Spring is in the air

Story by JATIKA HUDSON

Rain or shine, April traditionally feels like we've turned a corner and those cold brittle days are supposed to be behind us. And each weekend entices us to bike along the Beltline or lay on a blanket under the open sky at Piedmont Park. Thus Living has created a guide to laidback as well as get-up-and-go activities of the season. Think parks, places to eat al fresco and lesser-known destinations.

We start with an art festivals feature that highlights what’s coming your way. Live music and a variety of playful activities for adults and children, as well as gourmet foods and spirits, are weaved through events from now through summer.

Georgia Renaissance Festival

Another world awaits at the Georgia Renaissance Festival, where inside the gates of a 16th century castle, knights in shining armor joust with trickery and mischievousness. Amusement rides and animal encounters fill the 32-acre village, in addition to artisan demonstrations. And while family-friendly shows are plentiful, a few performances take place for adults only.

Through June 3. 6905 Virlyn B. Smith Road, Fairburn. garenfest.com

Atlanta Dogwood Festival

In its 82nd year, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival draws multitudes for three days of hangin’ out at the park with live music, more than 260 fine artists and children’s activities. Many foodies are drawn to a VIP ticketed area to indulge in delights from nearby eateries, craft beers and wine. The Mimosa 5K on Saturday morning is an AJC Peachtree Road Race qualifier.

April 13-18. Noon-10 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday. Piedmont Park, 1320 Monroe Drive N.E., Atlanta. dogwood.org

Alive in Roswell

Roswell’s monthly block party returns, where shops and galleries are open late, and downtown streets fill with food trucks, artisans, children’s inflatables and face-painting booths. Live bands set up on Canton Street and Historic Roswell Square. The popular event attracts festival-goers from across the Northside.

April 19-Oct. 18. 5-9 p.m., third Thursday of the month. Canton Street, Roswell. aliveinroswell.com

Insider tip: Free trolley rides to Canton Street are available in Roswell City Hall parking lot.

Sandy Springs Artsapalooza

Works by local and regional artists will be awarded honors in fine arts and crafts. Many eclectic pieces are by self-taught artists. The 10,000 attendees expected can also enjoy gourmet food trucks, live acoustic music and children’s activities.

April 21-22. 6100 Lake Forrest Drive N.E., Sandy Springs. sandyspringsartsapalooza.com

Bear on the Square Mountain Festival

A weekend complete with live and silent auctions, storytelling, an artist marketplace and live music is promised. Attendees are encouraged to bring their guitars, banjos and mandolins — or heck, any instrument — to play along during festivities. Craft beer and wine will be available from Jekyll Brewery and regional vineyards.

April 21-22. . 140 Maxwell Lane, Dahlonega. bearonthesquare.org

Inman Park Spring Festival and Tour of Homes

In its 47th year, the action-filled event presents a street fair with 200 vendors selling handcrafted art and antiques. Dance and live music performances are punctuated by an eclectic parade and a tour of the neighborhood’s Victorian homes.

April 27-29. 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Saturday; 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday. Tour of Homes, noon-4 p.m., Friday; noon-6 p.m. Saturday. Euclid Avenue at Elizabeth Street, Atlanta. inmanparkfestival.org

Spring Jonquil Festival

In addition to 175 artisans, 15 food booths and live entertainment, unique treats await festival-goers. A grizzly bear show and exhibit — with handlers, of course — will take place. Attendees can also see roaming Robocars made from trucks, tractors, motorcycles and automobiles, and acclaimed escape artist Kristen Johnson, known as “Lady Houdini,” will perform feats.

April 28-29. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. smyrnacity.com

Chastain Park Spring Arts and Crafts Festival

Park neighbors come out to enjoy Mother’s Day weekend and more than 180 artists displaying fine arts, as well as funky crafts. Festival tents are filled with works by leather and metal crafters, glass blowers, jewelry makers, painters and more.

May 12-13. 10 a.m. 5 p.m., Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. 4469 Stella Drive, Atlanta. chastainparkartsfestival.com

Dunwoody Art Festival

About 70,000 people are expected come out to see whimsical works in the form of folk art, yard art, paintings, mixed media and other pieces by 150 artists. Festivities include live music, a food court and a children’s zone with rides, games and crafts.

May 12-13. Dunwoody Village Parkway, Dunwoody. splashfestivals.com

Sweet Auburn Spring Festival

While the birth home of Martin Luther King Jr. and other momentous sites represent the district’s rich history, Auburn Avenue was once home to acclaimed nightclubs that featured music greats. Embracing history, art and culture, the festival’s mantra is “revived, recharged, renewed,” with artisans, live music and international foods.

May 12-13. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday; 1-8 p.m., Sunday. 230 John Wesley Dobbs Ave., Atlanta. sweetauburn.com/sweetauburnfestivals

Kirkwood Spring Fling Festival

The neighborhood fundraising event includes an all-day festival with a 5K road race, live music and a barbecue competition. That’s not all: An artists market brings more than 40 jewelry vendors, gourmet offerings, bath and body products, and 15 hip apparel lines. A two-day tour of homes event will also be held.

May 19. Festival 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday. Tour of homes noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Bessie Branham Park, 2051 Drive N.E., Atlanta. kirkwoodfling.com

Dahlonega Arts and Wine Festival

Wine, music and artisans set the scene for festival-goers. A wine garden features Montaluce Winery, Kaya Winery, Habesham Vineyard and others serving wine by the glass and bottle.

May 19-20. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Downtown Dahlonega. Parking, University of North Georgia deck, South Chestatee Street or West Main Street. chestateeartists.org

Decatur Arts Festival

Decatur Arts Festival kicks off the unofficial start of summer with an artwalk on Friday evening. Each day, artists exhibit photography, sculptures, jewelry, paintings, woodworks, leather, metal, glass and more. Live performances run the gamut from music to storytelling and dance. And standup comics bring the laughs.

May 26-27. Downtown Decatur. decaturartsfestival.com

Insider Tip: The annual Decatur Lantern Parade, one of the pre-festival events takes place on May. 11. decatureducationfoundation.org/lanternparade

Alpharetta Arts Streetfest

Festivities are set within a wide square block with the main attraction of 90 artisans along the middle. Cuisine has its own cove near the live entertainment stage. In the play area, children can indulge in wheel pottery and create their own masterpieces.

May 26-29. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Milton Avenue and Main Street, Alpharetta. awesomealpharetta

Music in the streets: Local and international artists hit the festival stage this spring

Shaky Knees Music Festival

Three days, four stages and more than 60 rock artists come to Central Park in downtown Atlanta.

May 4-6. 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday. 400 Merritts Ave. N.E., Atlanta. shakykneesfestival.com

Shaky Beats Music Festival

Central Park hosts a blend of indie, hip-hop and electronic music acts, with more than 50 artists performing on four stages.

May 11-13. 3 p.m., Friday; 2 p.m., Saturday; 1 p.m.,, Sunday. 400 Merritts Ave. N.E., Atlanta. shakybeatsfestival.com

Sweetwater 420 Festival

The weekend brings a three-day lineup of more than 40 music artists, standup comedy, an artist market, a 5K race and environmental awareness workshops, in addition to gourmet trucks and Sweetwater draft beers.

April 20-22. 1 p.m., Friday; noon, Saturday and Sunday. Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Ave. W. N.W., Atlanta. sweetwater420fest.com