The South's Best Festivals 2018

Memphis in May International Festival
Photo: Courtesy of Memphis in May

Southerners are a celebratory lot. Give us an opportunity to gather for good food and drink, with live music or (dare we dream it) fireworks on the side, and we're all in. We'll salute anything from shellfish to Chardonnay, with room for ribs in between. That's why some of the biggest and best festivals in the country—let's throw down the gauntlet and say in the world—are right here in the South. Need proof? You can take home every barbecue prize from Lexington to Kansas City, but until you've won the World Championship during Memphis in May . . . well, as we say during football season, "You ain't played nobody." And music? Where else could the best jazz festival be if not in New Orleans? Shrimp festival? Gulf Coast, of course! Don't miss out. Spritz on some SPF 50 and put on your cool shades. We're heading to the South's best festivals.

01 of 06

See The Winners

02 of 06

1. Spoleto Festival USA

Spoleto Festival USA
Courtesy of Spoleto Festival USA

Charleston, South Carolina

Spoleto attracts acclaimed musicians and artists for 17 days of performances.

03 of 06

2. Charleston Wine + Food

Charleston Wine + Food
Courtesy of Charleston Wine + Food

Charleston, South Carolina

The country's best chefs collaborate on dinners hosted throughout the city's restaurant scene; also enjoy barbecue banquets as well as inventive workshops.

04 of 06

3. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Facebook/New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival; Photo: Josh Brasted

New Orleans, Louisiana

The lineup is a gumbo of national headliners, local treasures, and one-time-only performances by bands like The Meters. And the food is as much a reason to go as the music.

05 of 06

4. Memphis in May International Festival

Memphis in May International Festival
Courtesy of Memphis in May

Memphis, Tennessee

Besides the grand-daddy of barbecue cook-offs, the festival also includes the Beale Street Music Festival and 901Fest, featuring local music, food, and drinks.

06 of 06

5. Annual National Shrimp Festival

Annual National Shrimp Festival
Courtesy of Annual National Shrimp Festival

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Every October, Gulf Shores becomes a shrine to the South's favorite crustacean. Enjoy a boardwalk lined with food vendors, local music, and special events.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles