Charge up your phones, lace up your comfiest sneakers, and lather on that sunscreen — it’s festival season! The South plays host to a wide variety of events for every appetite. Dozens of top-notch music, culinary, and arts-and-crafts festivals are just a drive or a flight away. Here are our top picks for the next three months.

YOUR GUIDE TO SOUTHERN FESTIVALS | MAY THROUGH JULY 2022

This is not an exhaustive list of all the amazing events and festivals across the South. If we missed your favorite event, email [email protected].

MAY

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest
Through May 14, 2022 • Memphis, TN
Widely deemed the most prestigious barbecue contest in the world, this unique experience allows festivalgoers to judge and sample Memphis’ world-famous barbecue, hear about the craft and process from each team, jam to live music, and more!

Digital Graffiti
May 13 & 14, 2022 • Alys Beach, FL
Staged against the elegant white walls of Alys Beach, Digital Graffiti provides a blank outdoor canvas for artists to explore the visual intersection of art, architecture, and audience in this awe-inspiring open-air gallery. The whole 30A comes alive for this annual weekend event.

Mudbug Music Festival
May 13 & 14, 2022 • Natchez, MS
Held on the Natchez Bluff with sweeping views of the Mississippi River, Mudbug Music Festival features fresh crawfish, a wide variety of food vendors, and live music from country music artists Bret Michaels, Luke Nelson, Drive-By Truckers, Cody Jinks, and many more.

Hangout Music Festival
May 20 – 22 • Gulf Shores, AL
Music and beach lovers flock to the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores for this vibrant seaside festival. This year, Post Malone, Maren Morris, Halsey, Doja Cat, Tame Impala, Megan Thee Stallion, and so many more will hit Hangout’s multiple stages.

Hangout Music Festival at sunset

Hangout offers one of the most striking festival backgrounds in the country: coastal Alabama. Image: Hangout Music Fest

Beaufort Music Festival
May 20 & 21, 2022 • Beaufort, NC
This waterfront weekend of fun features tons of food trucks and a packed lineup of music by Old Crow Medicine Show, Big Something, Susto, The Collection, Empire Strikes Brass, and more.

Arts Alive Festival
May 21 & 22, 2022 • Florence, AL
Stroll through beautiful Wilson Park and enjoy this juried fine arts-and-crafts festival featuring artists from across the country. There is also great food and activities that the whole family will enjoy.

Forecastle Festival
May 27 – 29, 2022 • Louisville, KY
This treasured Kentucky music and culture festival is back with headliners Jack Harlow, Tame Impala, Phoebe Bridgers, Rufus Du Sol, and more.

Spoleto Festival USA
May 27 – June 12, 2022 • Charleston, SC
This world-renowned 17-day performing arts festival takes place all over Charleston — indoors and out, free and ticketed. Watch magical performances, speakers, and workshops by esteemed and emerging artists in opera, theater, dance, and many genres of music.

Tampa Bay Margarita & Music Festival
May 28, 2022 • Tampa Bay, FL
Join Florida’s largest celebration of America’s favorite drink, the margarita, over Memorial Day weekend — featuring a seriously great lineup of musical acts like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Elle King, Village People, and more. Taste dozens of margaritas and food items, play lots of games, do a little shopping, and end the night with a giant fireworks show.

Blooms and Tunes
Now through June 5 • Gatlingburg, TN
There are few places better to experience the Smokies in full bloom than Anakeesta’s Blooms and Tunes festival. There are larger-than-life spring-themed art installations, daily live music, chef-inspired dishes, and thousands of new blooms at the Vista Gardens. Anakeesta also opened Watering Can, a new bar serving seasonal cocktails and breathtaking 360-degree views of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Flower sculpture at Blooms and Tunes

A 20-feet-long blooming daisy is the first of 29 flower sculptures throughout the mountainside park at Anakeesta. There is no better time to visit than during Blooms and Tunes! Image: Anakeesta

JUNE

Gulf Coast Jam
June 2 – 5, 2022 • Panama City Beach, FL
This four-day country music festival takes place just blocks from the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. This year’s lineup includes Florida Georgia Line, Brooks & Dunn, Old Dominion, Brett Young, and many more.

Riverbend Festival
June 3 – 5 • Chattanooga, TN
Over three days and across three stages, impressive rock, indy, country, and Americana musical acts come to downtown Chattanooga for a picturesque celebration of culture on the Tennessee River. Brothers Osbourne, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, and Cage The Elephant headline.

Raleigh International Food Festival
June 4, 2022 • Raleigh, NC
Showcasing flavors and sips from more than 30 countries, this outdoor street festival also celebrates art, culture, and tradition. You can look forward to non-stop dance and music performances and lots of local makers.

Alabaster CityFest
June 4, 2022 • Alabaster, AL (near Birmingham)
This beloved FREE event celebrates its 20th year with a world-class lineup of local food, fun, and musical entertainment from Lauren Alaina, Vertical Horizon, and other artists.

Cold Mountain Music Festival
June 4, 2022 • Lake Logan (Canton), NC
This mountainy fest features top-notch musical talent, amazing local food and drink vendors, and family-friendly activities in a beautifully pristine setting. Watch Hiss Golden Messenger, Futurebirds, and more Southern artists … then explore the 300-acre property by the Shining Rock Wilderness Area of Pisgah National Forest.

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience
June 7 – 12, 2022 • New Orleans, LA
The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience is a premier event showcasing what the city does best … eating and drinking. Now in its 30th Anniversary year, the festival has become one of the most celebrated culinary events in the nation, attracting gourmands and connoisseurs.

High Country Jazz Festival
June 8 – 12, 2022 • Boone and Blowing Rock, NC
The inaugural High Country Jazz Festival takes place across beautiful venues in both Boone and Blowing Rock, NC. Hear from some phenomenal jazz musicians at the historic Appalachian Theatre of the High Country, plus catch shows at outdoor venues, late-night jams, jazz brunches, and more.

Tupelo Elvis Festival
June 8, 2022 • Tupelo, MS
This festival is a lively musical celebration designed to honor Elvis Presley, Tupelo’s native son, and his impact on the world. Elvis impersonators and music lovers worldwide congregate in this great Mississippi small town for four days of Elvis-induced fun.

CMA Fest
June 9 – 12, 2022 • Nashville, TN
CMA Fest has it all — from intimate writers’ rounds and honky tonk showcases to the giant stadium sell-outs and amphitheater shows. The longest-running country music festival in the world welcomes hundreds of thousands of fans to Music City for four days of non-stop music and fun. This year’s big names are Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Carly Pearce, Alan Jackson, Luke Combs, and SO many more.

Headliner at CMA FEST on stage at Nissan Stadium

This June, CMA Fest returns to Nashville, and the lineup is bigger and better than ever. Image: CMA Fest

Carolina Country Music Fest
June 9 – 12, 2022 • Myrtle Beach, SC
Grab your cowboy hat and flip-flops to experience more than 30 country music stars on the scenic shores of Myrtle Beach at Carolina Country Music Fest. This year’s lineup is topped by Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and Keith Urban.

American Made Music Fest
June 10 & 11, 2022 • Albertville, AL
Martina McBride, Dailey & Vincent, Diamond Rio, and more of your favorite traditional country, bluegrass, and gospel artists will grace the stage at Sand Mountain Amphitheater this summer. The coolest part? Your ticket gives you access to all the outdoor adventures at Sand Mountain that day, including an outdoor water park.

Bonnaroo
June 16 – 19, 2022 • Manchester, TN
Bonnaroo is set on more than 700 acres of farmland and features a diverse lineup of 150-plus musicians, immersive art installations, outdoor activities, top food and drink vendors, and so much more. This year, Stevie Nicks closes out the festival on Sunday!

Euphonious
June 17 – 19, 2022 • Birmingham, AL
Coming to Birmingham, this new festival will feature Better Than Ezra, Colbie Callait, Collective Soul, and more at the newly renovated Birmingham Zoo.

Chow Chow
June 23 – 26, August 4 – 7, and September 8 – 11 • Ashville, NC
This culinary event series boasts workshops, dinners, demonstrations, discussions, and more during three summer weekends. This delicious and immersive festival celebrates and enriches the unique foodways of Southern Appalachia with more than 100 chefs, craft beverage producers, regional farmers, artists, makers, and community thought leaders.

Cheers at table at culinary festival Chow Chow

Cheers to THREE weekends of Chow Chow this year! Plan your trip to Asheville ASAP! Image: Chow Chow | Facebook

High Tide Music Festival
June 25, 2022 • North Charleston, SC
The first annual High Tide Music Festival is an immersive electronic music and lifestyle experience in a picturesque coastal backdrop. It welcomes some of the biggest names in electronic music to the Southeast like Sam Feldt, Dombresky, Autograf, and more.

JULY

Writer’s Note: due to the overwhelming number of Fourth of July celebrations in the South, we will have to save them for another article.

BBQ & Blues Festival of Discovery
July 7 – 9, 2022 • Greenwood, SC
This annual well-attended festival celebrates the history, culture, food, arts, crafts, music, and people that make South Carolina and Greenwood County the unique Southern places they are.

89th Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo
July 14 – 17, 2022 • Dauphin Island, AL
Officially the largest fishing tournament in the world — with more than thirty award categories and $1M in total prize money — happens on the coast of Alabama every year. Explore tons of sea activities, vendors, music, and exciting fish weigh-ins.

Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands
July 21 – 24, 2022 • Asheville, NC
This beloved Asheville event is back in person! Artisans fill both the concourse and arena levels of the venue, exhibiting a variety of works in clay, wood, metal, glass, fiber, natural materials, paper, leather, mixed media, and jewelry. Shop to the tunes of live music and join craft demonstrations, too.

Sweetgrass Festival
July 23, 2022 • Mount Pleasant, SC
The annual Sweetgrass Festival in Mount Pleasant is designed to promote and bring attention to the Gullah Geechee people’s contributions — to history, culture, traditions, and the sweetgrass basket art form that originated in Mount Pleasant.

FloydFest
July 27 – 31, 2022 • Floyd, VA
Five days of music, magic, and mountains featuring vendors, food, brews, and more than 100 artists, including Lake Street Dive, Turnpike Troubadours, Old Crow Medicine Show, Trampled By Turtles, Marcus King, and more.

Crave
July 30 & 31, 2022 • Lexington, KY
Head to Bluegrass Fairgrounds at Masterson Station Park for an epic food and live music festival featuring dishes from 40 restaurants, chefs, food trucks, craft beer and cocktails, kids’ activities, a car show, and ten musical acts performing over two days.

People sit and play put put at Crave Lexington Kentucky Festival

Most of these summer festivals, like Crave in Lexington, offer places to beat the heat, hang out, and take a load off! We would love to spend an hour in this Deep Eddy Vodka airstream. Image: Crave

Enjoy all the tunes and tastes of the South’s best festivals this summer! An awesome resource for finding festivals in each state is festivalguidesandreviews.com

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