Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, so kick off good times with great people and groove to outdoor jazz day or night. Then stroll in local art festivals, or even give your kids a chance to hit the big stage and show appreciation for Caribbean culture with a slew of activities for entertainment all weekend long. Here is a holiday-focused list to help you plan what to eat and drink, plus where to dance, watch live performances, collect art and so much more in and around Atlanta.
A weekend of revelry comes in the form of the 32nd Atlanta Caribbean Carnival with a bevy of concerts, food, fetes and the main event, the parade. The latter will showcase masqueraders in festive, flamboyant, brightly colored costumes in groups known as mas bands; each will pay homage to the culture with names such as We Kinda Ting, Calabash Alley and Fantasy Island, which is slated to include several Africa-themed bands. Lovers of Caribbean music will appreciate the lineup of soca and reggae artists inclusive of Iwer George, Burning Flames, Skinny Fabulous, Jamm Boyzz Band, Tanto Metro and more; partygoers can show off dancehall moves during a soca versus reggae music night. Other weekend activities will include J’ouvert, a street party to kick off the festivities and a closing breakfast fete featuring food, music and more merriment.
May 24-27. Attendance at the parade will be free and open to all beginning 9:30 a.m. across the street from Selena S. Butler Park (98 William Holmes Borders Senior Dr. SE, Atlanta); dates and costs for ticketed events vary and can be purchased online. atlantacarnival.org.
All that jazz
Bring a blanket or lounge chairs, a big picnic basket and plan to spend the entire day at the Atlanta Jazz Festival in Piedmont Park. While the actual event is 31 days long—yes, the entire month of May— the big celebration takes place Memorial Day weekend and will include performances by notable artists such Rhonda Ross (Diana Ross’ daughter) along with Rodney Kendrick, Lizz Wright, Delfeayo Marsalis (Wynton Marsalis’ brother), Makaya McCraven, Rialto Jazz for Kids, Kandace Springs and others. If you stay for the evening concerts, bring glow-in-the-dark sticks or use the flashlight feature on your phone since it gets pretty dark in the park.
Noon-10 p.m. May 25-26. Free. Piedmont Park, 400 Park Dr. NE, Atlanta. atlantafestivals.com.
Rain or shine, the Decatur Arts Festival will take place with fun events such as an artist market, live performances, an ArtWalk featuring almost 20 exhibits at various shops and galleries with an added bonus of complimentary snacks and drinks as well as a festival just for kids, inclusive of juggling, inflatables playhouses and a stage for them to perform their best impromptu four minutes of singing, dancing and comedy.
The ArtWalk will begin at 5 p.m. May 24. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 25 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. May 26. The Kids Arts Festival will be held 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. May 25. Locations vary; decaturartsfestival.com.
THINGS TO DO PODCAST: accessAtlanta
Cue a concert
Get ready to rock during a performance by Nils Lofgren, a singer, songwriter and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee as a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. In addition to the aforementioned titles, Lofgren was also a member of Ringo Starr’s first two All-Starr Bands in the 1990s, playing the guitar and accordion as well as offering vocals. For one night only, the multi-talented singer, instrumentalist and world traveler will perform in Atlanta.
Doors open at 6 p.m.; show beings 8 p.m. May 27. $50-65. City Winery Atlanta at Ponce City Market, 650 North Ave. NE, Atlanta. 615-324-1010, citywinery.com/atlanta.
The 15th annual Alpharetta Arts Streetfest will feature almost 100 creative artists offering everything from folk art and photography to beauty care products, plants and jewelry. Since this will be a family-friendly gathering, hands-on children’s activities and face painting will also be available. The weekend-long outdoor event rounds out with live entertainment and food stands. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 25 -27. Free. Village Green, 2 Park Plaza, Alpharetta. splashfestivals.com/events-festivals/alpharetta-arts-streetfest.
Remembering the fallen
Let's not forget that Memorial Day is about remembering those who have lost their lives while serving their country in the military. Families, friends, veterans, and the community can honor those who have fallen at The National Memorial Day Association of Georgia's annual Memorial Day ceremony. The event will take place in the Marietta National Cemetery—honoring both veterans as well as those who gave their lives— and includes the traditional posting-of-the-colors flag ceremony, plus a gun salute.
Noon. May 27. Free. 500 Washington Ave, NE, Marietta. 404-510-4668, nmdaga.org
Memorial Day Run
The 2019 Atlanta Memorial Day 5K Classic encourages runners and participants to think about the people who sacrificed their lives in the United States Armed Forces. During the last mile of this race, named the Soldiers Final Mile, runners are asked to think about the men and women lost in battle. The race takes place on Edgewood Drive, between Peachtree Street and Park Drive, and runners can pre-register the day before Memorial Day.
8-10 a.m. May 27. $35 for adults. $15 for children. Woodruff Park, 91 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta. 404-421-3231, active.com/atlanta-ga/running/distance-running-races/atlanta-memorial-day-5k-classic-2019.
Stone Mountain Park
During Memorial Day weekend, many Atlantans will take part in the time-honored tradition of saluting the fallen at the world's largest mass of exposed granite. Festivities at Stone Mountain Park will span over the entire weekend, and the family-friendly events include special performances by Chinese acrobats and the park's well-known laser-light show, Laser Spectacular, which this year boasts of the unveiling of North America's largest fire wheel.
Lasershow and fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. May 24-27. $19.95. (24-hour advance purchase required.) 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. 770-498-5690, stonemountainpark.com.
The organizers of this event attest Roswell Remembers is the "largest Memorial Day ceremony in Georgia." Starting with 1,800 people at its first event in 1997, today the ceremony often attracts nearly 7,000 visitors from across Georgia and the Southeast, according to the website, just outside of Roswell City Hall.
11 a.m. May 27. Free. 38 Hill Street, Roswell. 770-640-3253, roswellmemorialday.com