Summer is nearly here and that means festival season is upon us. But we’re not just talking music festivals — there ‘s everything from books, food, beer and family fun to keep you entertained all summer long. Check out these 10 Southeast summer festivals.
Head to Manteo in North Carolina’s Outer Banks for the 43rd annual Dare Day Festival, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. June 2. The full-day event is held along the downtown waterfront, and features an array of activities and attractions that shine a spotlight on the local Manteo culture. Live music, arts, crafts and entertainment will be on offer, including a new Kids’ Zone, the now-famous Hogway Speedway Racing Pigs, the “Anything That Floats but a Boat” Race, the best cake and pie competition, and more. The free outdoor festival is fun for the whole family (held rain or shine).
Celebrating the African-American musical traditions, crafts and food of the coastal barrier islands, the annual Georgia Sea Islands Festival takes place from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. June 2 at Gascoigne Bluff Park in St. Simons Island. Expect to sample smoked mullet, fried fish, sweet potato pone and homemade ice cream. You can also see demonstrations of traditional Gullah Geechee crafts. The highlight, however, is definitely the music. Musicians will perform traditional spirituals, work songs and plays handed down by their ancestors.
Taking place right in our own backyard of Midtown Atlanta, mostly at Piedmont Park, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is four days of wining and dining, complete with learning experiences, tasting tents, dinners and master classes. This year’s tasting tents will include 94 food and beverage exhibitor booths featuring 27 food producers, 70 wine brands, 80 spirit brands and 64 beer brands, and a rotating lineup of 35 different chefs each day. A variety of ticket passes and packages are available, starting as low as $55 (for the opening night dinner) and $100 for single-day tasting tent tickets to a Connoisseur Weekend package for $1,800. Additional packages, events and ticket options are available.
Key West Pride is a five-day festival celebration that includes daytime pool and beach parties, late-night drag shows, on-the-water adventures ranging from snorkeling and kayaking to glass-bottom boat tours, a street fair, a 10K relay for tutu-wearing runners and walkers, and pageants to select Mr., Miss and Ms. Key West Pride — and, of course, the famous Key West Pride Parade (June 10). As one of the world’s most welcoming, gay-friendly destinations, Key West, Fla., puts on an epic Pride festival that’s major fun for the LGBTQ community and friends and supporters. A full list of events and detailed information is available online.
June 6-10. Ticket prices vary depending on events. Key West, Fla. 305-294-4603, keywestpride.org.
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival returns with a diverse lineup of acts every year, with 10-plus stages showcasing more than 150 bands — not to mention comedy acts, a silent disco, the Bonnaroo Cinema, yoga and other activities. Musical acts this year include the Killers, Sturgill Simpson, Bon Iver and Sheryl Crow. The four-day camping festival will run June 7-10 in Manchester, Tenn. A four-day general admission ticket will run you $337.50 plus fees and includes one car camping pass. Additional ticket packages and passes and are available (including VIP).
June 7-10. Starting at $337.50. Manchester, Tenn. 1-888-512-7469, bonnaroo.com.
Charleston Carifest 2018
Held in honor of Caribbean-American Heritage Month, the Charleston Carifest (June 21-24) is a four-day Caribbean carnival event filled with food, music and costumes. This year, the festival will feature the country of Cuba, and will host five events over the four-day span. Two events you’ll want to check out for sure: the parade (starts at 4 p.m.) and the Carnival Village in Brittle Bank Park (opens at 4 p.m., festivities start at 5 p.m.) on Carnival Day, June 23.
The Fifth Annual Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest takes place July 21 at the South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach, Fla. The indoor craft beer fest (you’re going to want that A/C!) offers unlimited sampling of 200-plus craft beers (and ciders and bourbon and whiskey sampling) from local and national breweries, plus bacon-infused brownies, craft beer doughnuts and craft ice cream samples available with admission. There will also be live music on the main stage, gaming areas and a Food Truck Invasion outdoors. General admission (2-6 p.m.) tickets are $45 per person and advance VIP tickets (1-2 p.m. with limited releases launched at the individual craft beer booths during the VIP hour; commemorative full-size mug, food gift certificate and unlimited private sampling one hour prior to general admission) are $75 per person. Designated driver tickets are $10 and include free soda and water. This event is 21+ only. Tickets go on sale May 28. Proceeds from the ticket sales will go directly to Little Smiles of Florida charity.
The 2018 tour of the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival makes a stop in Cary, N.C., July 27-28, where you can sip on 60-plus beers, 40-plus bourbons and nosh on lots of barbecue (not to mention seminars in the tasting theater and live rock, blues and bluegrass music). The festival kicks off with the Friday Night Whole Hog Pig Pickin’ from 6-10 p.m., followed by the Saturday VIP session noon-6 p.m. or the regular session from 2-6 p.m. Tickets range from $39-$99 for advance purchase (designated driver tickets and additional passes available). On-site prices will be higher, so plan ahead.
Launched in August 2015 on the Mississippi State Capitol grounds, the Mississippi Book Festival, a nonprofit founded by literacy advocates, draws thousands of bookworms to its annual “literary lawn party” and book lovers’ celebration. On Aug. 18 this year, the festival takes place in a historic setting on the grounds of the Mississippi State Capitol, and the nearby Galloway church and surrounding streets. On offer are hundreds of visiting authors, panel discussions, book signings, booksellers, live music, tours, food trucks and kid/teen activities. Open to the public, the festival has free admission and free parking.
Drinks, crazy floats and jams are all part of RiverLink’s RiverFest, held Aug. 18 at New Belgium Brewing in Asheville, N.C. The free, family-friendly event celebrates the beauty of the French Broad River, and proceeds from the event go to support RiverLink’s work to create a healthy watershed. Live music, local brews, food and sunset over the third-oldest river in the world are on the docket — plus an Anything That Floats Parade showcasing the most creative river vessels in the area.