I Love Memphis Guide to Spring: 22 Things To Do
This year’s long, cold winter seems to be taking its dying breaths (I’m not sad) so it’s time to start thinking all the super fun things we can do in Memphis in spring! Here are 20 different ideas for events, festivals, and gatherings, starting this week and going through May.
The Brooks is celebrating spring break with a mid-week chalk art festival at the museum. Local artists will create Dalí-inspired works in chalk on the plaza outside of the museum, and you can join them (or create your own works). There will be food trucks, Amurica Photo, hula-hoopers from Co-Motion Studio and Memphis singer-songwriter Misti Rae will be there, too. BYOC (bring your own chalk) or buy a set from a limited supply for $3.
If you’re into gaming, anime, comic books, science fiction or steampunk, mark your calendar for Mid-South Con. There’s an art show, writer’s conference, a masqurade ball, gaming and tons of awesome nerdy fun.
The weekend of runway shows, film screenings at Studio on the Square, parties and boutique events celebrates local and regional designers. The shows on Friday night are at the Historic Annesdale Building, and the Saturday night shows are at General DeWitt Spain Airport. There’s a VIP preview party at Wiseacre Brewing and a fundraising party at Madewell in Saddle Creek, and more. Here’s a map of all the events
Show off your verbal prowess for a cause! Head to the historic Cotton Museum for the first-ever World Domination Scrabble Tournament to benefit Grizzlies Prep, a public chartered school in downtown Memphis that educates young men in grades sixth through eighth. Teams of four can sign up for $100 or individuals can pay $25 and be placed on a team. The Cotton Museum will provide the game supplies, brunch cocktails, and treats.
Memphians love a quality crawfish festival (if you need proof, scroll down – there are three more of them on this list). The first one of the season is Mudbugs in March in Court Square on Saturday, March 29. Freeworld and The Chris Hill Band will play, and there’s a gumbo cooking contest and plenty of crawfish and beer available for sale.
This year, Opera Memphis is seriously expanding their offereings for the second annual Midtown Opera Festival at Playhouse on the Square. The ten-day-long festival includes Mozart’s “The Impresario”, Richard Wargo’s “The Music Shop”, and Menotti’s “The Medium”. There will be pre-show panel discussions, after parties, a kid-friendly outdoor performance, and a world premiere of the original Memphis-themed opera, “Ghosts of Crosstown”.
Take a walk down Broad Ave. during the annual spring Arts Walk. All of the galleries, shops and restaurants will be open late, and more than 40 local artists will have their work on display. They’ll unveil the new Water Tower Pavilion this night as well.
The annual Overton Square Crawfish Festival is so big that it takes over the whole square, shutting down Madison Ave. for an afternoon of eating, drinking, shopping and live music. With all the changes to Overton Square since last year’s fest, it will be fun to see how big this thing gets this year.
Cheer on your favorite Memphis restaurant workers as they compete in an adult version of elementary school field day, complete with relay races (involving carrying wine over hurdles), a beauty pageant / dance off, a parade and grape stomping competition. You might want to leave your kids at home for this one.
Celebrate the Republic of Burkina Faso with four days of fun in Robert Church Park during Africa in April. During the festival, the park will be packed with vendors, food, cultural activities, a parade, live music, and workshops on diversity, entrepreneurship, and health and wellness.
Shelby Farms’ annual Earth Day Celebration is a family friendly day of outdoor activities. Go plant seeds, check out the park and listen to live music. This year Shelby Farms is starting a Children’s Fishing Rodeo ($8 for kids 4 – 14). Admission is free, but parking is $5 (which benefits Shelby Farms).
Stuff your face with crawfish during the annual Harbor Town Crawfish Festival. I’ll share more details as soon as I get them.
Why have a beer festival when you can have an entire beer week? During Memphis’ first annual Beer Week, there will be keg tappings, beer tastings, beer dinners and brewer talks at tons of establisments around town. The week culminates with the annual Memphis BrewFest beer tasting at AutoZone Park on April 26th.
Settle in to one of the comfy chairs at one of the participating Malco theatres and watch feature films, documentaries and short films from around the world during the annual On Location Film Festival. This year’s schedule hasn’t been released yet, but you can see the first round of selected films here.
The Southern Hot Wing Festival is back for its 12th year. Cooking teams will serve up hot wings (and some will give out samples for a donation to Ronald McDonald House), there will be live music by the Marshall Tucker Band, and there’s a (usually kind of hilarious) hot wing eating contest.
Local artists and vendors will line the V&E Greenline in Midtown for the third annual V&E Art Walk. In addition to over 60 local artist booths, the festival will have food vendors, kids’ activities, live music and a silent auction. If you’ve never been there, the V&E Greenline is an unpaved trail that starts at Cleveland and North Parkway and runs to Rhodes College.
The annual Rajun Cajun Crawfisg Festival is the city’s largest, at least by amount of crawfish: during the single day festival, they’ll serve 15,000 pounds. There will also be live music, a gumbo cooking contest, and all manner of crawfish-related activities. Bring a lawn chair and set up camp along the trolley tracks while you eat. Proceeds from the festival benefit Porter-Leath.
Head to Midland Ave between Prescott Street and Reese Street for the fifth annual East Buntyn Art Walk , where residents will turn their front yards into galleries for local and regional artists. St. James Church will serve as the ArtWalk’s HQ, with a silent auction, food trucks, live entertainment, and directions. Go mingle with the neighbors at this kid, people, and pet-friendly event.
A few things in Memphis are certain: summers are sticky, basketball is awesome, and the Memphis in May International Festival is the city’s biggest party. It starts on May 2nd with the Beale Street Music Festival and continues through out the month, packing every weekend with celebration (and barbecue). Here’s a full list of Memphis in May events. This year’s honored country is Panama.
In 2014, Bristerfest will cram more than 40 performances from musicians of every imaginable genre into three days. This year, Bristerfest is going to the next level with more activities like food trucks, mist-tents, a moon bounce for kids, Henna tattoos and face painting, a Hookah lounge, silent disco, and film festival hosted by Black Lodge. The whole event benefits GrowMemphis, a nonprofit that builds urban gardens and promotes local food sustainability.
Take a trip to the “little Greek island on Highland’ this weekend for dancing (don’t worry, there are lessons), a marketplace, tours of the church sanctuary, live music and yes, tons of food. If you can’t stay for dinner, you can always get food in the drive-tru.
Celebrate Memphis’ Italian community with food, games, cooking contests and more at the Memphis Italian Festival. You can also play bocce ball and cornhole, and hear live music. Anyone can pay to be a people’s choice judge and sample spaghetti gravy from three of the cooking teams.
Obviously, this isn’t everything happening in Memphis this spring. If you don’t see your favorite event, please take a second and submit it to the calendar or in the comments.