Autumn festivals are a traditional way to welcome fall, applauding all the season offers around the South. Treat your family to an adventure by planning a day trip and then choosing a festival to attend—it may even inspire you to embrace a new tradition. Here are a few to think about…
The diversity of cultures in Chattanooga blanket the city in a quilt of many colors. From music to language, food and dance, ℹ️ CultureFest brings the city’s many populations together under one roof to celebrate differences as well as the things that bring us together as one. It’s an October tradition that celebrates the diversity of America.
“We live in a county that has 78 languages spoken, making CultureFest the perfect venue to bring all of these cultures together to celebrate diversity in our city,” says festival organizer Gladys Pineda-Loher, director of International Community Outreach at Chattanooga State.
Food plays a huge role at the festival with offerings from more than 50 cultures, showing the culinary diversity that now has a place at the American table. A dance contest revels in the spirit of CultureFest, marking the rhythm of the day. The culminating event is the Parade of Nations, a display of pride highlighted by costumes and flags. It’s a day of color, education and new experiences, all taking place at the Chattanooga Market.
“Patrons enjoy watching the dancing, tasting the international food and sharing the entire experience with their children,” says Melissa Siragusa, director of marketing and media relations for Chattanooga Market. “The Parade of Nations is a must-see, too. CultureFest has remained one of our most-loved events and truly represents the diversity in Chattanooga.”
WHEN Sunday, October 1
11:00 am – 4:00 pm
WHERE Chattanooga Market, 1801 Carter St. Chattanooga, TN
BRISTOL RHYTHM & ROOTS REUNION
If you’re thinking country music has its roots in Nashville, think again. It all started in Bristol, Tennessee; and is the biggest music festival of its kind in the Southeast.
“It’s an electrifying weekend of music featuring artists from around the world performing everything from folk to rock, Americana and more,” says marketing director Kim Davis. “The festival takes great care in selecting just the right combination of powerhouse headliners, emerging stars-on-the-rise, and the area’s elite regional and local talent.” As proof, this year’s headliner is country music icon Dwight Yoakam.
It isn’t uncommon to see artists among the crowds watching other bands alongside fans, making the camaraderie so palpable, fans and artists become instant ‘alumni’ upon gate entry, making the experience a true reunion that regularly draws thousands from most every state and, last year, eight foreign countries, to the small mountain city on the border of Tennessee and Virginia.
There’s a new performance stage as well as a new one set up for dancing, bringing the total number of stages to 20, both indoor and outdoor showcasing more than 130 acts of live music.
“ℹ️ Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion isn’t just a music festival,” Davis says. “It’s a three-day music experience, bursting with creative passion, electricity and soul.”
WHEN September 15-17
WHERE Downtown Bristol
ADMISSION $85 (in advance)
$125 (at gate)
ℹ️ TASTE OF ATLANTA
Atlanta’s premier food festival has a brand new home this year in the city’s hottest new neighborhood— the Fourth Ward, an area in Midtown Atlanta that has been transformed into a dining destination with some of the hottest new restaurants and stores. Its signature park— the Historic Fourth Ward Park— is the festival’s new location, an ideal one for relaxing with food and wine around its lake and in its green space. But it’s the city’s chefs that are the focus of the weekend’s action, with more than 200 nibbles and sips from some of the most creative restaurants, including 1Kept, Woody’s Cheesesteaks, Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken and Livingston Restaurant + Bar.
In addition to Saturday and Sunday’s culinary adventures, festival goers can upgrade to a VIP Grand Tasting Experience, offering access to exclusive bites and premiere wines. It’s a popular add-on to the general admission, so tasters are encouraged to get tickets early. Chef demonstrations, interactive panel conversations, music and more round out the schedule for a weekend full of food and fun.
Festival founder Dale DeSena says the festival is a chance for passionate foodies to meet some of the city’s trendsetting chefs and sample their creations. “We always have something new to experience each year,” she says.
WHEN October 20-22
WHERE Historic Fourth Ward Park, Atlanta
ADMISSION $25 daily (general admission) $75 (Grand Tasting VIP experience)
MONTE SANO ART FESTIVAL, HUNTSVILLE
The arts come alive in Alabama as the ℹ️ Monte Sano Art Festival gets underway, drawing hundreds of artists and art lovers from around the Southeast for a weekend of art, food, music and adventure high atop Monte Sano Mountain.
Founded in 1999 by a group of friends who lived on the mountain, the festival has grown from a small community event that now takes a group of more than 75 volunteers to organize the more than 140 artists who work in most every medium: fiber arts, photography, painting and wood-working, pottery, sculpture and more. The festival has grown so popular that last year it expanded from a one-day event to two days.
“Since its inception, the art festival’s tagline has been ‘art with a view,’ as vendors are set up among the trees on Monte Sano Mountain,” says Daniela Perallon, marketing director for festival sponsor Arts Huntsville. “Visitors can also amble past an overlook offering a stunning view of Huntsville, or make a day of it by exploring Monte Sano State Park’s nearby trails.”
And you won’t have to invest a fortune in art, with smaller works and prints for as little as $10. You’ll find other pieces ranging from $20-$1,000 and up.
“No matter your price point, you can find a piece of art you will love at the festival,” Perallon notes.
WHEN September 16-17
WHERE Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama
($5 parking fee benefits the state park)