The Great Atlanta Festival Face-Off continues right now, pitting the remaining field of 16 in friendly, festive competition.
The growing lineup of Atlanta festivals, perennial mega-events, and wondrous gatherings is getting crowded. To help set the record straight, and determine which festivals are never to be missed, a little May Madness is in order.
We selected 16 options unique to Atlanta — both stalwarts and upstarts, musical and not, representing an eclectic mix of neighborhoods — and alphabetized them to determine 1-16 seeding. (The Atlanta Taco Festival, aka "Tacopalypse," didn't qualify). The rest is up to you, festival-goers of Atlanta!
Place a vote for competitors in the second half of the 16-team bracket today to determined the Elite Eight festivals of ATL tomorrow. By Friday, we'll have a Final Four, and the finals will commence next week.
Round 2 voting is open for 24 hours, beginning now!
Inman Park Festival: The last weekend of April in Atlanta means one thing: the gorgeous, leafy lanes of Inman Park are going to swell up with a 45-year tradition that’s described as "Atlanta’s most spirited and eclectic" neighborhood festival, with its can’t-miss whacky parade, impressive home tour, and smorgasbord of live music.
Kirkwood Spring Fling: What started as little more than a picnic and softball game in 2002 has grown into the Kirkwood Spring Fling, that rare neighborhood fest in Atlanta centered around wide-open space (Bessie Branham Park). These days it hosts a barbecue competition, big music talent, and bona fide crowds.
Lantern Parade (Atlanta Beltline): Perhaps nothing symbolizes Atlanta’s cultural renaissance quite like the Lantern Parade, which in a few short years has burgeoned from a smattering of LED-lamp carrying marchers, to a major September event with an attached festival and 60,000 estimated attendees and spectators. It’s spawned a second magical march in Decatur, too.
Little 5 Points Halloween Festival and Parade: Where else you gonna find a Murder Kroger float, death metal parade ambiance, and a man dressed as a zombie flasher who’s actually nude (to nobody’s chagrin)? This famed and amicably gory parade has swelled in recent years into a full-fledged, daylong, uninhibited celebration of the macabre and non-sober.
Music Midtown: The granddaddy of Atlanta’s neighborhood music festivals also holds the most mass appeal. Since Music Midtown’s resurrection in 2011, the two-day fest has multiplied stages, finally figured out crowd dispersion, and brought the likes of Coldplay, Pearl Jam, Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters, Elton John, Drake, Van Halen, John Mayer, Eminem, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lenny Kravitz, and Lorde to Atlanta’s front yard.
Oakhurst Porchfest: This grassroots shindig that turned dozens of porches around Oakhurst into makeshift stages one Sunday last year scores big points for sheer uniqueness in Atlanta, and its return for year two in October sounds like it’ll be bigger, better, and even more organized. Porchfest II will move to a six-hour slot on a Saturday this year, culminating in a village street party.
Shaky Knees Festival: What began as a two-stage soggy mess in a May 2013 downpour has blossomed into one of America’s premier multi-day, urban-setting music fests, rivaling Music Midtown in terms of talent scope and footprint. It'd be hard to argue that the festival's five-stage debut downtown last weekend didn't qualify as a roaring success.
Sweet Auburn Springfest: For 32 years running, the Sweet Auburn Springfest has been drawing thousands to downtown’s eastern flank, showcasing the potential of a once-proud community that’s seen recent investment (Atlanta Streetcar, Daily World Apartments) and has untold potential.