People Sitting at a Picnic Table at an Outdoor Festival

Mark your calendar: 8 Atlanta festivals to cure your spring fever

Atlanta’s best season is here and these are the spring festivals you won’t want to miss.

You can always count on springtime to kick off festival season in Atlanta. The weather turns warm, the flowers begin to bloom, and the streets burst with cultural extravaganzas, culinary pop-ups, music festivals, and more. Whether you’re immersing yourself in the arts at the Atlanta Film Festival or discovering the historical wonders of the Georgia Renaissance Festival, there’s no shortage of adventures this season. So mark your calendar and start making plans to check out these much-anticipated Atlanta spring festivals. 

St. Patrick’s Day Parade 

The parade officially begins on Peachtree Street in Midtown, Atlanta, GA 30301

March 16, 2024

Cost: Free

Atlanta comes alive on St. Patrick’s Day. Irish music, dancing, parade floats, marching bands, and bagpipes spill into the streets of Midtown in observance of the holiday. The Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade is Atlanta’s longest-running event, with live entertainment, food, and tons of family-friendly activities along the parade route. Come decked out in green to join the fun. 

404 Day 

Piedmont Park, 400 Park Drive Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30309

April 4, 2024

Cost: Free

“Atlanta influences everything.” This is your chance to pay homage to ATL’s vibrant culture, creative spirit, and everything that makes the 404 area code unique. On April 4th each year (4.04!), city residents come together to celebrate Atlanta’s homegrown music, art, innovation, and more. The energy is high across the perimeter and surrounding counties, but there is no place more electrifying than Piedmont Park, where you can view local art installations and live performances. An ideal event to connect with the city’s top influencers and talent, 404 Day is a must for native and transplant ATLiens. 

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Atlanta Dogwood Festival

Piedmont Park, 400 Park Drive Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30309

April 12-14, 2024

Cost: Free

Welcome the spring season with the blooming of Atlanta’s native dogwood trees. A beloved tradition that dates back over 80 years, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival boasts an artist market, delicious food vendors, art contests, a kid’s village, and a world-class dog frisbee competition. Listen to bluegrass and rock music while eating festival favorites like funnel cake and kettle corn, all amidst the picturesque backdrop of the blooming dogwood trees. 

Georgia Renaissance Festival

6905 Virlyn B. Smith Rd., Fairburn, Georgia 30213

April 13-June 2, 2024

Cost: $9-$25

Step back into 16th-century Europe and journey to the days of knights, jesters, and maidens. Located just outside Atlanta, the Georgia Renaissance Festival will transport you to a medieval village filled with artisans, performers, and culinary delights. From jousting tournaments to Shakespearean plays and glass-blowing demonstrations, the festival offers a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Renaissance-era life. Other attractions include ten stages of music, comedic acts, crafts, and even animal performances.

SweetWater 420 Fest 

225 Rogers St NE, Atlanta, GA 30317

April 20-21, 2024

Cost: $245 for 2-day tickets

Raise a glass and rock out to your favorite tunes at the SweetWater 420 Fest. This two-day festival combines the best craft beer and live music, featuring performances by top artists. This year’s lineup includes Beck, Grace Potter, and Andy Frasco and the U.N., to name a few. Of course, you can also sample a wide selection of brews from hometown favorite and presenting sponsor, SweetWater Brewing Company. With 25 performing acts across three unique stages, plus food trucks, creative vendors, workshops, and an artist market, it’s the perfect spring outing for beer and music enthusiasts.  

Atlanta Film Festival

Plaza Theater Atlanta, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave, Atlanta, GA 30306

April 25-May 5, 2024

Cost: $100-$500

One of the country’s longest-running and most prestigious film festivals, the Atlanta Film Festival showcases a diverse selection of independent flicks, documentaries, and shorts from local and international filmmakers. It’s a chance for movie buffs to discover emerging talent and engage in thought-provoking panel discussions and Q&A sessions with filmmakers.

Atlanta Caribbean Carnival

Westside Park, 1660 Johnson Road NW, Entrance 1, Atlanta, GA 30318

May 25, 2024

Cost: $35-$160

Feel the rhythm and the spirit of the islands at the Atlanta Caribbean Carnival. The infectious beats of soca, reggae, and calypso, coupled with Caribbean cuisine, vibrant costumes, and dancing, create a dynamic and infectious atmosphere. From sunrise to sunset, the day is full of events that will satisfy all your senses, featuring the parade of bands downtown, an artist market, dance demos, and children’s activities.

Atlanta Jazz Festival 

Piedmont Park, 400 Park Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

May 25-27, 2024

Cost: Free 

This Memorial Day Weekend, immerse yourself in the smooth sounds of talented musicians from around the world at the Atlanta Jazz Festival. For over 40 years, the annual event has featured renowned up-and-coming artists, offering soulful melodies and a toe-tapping good time. With an array of art, food, and other vendors, the final weekend in May will be the height of festivities. But you can also check out events the entire month at various venues throughout the city.

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A woman enjoying an outdoor activity

5 Dallas outdoor experiences to elevate your spring

Put on your walking shoes, pack a picnic, and immerse yourself in the great outdoors.

Dallas offers a wide range of outdoor experiences to enjoy this spring, including blooming gardens and adrenaline-pumping adventures. Whether you prefer peaceful natural settings or city green spaces, these five destinations provide limitless opportunities to make the most of the season and create unforgettable memories. So, put on your walking shoes, pack a picnic, and immerse yourself in the great outdoors of Dallas this spring.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Step into a world of enchantment at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, where 66 acres of meticulously manicured landscapes await your exploration. Stroll through lush gardens adorned with seasonal blooms, from tulips and daffodils in early spring to vibrant azaleas and roses as the season progresses. Don’t miss the opportunity to capture stunning photos against the backdrop of the iconic floral displays and serene lakes. With special events and activities throughout the season, the Arboretum offers an immersive experience for nature enthusiasts of all ages.

Trinity Forest Adventure Park 

For those who crave adventure, Trinity Forest Adventure Park is the ultimate outdoor destination. This aerial adventure park is tucked away in the towering trees of the Great Trinity Forest and offers an exciting variety of zip lines, ropes courses, and climbing challenges. You can test your agility and conquer obstacles at various difficulty levels, from beginner to experienced adventurer. Whether you’re soaring through the trees or navigating suspended bridges, the park guarantees an unforgettable outdoor experience filled with thrills and laughter.

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Cedar Ridge Preserve 

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the tranquility of Cedar Ridge Preserve. Spanning over 600 acres of pristine wilderness, this urban oasis offers miles of scenic hiking trails that wind through forests, prairies, and rugged terrain. Keep your eyes peeled for native wildlife, including deer, birds, and butterflies, as you explore the diverse ecosystems of this natural haven. With breathtaking overlooks and picnic areas scattered throughout the preserve, it’s the perfect setting for a peaceful day of outdoor recreation and appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.

Klyde Warren Park 

Klyde Warren Park is located in the heart of downtown Dallas, and it flawlessly blends city vibes with outdoor leisure. This vibrant green space offers something for everyone, from fitness classes and live entertainment to food trucks and cultural events. You can join a yoga session on the lawn or challenge friends to a game of cornhole. The park’s central location and lively atmosphere make it an ideal place for community engagement and outdoor fun.

White Rock Lake 

Escape to the shores of White Rock Lake, where scenic beauty meets plenty of recreational opportunities. This picturesque reservoir spans over 1,015 acres, offering a host of outdoor activities for nature lovers and fitness enthusiasts alike. Bring a kayak or paddleboard and enjoy the lake, or explore the surrounding trails by foot or bike. Or better yet, pack a picnic. 

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Group of bats flying in the nighttime sky

5 weird and unexpected Phoenix activities you probably haven’t tried

A longtime local takes us through the underground Phoenix activities you may not know about.

Phoenix is known for a lot of things: plentiful sunshine, the iconic saguaro cactus, glorious mountains, breathtaking hikes, amazing sunsets, delicious Mexican food, world-class golf courses, excellent shopping, and five-star resorts and spas — but that’s just scratching the surface. Phoenix has even more to discover, including this handful of totally unexpected activities you might not even know about that are perfect for your next date night, family outing, or weekend exploration. 

Stroll Through a Japanese Garden

Many visitors and locals alike have no idea that in the center of Phoenix lies an oasis called Rohoen. This traditional Japanese garden transports the essence of Japanese culture and philosophy to the Sonoran Desert — it was a joint project of the City of Phoenix with Sister City Himeji, Japan. This public garden spans 3.5 tranquil acres, featuring a 14-foot waterfall, a koi pond with more than 300 colorful fish, stone footbridges, lanterns, 1,500 hand-picked rocks, and more than 85 varieties of plants. 

It’s designed to be a space of meditation and contemplation. However, walk-in docent-led tours (free with admission) are available every Tuesday and Saturday at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Tea tours are available on select Tuesdays, where visitors can learn the basics of Chanoyu and Japanese casual tea and indulge in a tea tasting service in the Tea House. The garden hosts various cultural experiences throughout the year, such as an art and sake celebration, a bonsai and pottery exhibit, and origami workshops. 

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Eat Pizza While Listening to the World’s Largest Organ

Believe it or not, Phoenix is home to the “Mighty Wurlitzer,” the world’s largest and most valuable theater organ — it’s worth more than $6 million. Originally built for the Denver Theatre in 1927, where it was used until the early 1930s, it was relocated to Mesa more than 50 years ago. The 18,000-square-foot Organ Stop Pizza restaurant was designed specifically to enhance the Wurlitzer’s sound, with 46-foot ceilings providing unparalleled acoustics.  

Each night, the 6,000+ pipes, numerous percussions, and countless traps are masterfully played by world-class organists — patrons dine on pizza, pasta, a salad bar, mozzarella sticks, and hand-packed ice cream while listening to the thunderous sounds of the organ. Some popular songs include the Star Wars opening theme, The Flight of the Bumblebee, The Circle of Life from the Lion King, and even current pop chart-toppers. The organists take requests and happily cater to the roughly 300,000 annual dinner patrons. 

Tour a Nearly-100-Year-Old Castle

If you thought you’d have to travel all the way to Europe to see a castle, you’re in luck: Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights is located on Van Buren Street, and it’s open for public tours. You’ve probably seen it from the Red Mountain Freeway or possibly while flying into Sky Harbor Airport — the four-story, 5,000-square-foot wedding cake-shaped building perched atop a hill is hard to miss. 

Built in 1928, Tovrea Castle is a Phoenix Point of Pride and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The docent-led tour winds through 44 acres, including the grounds and cactus gardens with over 500 species of flora and the main floor and basement of the castle (the site is not available to explore without a tour, and tours must be booked in advance through a lottery system). 

Take a Ride on a Pullman-Inspired Train Car

You probably know about the Grand Canyon Railway and the Verde Canyon Railroad, but did you know there’s a train car in Arcadia waiting for you to climb aboard? Century Grand on Indian School — which was named the best U.S. cocktail bar in 2023 — houses three turn-of-the-century cocktail bar concepts: New Orleans-inspired apothecary-style Grey Hen Rx, subterranean-themed UnderTow serving up tiki-style drinks, and Platform 18, which is designed to resemble a luxury railroad cabin from the 1920s. 

Immersive TV screens displayed throughout the train car show footage of passing landscapes (such as the Louisiana Bayou), so you feel as though you’re actually on a moving adventure as you sip craft cocktails with imaginative ingredients. Enjoy the 90-minute journey with 36 other “passengers” before your train pulls into the station — the conductor will let you know that’s your stop.  

Watch thousands of bats take flight from a tunnel

Scorpions, rattlesnakes, and javelina are practically old news once you hear about the thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats that take flight every summer evening around dusk (they are nocturnal, so when they are done with their daytime nap, it’s time to forage for insects). At least five thousand of them live in a flood-control tunnel near 40th Street and Camelback Road, and it’s a surprisingly family-friendly experience to witness them exit in droves. 

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is involved in their conservation efforts, including educating the public on the importance of bats. The path to the tunnel alongside the canal near Chelsea’s Kitchen isn’t the easiest to find, so thankfully, there’s a location saved on Google Maps labeled “Phoenix Bat Cave.” 

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