Old Man Winter may have just settled in, but Tennessee is gearing up for a busy spring as festivals, celebrations and commemorations sprinkle each region.
In East Tennessee, Dollywood’s Festival of Nations will explode with color, performances, and world-class cuisine March 22-April 21. Cultural experiences from more than 25 countries, including France, India, China, and Poland, will be represented through dance, music, food, and art. Guests can experience a smorgasbord of ethnic offerings through the World Passport to Food, a guide to foods like Mexican beef empanadas, Brazilian beef ribs, and fried rice and shredded chicken from the Philippines.
Rivers & Spires Festival is the place to be April 24-26 in Clarksville. This award-winning, free festival features live music and entertainment, food, and more. Events include Brewfest, where nearly 40 different craft brews are offered; Clarksville’s Got Talent, as amateur stars shine at the local talent competition; and the Marketplace that hosts vendors selling a variety of items. Rivers & Spires Festival fans can cast their votes now for the 2014 headliner. In the running are music artists Thompson Square, Rodney Atkins, Gretchen Wilson, and Joe Diffie.
Memphis in May International Festival has good barbecue and good music, making this month-long event a must-attend. The Republic of Panama will be the spotlight country for the International Festival May 5-11 with exhibits, performances, and, of course, food. The 38th Beale Street Music Festival will give its 1.1 million music fans a mix of rock, blues, soul, and modern talent at the foot of historic Beale Street overlooking the Mississippi River. Past talent has included The Black Keys, John Legend, The Roots and Fleetwood Mac. The smell of barbecue will fill the air May 15-17 as Memphis in May’s World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest comes to Tom Lee Park. Hundreds of teams compete for over $110,000 in prizes and deck out their areas with decorations, creative names, and trophies of past victories. Here are some more spring dates to jot on the calendar and for a full list, check out www.tnvacation.com/calendar.
March 15 – Irish Day Celebration, Erin – Enjoy a parade, food, entertainment and crafts at the largest Irish Day celebration and parade in this area. 931-289-5100, houstoncochamber.com
March 8-16 – Shamrock City, Chattanooga – Rock City’s 7th annual Irish celebration features music, entertainment and Irish delicacies. 800-854-0675, seerockcity.com
March 31-April 6 – Mule Day, Columbia – One of the world’s biggest mule celebrations. Events include mule sale, mule pulling, mule shows, pancake breakfast, flea market and parade. 931-381-9557, muleday.com
Month-long – 52nd Annual Dogwood Arts Festival, Knoxville – Miles of trails feature some of the most spectacular dogwood trees of all kinds. 865-637-4561, dogwoodarts.com
Month-long – Awesome April, Nashville – A musical tribute to the city that promises a major event each weekend. 800-657-6910, visitmusiccity.com
April 4 – Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration, Memphis – The National Civil Rights Museum offers a special program to commemorate the late Civil Rights leader. 901-521-9699, civilrightsmuseum.org
April 17-26 – Nashville Film Festival, Nashville – With genres from drama to comedy to foreign documentaries, this festival has something for everyone. 615-742-2500, nashvillefilmfestival.org
April 21-27 – World’s Biggest Fish Fry, Paris – More than five tons of catfish are served to thousands of visitors, plus a rodeo, parade and catfish races. 731-644-1143, worldsbiggestfishfry.com
Apr 26-27 – National Cornbread Festival, South Pittsburg – Visitors can experience the National Cornbread Cook-Off, art and shows. 423-837-0022, nationalcornbread.com
May 4-10 - West Tennessee Strawberry Festival, Humboldt – This festival includes parades, live entertainment, barbecue cook-off, concerts, fireworks and more. 731-784-1842, wtsf.org
May 6 – Nov 1 - Storytelling Live! Jonesborough – Storytellers from across the United States will share stories and entertain guests. 800-952-8392, storytellingcenter.net
May 10 – 73rd Annual Running of the Iroquois Steeplechase, Nashville – This is the nation’s oldest continuously run, weight-for-age steeplechase. 866-207-2391, iroquoissteeplechase.org
May 15-17 – International Biscuit Festival, Knoxville – Named one of the country’s top 10 food festivals, this popular event allows guests to enjoy food, fun and music. biscuitfest.com
May 15-17 – Buford Pusser Festival, Adamsville – This annual festival honors the famous “Walking Tall” sheriff and features good music, food and family fun. 731-632-4080, bufordpussermuseum.com
May 16-17 – Sevierville’s Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass, Sevierville – This event features the Tennessee State Championship Barbeque Cook-Off, bluegrass concerts from rising stars and bluegrass legends, kids games, great food and authentic mountain crafts. visitsevierville.com/vsevents.aspx
May 17-18 – 19th Annual Iris Festival, Greeneville – A juried arts/crafts festival plus food, entertainment and more surrounded by the history of President Andrew Johnson. The Annual Woodcarving Show is held each year in conjunction with the festival.
May 22-25 - Americana Music Festival, Crawford – Enjoy a three-day camping and music festival that coincides with the taping of an episode of the “Jammin’ at Hippie Jack’s Americana Music Series” on PBS. A similar fall festival is held in September. 931-445-2072, myhippiejack.com
May 30-June 1 - Memphis Italian Festival, Memphis – This community celebration demonstrates the values of family, faith, and fellowship in the Italian-American tradition. 901-767-6949, memphisitalianfestival.com.