Atlanta’s Biggest and Best Events 2020
A Year’s Worth of Things to See and Do
By Amanda Adams
From unique Atlanta events to cultural celebrations, from sports toholiday happenings and neighborhood festivals, 2020 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 2020, 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. Be sure to check on specific dates closer to the event.
Unique Atlanta Events
Ring in the new year with a dip in the icecold waters of Lake Acworth. An annual tradition, this event serves as a fundraiser for Special Olympics Georgia. Featuring live music, food and prizes, the Polar Plunge will be held at Acworth Beach. specialolympicsga.org/letr-polar-plunge.
Cathedral Antiques Show
Featuring antiques, art, and floral and interior design, this festival is held annually to raise money for a designated charity. Sponsored by the Episcopal Church Women of the Cathedral of St. Philip, the festival will run Jan. 22-26. cathedralantiques.org.
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. atlantafringe.org.
Atlanta Ice Cream Festival
Now in its 10th year, the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival both celebrates America’s Favorite Dessert and offers many health and wellness engagement activities. Each July the festival teams up with a local nonprofit health agency to promote their health and wellness initiatives. atlantaicecreamfestival.com.
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. Its annual Soapbox Derby, typically held in August, gives father-andchild duos the chance to create their own car and compete against other teams. cooldadsrock.com.
Dragon Con Parade
One of the highlights 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 parade typically takes place on the first Saturday in September. dragoncon.org.
East Atlanta Strut
With a colorful parade and large Artists Market, the East Atlanta Strut happens on the fourth Saturday in September. The festival features a rolling car show, great food, live music and other events. eastatlantastrut.com.
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. smhg.org.
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. L5phalloween.com.
Arts, Music, and Culture Celebrations
Atlanta Film Festival
Now in its fifth decade, the Atlanta Film Festival welcomes an audience of over 30,000 to discover hundreds of new independent, international, animated, documentary and short films. Widely recognized among the best film festivals in the country, the 2020 festival will take place April 30-May 10. atlantafilmfestival.com.
Atlanta Dogwood Festival
Spanning the weekend of April 17-19, 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. dogwood.org.
Georgia Renaissance Festival
Now in its 35th 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 18 to June 7. garenfest.com.
Shaky Knees Festival
Featuring up to five stages and more than 60 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 2020 takes place May 1-3 in Central Park. shakykneesfestival.com.
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. atlantafestivals.com.
National Black Arts Festival
Offering multidisciplinary programs that educate, enrich and entertain, the National Black Arts events span the summer and fall months and showcase the contributions of local, national and international artists of African descent. nbaf.org.
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. decaturbookfestival.com.
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 September. musicmidtown.com.
Atlanta Greek Festival
Well into its fifth decade, the Atlanta Greek Festival brings the sounds, tastes and traditions of Greece to your doorstep. Offering traditional foods and events, the festival takes place in late September at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation on Clairmont Road. atlantagreekfestival.org.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Atlanta Pride, held in Piedmont Park during October. Hosted by the Atlanta Pride Committee, the parade seeks to advance unity, visibility and self-esteem among the local and national LGBTQ community. atlantapride.org.
Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series
Held at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a storied racing venue in Hampton, the Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500 will be on March 15. This event boasts one of the biggest races of the starting stretch of the 2020 NASCAR season. atlantamotorspeedway.com.
Peachtree Road Race
Organized by the Atlanta Track Club and a beloved Independence Day tradition since 1970, the Peachtree Road Race is one of the largest 10K races in the world. The race winds from Buckhead near Lenox Square mall and ends in Piedmont Park. atlantatrackclub.org/peachtree
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 2020 competition will be held April 9-12. masters.com.
Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta
A sports car endurance race held at Road Atlanta in Braselton, the Motul Petit Le Mans promises excitement for attendees. Just an hour north of Atlanta, Road Atlanta is a stateof- the-art road course. Festivities for 2020 run Oct. 7-10. roadatlanta.com/petit-le-mans-road-atlanta.
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl
The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl brings postseason college football to Mercedes- Benz Stadium at the end of the year. chick-fil-apeachbowl.com.
NYE Live! at The Battery
Live! at The Battery Atlanta is ringing in the new year in the “roaring 20s” with flair! Admission packages include exclusive access to two sports bars, live music and a variety of beverage and buffet options. The midnight champagne toast will feature confetti cannons and footage of the Times Square Ball Drop on a 32-foot screen. nye-live.com/Atlanta.
Atlanta’s NY Electric 2020
Light up your New Year’s Eve in high style! Top Atlanta DJs will be spinning a blend of house music and Top 40 hits while guests enjoy dancing, exclusive party favors, and an open bar. This upscale event fills two ballrooms in the towering Westin Peachtree Plaza in downtown Atlanta. Room packages available.
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 2020 parade will take place on March 14. atlantastpats.com.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas Parade
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hosts the Children’s Christmas Parade, which steps off at Peachtree and 16th streets and ends at Peachtree and 5th Street. Midtown Atlanta will be transformed into Santa Claus Lane, complete with the sights and sounds of the season. choa.org/parade.
Menorah Lighting on the Decatur Square
Celebrate Hanukkah in December with the annual Menorah Lighting on the Decatur square. Live music, delicious food and Mr. Dreidel photo ops will be available. chabadintown.org/chanukah.
Ushering in summer each June, The Virginia-Highland Summerfest is a twoday celebration jam-packed with art, food music, children’s activities and a 5K run. vahi.org/summerfest/events.
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 Aug. 29 and 30. 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 an artists market. summershadefestival.org.
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 is the largest fundraiser for Heritage Sandy Springs, a nonprofit organization that operates Heritage Green, a four-acre city park. heritagesandysprings.org.