Atlanta’s Biggest Events in 2017
A Year’s Worth of Great Things to Do
By Amanda Adams
From unique Atlanta events to cultural celebrations, from sportsto holiday happenings and neighborhood festivals, 2017 will truly offer something for everyone. Anyone new to the area may be unfamiliar with the long list of happenings in and around Atlanta. Looking ahead to 2017, here is a compilation of Atlanta’s biggest and best events – a full year’s worth of great things to see and do in your new hometown. Please note that several dates have not yet been finalized for 2017. Be sure to check on specific dates closer to the event.
Unique Atlanta Events
Polar Bear Plunge
Ring in the New Year with a free dip in the ice-cold waters of Lake Lanier. An annual tradition, this event also serves as a fundraiser for the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club. Featuring a chili cook-off and costume contest, the Polar Bear Plunge will be held at the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue.
Cathedral Antiques Show
Featuring antiques, art, and floral and interior design, this festival is held annually to benefit a charity. Sponsored by the Episcopal Church Women of the Cathedral of St. Philip, the festival will run Feb. 5-12.
Atlanta Fringe Festival
Focusing on original works by performers in all genres of theater, the Atlanta Fringe Festival is an annual event held in June. The festival spotlights local, national, and international performers.
Atlanta Ice Cream Festival
Now in its seventh year, the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival both celebrates America’s Favorite Dessert and offers many health and wellness engagement activities. In July of each year the festival teams up with a local non-profit health agency to promote their health and wellness initiatives.
Cool Dads Rock Soapbox Derby
Cool Dads Rock is an organization intended to build meaningful and memorable relationships with fathers and their children, no matter what the age. Their annual Soapbox Derby, typically held in August, gives father-and-child duos the chance to create their own car and compete against other teams.
Dragon Con Parade
Kicking off the first full day of the convention, the Dragon Con Parade encourages attendees to dress as favorite characters from genres such as fantasy, comic books, and science fiction. The 2017 parade takes place on Saturday, Sept. 2.
East Atlanta Strut
With a colorful parade and large Artists Market, the East Atlanta Strut happens on the third Saturday in September. The festival features a 5K fun run, great food, live music, and other events.
Stone Mountain Highland Games
Celebrating Scots and people of Scottish descent, the Stone Mountain Highland Games take place the third weekend of October. Competitive events such as Highland Dance and Weight Toss are popular, as well as live music and a selection of Celtic vendors and artisans.
Taste of Atlanta
Showcasing the diversity of Atlanta restaurants, Taste of Atlanta is the city’s finest food, wine, beer and cocktail festival. Over the course of three days every October, more than 90 neighborhood eateries feature delicious dishes. Patrons also have access to events like live chef demonstrations, craft beer samplings, and kitchen workshops.
Little 5 Points Halloween Parade
Typically held on a Saturday leading up to Halloween, this event is billed as the signature Halloween festival in the southeast and one of the top 10 Halloween events in the country. The Little 5 Points Halloween Parade draws crowds of over 35,000 to the interesting and diverse neighborhood.
Arts, Music, and Culture Celebrations
Atlanta Film Festival
Now in its fourth decade, the Atlanta Film Festival welcomes an audience of nearly 25,000 to discover hundreds of new independent, international, animated, documentary, and short films. Usually held in late March and recognized widely among the best film festivals in the country, 2017 dates have not been released.
Atlanta Dogwood Festival
Spanning the weekend of April 7-9, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival will be held in Piedmont Park. In addition to beautiful, in-bloom dogwood trees, this annual event boasts food, live music, a 5K, and hundreds of artists exhibiting and selling their work.
Georgia Renaissance Festival
Now in its 32nd season, the Georgia Renaissance Festival transports visitors to 16th-century England. A 32-acre village is equipped with over 150 artisan craft shops, 10 entertainment stages, several pubs and taverns, and food galore. This year’s festival runs from April 15 to June 4.
Shaky Knees Festival
Featuring five stages and more than 75 bands each year, Shaky Knees is a music-lover’s dream. Created in 2013, the festival has featured diverse lineups ranging from world-renowned acts to up-and-coming artists. Shaky Knees 2017 takes place May 12-14 in Centennial Olympic Park.
Atlanta Jazz Festival
One of the country’s largest free jazz festivals, the Atlanta Jazz Festival features concerts throughout the month of May, culminating with a free three-day festival over Memorial Day weekend.
National Black Arts Festival
Offering multidisciplinary programs that educate, enrich, and entertain, the National Black Arts Festival Spotlight Series spans the summer and fall months and showcases the art of local, national, and international artists of African descent.
Decatur Book Festival
The largest independent book festival in the country and among the five largest overall, the Atlanta Journal Constitution Decatur Book Festival typically takes place during Labor Day weekend. Featuring book signings, author discussions, readings, and a host of food and book vendors, the event has something for the whole family.
Hosting a diverse lineup of over 30 artists across four stages, Music Midtown has been Atlanta’s premier music festival since 1994. It is typically held in Piedmont Park during the month of September.
Atlanta NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Held at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a storied racing venue, the Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500 will be on Sunday, March 5. This event boasts one of the biggest races of the starting stretch of the 2017 NASCAR season.
Peachtree Road Race
Organized by the Atlanta Track Club and a beloved Independence Day tradition, the Peachtree Road Race is one of the largest 10K races in the world. There are T-shirts, too. The race route winds from Buckhead near Lenox Square Mall and ends in Piedmont Park.
Masters Golf Tournament
One of the biggest golf tournaments in the world, The Masters is held at the Augusta National Golf Club, less than three hours from Atlanta. The 2017 competition will be held Aug. 6-9.
Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta
A sports car endurance race held at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta promises excitement for attendees. Just an hour north of Atlanta, Road Atlanta is a state-of-the-art road course. Festivities for 2017 run Oct. 4-7.
Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl
The Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl brings postseason college football to the Georgia Dome. It’s now a playoff semifinal game, so buy your tickets early.
Although the titular event happens at midnight, the annual Peach Drop celebration spans the evening of Dec. 31. With official celebrations beginning at 7 p.m., Underground Atlanta will be the focal point for live entertainment, food, and arts and crafts vendors up until ringing in the New Year with a giant, 800-pound peach.
Atlanta St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Atlanta’s longest running event, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, dates back to 1858. Attendees are treated to a procession of clowns, floats, bands, Bagpipe and Drum Corps, dancers, drill teams, and more. The 2017 parade will take place on Saturday, March 11. (Don’t forget to wear green!)
4th of July at Lenox Square Mall
Celebrating independence in Buckhead, the 4th of July at Lenox Square Mall features the largest fireworks display in the Southeast, as well as live music and food from outstanding local vendors.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas Parade
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hosts the Children’s Christmas Parade, which steps off at Peachtree St. and 16th and ends at Peachtree St. and 5th St. Midtown Atlanta will be transformed into Santa Claus Lane, complete with all the festive sights and sounds of the season.
Menorah Lighting at Decatur Square
Kick off Hanukkah in December 2017 with the annual Menorah Lighting at Decatur Square. Live music, a variety of delicious food, and Mr. Dreidel photo ops.
Ushering in summer each June, The Virginia-Highland Summerfest is a two-day celebration jam-packed with art, food, music, children’s activities, and a 5K run.
Grant Park Summer Shade Festival
An annual tradition for more than a decade, the Grant Park Summer Shade Festival will welcome music and art lovers to Atlanta’s oldest park for two days on Saturday, Aug. 26, and Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017. Presented by and benefiting the Grant Park Conservancy, the festival is open to all ages. A diverse selection of local food trucks offers all tastes, and there are craft beers, a Kids Zone, a 5K run, and a farmer’s market.
Sandy Springs Festival
Taking place each September, the Sandy Springs Festival offers attendees two days of fine art, music, a pet parade, 5K and 10K races, delicious food, classic rides, and much more. This event, which attracts more than 20,000 attendees, is the largest fundraiser for Heritage Sandy Springs, a non-profit organization that operates Heritage Green, the city’s four-acre city park.