While Georgia is fortunate to host music festivals throughout the year, for many, it’s more of a Spring Thing. Hitting that sweet spot between ‘a bit brisk’ and ‘far too hot’, April, May and June have become a firm favorite among organizers looking to host an outdoor event. Here’s a few favorites looking for something to while away a weekend or two.
Sweetwater 420 Fest (April 21-22, Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta) – One of Georgia’s OG craft brewers celebrates the Rites of Spring by annually assembling a stellar flight of acts – most of the jam varietal. This year’s event will feature sets by the String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee, Tedeschi Trucks Band and Sturgill Simpson, with deep bill discoveries worthy of investigation including Ghostland Observatory and Funk You.
Shaky Knees (May 4-6, Central Park, Atlanta) – From humble beginning a few short years ago, the Shakey empire has grown into one of the country’s premier rock festivals. Headline acts for this guitar heavy celebration of heavy guitar include Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age and The National, but stick around to see sets by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Distillers and Neil Young’s occasional backing band Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real.
Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival (May 5, Thomson) – Now in its 25th year, Blind Willie bills itself as a blues festival but is really much more. Certainly great blues music is to be expected, but jazz, soul and even a little rock and roll have also been part of the party. This year’s acts include Americana act JD McPherson, blues guitarist Samantha Fish and alt-country progeny (her father was the Band’s Levon Helm) Amy Helm.
Atlanta Jazz Festival (May 26-27, Piedmont Park, Atlanta) – This festival, now in its astonishing 40th year (that went fast) features a beautiful blend of jazz that swings from contemporary avant garde to true traditionalists. This year’s lineup includes Dianne Reeves, Jon Batiste with the Dap-Kings and the Bad Plus.
AtlantaFest (June 14-16, Six Flags Over Georgia, Atlanta) – This Christian music festival has a history of attracting the very best of faith-based acts and this year is no different. Look for appearances by Michael W. Smith, Danny Gokey, Colton Dixon and Star Go Dim. Come for the music and stay for the roller coasters.
AthFest (June 22-24, Various Downtown Locations, Athens) – Sporting a broad blend of local and imported talent, this benefit festival – proceeds go toward music and arts education programs – has become the Classic City’s official start of summer. Announced acts for this year’s event include hip-hop artist Linqua Franqa, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, folk-rock act Family & Friends, legendary Athens act Elf Power and, for the first time in nearly 20 years, North Carolina band The Connells will return to the city that was once very familiar stomping grounds.