After months spent cooped up indoors, you’re probably itching to get outside! Make this summer your best ever thanks to this handy list of live music, affordable fun, and family-friendly festivals in the South.
From Alabama to Arkansas, Tennessee to Texas, and everywhere in between, these Southeast festivals and events are sure to keep you busy. After all, you’ve got three months to pack in as much summer fun as possible!
Editor’s note: These events may be affected due to the rapidly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Please visit event websites for the most accurate, up to date information.
June 6, 2020
Birmingham’s biggest food and live music block party is back for its ninth year. SliceFest, hosted by Birmingham’s Slice Pizza & Brewhouse, draws thousands of visitors to enjoy live music, local craft beer, and specialty pizzas. But it’s not just one of the best food festivals in the South – it also supports tons of local causes. Since its inception, SliceFest has donated more than $60,000 to Birmingham-based non-profits.
SliceFest sells out every year, so be sure to get tickets early. Tickets are $25 in advance or $35 at the gate. Children ages 12 and under get in free.
Grand Bay Watermelon Festival
Grand Bay, AL
July 3-4, 2020
The Grand Bay Watermelon Festival is one of the sweetest (pun intended) free events Alabama has to offer. A Fourth of July tradition since 1973, this family-friendly festival gives visitors the opportunity to sample locally grown watermelon while enjoying live music, arts and crafts, and children’s activities. Even better: you can get all the free sliced watermelon your heart desires if you visit on July 4, the festival’s main day.
Walk-in admission is free, or $5 per vehicle admission.
Rodeo of the Ozarks
June 24-27, 2020
One of the top five largest outdoor rodeos in the United States will celebrate its 75th year this June. The Rodeo of the Ozarks draws some of the roughest and toughest cowboys and cowgirls from around the country. Gates open nightly at 6 p.m., and the rodeo kicks off at 7:30 p.m. There are a host of rodeo events scheduled, including tie-down roping, steer wrestling, and barrel racing.
Stick around for the rodeo parade and fireworks display on June 27. The patriotic celebration (complete with parade floats, live music, and candy!) kicks off at 3 p.m. at the rodeo grounds and continues through downtown Springdale, AR.
For ticket information, please visit rodeooftheozarks.org.
National Championship Chuckwagon Race
August 29-September 6, 2020
The National Championship Chuckwagon Race has the rodeo events you know and love, like bronc riding, barrel racing, plus horse drives and trail rides. Chuckwagon races begin daily at 1 p.m. This year, enjoy live music and entertainment from Band of Heathens, Mark Wills, Garry Ash, and Grammy Award-winning band Asleep at the Wheel.
Tickets are $35 per day for adults from August 24-31. Admission on Sunday, September 1 is $20 for adults. Children ages 6-12 are half-priced.
Redland Summer Fruit Festival
June 20-21, 2020
When temps start to soar, nothing is as refreshing as tropical fruit. Held just south of Miami in Homestead, FL, the Redland Summer Fruit Festival is a celebration of all the sweet stuff that grows on South Florida’s trees. There’s even a children’s area where kids can pet farm animals, ride ponies, and try their hand at a watermelon-eating contest.
Admission is $10. Children ages 11 and under get in free.
June 27-28, 2020
Take a deep dive into the underwater world of sharks at Shark-Con. This family-friendly event features shark and aquarium exhibits, virtual reality experiences, touch tanks, sand digs, and speakers from Shark Week, National Geographic, and Animal Planet. Rumor has it you might even be able to catch a glimpse of mermaids! Shark-Con is the perfect hands-on, interactive activity for kids.
Tickets are $19.95 for adults and $4.95 for children ages 3-14.
Georgia Peach Festival
June 5-6, 2020 in Fort Valley, GA
June 13, 2020 in Byron, GA
Looking for family-friendly free events in Georgia? You can’t miss the Georgia Peach Festival, held over two weekends every June in Peach County, GA. The Georgia Peach Festival draws more than 10,000 visitors ever year.
Plan to visit on the final Saturday morning of the festival to marvel at the World’s Largest Peach Cobbler. At 11 by five feet and about eight inches deep, this giant cobbler is made with 150 pounds of sugar, 150 pounds of flour, 90 pounds of butter, 32 gallons of milk, and eight bushels of Georgia peaches. It’s the highlight of the festival!
Admission is free.
Macon Film Festival
August 13-16, 2020
Did you know more top-grossing films are made in Georgia than anywhere else in the world? The Macon Film Festival celebrates Georgia’s movie-making scene while hosting dozens of screenings for independent films made around the globe – all shown in historic theaters and cool venues throughout town. In addition to film screenings, the festival also features celebrity guests, panel discussions, and workshops, and it culminates with an award ceremony.
A $25 day pass can get you access to all screenings that day.
Red, White, Blue & You Celebration
Lake Charles, LA
July 4, 2020
The Fourth of July festivities in Lake Charles, LA, can’t be missed! The community’s signature Red, White, Blue & You Celebration is one of the best family-friendly free events in Louisiana. The day kicks off with a parade downtown, followed by a festival at the Civic Center and a salute to the U.S. Armed Forces by the Lake Charles Community Band. Last year, the Southeast Tourism Society named Lake Charles’ Red, White, Blue & You Celebration one of the Top 20 events for the month of July. The fun starts at 6 p.m.
Admission is free.
Satchmo Summer Fest
New Orleans, LA
July 31-August 2, 2020
Celebrate the life, music, and legacy of Louis Satchmo Armstrong at Satchmo SummerFest in New Orleans. The four-day festival, held at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the old U.S. Mint, features tons of live music (traditional jazz, contemporary jazz, big brass, and more!), great food, and seminars led by well-known jazz and music scholars. Of course, it wouldn’t be a NOLA party without a parade. Don’t miss the Sunday Jazz Mass and Satchmo Salute parade, which features nearly a dozen different marching groups.
Daily admission is $6.
Mississippi Comic Con
June 27-28, 2020
Calling all comic book fans! Mississippi Comic Con is a two-day event held at the MS Trade Mart in Jackson, MS. It’s an affordable, family-friendly event that brings together a variety of vendors, artists, and fan groups under one roof for tons of comic book fun. Enter the cosplay contest, catch a panel discussion, and get your picture taken with special guests!
Admission is $20 for adults in advance or $40 day of. Kids ages 10 and under get in free.
Neshoba County Fair
July 24-31, 2020
What started as a gathering of local farmers in the late 1800s has grown into one of the best family-friendly ways to spend the dog days of summer. The Neshoba County Fair has all the traditional county fair events and activities you know and love, like livestock shows, a rodeo, and horse racing. When the sun goes down, the technicolor carnival midway lights up, which is filled with all the carnival rides and fair food you could ever want. Plus, there’s lots of live music from country, bluegrass, pop, and soul acts.
“Porch sitting” is a signature activity at the Neshoba County Fair, so much so that the fair is known as the “World’s Biggest House Party.” Six hundred colorful cabins with quirky names like “Happy Hollow” and “Sunset Strip” line the neighborhoods near the fairgrounds. Talk about Instaworthy!
Tickets are $20 per day for adults, or $50 for a week-long pass. Children ages nine and under get in free.
NC Cigar Box Festival
June 13, 2020
The Cigar Box Festival is one of the most unique music festivals in the South, and it’s back for its second year this June. This outdoor music festival, held at the Grove Winery & Vineyards in Gibsonville, NC, is a celebration of handmade stringed instruments that pays homage to the roots of American music. Bring a blanket and an appetite (food trucks will be on-site), and spend the afternoon and evening jamming out to folk, blues, and Americana tunes.
Summertime Brews Festival
July 25, 2020
You can find food trucks, live music, and more than 400 beers from around the globe (including a huge selection of local North Carolina craft beers!) all under one roof at the Summertime Brews Festival in Greensboro, NC. All attendees receive a souvenir glass to keep, and proceeds from the event benefit animal rescue and fostering programs. Have fun, but remember to drink responsibly.
For ticket information, please visit summertimebrews.com.
August 8-9, 2020
Enjoy live music and entertainment from local, national, and international artists and dance groups at Festival Latino. It’s one of Central Ohio’s premier cultural and artistic gatherings, and better yet, it’s a family-friendly free event! There’s even dancing in the streets!
Head downtown to Genoa Park for the most vibrant celebration of culture and community Columbus, OH, has to offer. Delicious Latin American food is a given, and there’s even a children’s area for the kiddos.
Cleveland Garlic Festival
August 29-30, 2020
Did you know Northeast Ohio is home to over 300 varieties of garlic? (Did you even know there were 300 varieties of garlic?) Thanks to the region’s mineral-rich soil, the garlic grown here is some of the best-tasting in the country!
Celebrate all things stinky at the Cleveland Garlic Festival. Held in Shaker Square, this festival is a foodie’s paradise, featuring cooking competitions with some of the region’s best chefs, live music and entertainment, craft beer, and garlicky dishes like garlic fries and garlic ice cream. The Cleveland Garlic Festival is stinky fun for everyone!
Adult admission is $9 in advance ($10 day of), $5 for seniors ages 65 and up, and $5 for children 4 to 12 years old. Children under 4 are free.
Beaufort Water Festival
July 17-26, 2020
There’s nothing as idyllic as summer in the Lowcountry. Every year, more than 100,000 visitors head to the Beaufort Water Festival in Beaufort, SC, a sea island off of the Carolina coast. The seaside celebration offers summer fun for all ages. There are bocce ball, badminton, and toad fishing tournaments, plus an air show, a boat parade, an arts and crafts market, and live music.
Admission to the Beaufort Water Festival is free. Live music and other entertainment carry a fee ranging from $10 to $30 per event.
August 22, 2020
Historic York, SC, will host its 37th Summerfest this August. Summerfest is a celebration of all things summertime, with more than 120 food and crafts vendors, a car show, live music and entertainment, fun runs, model airplane flies, a petting zoo, inflatables, and tons more kid-friendly activities. This family-friendly free event has grown to draw more than 45,000 visitors every year.
Admission is free.
Tomato Art Fest
August 7-8, 2020
Tomato Art Fest is a family-friendly free event held every August in the historic Five Points neighborhood in Nashville, TN. Now in its 17th year, Tomato Art Fest is a two-day celebration of art, live music, food, and fun. You can see more than 300 tomato-inspired works of art on display – it’s the Tomato Art Fest, after all. But if you aren’t a die-hard fan of this beloved fruit (or vegetable), don’t worry: the neighborhood transforms into an open-air market where hundreds of artists and makers have their stuff on display. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities too, plus a bloody mary garden party for grownups.
Second Bell Fest
August 29, 2020
Held on the banks of the Tennessee River in Knoxville, TN, Second Bell Fest is a celebration of all things arts and entertainment. Billed as the kind of place where you can find your new favorite band, restaurant, boutique, and comedian all in one day, this festival is truly an artistic oasis.
Your ticket grants you access to the festival lawn where you can enjoy live music from local and regional acts, shop merchant booths, and grab a bite to eat from dozens of local food vendors.
General admission is $20.
June 20, 2020 in Dallas, TX
June 21, 2020 in Austin, TX
Camp Nowhere is one of the most cosmically cool music festivals in the South. Gather around with your friends as you celebrate the summer solstice and groove to some of the best EDM acts under the Texas night sky. This year’s bill is headlined by Bassnectar and Rezz.
Tickets start at $39.50.
Natural Bridge Caverns
San Antonio, TX
They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes the caves! Natural Bridge Caverns, discovered in 1960 by four college students, lies 180 feet below ground. Trek across the namesake 60-foot-long natural limestone bridge and marvel at mind-boggling formations that are millions of years in the making. Plus, with a year-round temperature of 70 degrees, exploring the caverns is a great way to escape the summer heat and cool off.
Admission is $22.00 for adults and $14.99 for kids. You can save money on admission by purchasing tickets in advance.
Norfolk First Fridays Downtown Street Festival
First Friday of every month, April-October
Downtown Norfolk’s favorite street fair is back for its eighth season! Live music, great food and drinks, and plenty of fun for all ages – what more could you want? The free family-friendly fun kicks off every first Friday of the month at 5 p.m. on Granby Street in downtown Norfolk, VA.
Richmond Jazz and Music Festival
August 6-9, 2020
Each August, thousands descend upon the rolling hills of the 100-acre Maymont estate in Richmond, VA, for the Richmond Jazz and Music Festival. All live music lovers can find something to appreciate at the festival, which features music from R&B, blues, soul, hip-hop, and funk performers, in addition to jazz. Past acts include Jill Scott, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Big Boi. Of course, great food is a given, and there’s even an outdoor cigar lounge.
For ticket information, please visit richmondjazzandmusicfestival.com.
Don’t Forget Roadside Assistance!
Nothing threatens to turn your summer into a bummer like car trouble. As you hit the open road on a quest for summer fun, consider adding roadside assistance and an emergency protection plan to your Direct Auto policy. That way, you’ll have peace of mind wherever your summer adventures take you! Call 1-877-GO-Direct (1-877-463-4732), click, or come in to learn more.
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