Note: Some events, such as the Georgia Renaissance Festival and the Georgia Shakespeare Festival, begin in one month and continue for several months thereafter. These are listed under the month in which they start, so do look back and ahead a few months for information on ongoing events. The ACVB's website (www.atlanta.net) also has a terrific calendar of events.
For an exhaustive list of events beyond those listed here, check http://events.frommers.com, where you'll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening in cities all over the world.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Weekend. This major event begins with an interfaith service and includes musical tributes, seminars, awards dinners, and speeches by notables. There are also concerts by major performers (in past years, Stevie Wonder and the Neville Brothers, among others, have performed). For details, contact the King Center (tel. 404/526-8900; www.thekingcenter.org). Second weekend of January.
Cathedral Antiques Show. For 4 days, 30 to 35 high-quality antiques dealers display their wares at the Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Rd. (at W. Wesley Rd.). The merchandise ranges from 18th- and 19th-century furnishings to vintage jewelry and Oriental rugs. Admission is $15 per day. On the first day of the show, a tour of homes and mansions in Buckhead is offered for an additional $25. For details, call tel. 404/365-1000. Last week in January.
Southeastern Flower Show. One of the South's premier gardening events, the flower show takes place for 5 days toward the beginning of the month at Cobb Galleria Centre, 2 Galleria Pkwy. You'll find nearly 4 acres of stunning landscapes and gardens displaying both flowers and plants. Garden-related products are sold at the 90-vendor marketplace; there are also events for children and demonstrations of gardening techniques. Admission is $12 in advance, $16 at the door, with discounts for seniors and children. For information, directions, and tickets, call tel. 404/351-1074, or visit www.flowershow.org. Five days in late January/early February.
Lasershow Spectacular. This 45-minute extravaganza of laser lights and fireworks, held for the past 25 years at Stone Mountain Park, is choreographed to popular, patriotic, country, and classical music. Admission is free, but you must pay $8 for a parking permit to the park. For details, call tel. 770/498-5690, or visit www.stonemountainpark.com. Beginning in March, the show is held on Saturdays at 8:30pm. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, the show takes place nightly at 9:30pm. After Labor Day, it resumes its Saturday 8:30pm schedule through October.
International Auto Show. Held at the Georgia World Congress Center, this annual showcase features more than 500 current-year import and domestic cars, light trucks, vans, and SUVs. Special attractions include concept cars, exotics, and next year's intros. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children. For details, call tel. 770/916-1741, or visit www.ajcautoshow.com. Mid-March.
Easter Sunrise Services. This service is held at the top and the base of Stone Mountain at 30 minutes before sunrise. Park gates open at 4am, and the sky lift begins operating at 5am. For details, call tel. 770/498-5690, or visit www.stonemountainpark.com. Easter Sunday.
Atlanta Dogwood Festival. Held in Piedmont Park, this huge festival features concerts, food booths, kite-flying contests, children's activities, a juried arts-and-crafts show, the National Disc-Dog Championship (a canine Frisbee tournament), and an exciting display of hot-air balloons. For details, call tel. 404/329-0501, or visit www.dogwood.org. Three days in mid-April.
Atlanta Film Festival. The IMAGE (Independent Media Artists of Georgia Etc.) Film & Video Center, 535 Means St., features hundreds of films by some of the country's most important independent media artists. Admission averages $10 per movie, and films are shown at several venues around the city, including some newly added outdoor ones. For details, call tel. 404/352-4225, or visit www.atlantafilmfestival.com. Ten days in mid-April.
Georgia Renaissance Festival. This re-creation of a 16th-century English county fair (held in Fairburn -- 8 miles south of the airport on I-85, exit 61) boasts a 30-acre "village," a juried crafts show and marketplace with more than 100 craftspeople (many of them demonstrating 16th-c. skills), continuous entertainment on 12 stages (there are more than 100 shows each day), period foods, a birds-of-prey show, and a cast of costumed characters including jousting knights, jugglers, storytellers, giant stilt-walkers, minstrels, magicians, and choral groups. King Henry VIII and one of his wives oversee the festivities. Admission is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $9 for kids 6 to 12. For details, call tel. 770/964-8575, or visit www.garenfest.com. Saturdays and Sundays, mid-April to early June (plus Memorial Day).
Inman Park Spring Festival. This Atlanta suburb (the city's oldest) is noted for its gorgeous turn-of-the-20th-century Victorian mansions and Craftsman-style cottages. Activities include a tour of homes, live entertainment (theater, jazz bands, cloggers, Irish music, country music, and more), an arts-and-crafts festival/flea market, a parade, and food vendors. Tickets to the tour of homes are $10 in advance, $12 on the day of the tour. All other events are free. For more information, call tel. 770/635-3711, or visit www.inmanparkfestival.org. Last weekend in April.
Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour. Gardening buffs will enjoy this excellent tour, which allows a peek into several outstanding private gardens. Tickets, which benefit the Atlanta Botanical Garden, are $20 for all the gardens or $10 for an individual garden. For details, call tel. 404/876-5859, or visit www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org. Mother's Day weekend.
Decatur Arts Festival and Garden Tour. This 3-day event features an art show on the south lawn of the Old Courthouse in Decatur, various juried shows nearby, garden tours, mimes, jugglers, puppet shows, clowns, children's art activities, great food, and performances by music, dance, and theater groups. The literary arts are celebrated with storytelling, readings, and book signings. Events are free. For details, call tel. 404/371-8386. Memorial Day weekend, but most events take place on Saturday and Sunday.
Atlanta Jazz Festival. This is a week of jazz in different venues around the city, beginning the week before Memorial Day and continuing through the holiday weekend. Past concerts have included such major stars as Wynton Marsalis, Nancy Wilson, Shirley Horn, Cyrus Chestnut, Max Roach, and Sonny Rollins. Admission is charged to most events, but concerts in Piedmont Park on Memorial Day weekend are free. The celebration in the park also includes artists' booths and food vendors. For details, call tel. 404/853-4234, or visit www.atlantafestivals.com. Week before Memorial Day through Memorial Day.
Virginia-Highland Summerfest. This weekend neighborhood arts and music festival takes place along Virginia Avenue near the intersection of North Highland Avenue. There's a juried arts-and-crafts show, an artists' market, food booths, and plenty of free entertainment in John Howell Park. Afterward, take a stroll through Virginia-Highland, which has lots of galleries and shops. All events are free. For more information, call tel. 404/898-8986, or visit www.vahi.org. Weekend in early June.
Georgia Shakespeare Festival. Five productions are presented from mid-June through November on the campus of Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Rd., in the intimate 510-seat Conant Performing Arts Center. Before the summer performances, audiences enjoy farcical vignettes on the lawn. Everyone brings a preperformance picnic or arranges in advance to purchase it on the premises. The company, made up of Actors Equity pros for the most part, offers both traditional and innovative Shakespearean productions as well as other classics. Picnic grounds open 1 1/2 hours before summer performances, and the preshow begins 1 hour before curtain time. There are both matinees and evening performances. Admission is $15 to $40 for adults. Call for tickets as far in advance as possible, especially for weekend performances. For information about tickets or picnic lunches, call tel. 404/264-0020, or visit www.gashakespeare.org. Mid-June through November.
Stone Mountain Village Annual Arts & Crafts Festival. This family-oriented festival has something for everyone. More than 125 southeastern craftspeople display their wares in a juried show, and entertainment (cloggers, clowns, country music, and more) is offered continually in the Village. There are food booths and lots of activities for kids, too. Admission is free. For details, call tel. 770/879-4971. Father's Day weekend.
Independence Day. If you're willing to get up early on July 4th, you can start the day's celebrations by watching 55,000 runners pound the pavement in the Peachtree Road Race, a 10K run down Peachtree Road from Lenox Square to Piedmont Park. For details, call tel. 404/231-9064.
Later in the afternoon, take in Atlanta's star-spangled Salute 2 America Parade. The floats, marching bands, and giant helium-filled balloons start their marching, rolling, and floating at Peachtree and Ralph McGill at 1pm, winding up at Centennial Olympic Park. For information, call tel. 404/897-7855. Afterward, there's more free entertainment and music in Centennial Olympic Park; the best part is the stunning fireworks display at night. For information, call tel. 404/222-7275.
An old-fashioned Fourth of July Parade, complete with floats, bands, baton twirlers, cloggers, and more, takes place in Stone Mountain Village, traveling from Mountain Street at the foot of the west gate of Stone Mountain Park along Main Street through the Village shopping area. The stores are open, and when the parade's over, there's free watermelon for everyone at the visitor center. The parade begins at 10am, preceded by a 5K run at 7am. For details, call tel. 770/879-4971. The biggest attraction at Stone Mountain Park's Fantastic Fourth Celebration is the extravagant fireworks display after the star-spangled laser show. Many people make a day of it, coming early for the race and parade, picnicking in the park, and staying through the grand finale of the fireworks. For details, call tel. 770/498-5690, or visit www.stonemountainpark.com.
National Black Arts Festival. More than 150 events (most of them free) take place throughout the city during this festival. Billed as "a celebration of the sights, sounds, and expressions of the African Diaspora," it features concerts (including such big names as Gladys Knight and Wynton Marsalis), theater, film, dance, storytelling, poetry readings, performance art, art and folk-art exhibitions, children's activities, workshops, African puppet shows, and more. For details, call tel. 404/730-7315, or visit www.nbaf.org. A 10-day affair in mid-July.
Asian Cultural Experience. The Gwinnet Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Duluth, celebrates Asian culture with demonstrations of crafts, musical performances, children's activities, an art show, and dancing, among other offerings. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $5 for students. For details, call tel. 770/998-8375, or visit www.asianculturalexperienceinga.com. Weekend in late July.
Decatur Book Festival. Held in and around the downtown Decatur Square, the Decatur Book Festival brings more than 200 authors to town for readings, talks, and panel discussions. Authors include Pulitzer Prize winners and bestsellers of fiction in many genres and nonfiction on diverse topics. The event also includes writing workshops, a street fair with many vendor booths, arts performances, cooking demonstrations, activities for children, and opportunities to meet the writers. Events are free. For details, call tel. 404/370-4100, or visit www.decaturbookfestival.com. Three days at the end of August.
Art in the Park. This Labor Day weekend art show, on the historic square in Marietta (just northwest of Atlanta), offers fine art by more than 120 artists, plus food and antiques. Admission is free. Call tel. 770/429-1115 for details. Labor Day weekend.
Yellow Daisy Festival. Stone Mountain Park hosts a vast outdoor arts-and-crafts show (more than 400 exhibitors) with musical entertainment, a flower show, great food, clogging, and storytellers. About 200,000 people attend each year. For details, call tel. 770/498-5690, or visit www.stonemountainpark.com. Weekend after Labor Day.
Annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games. This gathering of the clans at Stone Mountain comprises 2 days of Highland dancing, pipe and drum concerts, Scottish harping and fiddling, sword dancing, reel dancing, lilting, and athletic events such as the hammer throw and caber toss. Fee is $15 for adults and $4 for children. For details, call tel. 770/498-5690, or visit www.stonemountainpark.com. Mid-October.
Sunday in the Park at Oakland Cemetery. On an October Sunday every year, this graveyard party is attended by several thousand visitors and features storytellers, historians, guided tours, a hat and costume contest, turn-of-the-20th-century music, and Victorian boutiques. Admission is free. For a small charge, you can reserve a picnic lunch. Call tel. 404/688-2107, or visit www.oaklandcemetery.com for details. One Sunday in October.
Veterans Day Parade. Atlanta mounts an impressive version of this parade each year, with floats, drill teams, marching bands, clowns, color guards, and more. The parade begins at 11am at West Peachtree Street and proceeds to Centennial Olympic Park. Visit www.gavetsdayparade.org for details. Veterans Day.
An Olde-Fashioned Christmas. The holiday season kicks off with an array of events at Stone Mountain Park from mid-November to December 30 (daily 6-10pm, except for Dec 24-25). Tour the authentically decorated Antebellum Plantation, where you'll find a five-story poinsettia Christmas tree, crafters, carolers, storytellers, and a live nativity scene. The open-air Scenic Railroad is decorated to the hilt, too, and travels through a spectacular array of Christmas-light displays as it makes its way around the base of Stone Mountain. Santa Claus is here, and there's also a Polar Express 4-D attraction. Crossroads features more than two million lights and "snow" is abundant. Admission is $20 for adults and $17 for children 3 to 11, in addition to the $8 parking charge. For details, call tel. 770/498-5690, or visit www.stonemountainpark.org. Mid-November through December 30.
Stone Mountain Village Candlelight Shopping. This charming village lures holiday shoppers with candlelight and the aroma of mulled cider. A jolly St. Nick, strolling carolers, gaily lighted trees, and carriage rides are part of the fun. Admission is free. The Village also hosts the Sugar Plum Festival, a breakfast with Santa Claus from 7 to 11am on the first Saturday of December. The $5 admission includes breakfast and a photograph with Santa. Call tel. 770/879-4971, or visit www.stonemountainvillage.com for details. Every Thursday and Friday night, beginning the Thursday before Thanksgiving and continuing until Christmas.
Ride the Pink Pig. From its 1953 debut as a children's ride at the downtown Richs department store to a brief stint at the Festival of Trees, the Pink Pig has found a new holiday home at Macy's in Lenox Square on Peachtree Road NE. Four generations have heralded in the holiday season with a ride on the pig. Fee is $3 per child with proceeds benefiting Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Ride open daily from late November through New Year's Day. For information, call tel. 404/231-2800.
Holidays in the Garden. The Atlanta Botanical Garden is beautifully decorated, and highlights of the month-long list of events include a dog parade, a holiday train, photos with St. Nick, puppet shows, a moonlight event, high tea, and holiday greenery displays. For details, call tel. 404/876-5859, or visit www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org. Events run from late November through early January.
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas Parade and Festival of Trees. The parade is a major to-do, with award-winning bands, lavish holiday-themed floats, helium-balloon cartoon characters, and, of course, Santa Claus. It kicks off the 9-day Festival of Trees at the Georgia World Congress Center, for which Atlanta artists and designers lavishly decorate more than 200 trees, wreaths, and other holiday ornaments, which are exhibited and auctioned off to benefit Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. The festival also features live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, an antique carousel, a roller coaster, a giant slide, a balloon ride, international holiday displays, and more. Admission to the festival is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and children 2 to 12. The parade begins at 10:30am, and the festival follows. For information, call tel. 404/325-NOEL (6635), or visit www.choa.org/festival. First Saturday in December.
Peach Bowl Game. This exciting football game is held annually at the Georgia Dome. Tickets are hard to come by; reserve well in advance. Call tel. 404/586-8496, or visit www.peachbowl.com for information. Sometime between Christmas and New Year's Eve (occasionally in early Jan).
New Year's Eve. The Big Peach that rings in Atlanta's New Year is dropped at the stroke of midnight from the 138-foot light tower at Underground Atlanta. Festivities begin earlier (about noon) with children's activities, followed later by live music for dancing in the streets, a pyrotechnic display and laser show, balloons, and usually a marching band. Call tel. 404/523-2311, or visit www.peachdrop.com for details.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.