30+ Exciting Memphis Events Happening In May

MAY this month be the best yet!

Anyone else can't believe it's already May? But time flies when you're having fun! Continue enjoying the good times with these events happening this month in Memphis.

riverbeat music fest lineup

1. Dance and sing out loud at the inaugural RiverBeat Music Festival

Mempho Presents is bringing a signature new music event to Downtown Memphis May 3-5. Tom Lee Park will be home to RiverBeat Music Festival, a three-day music festival featuring headliners like The Fugees, Odesza, and Jelly Roll, and more. Across five stages, more than 50 acts will perform covering all genres like rock, pop, blues, hip-hop, country, electronic, and more.

 

gpac
Credit: GPAC

 

2. Spend your Thursdays and Fridays at GPAC

Each and every Thursday, GPAC has brought back Concerts in the Grove featuring the area's best musicians. Then, every Friday, they have Happy Hour in the Grove with curated drink specials, deals on local beer, and $5 wine + even more live music.

Cooper young night out

3. Get hip at the Cooper Young Night Out

The first Thursday, on May 2, is when restaurants, bars, retail and service businesses stay open late to offer up live music, discounts on food and drink, sidewalk sales, trivia games, shuffleboard, some of the best local brewed beer and dining the city has to offer.

beer in orange can

4. Hit up the ultimate block party at Strangewaze Wednesdaze

Grab your crew and head to Health Sciences Park every Wednesday for free food and drinks, axe-throwing, live music and so much more. This ultimate block party is sure to make Wednesdays your new favorite day.

jockeys and juleps
Credit: Jockeys and Juleps

5. Dress up and saddle up for the 9th Annual Jockeys & Juleps Derby Party

On May 4, the 9th Annual Jockeys & Juleps Derby Party brings together more than 1,000 Mid-South guests for big hats, bourbon, bluegrass, an incredible silent and live auction, and a live broadcast of the 150th Anniversary Kentucky Derby.

Johnnie taylor bday

6. Go to Johnnie Taylor’s 90th birthday party

Join the Memphis Listening Lab, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, and the Memphis music community on May 5 in celebrating the life, legacy, and music of Johnnie Taylor on what would have been his 90th birthday. Swing by the Memphis Listening Lab to listen to hits and deep cuts from JT's career (and some from his closest associates), view one-of-a-kind stage costumes, view the brass note plaque that will soon grace Beale Street, reminisce with his former colleagues and collaborators, and have a piece of birthday cake. 

wyxr studio sessions
Credit: WYXR

7. Celebrate rare Memphis music at WYXR’S Stereo Sessions

Immerse yourself in the rich sounds of Memphis's roots-punk scene and celebrate the city's vibrant musical heritage on May 8. Stereo Sessions are unique hi-fi album listening parties hosted by WYXR 91.7 FM, designed to bring music enthusiasts together to experience relatively obscure local albums of the past in a communal setting. Each session delves deep into the significance of the featured album, offering insights into its historical context, cultural impact, and artistic contributions.

BLUES AWARDS

8. Sing and celebrate the blues at the 36th Blues Music Awards

The Blues Foundation is Memphis-based, but world renowned as THE organization dedicated to preserving blues music history, supporting blues education and ensuring the future of this uniquely American art form. On May 9, the 36th Blues Music Awards will highlight 100 nominees and entertain guests with performances and appearances in a cabaret/dinner setting. The event brings together blues performers, industry representatives and fans from all over the world to celebrate the best in blues recordings and performances from the previous year.

CIGAR AND WHISKEY FEST
Credit: Cigar and Whiskey BBQ Festival

9. Puff, puff, sip, repeat at the 4th Annual Cigar and Whiskey BBQ Festival

On May 4, head to Meddlesome Brewing Co for premium cigars sold by local cigar lounges, whiskey from the TN Whiskey Bar featuring brands such as Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, and the highly competitive Smokey BBQ Competition. 

Gabriel iglesias

10. Laugh until you cry at the Gabriels Iglesias: Don’t Worry Be Fluffy Tour

Laugh with one of the world’s most successful stand-up comedians, Gabriel Iglesias, when he brings the Don't Worry Be Fluffy Tour to FedExForum on May 10. I've been a fan of his style of comedy since I was in high school, so this feels like a full circle moment.

art for all

11. Celebrate art, culture, and community at the Art For All Festival

On May 11 at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art for a free celebration. Expect musical & theatrical performances, family-friendly activities, pop-up galleries & artmaking stations, delicious food trucks, and so much more! 

rick James

12. Explore the layers of The Rick James Story

On May 4, the stage bursts to life in the gritty streets of Buffalo, the backdrop for the arrival of the King of Punk Funk, Mr. Rick James. Super Freak: The Rick James Story captures the essence of a musical icon, leaving audiences with an unforgettable experience.

Shelby farms

13. Take views of the sunset to a whole new level at Canoes + Cocktails at Shelby Farms Park

Each Friday, you’ll see the best views of Memphis sunsets from iconic Hyde Lake! Enjoy a guided evening sunset paddle on the lake followed by specialty cocktails provided by Old Dominick, snacks from Cheffie's, yard games and music. 

wcbcc
Credit: Alex Shanksy

14. Experience the smokiest BBQ showdown at The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is a four-day competition held at Liberty Park on May 15-18. Teams representing the best of barbecue that have been honing their craft for years compete for the title of World Champion. ​​The general public has access to taste and judge barbecue from the teams competing by purchasing a ticket for the Kingsford Tour of Champions.

smoke slam

15. Bring your empty belly and whole family to Smokeslam

The inaugural event on May 16-18 is a fully inclusive and interactive experience celebrating the craft and culture of our legendary BBQ, as well as music and all things Memphis right at the newly renovated Tom Lee Park.

garden walk

16. Wake up and smell the roses at the Cooper-Young Garden Walk

The annual Cooper-Young Garden Walk on May 18-19, is the largest Mid-South garden walk with 100+ gardens on display in this historic neighborhood. During the two-day event, explore hidden oasis gardens where there will be speakers, musicians, and garden vendors.

ruby bridges

17. Stay true to what’s right at the Ruby Bridges Reading Festival 

The National Civil Rights Museum, in partnership with civil rights icon Ruby Bridges, is proud to host the Ruby Bridges Reading Festival on May 4! In its seventh year, the festival celebrates Bridges’ legacy of advocating for equal rights through quality education and provides a critical resource for literacy advancement for local area students. Children pre-K through elementary school can receive free books and enjoy fun activities, including music, balloon art, magic shows, craft activities, and storytelling for free.

comic con

18. Cosplay as your favorite character at Comic Con

Hey, fans of comics, movies, anime, manga, video games, and pop culture in general! On May 18, check out legendary comic creators Matt Wagner and Gene Ha, as well as more than 50 local vendors selling art, comics, toys, prints, graphic novels, art supplies, knickknacks, and more. Matt and Gene will be signing all day.

Garr
Credit: Great American River Run

19. Put your best foot forward at the Great American River Run

The Great American River Run (or GARR) occurs on Saturday morning during Memorial Day weekend on May 25 in Memphis and is fast becoming a Memphis tradition. The run features a half-marathon, 10K and 5K that starts and ends in AutoZone Park (home of the Memphis Redbirds). The course guides runners through downtown Memphis past famous sites including historic Beale Street and of course along the mighty Mississippi River.

lionel Richie

20. Experience Endless Love at the Lionel Richie and Earth, Wind, & Fire concert

Legendary singer, songwriter and producer Lionel Richie is bringing his Sing A Song All Night Long tour with special guests, Earth, Wind & Fire to Memphis at FedExForum on May 29. These two iconic artists have now sold a combined quarter billion albums worldwide.

metal museum
Credit: Metal Museum

21. Celebrate of the art of the metalwork at Whet Thursdays

On May 29 enjoy the first Whet Thursday of the season with extended hours. Whet Thursday is a free after-hours event held at the Metal Museum on the last Thursday of each month from May through August. Immerse yourself in the celebration of the art of the metalwork against the backdrop of the Mississippi River. Experience the magic of metal with live demonstrations by skilled blacksmiths, showcasing their craft in action.

sunset skate
Credit: Julian Harper

22. Groove and glide down Riverside at Sunset Skate

Perfect your skate dance moves with lessons from Step & Skate, cruise to the DJ or enjoy the local food vendors on May 30. Free 30-minute skate rentals provided by Cordova Skating Center are first come first served. Protective gear is not provided, please bring your own pads, wrist guards or helmets.

memphis nxne

23. Send off the five Music Export Memphis NXNE at the NXNE Preview Party

On May 30, enjoy performances by all five Music Export Memphis NXNE showcasing artists Jai Musiq, Raneem Imam, Deonna Sirod, Mak Ro and Lukah - they'll give you a taste of what they're bringing to Toronto for the international NXNE music festival just a few weeks later! It's 100% free to come enjoy the music and celebrate with us. If you want to upgrade to the VIP experience (signature cocktail spirited by Old Dominick, beer and wine + other MEM goodies) go with the wristband for just $25!

meg thee stallion

24. Be a hottie at Megan Thee Stallion’s Hot Girl Summer Tour

Memphis is about to heat up because Megan Thee Stallion is bringing her Hot Girl Summer Tour with extra special guest, and Memphis’ own, GloRilla to FedExForum on May 30.

nate b

25. Laugh ‘til you can’t anymore at The Be Funny Tour by Nate Bargatze

Grammy-nominated comedian, podcaster, director and producer Nate Bargatze is bringing The Be Funny Tour to FedExForum on May 31. Hailed as “The Nicest Man in Stand-Up,” by The Atlantic Magazine and a “Rising Star,” by CBS Morning, Bargatze is selling out shows around the world.

Shrek

26. Be a rockstar and get your game on at Shrek the Musical

“Once upon a time, there was a little ogre named Shrek…” And thus begins the tale of an unlikely hero who finds himself on a life-changing journey alongside a wisecracking Donkey and a feisty princess who resists her rescue. Yes, your favorite ogre is back on May 31-June 2 in the hilarious stage spectacle based on the Oscar®-winning, smash-hit DreamWorks animated film.

cinco de mayo

27. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Overton Square

Join Overton Square on May 5 for a fun filled Cinco De May with traditional Mexican dancers, live music by Alexis White and Mariachi Guadalajara, local vendors, Mexican beers and margaritas by Tipsy Tumbler, and a presentation of the real meaning of Cinco De Mayo by Cazateatro. 

sundresses and linens
Credit: Sundresses and Linens

28. Show up and show out at Sundresses & Linen Weekend

On May 24-26, the summer’s most sophisticated event is happening. The weekend includes a red carpet, DJ, dancefloor, cigar lounge, food trucks, and lots of good vibes.

manes on main

29. Head downtown to the Manes on Main Festival

Enjoy the 3rd Annual Manes on Main Festival, May 11. Soul & Spirits will be releasing their Smoked Festbier - What A Mane (an oak and hickory smoked malt), beard & hair competition. and more! Food Trucks: Hot n' Heavy Dogs & Sno Junt. 

overton park shell
Credit: Bob Payne

30. Grab your lawn chair or blanket and head to the Overton Park Shell for live music

The 2024 Orion Free Concert Series features 4 free shows to see in May. The lineup includes Memphis legends and notable traveling acts. The free concerts at the historic bandshell is a beloved tradition. Sit back in the grass or in your lawn chair and enjoy nights of funk, soul, hip-hop, house music and more.

memphis Italian festival
Credit: Memphis Italian Festival

31. Say “Grazie mille” at the Memphis Italian Festival

On May 30-June 1, there are several events going on throughout the day including bocce, grape stomping, wine races, face painting, and cooking demonstrations from local chefs. This is a family friendly festival with games and rides your kids will love. If you enjoy live music, there’s a schedule full of talented local artists performing on our two outdoor stages. During the festival, over 40 cooking teams will be competing to discover who is the Best Spaghetti Gravy maker in Memphis.

AAPI

32. Celebrate Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Celebrate Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month all of May with a series of events, food outings, and activities. A nationwide celebration, Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrates the rich history, contributions, and diverse experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

bartini
Credit: Bartini

 

33. Take a sip (or two) at Bartini

Get ready to be tantilzed at the 3rd edition of BARTINI on May 18! Guests will enjoy an array of crafted cocktails by Memphis' top bartenders and mixologists and access to food trucks and other vendors. This year they have enhanced the experience by curating a Disbelef Tasting Experience where you will be able to mix up your own flight, and our first Mixologist Competition in which VIP customers will be able to sample and vote on the best cocktail in terms of presentation, taste, and flow. 

opera memphis

34. Get inspired by watching La bohème

The most popular work in the history of Opera Memphis returns in a brand new production set in an era when WC Handy and William Grant Still rubbed elbows on Beale Street. This celebration of youth, freedom, and passion inspired Rent, Moulin Rouge, and the questionable life choices of starving artists across the globe. 

About the Author

Hey there! I’m Tyra Johnson, writer and content creator for the I Love Memphis Blog. I'm a Memphis native and after a few years away, I'm back home. I love art, good eats, and live music. Join me in reclaiming my passion for Memphis, mane.

Why do you love Memphis:

Memphis has so much personality-- the people, food, music-- it just all feels good! We have so much to be proud of when speaking about the city. Also, I'm big on memories, and most of my core memories involve Memphis.

What's on your Memphis playlist?

Stay Fly by Three 6 Mafia. It's the PERFECT hype song!

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