Memphis Festivals

Memphis is home to some of the country’s largest and most unique festivals. Perhaps the best known is the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. This Memphis festival draws over 100,000 pork lovers from all over the world and is the biggest pork cook-off of its kind. The Beale Street Music Festival is also part of Memphis in May. This citywide festival takes place over three days and features some of the best rock, blues, gospel, soul and R&B in the world. Elvis Week attracts die-hard Elvis fans and features various events celebrating everything Elvis. Memphis Music & Heritage Festival features performers on several stages and is a large, family friendly festival during Labor Day weekend. The diversity of the Memphis culture makes it one of the best places to attend exciting festivals. Whatever kind you’re in the mood for, Memphis is sure to have it.

Africa in April

Robert R. Church Park, Beale St., Downtown Memphis, Tennessee
Africa in April emphasizes cultural diversity and ethnicity through music, food, arts and crafts and creative performances. Educational programs examine economics, transportation and African American history while attendees enjoy tasty African treats and cultural performances throughout the festival. The Vendor’s Marketplace gives participants and visitors another chance to experience Africa’s diverse culture right in Memphis. Africa in April is ideal for the whole family as it delivers educational opportunities with Memphis festival fun.

Elvis Week

Graceland, 3734 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, Tennessee; Tel. 901.332.3322
Elvis Week is a festival that attracts die-hard Elvis fans from around the world to see the King’s Memphis hometown. Relaxing on a beach towel or blanket on the Graceland Mansion ground for Elvis Music & Movies is a great way to pay homage to the legendary musician. The proceeds from nearly every festival event at Elvis Week are donated to various charitable causes, like United Cerebral Palsy and the Elvis Presley Scholarship Fund. The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest gives audiences a chance to relive Elvis concerts and gives contestants a chance to back in the glory of the King. Everything from Elvis Bingo to a candlelight vigil will keep Elvis fans young and old entertained while celebrating the King’s life in true Memphis form.

Memphis Film Festival

Whispering Woods Hotel and Convention Center, 11200 E. Goodman Rd., Olive Branch, Mississippi; Tel. 662.895.2941
Over 125 feature films and TV shows play from 10am to 11pm during the three-day Memphis Film Festival. Four viewing rooms ensure unobstructed screenings of the films and shows for audiences. Every day a panel of stars answer questions and sign autographs for lucky fans at the film festival. National and local Memphis dealers selling movies, TV shows and other showbiz memorabilia will also set up booths at the show. Attendees will also have the opportunity to go to the celebrity awards banquet for more time with the stars. Lovers of classic movies and television will find themselves at home at the Memphis Film Festival.

Memphis in May | Beale Street Music Festival

Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis in May is a citywide festival in Memphis, Tennessee that takes place over three mid-month days. It includes the Beale Street Music Festival, which incorporates more than 60 performers playing tunes from a variety of music genres—rock, blues, gospel, soul and R&B—on four riverside stages. Also at Memphis in May is Desti-Nations International Family Festival, which chooses a different country to honor each year and educates kids and their families about the foreign place. The Memphis Symphony Orchestra always performs at the festival annually and gives families from Memphis and beyond a taste of what it’s like to be in Memphis in May.

Memphis in May | World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

Tom Lee Park in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee, Riverside Dr. between Beale St. and Georgia Ave.; Tel. 901.525.4686
Locals and visitors with a passion for pork enjoy Memphis in May and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest annually. Nearly 100,000 pork aficionados from all over the world gather each year to sample delicious barbeque from Memphis’ and Tennessee’s top vendors. Keep an eye out for costumed grills: anything from fire trucks to pot-bellied stoves can be found competing. For a laugh, check out the Ms. Piggie competition, featuring men donning snouts and tutus. Those who loves pork will be in hog heaven at the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, the largest pork barbecue cooking contest and festival on planet Earth.

Memphis Music & Heritage Festival

Center for Southern Folklore, 119 S. Main, Memphis, Tennessee; 901.525.3655
Celebrating the music, art and food of the region is the Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, held annually on Labor Day Weekend. The Center for Southern Folklore hosts this roots music festival over two summer days. Five stages feature the Memphis area’s most dynamic musicians, performers, artists, dancers, speakers and chefs. This fun festival is presented in a family-friendly setting with enough blues, rock, soul, gospel, rockabilly and jazz for the whole family.

Skyfest Tennessee

McKellar Sipes Regional Airport, 308 Grady Montgomery Dr., Jackson, Tennessee; Tel. 731.423.0995
Boasting some of the region’s fanciest flying, Skyfest is sure to please crowds of all ages. A-10 Thunderbolts zoom through the air demonstrating the elite Air Force plane’s capabilities to festival onlookers young and old. Audiences will love the daring stunts of two wing walkers performing simultaneously on a 450 Stearman biplane in the blue Memphis skies. Skyfest Tennessee, located a short drive from Memphis is quickly becoming one of the most popular events of its kind in the southeast. The Skyfest takes place annually in October and attracts locals and visitors to Jackson, Tennessee every year.
--Memphis festival reviews by David Backes