I Love Memphis Guide To Spring Festivals and Events 2015
Here is your guide to spring events and festivals in Memphis, starting this week and going through May. This is only a selection of the many activities and events you can enjoy in the Bluff City as the weather gets warmer! **denotes updates and events added on March 12.
If you’re looking for more: check out the blog’s calendar, listen to the monthly I Love Memphis Podcasts, look at my weekly weekend guides, or sign up for my weekly email here to make sure you don’t miss anything. Feel free to leave more events in the comments or submit to the calendar.
1. Memphis Comedy Fest, Various Locations, March 5 – 8, $40 festival pass or individual tickets, 21 and up
The Memphis Comedy Fest is back for another four days of laughs featuring stand up comedians, improv groups, comedy workshops, short films, games and more. Go here for a full festival schedule, or better yet, listen to the February I Love Memphis Podcast, which features Memphis Comedy Fest Director Katrina Coleman discussing the event.
2. Silky O’Sullivan St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Beale Street, March 14, 3 p.m., free, all ages/kid-friendly
When your bar claims to make every day like St. Patrick’s Day, you’d better go buck wild for the real thing. In this case, Silky O’Sullivan’s delivers. It’s festive, but family friendly. Go here to see my full guide of all the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations going on in Memphis this year.
3. Southern Women’s Show, Agricenter, March 13 – 15, $10, all ages
The 23rd annual Southern Women’s Show at the Agricenter includes three days of tons of shopping, vendor booths, cooking demonstrations, cooking classes, workshops in beauty, fashion, decorating and more.
4. Mid-South Con, Hilton Memphis, March 20 – 22, all day, weekend passes are $50 adults / $25 for kids 12 and under, all ages
If you’re into writing, gaming, anime, comic books, science fiction or the paranormal, mark your calendar for Mid-South Con. There’s an art show, writer’s conference, gaming and tons of awesome nerdy fun. It’s free for kids under age 5.
**5. Chalkfest Block Party: Celebrating This Light Of Ours, Memphis Brooks Museum, March 21, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., free, all ages/kid friendly
The Brooks is celebrating spring break with a chalk art festival at the museum, with a spotlight on their civil rights photography exhibit, “This Light Of Ours”. Join local artists and vendors to create art with chalk on the plaza outside of the museum or participate in activites inside. BYOC (bring your own chalk) or buy a set from a limited supply for $3.
**6. Let’s Stay Together Memphis, Central Station, March 21, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., free, 13 and up
The U of M Design Collaborative wants your input on how to improve Memphis in areas of public planning and design. The morning session focuses on discussion of strengths, weaknesses, and dreams for the city; the afternoon session is an interactive discussion (not lectures) about topics like transportation, public investment, neighborhood revitalization, and place-making. There will be refreshments and music.
7. Memphis Fashion Week, Various Locations, March 23-28, $50 per night / $200 VIP for the weekend, 18+
Memphis Fashion Week brings together local and regional designers, models, photographers, artists, and other fashion industry types for several days of runway shows, parties, and boutique events. Friday night’s runway show at Memphis College of Art, and Saturday’s shows will take place at Overton Square’s Tower Courtyard and features work from several well-known designers, including Diane Von Furstenburg.
**8. River Series, Harbor Town Amphitheater, March 28 / April 25 / May 30, doors at 6 p.m., $5, all ages/kid-friendly
Similar to Rock ‘n’ Romp, these concerts are a fun way for grownups to enjoy great music and beer in a place where the little ones are welcome. Amy LaVere and Will section with Alicja Pop perform on March 28. Jack Oblivian and The Sheiks perform on April 25. Eric Lewis and Andy Ratliff with Caleb Sweazy perform on May 30. Proceeds benefit The Maria Montessori School.
9. Time-Warp Drive-In Begins, Summer Drive-In, March 28, 7:20 p.m. – ‘til, $10 per person, all ages
Black Lodge Video and Malco Theatres present this year’s Time Warp Drive In series, which kicks off on March 28 with an evening of movies entitled “It Came From The Drive-In (movies that Inspired Rocky Horror)”, including King Kong (1933), It Came From Outer Space (1953), When Worlds Collide (1951), and The Invisible Man (1933). Go here to see the lineup for all nine Time Warp Drive In nights.
10. Redbirds v. Cardinals Exhibition Game/Opening Day, Auto Zone Park, April 3 and April 9, prices vary, all ages/kid-friendly
The Redbirds begin their 2015 season in a newly renovated stadium with an exhibition game against the St Louis Cardinals on Friday, April 3. Opening Day is Thursday, April 9 with a home game against the Iowa Cubs. Go here for the full schedule.
11. Memphis Farmer’s Market Opening Day, G.E. Patterson and S. Front St., April 4, 7 a.m. – 1 p.m., free to enter, all ages/kid-friendly
Memphis’ largest farmer’s market kicks off the 2015 season with Opening Day on Saturday, April 4 with food vendors, food trucks, and more entertainment.
**12. Eco Eggstravaganza, Shelby Farms Park, April 4, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., adults: free/kids 12 and under: $5 + cost of additional activities, all ages
Shelby Farms’ annual Earth Day Celebration is a family friendly day of outdoor activities. Go on an eco-friendly egg hunt, check out the park, enjoy activities like rock climbing, the new ropes course, a petting zoo, and archery. Proceeds benefit Shelby Farms Park.
**13.Brewery Revival Kickoff, Tennessee Brewery, April 9 – May 31, lunch and dinner, all ages/kid-friendly
Remember Brewery Untapped? Of course you do. The next iteration of this event celebrating community, craft beer, and the TN Brewery is back this year with new organizers, and it’s called Revival. While the rest of the details are yet to come, expect food trucks and fun Thursdays through Sundays in April and May.
14. Memphis Black Expo, Agricenter / Stax Museum / Minglewood Hall, April 9 – 13, $55 Four-Day Pass or individual tickets
This five-day celebration of African American culture features film screenings, fashion shows, parties, and more, all surrounding a daylong conference on Saturday. The conference features black-owned business vendor booths, workshops, and celebrity appearances at the Agricenter. Go here for a full list of Memphis Black Expo events.
15. Midtown Opera Festival, Playhouse on the Square, April 9- 19, $35 – $55, all ages
This year is Opera Memphis’s third annual Midtown Opera Festival at Playhouse on the Square. The ten-day-long festival includes intimate chamber operas: Poulenc’s “Mamelles de Tirésias”, Cipullo’s “Glory Denied”, and Purcell’s “Dido & Aeneas”. There will also be family events, panel discussions, and a late-night cabaret.
**16. Healthy Memphis Food Festival, Broad Avenue, April 11 – 12, free, all ages/kid-friendly
Head to the Water Tower Pavilion for a gathering of local businesses and vendors who support healthy eating and lifestyle habits. The festival will be from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 11th and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 12th. There will be food, music, exercise classes, art, and free health screenings.
17. Overton Square Crawfish Festival, Overton Square, April 11, free, all ages
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. This year is the 20th Anniversary, so expect the popular festival to take it to the next level.
18. Africa in April, Robert Church Park, April 15 – 19, free, all ages
Celebrate the Republic of Gabon with five 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.
**19. Peabody Rooftop Party Kickoff, Peabody Hotel, April 16, $15, 21 and up
The Peabody kicks off their 76th year of live music, lots of drinks, snacks, and partying on the roof of the downtown hotel. The parties are every Thursday from April 16 to August 13, and you can see the whole music lineup right here.
20. East Buntyn Art Walk, Midland Avenue, April 18, 2 p.m. – 7 p.m., free, all ages
Head to Midland Ave between Prescott Street and Reese Street for the sixth annual East Buntyn Art Walk , where residents will turn their front yards into galleries for local and regional artists. There’s also a silent auction, food trucks, live entertainment, and directions. Go mingle with the neighbors at this kid, people, and pet-friendly event.
21. Memphis Beer Week, Various Locations, April 18 – 25, various prices, 21+
Why have a single day beer festival when you can have an entire beer week? During Memphis’ second annual Beer Week, there will be tappings, tastings, dinners and brewer talks at tons of establishments around town. The week’s first event is Memphis Brewfest at AutoZone Park on April 18th and the official kick-off is the Barrel-Aged Ball at Wiseacre, featuring hard-to-find aged beers, a dodgeball tourney, and live music.
22. Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival, Wagner Place, April 19, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., free, all ages
The annual Rajun Cajun Crawfish 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.
23. Southern Hot Wing Festival, Mississippi River Park, April 25, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., $12 advance / $15 at the gate, all ages
The Southern Hot Wing Festival is back for its 13th 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 from nine bands, and there’s a (usually kind of hilarious) hot wing eating contest.
24. V&E Greenline Art Walk, V&E Greenline, April 26, 11:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., free, all ages
Local artists and vendors will line the V&E Greenline in Midtown for the fourth 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.
25. Beale Street Wine Race, Beale Street, April 26, noon, free, 21+
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. Leave the kids at home for this one.
26. Bass Pro Pyramid Opens, Bass Pro Pyramid, May 1
It’s happening. On May 1. For real. If you haven’t seen the video of the progress inside the Pyramid, check it out here. And please, stop thinking this is gonna be just another bait shop. It’s going to be the largest single retail location in the world, complete with a hotel, restaurants, observation deck, aquarium, bowling alley, and much, more.
27. Memphis in May International Festival, Tom Lee Park/Other Locations, May, various prices, all ages
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 1st with the Beale Street Music Festival (check out the band lineup here) and continues throughout the month, including International Week and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest (known locally as “BBQ Fest”). Here’s a full list of Memphis in May events. This year’s honored country is Poland.
**28. Travel and Tourism Week Pop-Up Vacation, Court Square, May 6, lunchtime, free, all ages/kid-friendly
The CVB is hosting a one-day fair to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week and it’s open to the public and totally free. Last year we had giveaways from the Grizzlies, interactive displays from attractions, mascots from the Zoo, Graceland, and the Redbirds, antique cars, performers, artists, food trucks, and live music. It was like a four hour crash course in Memphis fun. Stay tuned for more details.
29. Memphis Greek Festival, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, May 8-9, 11 a.m., cost TBA (it’s usually $15), all ages
Take a trip to the “little Greek island on Highland” 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-thru.
**30. Dog-A-Roo, Shelby Farms, May 9, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., parking is $5, event is free, all ages + dogs of course
Head to the Outback Off-Leash Dog Park part of Shelby Farms for a festival for the dogs where all proceeds benefit Shelby Farms and the Greenline. Bring your dog and participate in a canine costume contest, dock dog demos, a rescue parade, agility course, training, Q&As with pet experts, music, a four-legged 4K, and more.
**31. Taste the Rarity, Wiseacre Brewing, May 9, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m., $50 + fees, 21 and up
Taste rare craft beers from 17 different cities and celebrate the release of the 2015 Wiseacre beer Unicornicopia with music from the Mighty Souls Brass Band and Big Barton, food, games, commemorative taster glass and more. Expect this one to sell out.
32. Overton Square 45th Anniversary Party, Overton Square, May 21 – 24, cost and ages TBA
T.G.I. Fridays opened in Overton on May 21, 197, and thus began the oft-discussed heyday of Overton Square. The rebuilt district is taking advantage of all the current buzz and nostalgia and throwing a 45th anniversary party lasting four days. More details are on the way, but you can bet there will be tons of booze, food, music, and history.
33. Memphis Italian Festival, Marquette Park, May 28 – 30, all day, adult admission TBA / kids free, all ages
Celebrate Memphis’ Italian community with food, games, a cooking contest and more at the Memphis Italian Festival. Similar to BBQ Fest, you have to have an inside connection or be a part of a cooking team in order to eat most of the food, so prepare accordingly. You can also play bocce ball and cornhole, and hear live music.