The ILM Guide to: 26 Things to Do in Memphis This Fall

The ILM Guide to: 26 Things to Do in Memphis This Fall

Get out your calendars: it's going to be a busy fall in Memphis.


Here's my annual guide to Memphis' fall festivals and special events. If your favorite event isn't listed, please let me know by submitting it to the events calendar. Also, if you're looking for a 5K, those will be listed seperately this year.

1. Sketchbook Project Mobile Library, Crosstown Arts, August 29, 3 p.m. - 9 p.m., free


For one night only, check out art from around the world without the hassle of a plane ticket when the Mobile Sketchbook Library parks in Memphis on Thursday, Aug. 29. The mobile library - which holds more than 4,500 sketchbooks created by artists and non-artists around the world - will be outside of Crosstown Arts. After work, it turns into a party with live music from Jeff Hulett's one-man band, food from the Los Jarochos taco truck, ice cream, drinks and more.

2. Levitt Shell Fall Concert Series, Levitt Shell, Thursdays - Sundays, Aug. 29 - Oct. 12, free

Get your picnics ready - free music returns to the Levitt Shell this fall. The fall lineup includes a ton of great bands (think Star and Micey, John Paul Keith, Shannon McNally, Webb Wilder, Opera Memphis) playing free outdoor shows. A few of the events (like Opus One and Stars at the Shell) aren't free, so check the listings before you head out.

3. Delta Fair, Agricenter International, August 30 - September 8, $10 adults / $5 kids and seniors

Delta Fair, Memphis, TN

The Delta Fair is a classic affair. It's a week of midway games, rides, livestock and homemaking competitions, exhibits, pig wrastlin' (their spelling) and this year - the part I'm most excited about - a demolition derby. The fair is open every day until at least 10 p.m.

4. Cochon Heritage Barbecue, Beale St. Landing, August 30, $125 - $200

Attention foodies: Cochon is returning to Memphis on August 30th for their second annual Cochon Heritage Barbecue. The event is somewhat scaled down from last year's full weekend of meat eating, but it's still going to be fun. Admission includes tastings from competing barbecue teams, as well as drinks.

5. Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, Center for Southern Folklore, August 31 - September 1, free

The Center for Southern Folklore's annual Memphis Music and Heritage Festival is two days of southern-fried live music, dancing, cooking, storytelling and vendors that happens downtown over Labor Day weekend. The festival is completely free and family friendly, so don't hesitate to bring everyone you know.

6. Steamroller Printing, Five in One Social Club, Sept. 1, 3 p.m., free


For months, artists have been posting up at Five in One Social Club on Broad Ave., carving images into giant, 4x8 foot wooden blocks in anticipation of steamroller printing night. The VINI crew has rented a steamroller, and for one night only, they'll be using it to make prints. You can view the blocks online now and pre-order discount prints.

7. Rock for Love, Young Ave. Deli / Levitt Shell, September 5th - 7th, various prices

The Church Health Center's seventh annual Rock for Love festival is undergoing a few changes this year, but that's not a bad thing. Instead of several nights of shows, they're having a Friday night show at the Young Ave. Deli, a Saturday day show at the Levitt Shell, and back-to-back night shows at the Levitt Shell and Young Ave. Deli on Saturday night. This year's bands include Dead Soldiers, the Memphis Dawls, the Star Killers, Soul Scrimmage, Mighty Souls Brass Band and more.

8. Outflix Film Festival, Malco Ridgeway Four, Sept. 6 - 12, full fest pass $90, individual films $10

The Outflix film festival returns to the Ridgeway Four for a week of documentaries, feature films and short films with an LGBTQ focus. The films are from all over the world, and the schedule is pretty impressive. A full festival pass that gets you into all of the movies and events is $90, or you can pay $10 per film.

9. Germantown Festival, Germantown Civic Club Complex, September 7th and 8th, free

You could go to the Germantown Festival for the crafts, demonstrations, live music, vendors, classic cars and overall sense of community. You wouldn't be wrong to do so. You would, however, be wrong to miss the annual Running of the Weenies, an adorably chaotic dachshund race.

10. Southern Heritage Classic Weekend, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (and other locations), September 12 - 14, priced per event

The Southern Heritage Classic is so much more than the annual football game between Tennessee State University and Jackson State University. It's also a weekend-long celebration that includes golf tournaments, music, fashion shows, marching bands, comedians and tons of tailgaiting. Here's a full schedule of events.

11. Hack Memphis, Emerge Memphis, September 14 and 15, free

Calling all desingers, developers, programmers and people with big ideas: Hack Memphis wants you for an intense day of creating and building. Hack Memphis is a day for the Memphis tech community to come together to creat new things, hack existsing software and share ideas. It's free, but pre-registration is required.

12. Cooper-Young Festival, corner of Cooper and Young, September 14, free

Mark your calendars for midtown's biggest party. The Cooper-Young Festival shuts down the intersection of Cooper and Young (and several blocks in each direction) for a gigantic street fair on the third Saturday in September. Be sure to buddy up to your friends in the neighborhood: they've got clean bathrooms, driveways and might be having back yard parties.

13. Pyrate Faire, Mud Island River Park, September 20 - 22, free (with the exception of the Pyrate Ball)

Ahoy, landlubbers! Pirates are taking over Mud Island again during this year's Pyrate Fest. Expect lots of family friendly swashbucking good times – costume contests, a pirate ship, the Pyrate's Ball, fire dancing, live music, arts and crafts, vendors and the return of the sea shanty sing along.

14. Downtown Museum Day, Participating Museums, Sept. 21, various prices

Downtown Museum Day is the best day to play tourist. Most downtown Memphis museums are having free or reduced admissions on September 21st. For a full list of participating museums and the discounts they're offering, check here.

15. Best Memphis Burger Fest, Minglewood Hall, September 22, $5 adults / kids free

The Best Memphis Burger Fest returns to Minglewood Hall for a second year on September 22. It sort of works the same way as Hot Wing Fest: cooking teams (anyone is welcome to form one) cook burgers, judges judge the burgers, and you, as an attendee, may be lucky enough to get samples from the teams (who can't sell their offerings, but can give them away). 

16. Broad Ave. Night Market, Sept. 26th and October 24th, 6 p.m., free


From 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. on the last Thursdays in September and October, the shops, galleries and businesses on Broad Ave. will stay open late. The space between the new Indie Style Market and West Memorials will be packed with food trucks, live music, kid's activities, a community dance classes and vendors selling everything from art to locally-grown produce.

17. GonerFest 10, Goner Records / The Buccaneer / Hi-Tone / Murphy's, September  26th - 29th, $70 full festival / $25 per day


Gonerfest, Goner Records' annual four-day celebration of garage, punk and indie rock, turns 10 this year. Celebrate a decade of loud music, spilled beer and good times with bands like Ex-Cult, Guitar Wolf, Quintron, Viva L'American Death Ray, Harlan T. Bobo, and Wreckless Eric. This one's not for kids.

18. Big Scoop Ice Cream Festival, AutoZone Park, September 28, $7

Grab a spoon and get ready to sample ice cream from local and national ice cream vendors at the 19th annual Big Scoop Ice Cream Festival. In addition to tons of frosty goodness, there will be activities, games and plenty of outdoor fun. Proceeds benefit the Ronald McDonald House.

19. Cordova Festival, Cordova Community Center, September 29 and 29, free

Cordova may be part of Memphis now, but it's small farming town roots come out during the annual Cordova Festival. The fest is two days of vendors, crafts, demonstrations, talks, live music and history at the Cordova Community Center.

20. Repair Days, National Ornamental Metal Museum, October 3 - 6, free

Bring your busted, rusted and otherwise damaged metal items to the National Ornamental Metal Museum for a little TLC this October. During Repair Days, the museums' crew of blacksmiths and metalworkers will fix your items for a fee (which benefits the museum). If you only go one day, make it Oct. 5th: that's Family Fun Day, and they'll have music, activities, an auction and world famous stew.

21. Spillit Memphis: Stories of Courage, Crosstown Arts, Oct. 6, 7 p.m. free

Listen to your fellow Memphians tell their stories of courageous acts, feats of derring-do and overcoming fear live on the Crosstown Arts stage on October 6th. Some of the stories are funny, some are hearbreaking, but all of them are true, and notes aren't allowed. It's free, rated PG-13, and seats are first-come, first-serve, so get there early.

22. Pink Palace Crafts Fair, Audubon Park, October 11 - 13th, $7 adults / $5 seniors / $3 kids

The annual Pink Palace Crafts fair is three days of outdoor artisan demonstrations (in everything from candle making to metalsmithing), kids' activities, eating and shopping at booths run by artists and craftspeople from around the country. Proceeds benefit the Pink Palace Museum.

23. Mid-South Pride Parade and Festival, Robert Church Park / Beale St., October 12, free

The annual Mid-South Pride Parade and Festival is the largest annual LGBT event in the Mid-South, and it's a fun one. Expect vendors, live music, drag queens (and kings), floats, beads, and more than 40 participating community organizations.

24. Cooper-Young Regional Beer Fest, Corner of Walker and Cooper, October 19, Ticket Price TBA

The Cooper-Young Regional Beer Fest is one of my favorite annual Memphis beer tastings. The selection of regional craft beers is pretty great and a limited number of tickets are sold every year, which means that the lines are shorter, thus, there's more time for beer tasting. Tickets

25. River Arts Fest, South Main Arts District, October 25th - 27th, free Friday night / $5 Saturday and Sunday

During River Arts Fest, hundreds of local and national artists, craftsmen and bands pack the South Main Arts District for three days of selling, music, demonstrations, hands-on activities and fun. It's completely family friendly, and worth the price of admission, especially for the 50 musical acts spread out on three stages.

26. Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention, Hilton Memphis, Nov. 15 - 17, $15 single day / $35 full festival

The Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention is three glorious days of geekery. There will be panels, gaming, costumes (and a costume contest), visiting artists and writers, and, something called Harry Potter Studies.

Know of any more awesome events happening in Memphis this fall? Submit them to the ILM Events Calendar, and I'll add them to this list.

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Let me know if you want to join any of these events. I'm in!
August 6, 2013 7:45pm

Judy Peiser
Thanks for telling folks about this year's Memphis Music & Heritage Festival. We're planning a music, dance and art filled weekend with lots of great food. Where else can you see Aztec Dancers, Drum Lines, Joyce Cobb, Tav Falco, Kate Campbell, and Bobby Rush plus over 80 performance groups, dancers and lots more.  See you Labor Day Weekend!
August 6, 2013 8:51pm

You have the wrong date listed for #1. Their website says 24th.
August 6, 2013 10:00pm

Still miss Clanjamfry. Sigh.
August 15, 2013 12:31am

Mark Horrocks
I was hoping one of your new years resolutions would have made it ! Sept 28th at Shelby Farms Park!   We're not just a 5K! its a big costumer party, benefit event, all day long LOCAL music fest, food trucks and vendors.     
August 27, 2013 10:14am

Renee Hoyos
Don't forget the Duncan-Williams Dragon Boat Races on October 5 at Mud Island.  Entrance is free and there is still time to reserve a boat!
August 27, 2013 10:36am

Great list... but does any one else find it strange that out of a list of 26 things to do this fall, more than half (i.e. #1-#14) actually happen during the summer?
August 27, 2013 11:07am

Les Edwards
How about the 16th annual Indie Memphis Film Festival? Oct 31-Nov 3 in Overton Square!
August 27, 2013 12:14pm

Suzanne Johnston
Hi Kerry - just going thru this list for EastMemphisMoms and according to their FB page the 2013 Mid-South Pyrate Faire has been cancelled due to lack of funds. It says, "Stay tuned here for 2014!" - so maybe next year.
August 30, 2013 4:08pm