2019 Memphis Summer Events Guide

Posted by Holly Whitfield | May 23rd 2019 10143 0

If you’ve been outside for more than five minutes in the last week, you know what’s up: summer has arrived.

Here’s your guide to things to do in Memphis this summer, including about 100 Memphis summer events, things to do with kids in Memphis, and summer festivals in Memphis.

If you like this list, check out these guides, too:

Memphis Patio Guide
20 Kid-Friendly Things To Do In Memphis This Summer
10 Outdoor Adventures At Shelby Farms

Ongoing Events

The Parchman Hour: Songs And Stories Of The ’61 Freedom Riders, Hattiloo Theatre, Through June 2, $66-$35, all ages
This musical journey based on the 1961 Freedom Rides takes audiences through the Deep South with pioneers who fought discrimination.

Food Truck Fridays, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Fridays through June 28, 11:30 – 1:30 p.m., free admission to the gardens during Food Truck Fridays, all ages
Enjoy lunch on Fridays in the beautiful Dixon Gardens, with local vendors on hand each week offering everything from tacos to seafood to hot wings.

Levitt Shell Free Concert Series, Levitt Shell, Thursdays – Sundays through July 31, most shows are 7:30 – 10 p.m., free, all ages
Bring your chairs, blankets, snacks and drinks and enjoy a host of free outdoor concerts at the Levitt Shell. The shows are all ages, but parents should look up the entertainment ahead of time to be sure they’re cool with it. Go here for the full schedule.

Memphis Redbirds Games, AutoZone Park, all summer long, $16-$75, all ages
Baseball games are on several days a week, all summer long, with fireworks, BBQ nachos, Rockey the Redbird mascot, and of course, great baseball from our Triple-A team. Read more and see a list of special game promos here.

Orpheum Summer Movie Series, Orpheum Theatre, select dates through August 23, doors open 6 p.m. and movies starts at 7 p.m., $8 adults/$6 kids under 12
Watch classic films and musicals. Arrive early to grab a themed drink special and test your movie trivia knowledge. Go here for the full schedule.

Rooftop Parties, Peabody Hotel, Thursday nights through August 15, 6. – 10 p.m., $10-$15, 21+
Every Thursday night in the summer, hundreds of Memphians (and visitors) flock to the Peabody Hotel’s massive rooftop for live music, snack buffets, and drinks. Ladies and hotel guests free until 7 p.m.

Time-Warp Drive-In, Summer Drive-In, select dates all summer long, dusk to dawn, $10 per person
Memphis’ drive-in movie theater offers monthly all-night movie marathons with cult classics, horror and more. There’s a different theme every month – think all the Back To The Future Movies, all your John Hughes 80’s faves, or weird art-house animation. Parents should look up the movies to decide whether they’re age appropriate.

Social Sundays, 46 Riverside Drive, June 2, July 7 & August 4, free, all ages
Free kid-friendly activities in the River Garden pavilion on the first Sunday of the month. Drop in during your afternoon walk in the park.

Canoes and Cocktails, Shelby Farms Park, June 13 and 27, July 11 and 25, 6 – 9 p.m., 21+, Tickets start at $45
Watch the sunset during a guided evening paddle on Hyde Lake, followed by cocktails on the porch. BYOB – bring your own boat — or rent one from the Hyde Lake Boathouse. Proceeds benefit the park.

Live At The Garden, Memphis Botanic Garden, June 29 – September 7, gates open at 6 or 6:30 p.m., general admission $45
The Botanic Garden’s popular annual concert series, now in its 19th season, features five crowd-pleasing/old-school favorites, including the Doobie Brothers, Kansas, and Lionel Richie. Coolers, blankets and chairs are welcome for lawn seating, and the crowd is decidedly adult.

May Events

Zoo Brew, Memphis Zoo, May 24, 7-10 p.m., $45 members, $50 nonmembers, 21+
Kick off the holiday weekend with more than 35 beer stations spread throughout the Zoo, as well as food for sale. Entertainment by Boo Mitchell and the Allstar Band.

Celebrate Memphis, Tom Lee Park, May 25, 3 p.m., free, all ages
Celebrate Memphis’ Bicentennial with live music from Al Kapone, Lucero, Opera Memphis and others, air show, drone lights show, fireworks, family zone, creative arts tent, games, and the World’s Longest Picnic Table. Gates open at 3 p.m. Blankets, lawn chairs, coolers permitted.

Memphis to The Moon: Apollo 11 Movie Premiere & Launch Party, May 25, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Watch Apollo 11: First Steps Edition on the giant screen, Back to The Moon: For Good Planetarium show, and a special presentation by Apollo Mission Flight Controller Bill Weppner. Enjoy a host of activities celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. Launch party activities and Bill Weppner presentation free with general admission, CTI Theater or AutoZone Dome Planetarium tickets.

The Music of Sonny Rollins, Crosstown Arts, May 25, 7 – 9 p.m., doors at 6:30 p.m., performance at 7 p.m., $15, all ages
Tribute to Memphis jazz tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins, part of the Crosstown Jazz Series, which salutes classic jazz music as contemporary musicians perform the work of the legends.

Memorial Day with Star & Micey, Railgarten, May 26, 7 – 10 p.m., no cover, all ages
Enjoy a free concert with one of Memphis’ most inventive bands this Memorial Day Weekend.

Overton Square Spring Concert, Chimes Square, May 26, 4 – 8 p.m., free, all ages
The annual Spring Concert features the 41st Army Band and Graber Grass. A Cornhole Tournament benefiting the National Kidney Foundation of West Tennessee will kick off at 4 p.m., with a cost of $20 per team. There will be art play and balloon art for the kiddos, MEMPopS frozen treats for all, and The TapBox Mobile Beer Garden will have drafts for purchase.

Wolf River Conservancy Family Fun Paddle, Wolf River, May 26, 1 – 4:30 p.m, free, all ages.
Paddle a 3.5-mile section of the Wolf River with the fam, stopping along the way to stretch your legs on the sandbars and enjoy the company of other paddlers. This event is free, but space is limited, so please register early.

Nerd Nite, Rec Room, May 29, 7 – 9 p.m., 18+
Nerd Nite is a monthly event held in more than 90 cities across the globe during which several folks give brief, fun, informative presentations across all disciplines while the audience drinks along. Plan to arrive early, as seats fill up fast.

30th Annual Memphis Italian Festival, Marquette Park, May 30 – June 1, $10 admission adults/free for 10 and under and active military, all ages
A Memphis tradition, featuring food, live music, arts and crafts, activities, and more.

Botanical Bars, Memphis Botanic Garden, May 30, 6 – 9 p.m., $30 members, $40 non-members, 21+
Enjoy botanically inspired adult beverages, food, music and more in the gardens.

Whiskey Tasting & Dinner, Celtic Crossing, May 30, 6 – 9 pm., $75, 21+
Taste some of the finest Scotch whiskies around with “Master of Scotch,” Rick Edwards, who will share his favorite selections. Dinner will be provided and carefully paired with each whisky.

The Memphis Music Tour, Elmwood, May 31, 6 p.m., $20, all ages
Led by Memphis musician, historian, filmmaker, and author Willy Bearden, this tour will  introduce you to the music of the musicians who rest at Elmwood. You’ll visit a a Big Band legend, blues singers, horn players, producers, and more. Beer and wine will be available for sale prior to the tour.

Memphis Zombie Walk, Handy Park, May 31, 3 – 9 p.m., free, all ages
For the 13th year in a row, the undead will come together to eat brains and gather canned food and donations for the Mid-South Food Bank.

Goner25 Weekend, May 31 – June 2, various locations and times, $50 wristband, adults
A $50 wristband gets you into all four shows, with artists like Memphis’ Jack Oblivian and Tokyo’s Guitar Wolf, or you can purchase individual tickets to each show.

Photo by Craig Thompson.

June Events

African American Arts Festival, Shady Grove M.B. Church, June 1, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., free, all ages
Celebrate the opening of the Arts Cafe in the Riverview Kansas Community, whose mission is to engage, educate and elevate using African American arts as a platform. Enjoy live music, poets/spoken word artists, dancing, arts and crafts, and food trucks.

Art Fix, Spay Memphis, June 1, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., free, all ages
Shop from more than 15 local artists in an open-air marketplace and meet pet-centric businesses and adoptable pets. Kid-friendly and pet-friendly, with 15 percent of sales benefiting Spay Memphis.

Big Gay Dance Party, Minglewood Hall, June 1, 8 p.m. – 2 a.m., $20 and up, 21+
Kick off the summer party season with a sizzling dance party in Midtown.

Outdoors Inc. 38th Annual Canoe & Kayak Race, Mud Island, June 1, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., no charge for spectators, all ages
More than 500 recreational to expert-level paddlers will gather on the banks of the Mississippi River for this annual event.

Sci-Fi Sounds, Two Rivers Bookstore, June 1, 3:30 – 5 p.m., free, all ages
Experimental electronic music and science fiction words at this performance and reading by Robert Traxler, an experimental electronic musician.

Barkers Brunch Artist Market, Wiseacre Brewing, June 2, 12 – 6 p.m., free admission, all ages
Check out creative local businesses and meet adoptable pups at this artist market, where 10 percent of each sale will benefit Street Dog Foundation.

Kafe Kirk at Crosstown, Crosstown Concourse, June 2, doors at 5 p.m., performance at 6 p.m., $45-$60, all ages
Grammy-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum heads up this monthly jazz series in Crosstown Theater, which features musical and spiritual collaborations with special guest artists. This month’s guests are Kortland and Kameron Whalum.

Gin Tasting, Greyhound Memphis, June 4, $25, 21+
Taste four gins paired with small plates. Additional small plates and craft cocktails will be available after the event.  Seating is limited. Complimentary valet parking for up to three hours

71st Annual Germantown Charity Horse Show, 7745 Poplar Pike, June 4 – 8, $5 adults/free for 6 and under, all ages
This Germantown tradition is part sporting event, part festival, and definitely worth checking out if you have any interest in horses, socializing, or seeing something new and different. Several food vendors will be on site, as well as vendors selling art and high-end goods. Proceeds benefit Kindred Place.  

Whet Thursday, National Ornamental Metal Museum, June 6, free, all ages
Tour the museum and grounds, enjoy live local music, sample local food truck fare, watch a metalsmithing demonstration, browsing a pop-up show and art sale, and take in the sunset from the best view along the Mississippi River. Wine and beer served with valid ID.

Cloud 9 Memphis Presents Four Places, Theatreworks Memphis, select dates and times June 7 – 23, $20 adults/$15 seniors and students
When Peggy’s two adult children take her out for lunch, they quietly begin to take her life apart. The drinks come fast, the tempers peak, the food flies.

Hairspray, Theatre Memphis, June 7 – 30, times and ticket prices vary, all ages
In 1962 Baltimore, Tracy Turnblad dreams of being on a local TV dance show. When she wins a role on the show, she becomes an overnight celebrity and meets a colorful cast of characters, leading to social change as Tracy campaigns for the show’s integration.

Memphis 69 Screening, Crosstown Theatre, June 7, doors at 7 p.m., film at 7:30 p.m., tickets $7, all ages
This concert documentary, shot over three days in June of 1969 at the Levitt Shell, celebrates Memphis’ 150th birthday with blues music from icons like Bukka White, Furry Lewis, and Rufus Thomas. Followed by a Q & A with Bruce Watson of Fat Possum Records and filmmakers Joe and Lisa Lamattina. After-party to follow in The Green Room at Crosstown Arts — free admission with a Memphis ’69 screening ticket and $10 without.

The Legend of Georgia McBride Opens, Playhouse on the Square, June 7, 8 p.m. – 10 p.m., prices vary, adults
Casey is young, he’s broke, his landlord’s knocking at the door, and he’s just found out his wife is pregnant. To make matters even more desperate, he’s fired from his gig as an Elvis impersonator in a small-town Florida bar, and the bar owner brings in a B-level drag show to replace his act.

Wedding Belles on Millionaire’s Row: Exhibit Opening, Woodruff-Fontaine and Mallory-Neely Mansions, June 7, 5 – 8 p.m., $35
Dozens of exquisite wedding gowns spanning from the 1850s -1960s will be on display in two historic mansions in Victorian Village. Enjoy open house-style tours and light refreshments.                                                                                                          

Beer & Bagel Off-Road Race, Wolf River Greenway, June 8, 9 a.m. $45 regular registration, all ages
This event will feature a unique course starting from the Humphreys Boulevard trailhead, followed by a blowout party with DJ, dancing, tailgate games, photos with Sasquatch, and plenty of bagels and beer. A portion of the entry fee will go to the Wolf River Conservancy.

Night at the Lorraine, National Civil Rights Museum, June 8, 7 – 11 p.m., $100 +, adults
Step back in time with an evening of food, live music, dancing and fun reminiscent of the Lorraine Motel – which counted B.B. King, Nat King Cole, Isaac Hayes, and Jackie Robinson among its famous guests.

Real Memphis Wrestling, Rec Room, June 8, 7 – 9 p.m., $5 cover, under 21 welcome with parent or guardian
Real, live professional wrestling returns to Memphis, now with beer.

Spillit Slam: Around the Fringes with Memphis Film Festival, June 8, McCoy Theatre at Rhodes College, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m., $10, adults
The theme for this event is “Around the Fringes.” Storytellers who have their names drawn will have five minutes to share their story with an audience, and the slam winner will be invited to compete in the Story Grand Slam in November for the title of Grand Master Storyteller of Memphis.

Canoes and Cocktails, Shelby Farms Park, June 13 and 27, July 11 and 25, 6 – 9 p.m., 21+, Tickets start at $45
Watch the sunset during a guided evening paddle on Hyde Lake, followed by cocktails on the porch. BYOB – bring your own boat — or rent one from the Hyde Lake Boathouse. Proceeds benefit the park.

Homeroom: A Comedy Show, Hi Tone, June 14, 7 p.m., $10-$15, 18+
This school-themed improv show encourages audiences to bring props for “Show & Tell” unusual textbooks for “Substitute Teacher,” and a cell phone to text in roasts for the “Virtual Yearbook”. One comedian will walk away as the comedy valedictorian.

Juneteenth Urban Music Festival, Robert Church Park, June 14-16, free to enter, all ages
Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. Celebrate Juneteenth with lots of live music, vendors, a car show, kids play area and much more.

Transmission: 80’s Dance Party, P & H Cafe, June 14, 9 p.m. – 2 a.m., $5, 21+
Break out your dancing shoes and join DJ’s Plastic Citizen and Alpha Heather for New Wave, New Romantic, Post Punk, Synth Pop, Ska, Freestyle and more.

Puppypalooza #2, Crosstown Concourse South Loading Dock, June 15, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., free, all ages
Have a barking good time with live music from a gypsy-jazz trio, adorable doggie portraits, MEMPopS, face paint and henna, shopping for doggies items, and meeting adoptable puppers and doggos. Proceeds benefit Hearts of Gold Pit Rescue.

Literatini, Novel Memphis Bookstore, June 15, 7 – 10 p.m., tickets: $50 per individual, $75 per couple, 21+
Enjoy live music as you sample cocktails and delicious food from local bars and restaurants. Twenty percent of all bookstore purchases that night go to benefit Memphis adults struggling with low literacy.

Cemetery Cinema: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Elmwood Cemetery, June 22, 8:45 p.m., $15, children 12 and under not permitted
Cemetery Cinema offers visitors a chance to enjoy the beauty of Elmwood with this unique film series. Showtimes are based on the setting of the sun. Films are projected onto the roof of the historic 1852 Cottage. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and coolers. Food trucks fare and libations will be available for purchase.

Downtown Olympics, Loflin Yard, June 22, 10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., 21+
Show off your athletic abilities while downing some brews and supporting a great cause. Beer pong, cornhole, tricycle race and more. Prizes for top finishers, best parade entry, best team name and more. Benefits Urban Bicycle Food Ministry.

Craft Food & Wine Festival, The Columns, June 23, 4 – 9 p.m., $60-$110, 21+
This charcuterie-inspired festival will showcase locally made breads, cheeses, fruit preserves, cured meats and more from 40 vendors. Live music by Will Lang Jazz Trio and DJ Crystal Mercedes. Admission includes a small tasting board and wine glass. Read more here

Yo Gotti & Friends Birthday Bash 7, FedEx Forum, June 28, 7 p.m., tickets start at $34.50
Memphis born rap and hip-hop artist Yo Gotti’s will celebrate his birthday with Memphians and special guests. Past performers at Yo Gotti’s annual birthday bashes have included Nicki Minaj, Young Jeezy, and Lil Wayne.

Memphis Concrete 2019, Crosstown Arts, Saturday, June 29 – Sunday, June 30, $25-$50, all ages
This annual experimental electronic music festival happens in The Green Room at Crosstown Arts.

Mid-South International Festival, Railgarten, June 29 – 30, starts 11 a.m. both days, $10, all ages
Celebrate the many cultures of the world with traditional dancing and costumes. Enjoy food from an international menu and shop for jewelry and clothing.  

July Events

Bartlett Fireworks Extravaganza, Bobby K. Flaherty Municipal Center, July 3, opening ceremony at 6, fireworks at 9:10, free, all ages
Live music, car display, children’s activities, concessions and more leading up the fireworks extravaganza.

International Carnival on the River, Beale Street Landing, July 6, 8:30 p.m. – midnight, $50, adults
Dance the night away to the sounds of salsa, dancehall, Afro-beats and more on this nighttime cruise on the Island Queen.

Friends for Life Cookout, Overton Park, July 7, 11 am. – 7 p.m.., $20-$40, all ages
Enjoy a day of cooking contests, free food, beer, yard games, and a hot wing-eating contest. $20 admission gets you two drink tickets. Benefits Friends for Life.

Anime Blues Con 9, Cook Convention Center, July 12-14, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., $40 and up, all ages
This annual event for all ages celebrates the arts and culture of Japanese Anime, comics, and cosplay.

Cemetery Cinema: O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Elmwood Cemetery, July 12, 8:45 p.m., $15, children 12 and under not permitted
Cemetery Cinema offers visitors a chance to enjoy the beauty of Elmwood with this unique film series. Showtimes are based on the setting of the sun. Films are projected onto the roof of the historic 1852 Cottage. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and coolers. Food trucks fare and libations will be available for purchase.

31st Annual WEVL Blues on the Bluff, July 20, 6-11 p.m.. National Ornamental Metal Museum, prices TBA, all ages
Celebrate another year of amazing Memphis music while enjoying great food and drinks at one of the city’s most beautiful viewing spots over the Mississippi River.

Taste of Memphis Vegan Food Fest, Cook’s Lake, July 20, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., $10, all ages
Highlighting the best of vegan cuisine from chefs in the Mid-South.

The Mesmerist by Jeffrey Day, Woodruff-Fontaine House, July 20, 7:30 – 9 p.m., $45, ages 16 and up
The 19th century was filled with magic and magicians. Experience it for yourself in the beautiful Woodruff-Fontaine ballroom.

National Day of Dance, Ballet Memphis, July 27, 10 a.m., free, all ages and abilities
Celebrate National Dance Day with Ballet Memphis and the Dizzy Feet Foundation. Everyone is welcome at this free community event to celebrate dance. Ballet Memphis will teach the official National Dance Day dance, which will be performed flash mob-style by all participants and filmed for inclusion on the Dizzy Feet Foundation website. Bring a refillable water bottle. Parking is free but space is limited.

Wine Festival on the Farm, Shelby Farms Park, July 27 – 28, tickets start at $55. 21 +
Angie Stone, Morris Day & The Time and other artists are scheduled to play this festival, hosted by Chardonnay Bistro & Bar.

August Events

Memphis Music Listening Party, Central Library, August 1, 7 – 9 p.m., free, all ages
Join other local music lovers the Central Library to explore the music of “Swamp Soul” songstress Marcella Simien through five of her songs, with Grammy-winning author Robert Gordon.

Riverfront Storytime, Cossitt Library, August 2, 10 – 11:30 a.m. and 6 – 7:30 p.m., free for kids and adults
Kids will learn about the Mississippi River through story time, experience a puppet show about ways to enjoy and protect the river, and enjoy playtime on the river with other children. Balls, frisbees, kites, bubbles and other toys will be provided during playtime.

Memphis Chicken & Beer Fest, Liberty Bowl, August 3, 6-10 p.m., $40 and up, 21+
Chicken, beer, and live musical entertainment, benefiting Dorothy Day House in Memphis. Admission includes a souvenir tasting glass and more than 90 different beverage samples. Food available for purchase.

Elvis Week 2019, Various locations, August 9 – 17, prices vary, all ages
Celebrate the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll this August by attending one of the many Elvis events around the city, from official Elvis Tribute Artist contests to dance parties to the famous candlelight vigil that brings fans from around the world to the gates of Graceland.

Haunted Pub Crawl, Downtown, August 9, 16 & 23, $25, 21+
A spooky walking tour of Downtown Memphis restaurants, bars and taverns. Drinks not included in ticket price.

Drafts & Laughs, Memphis Made Brewing, August 10, 7:30 p.m. – 9:15 p.m., free admisison, all ages
Well-crafted beer and comedy in Cooper-Young.

Gilded Twilight Tour, Woodruff-Fontaine House Museum, August 16, 7 p.m., $25, 21+
This tour will transport you to the gilded age of 19th century Memphis, when dinner parties and midnight soirees filled weekly schedules. Enjoy a light reception in the lavish dining room, then stroll the historic mansion halls while docents share its stories.

Memphis Back 2 School Festival, Winridge Park, August 10, noon – 4:30 p.m., free admission with donation of school supplies,toiletries or new kids’ clothing, all ages
This kid-friendly event features food trucks, music, clothing, and information on health, education, art, and after-school care programs for families. Enjoy a culinary experience from Memphis restaurants, caterers, and food trucks. Kids can enjoy the fun zone, equipped with inflatables, a rock climbing wall, bouncy houses and petting zoo.

The Science of Wine, Pink Palace Museum, August 16, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m., $60 members/$65 non-members/$35 designated drivers
The 5th annual Science of Wine will have the Pink Palace overflowing with the best Memphis has to offer in wine, food, and fun.

Jim Gaffigan: Secrets and Pies Tour, August 17, 8 p.m., prices vary
Four-time Grammy nominated comedian, actor, writer and producer Jim Gaffigan brings his tour to Memphis.

Backstreet Boys: DNA World Tour, FedEx Forum, August 27, 8 p.m., prices vary, all ages
The Backstreet Boys bringing their biggest arena tour in 18 years to Memphis.

Delta Fair, Agricenter International, August 30 – September 8, $10 adults/$5 kids 12-5/$5 seniors/free under 4, all ages
More than 50 carnival rides, fair food, live music, crafts, contests and much more.

About the Author

Aisling Maki is a freelance writer, editor, and public and media relations specialist with awards from The Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists and Public Relations Society of America, as well as several awards for fiction writing. Her work has appeared in publications in more than 20 countries. You can usually find her cheering on the Grizzlies, doing outdoorsy things, or traveling with her daughter, Brídín. They live in Cooper-Young with a dog, a guinea pig and a pair of pet mice.

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