As we wind down the dog days of summer, celebrate the end of the hot months with friends and family in Atlanta. Labor Day weekend has something in store for everyone including parades, book festivals, sporting events and live music. So if you’re ready to explore some of the festivals and concerts in Atlanta, we’ve picked a few fun Labor Day events happening around town.
AJC Decatur Book Festival
The nation’s largest independent book festival takes over downtown Decatur on Labor Day weekend. The AJC Decatur Book Festival brings 258 authors to 14 stages around Decatur, beginning with the DBF Book Award Celebration on Thursday, Aug. 29, at Charis Books. Over the following three days, book lovers can attend a variety of panel discussions, meet authors and shop the street fair.
Almost all genres are represented including fiction, nonfiction, children’s and young adult, poetry, politics and culinary, to name a few. The Saturday and Sunday children’s parades are a must-see each morning. Several ticketed events are in high demand, including sessions with Justice Sonia Sotomayor (already sold out) and Philippa Gregory. The rest of the events are first-come, first-served seating.
5-10 p.m. Aug. 30; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 31; noon-6 p.m. Sept. 1. in and around downtown Decatur, 101 E. Court Square, Decatur. decaturbookfestival.com.
Dragon Con 2019
Once again Dragon Con dares sci-fi fans to show off creative costumes and fantasy-inspired characters at the annual festival. During the colorful, quirky parade on Peachtree Street, costumed characters will unabashedly march up and down the streets of Atlanta. Dragon Con — held annually for more than 30 years — is more than eye-catching costumes, with the conference holding acting, writing, tai chi and even belly dancing workshops. Featured guests include George Takei (“Star Trek” and “The Terror: Infamy”), Georgia-born actor Wes Chatham (“The Expanse”, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay”), Freema Agyeman (“Doctor Who,” “Sense 8,” “Torchwood”) and “Star Trek” royalty William Shatner.
»»Check out our podcast on preparing for Dragon Con
Comic book lovers and avid gamers abound, and Dragon Con is ideal for Instagram-worthy scenery. Dragon Con is the king of all science fiction events in Atlanta, drawing more than 80,000 pop culture fans to the downtown area, according to the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. Find more details regarding how to navigate all the workshops, panels and dance parties on AJC.com, with tips for traffic in and around the area.
Aug. 29-Sept. 2. $140-$160; daily memberships $15-$50. Atlanta Marriott Marquis, 265 Peachtree Center Ave. NE, Atlanta. dragoncon.org.
Black Pride Parade
Another Labor Day tradition in Atlanta, the Atlanta Black Pride weekend kicks off on Wednesday, Aug. 28, and continues through Monday, Sept. 2. Started in 1996, Atlanta Black Pride is one of two officially recognized festivals for the African American LGBT community. It started when a group of LGBT African Americans organized a picnic. That has now skyrocketed into a weekend filled with festivities and entertainment. Educational workshops and vendors will be on display at the Georgian Terrace, which is this year’s host hotel. From dance parties to community empowerment seminars, the event welcomes people from around the world. You can enjoy one of the largest black gay pride parade events in the world at Piedmont Park with stalls, vendors, music, food and entertainment. Thursday kicks off with a fashion show at Revel (1778 Ellsworth Industrial Blvd.) and a comedy program. Some of the featured artists this year include Nema Williams, Sweet Baby Kita and Simone. The weekend continues at Compound (1008 Brady Ave. NW) on Saturday, Aug, 31, with a block party with the Legendary Traxx Girls Big Bang Event. Sunday will bring in thousands of people to attend the club parties, poetry slams, comedy shows and the Pure Heat Community Festival in Piedmont Park with a jazz brunch. It all wraps up on Monday with a cruise to Lake Lanier Islands followed by a party that evening at Revel.
Various venues around Atlanta. Check atlantaprideweekend.com for complete schedule.
Stone Mountain Park
If you are looking for a day of adventure, it’s as close as Stone Mountain Park. Situated on the outskirts of Atlanta, this spot is a perfect day trip with family or friends. The park is located 15 miles east of Atlanta on 3,200 acres of natural beauty.
Stone Mountain offers vast scenic parks, golf courses, lodging and a cable-car ride to a historic peak. There’s no dearth of family-friendly activities and recreational beauty. This year, Stone Mountain is offering live entertainment including Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show — which is only in town for Labor Day weekend. There’s even a farm petting zoo for the kids. From a treetop obstacle course to a scenic railroad tour, everything Stone Mountain has to offer is in full swing during the Labor Day weekend. You can buy an all-attractions pass ($31.95-$34.95, with discounts sometimes available for online purchases in advance) and explore the nation’s largest adventure course, get sprayed at the Geyser Towers or soar to the top of Stone Mountain with the Summit Skyride. You can wrap up the evening with an epic laser show and fireworks that will include a special tribute to honor all of America’s hard-working heroes.
Attraction hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Aug. 31-Sept. 2; fireworks and lasershow at 9:30 p.m. Parking is $20 daily; $40 annually. Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. stonemountainpark.com.
Since 2005, rapper and actor Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges has dedicated Labor Day weekend to social service and responsibility. The weekend brings together the Atlanta community and Luda’s celebrity colleagues. LudaDay was recognized as an official city-wide event by Mayor Kasim Reed in 2011. Money raised over the weekend will go to the Ludacris Foundation and other charities benefiting children. Luda Day offers a host of sporting events including celebrity golf and bowling tournaments; a celebrity basketball game; LudaFamDay, a free community festival with food; vendors; music; and a kids zone.
Aug. 30-Sept. 1. Various venues in and around Atlanta. Go to ludadayweekend.com for the complete schedule, tickets and venues.
Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game
If your Labor Day weekend isn’t complete without sports, head over to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Saturday, Aug. 31. Held at the Georgia Dome for years, the game has been at Mercedes-Benz Stadium since 2017. The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game marks the opening weekend of college football. Last year, Auburn defeated Washington. This year, the Duke Blue Devils compete against Alabama Crimson Tide. The first game with the title was in 2008 when Alabama beat Clemson. Organizers wanted the game to be a national spotlight game like the Kickoff Classic (At New Jersey’s Meadowlands from 1983-2002) and Disneyland Pigskin Classic (1990s). The game is just part of the fun. Get game day under way at Tailgate Town at the Georgia World Congress Center or enjoy pregame access to the field beginning at 1 p.m. And don’t miss the nearby College Football Hall of Fame (250 Marietta St. N.W.).
Game begins at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 31. Tickets are $125-$200 (the Official Gameday Experience with pregame and postgame field access is extra). Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 1 AMB Drive NW, Atlanta. mercedesbenzstadium.com.
Taste of Soul
Get your groove back and enjoy some soul music, brunch and wine at this food and music festival. The free family festival celebrates soul and Southern food, with the added value of live music, art, events for kids and samples from urban winemakers. This year, K Camp and Chanté Moore will perform along with Mechie So Crazy, Bobby Storm, ISSA, Alieon, Philip Micheal, Keeyen Martin, DJ Skills, Terry Bright, TSOUL and Xavier Lewis. The ticketed concerts happen Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, on the festival grounds across from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Before those concerts, art lovers will want to check out ArTOSA Beyond on Friday, Aug. 30. The exhibit features contemporary artworks by established and newly emerging artists. It’s paired with VinoTOSA where you sip wine while enjoying art.
Aug. 30-Sept. 2. An all-access pass is $199; concerts $15-$100. The free festival entrance is at 10 Northside Drive, while the ticketed concerts take place in a private area within the festival. Check tasteofsoulatlanta.com for info on other venues and events.