Like the munchkins sheepishly crawling out from their hiding places when the house fell on the wicked witch, many are feeling uncertain as they reemerge into the world after a year of lockdown. Is it safe? Is the wicked witch really dead? While some are still dawning masks in a post-traumatic response to the uncertainty of “back to normal,” others are simply too excited to move on from 2020 and have shoved their face coverings to the back of the sock drawer. Either way, the light at the end of this long and harrowing tunnel finally seems to be making an appearance as more and more people get vaccinated. And there is only one way to celebrate a summer of coming back together and reconnecting with the community: outdoor festivals! As many events were postponed or cancelled last year, Atlanta is brimming with options to take on the summer vaxxed and relaxed.
Perfect for the connoisseur of juicy, plump vegetables—or fruits for the people that want to argue—the Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival is a one-day feeding frenzy at the end of July featuring over 30 local farmers, 15 mixologists, and 50 of Atlanta’s best chefs. Located in the Westside Provisions District behind JCT Kitchen and Bar, this southern bash combines a breezy and light-hearted atmosphere with upscale dishes and adult libations. Enjoy live musical performances and heated competition among vendors for the best dish, as well as a live auction for fun prizes. Acclaimed Atlanta legend and celebrity chef, Ford Fry, hosts this highly anticipated event that should not be missed.
Go for the Grant Park Conservancy fundraiser, stay for the artist’s market, farmer’s market, live music, food and drink vendors, and kid’s zone. The Grant Park Summer Shade Festival has earned an exciting reputation for featuring the hottest up-and-coming local bands. With the backdrop of the beautiful, historic Grant Park, this event will certainly have something for everyone. Whether it’s polishing off a favorite new vino or dropping the kids at an engaging puppet show, attendees can expect to be entertained, wined, and dined, from beginning to end. There’s even a 5k run to kick off the event for those that feel ever so obliged. From August 21-22, get ready to lace up and unwind at Grant Park’s biggest block party!
Take a walk on the artsy side at the Piedmont Park Arts Festival, where visual arts and family fun are a priority. Featuring over 250 local painters, photographers, sculptors, leather and metalwork makers, glass blowers, jewelers, and crafters, there is more than enough to explore in Atlanta’s largest park. This two-day event from August 21-22 has even been named among the Top 100 Arts Festivals in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine. Beyond the arts, there are craft demonstrations, live acoustic music, a children’s play area, plus food and drink vendors. This is the ideal chance to support the arts, and have fun doing it!
Any annual event that has been going on for almost 100 years is most likely to have their Ps and Qs in order, and the Atlanta Dogwood Festival is no exception. Highly anticipated and heavily attended, this year’s 85th anniversary celebration is certain to set the bar for all following events. Hundreds of artists from across the country will flock to Piedmont Park on August 6-8 to showcase their best work from sculpture and pottery to jewelry and photography, and so much more. This event is ideal for the whole family and offers a “kid’s village” that includes inflatable slides and bounce houses, arts and crafts, and face painting. No festival is complete without live music and food. Grab a funnel cake and a drink while enjoying local music performances throughout the weekend. As a staple to Atlanta summers, the Dogwood Festival is a must visit.
For the fellow weirdos who love a retro arcade experience, the Southern Fried Gaming Expo is any gamer’s dream. Taking place from August 20-22, this weekend-long event features more than 250 arcade and pinball machines, dozens of new and retro console systems, a massive tabletop library, vendors, special guest speakers, wrestling, and music. Located at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel and Cobb Galleria, this seemingly nerdy event is set in the backdrop of luxury. This family friendly event is great for all ages and offers all-inclusive weekend passes as well as day passes. The perfect way to get connected with this niche community of Atlanta, it’s time to get gaming!