SB NOTE: These suggestions are all made with social distancing and safety precautions in mind, and each event is subject to change depending on COVID in each location. Please look at websites and social media for updates, and check the most up-to-date CDC guidelines for the latest safety recommendations.


The South heats up with so many amazing events in May. Here are some of our top selections that are worth checking out. Whether you make a day trip or plan to spend a weekend in these cities, explore the South and its fantastic springtime events.

A Million Blooms at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, a Southern May event

Celebrate spring at A Million Blooms at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Image: Tom Hennessy, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

15 Southern Events & Happenings: May 2021

Through May 2, 2021: 38th Annual North Charleston Arts Fest — Charleston, SC

Join in on the fun at the 38th Annual North Charleston Arts Fest! The five-day celebration of art and culture showcases local artists and performers. Experience an array of concerts, theater presentations, children’s activities, exhibitions, public art installations and more. Prices vary based on the event, and many are free to attend.

Through June 1, 2021: A Million Blooms — Richmond, VA

Richmond’s Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is alive with beauty and blooms this spring. The display, which began in April, offers stunning views of spring flowers, including roses, daffodils and tulips. In May, visitors can expect to see peonies, azaleas and pitcher plants. The event is included with general admission, and tickets are $14 for non-member adults (members receive free admission).

May 1, 2021: The Kentucky Derby — Louisville, KY

The first Saturday in May is sacred in Kentucky. The Kentucky Derby is an experience like no other and nicknamed “the fastest two minutes in sports.” Don’t miss a chance to be a part of the action on Saturday, May 1, and be sure to wear your best frock and hat. Check out our 2021 Guide to All Things Derby to find out how to do Derby right. General admission tickets start at $80.

May 1, 2021: Rosewood Crawfish Festival — Columbia, SC

The Rosewood Crawfish Festival returns for its 16th year on Saturday, May 1, at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds. The annual celebration features 10,000 pounds of fresh Louisiana crawfish, live music, art and plenty of family-friendly activities. The festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and tickets are $10. Children 12 and under receive free admission.

RELATED: Do You Like Your Gumbo with Crawfish or Crab?

May 2 – 8, 2021: 83rd Annual West Tennessee Strawberry Festival — Humboldt, TN

Starting Sunday, May 2, experience Tennessee’s largest and longest-running festival. The 83rd Annual West Tennessee Strawberry Festival offers over 20 events, including a golf tournament, live music, a strawberry recipe contest, parades and carnivals. Admission prices vary based on the event.

May 5 – 9, 2021: 25th Annual Key West Songwriters Festival — Key West, FL

From May 5-9, attend the Key West Songwriters Festival — the largest festival of its kind in the world. The songwriters’ celebration lasts five nights and features notable songwriters as well as up-and-coming talent. Famous alumni of the festival include Kacey Musgraves, Florida Georgia Line, Luke Combs and Maren Morris. Most of the festival’s shows are free to attend, and shows that require tickets begin at $45.

May 6 – 9, 2021: St. Augustine Food & Wine Festival — St. Augustine, FL

Enjoy food from celebrity and local chefs alike at this four-day culinary festival. The St. Augustine Food & Wine Festival presents cuisine from some of the best local eateries. Attendees can also sign up for classes in wine, beer, distilled spirits and food preparation. Tickets begin at $18.

May 7 – 9, 2021: 50th Annual Spring Tennessee Craft Fair — Nashville, TN

Enjoy the great outdoors as you explore local, handmade art during the Spring Tennessee Craft Fair at Nashville’s Centennial Park. Now in its 50th year, the event features unique treasures and one-of-a-kind art from over 125 artisans across Tennessee and the Southeast. Within the fair, COVID-19 restrictions remain in place; masks are strongly encouraged where social distancing is not feasible and hand sanitizer stations are also available. The event is free to attend and begins at 10 a.m. on May 7.

May 7 – 9, 2021: South Walton Street Art Festival — Miramar Beach, FL

The South Walton Street Art Festival makes its very first appearance this May at the Grand Boulevard Town Center. The festival showcases dozens of visual artists creating art using only pastel chalk and their imagination. The event also features live music from local singer-songwriters, lawn games and refreshments. The festival is free to attend.

May 12 – 15, 2021: Digital Graffiti — Alys Beach, FL

Alys Beach has plenty of bare canvas in the way of white walls, and during Digital Graffiti, artists of all kinds project their original works of art on those canvases in this not-to-be-missed three-day festival. This year, the event is reimagined as an immersive drive-thru experience. Tickets begin at $80 per vehicle.

RELATED: 3 Southern Art Experiences Worth Seeing

May 12 – 15, 2021: World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest — Memphis, TN

Head to Memphis’ Tom Lee Park for America’s most prestigious barbecue competition. For over 40 years, hundreds of teams from around the world have competed for thousands of dollars in prizes and bragging rights. See the elaborately decorated areas and some crazy-creative team names. Tickets start at $12 and must be purchased in advance.

May 20 & 21, 2021: Thrive NC Festival — Raleigh, NC

Help improve food insecurity in North Carolina and attend the Thrive NC Festival. The festival features unlimited samples from 65+ top local restaurants, cooking demonstrations from award-winning chefs and live music. Each ticket sale benefits local nonprofit organizations committed to improving food insecurity in the state. The festival takes place at the Historic City Market in downtown Raleigh.

May 20 & 21, 2021: May Mercantile at the Nashville Design Collective

The Nashville Design Collective is Nashville’s first and only dedicated interior design center — home to 14 showrooms catering to interior design and decor. On May 20 and 21, the NDC welcomes homeowners and designers alike to its “Spring Fling.” The two-day shopping event is filled with creative pop-up vendors from all over the South and showcases a variety of goods, including furniture, fabric, textiles, home decor, art and more. The event is free to attend and begins at 9 a.m. on both Thursday and Friday.

May 21 – 23, 2021: 1oth Annual Logan Martin LakeFest and Boat Show — Pell City, AL

Who’s ready to get out on the water? The Logan Martin LakeFest and Boats show is back for its 10th year in Pell City, AL. This in-water boat show features the best new boats of the season, local vendors, live music, fireworks, and delicious food by some of the South’s best chefs. This safe and COVID-conscious event is a free event to the public. The fun kicks off at noon on Friday, May 21, and ends on Sunday, May 23, at 5 p.m.

May 23 – 30, 2021: Savannah Music Festival — Savannah, GA

Celebrate all things music during the Savannah Music Festival’s long-awaited 2021 spring season! The lineup features acclaimed jazz, classical and American roots music artists. An option to live-stream the concerts is available as well. Note that many of the events are already sold out, so be sure to grab your tickets soon!

Happy May!


To see even more great Southern events, click HERE.

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