval park filled with colorful village characters, 150 artisans, strolling minstrels and kitchens and pubs serving hearty fare including the 1.5-pound smoked turkey legs. A continuous schedule of music, comedy and feats of skill takes over the festival’s 10 stages.

Spread your wings at the 45th annual Inman Park Festival and Tour of Homes — Atlanta’s most eclectic spring festival — April 29 — May 1. The weekend kicks off with the Tour of Homes preview of restored, historic neighborhood homes on Friday. On Saturday, the party begins at 11 a.m. with artist and vendor tents, live music and dance performances, food and beer tents and trucks, and a Kidzone with slides, obstacle courses and crafts. At 2 p.m. Saturday, secure a prime viewing spot for the funkiest parade in town boasting the Seed & Feed Marching Abominables, Precision Attaché Case Drill Team and much more.

Chihuly in the Garden comes again to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, April 30 - Oct. 30. Showcasing 21 installations by internationally acclaimed artist Dale Chihuly and twice the size as its blockbuster 2004 showing, this exhibition features vibrantly colored glass artworks set throughout the garden in botanical displays and plantings, floating in pools and suspended in air. Among the works are a vibrant chartreuse hornet chandelier suspended from the canopy walk and a 30-foot-tall saffron tower standing at one end of the water mirror pool. Chihuly Nights offer extended evening hours for guests to view the sculptures with dramatic lighting and an Atlanta skyline backdrop.

Karen Lopez writes for Atlanta Now magazine. 

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