Happy spring! Here's a list of local festivals happening in Memphis this spring. Several involve crawfish, almost all of them are outside, and a ton of them are completely free.
The first annual Memphis Punk Rock fest features 20 punk bands from Memphis and beyond for two days of very loud fun. For discounted admission, bring a can or two of food for the Memphis Food Bank. In addition to punk rock, the fest will have a photo booth, art and photo shoots with Kriss Kross Photography.
The Brooks is celebrating spring break with a mid-week chalk art festival at the museum. Local artists will create works in chalk on the plaza outside of the museum, and you can join them (or create your own works). Fuel Food Truck, Parker's Water Ice Truck and local band The Wuvbirds will be there, too.
Memphians love a quality crawfish festival (if you need proof, scroll down – there are three more of them on this list). The first one of the season is Mudbugs in March in Court Square on Saturday, March 16th. Freeworld and the Mason Jar Fireflies will play, and there's a gumbo cooking contest and plenty of crawfish available for sale (1.5lbs for $10).
If you're into gaming, anime, comic books, science fiction or steampunk, mark your calendar for Mid-South Con. There's an art show, talks on everything from the basics of ghost hunting to knitting as a post-apocalyptic life skill, a masqurade ball, gaming and tons of awesome nerdy fun.
If you're looking for stylish people, they'll be at Memphis Fashion Weekend on April 5th and 6th. The weekend of runway shows, parties and boutique events celebrates local and regional designers. The shows on Friday night are at the Cadre Building downtown, and the Saturday night shows are at Memphis College of Art.
Opera Memphis is hosting the first ever Midtown Opera Festival at Playhouse on the Square from April 4 – 6th. The festival includes performances of "The Rape of Lucretia", one-act opera "Bon Appetit!" and "This is the Rill Speaking", an operatic coming of age story set in the 1950s South.
On April 6th, check out Blue Tom Fest, the first ever on-campus music festival at the U of M. It's open to everyone, and will feature only musical acts based in Memphis, including some big names (Star and Micey, Fast Planet) and student acts.
MemFix is turning Walker and Highland (aka, the Highland Strip) into an ideal street for the day on April 13th. Empty storefronts will be filled, traffic will be tamed, and there will be performances and activities suitable for all ages. MemFix, which has happened previously in Overton Square and Crosstown, is designed to grow business and neighborhood development by showing Memphians what's possible on a given street.
The annual Overton Square Crawfish Festival is so big that it takes over the whole square, shutting down Madison Ave. for an afternoon of eating, drinking, shopping and live music. This year, proceeds from the festival will benefit Creative Aging Mid-South and Revolutions Bike Co-Op.
Celebrate the Republic of Senegal with four days of fun in Robert Church Park during Africa in April. During the festival, the park will be packed with vendors, food, cultural activities, a parade, live music and plenty of opportunities to learn about the history, culture and people of Senegal.
Take a walk down Broad Ave. during the annual spring Arts Walk on April 19th. All of the galleries, shops and restaurants will be open late, and more than 40 local artists will have their work on display.
Shelby Farms' annual Earth Day Celebration is a family friendly day of outdoor activities. Come fly kites, plant seeds, check out the park and listen to live music (schedule coming soon). Admission is free, but parking is $5 (which benefits Shelby Farms).
Local artists and vendors will line the V&E Greenline in Midtown on April 20th for the second annual V&E Art Walk. In addition to affordable art, the festival will have food vendors, kids' activities, live music and a silent auction. If you've never been there, the V&E Greenline is an unpaved trail that starts at Cleveland and North Parkway and runs to Rhodes College. The rain date is Sunday, April 21.
Stuff your face with crawfish during the annual Harbor Town Crawfish Festival at Movie and Pizza Company on Mud Island. There will be plenty of mudbugs to go around (1000 pounds!), food and beer specials, and live music from Charvey McLemore. Call (901) 527-2233 for more info.
The annual Rajun Cajun Crawfisg Festival is the city's largest, at least by amount of crawfish: during the single day festival, they'll serve 15,000 pounds. There will also be live music, a gumbo cooking contest, and all manner of crawfish-related activities. Bring a lawn chair and set up camp along the trolley tracks while you eat. Proceeds from the festival benefit Porter-Leath.
The Southern Hot Wing Festival is back on Riverside drive for its 11th year. Cooking teams will serve up hot wings (and some will give out samples for a donation to Ronald McDonald House), there will be live music, and there's a (usually kind of hilarious) hot wing eating contest. The rain date is April 28th.
Party in Soulsville at the third annual Stax to the Max festival. The outdoor music and arts festival outside of the Stax Museum is completely free and family friendly.
In 2013, Bristerfest will cram more than 30 performances into two days at the Levitt Shell. In addition to tons of live music, there will be performances from dance troupes (Aztec, fire and break dancing) and something called a silent disco on Saturday night. Tickets are $15 per day or $30 for the weekend.
Why have a beer festival when you can have an entire beer week? During Memphis' first annual Beer Week, there will be keg tappings, beer tastings, beer dinners and brewer talks. The week culminates with the annual Memphis BrewFest beer tasting at AutoZone Park on April 27th.
Settle in to one of the comfy chairs at one of the participating Malco theatres and watch feature films, documentaries and short films from around the world during the annual On Location Film Festival. This year's schedule hasn't been released yet, so stay tuned.
Cheer on your favorite Memphis restaurant workers as they compete in an adult version of elementary school field day, complete with relay races (involving carrying wine over hurdles), a beauty pageant / dance off, a parade and grape stomping competition. You might want to leave your kids at home for this one.
A few things in Memphis are certain: summers are sticky, baskebtall is awesome, and the Memphis in May International Festival is the city's biggest party. It starts on May 3rd with the Beale Street Music Festival and continues through out the month, packing every weekend with celebration (and barbecue). Here's a full list of Memphis in May events. This year's honored country is Sweden, so stock up on Swedish flags now.
Celebrate Memphis' Italian community with food, music, games, cooking contests and more at the Memphis Italian Festival. You can also play bocce ball, stomp grapes and compete in the Italian Idol singing contest. Anyone can pay to be a people's choice judge and sample spaghetti gravy from three of the cooking teams.
Obviously, this isn't everything happening in Memphis this spring. There are a ton of other, equally awesome events listed on the blog's calendar. If you don't see your favorite event, please take a second and submit it to the calendar.