There are many things that Atlanta does NOT do well. Traffic, snow and the power going out whenever it rains are just a few things that drive locals crazy. I’m going to also going to include giving tourists driving directions. No one here is very good at that because the roads are so screwed up and all called Peacthree. But one thing Atlanta does exceptionally well are festivals.
By the time May rolls around and festivals start kicking up, I’m itching for summer to take hold. The rolling heat reminds me that epic festivals are right around the corner and ready to dive into head first. Here are my top kid-friendly summer festivals to look out for.
Flying Colors Butterfly Festival
Flying colors take over the Chattahoochee Nature Center at the annual Butterfly Festival. I love butterflies. In theory. Up close and in reality, they’re more like epic bugs with faces and beautiful wings. So put aside your beautiful bug anxiety and watch the live butterfly release and walk through the exhibit with hundreds and of butterflies. A plant sale helps support the center, and of course there’s plenty of fun like face painting, fairy houses and (perhaps most importantly) food trucks.
Tunes from the Tombs
My 5 1/2 year old loves anything to do with zombies, ghosts and vampires. Despite her love of horror culture, she’s also very likely to want to dress them up, assign a zombie to a mommy role, and also deem them “total sweeties”.
Tunes from the Tombs is right up her alley with live music at the Oakland Cemetery. I actually have mixed feelings about foot-stomping-fun entertainment at a cemetery, but also support its historic preservation and enhancement efforts. It’s also a good chance to bring the kids and educate them on some of the historic figures laid to rest at the cemetery, like Margaret Mitchell. Food, kids crafts and more will be on hand.
Atlanta Ice Cream Festival
We have a one treat per day rule in our house (unless the grandparents are visiting – in which case it feels like one treat per hour) and ice cream is usually the top pick. We’re planning to spring the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival on our kids while walking out the door, lest be tortured by “Is it ice cream festabal day yet?”
The festival is usually hosted in July in Piedmont Park, and attracts scores of ice cream lovers nursing freeze headaches. It’s worth it. Come early, because the park gets packed on a normal weekend, let alone a festival weekend.
Atlanta Streets Alive
If you live around Intown Atlanta and are a one car family like we are, you’ll love Streets Alive. Just don’t plan to move furniture (like we did) because the city is not shy about just completely shutting down major routes in the city for this festival. Instead, grab your bike or head out on foot for Atlanta Streets Alive. Festival goers can freely ride and walk through the streets without worrying about traffic, listen to live music and stop by the food trucks and stands dotting the area.
Decatur BBQ Blues and Bluegrass Festival
Kids under 12 get into the Decatur BBQ Blues and Bluegrass Festival free to savor the smells of the festival, bug their parents for snacks and treats, and dance to Bluegrass. My husband doesn’t “get” bluegrass, but nothing says BBQ in Georgia quite like this music. So just order another beer and embrace it.
Decatur Book Festival
One of the largest indie book festivals in the country, the Decatur Book Festival features writer workshops, live entertainment and of course an endless sea of books. If it’s possible to be claustrophobic in a pile of books, this is the place. Past events have attracted big-name kids authors like of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid fame, as well as free books for kids, lemonade and other goodies.
Piedmont Park Arts Festival
Atlanta’s answer to Central Park; Piedmont Park offers year-round festivals and fun. So it’s only fitting it has its own Piedmont Park Arts Festival. Bounce houses, food trucks, kids fun and entertainment bring droves of visitors to the park. The playground gets pretty crowded, so make sure to have a plan on where to meet your kids if you get separated that they can easily find. Then buy them a snow cone (or what we like to call a Red Dye 40 Special) before strolling the grounds.
Grant Park Summer Shade Festival
I love Grant Park’s farmer’s market and climbing the hill to the playground, all while hoping my kids don’t realize we’re directly next to Zoo Atlanta where cute, cuddly twin panda bears romp around. Come for the Grant Park Shade Festival to help run money for the Grant Park Conservancy (GPC) to help restore and beautify the historic park. Beer, food, kids zones and crafts are on hand to keep the kids busy.
At the end of the day, most festivals in Atlanta are kid-friendly enough to score an ice cream and some live music. Just don’t take them to the annual Atlanta Annual Zombie Pub Crawl where the combo of zombies, pubs and drunk adults makes it NSFK (Not Safe for Kids).
(This post also contains affiliate links to promote a product or service I believe in. As always, my opinions are my own.)