11 Southern Events, Festivals, And Happenings Not To Miss This Spring

Get outside and celebrate springtime at these wonderful occasions.

Charleston Wine + Food

Alina Tyulyu courtesy of Charleston Wine + Food

If I sound too enthusiastic, you’ll have to bear with me: Spring in the South is one of the most glorious times of the year. From the budding of azaleas to the cool mornings that give way to warm sun, the sense of fresh, green magnificence makes this season feel like a new start.

As the days begin to stretch longer, our region really showcases its natural beauty. Baby animals appear, the grass changes from dull to a vibrant green, and the South’s residents begin to come out of their winter hibernation. For a little while, at least, we don’t even mind the pollen or the gnats.

Since it’s time to get outside, take a look at these happenings that celebrate our blooming region. 

01 of 11

Synchronous Firefly Viewing

Synchronous Firefly Viewing

U.S. National Park Service

Hopkin, South Carolina
May 2023

Just after dark, visitors can see the remarkable site of fireflies flashing their lights in rhythm with each other. Congaree National Park hosts a viewing event for this phenomena. The South Carolina old growth forest is one of the few places this can be seen.

For two weeks in May, if the weather is right, the fireflies will blink in unison to the delight of ticket holders. To protect the firefly habitat, permits to visit the park are limited and offered in a lottery to those registered. 

02 of 11

Florida’s Birding & Photo Fest

Flordia's Birding & Photo Fest

Joe Brady

St. Augustine, Florida
April 19 - 23, 2023

St. Augustine is widely known for its historical landmarks and coastal beauty. Visitors walk through the downtown Castillo de San Marcos, a massive fort that guards the coast, or view the peacocks strutting near Ponce de Leon’s quest for the Fountain of Youth.

It comes at no surprise that this birding and outdoor photography festival is a popular event, with more than 100 experiences that stretch over five days in Florida’s Historic Coast. Guests benefit from exposure to experienced nature and wildlife photographers, including field workshops and classroom instruction.

Participants also get chances to snap photos of horses on the beach and classic cars, among other inspiration. Sessions are aimed at a full range of photography buffs, from beginner to advanced. 

03 of 11

Savannah Music Festival

Savannah Music Festival

Elizabeth Leitzell

Savannah, Georgia
March 23 - April 8, 2023

For this year’s Savannah Music Festival, a full schedule of jazz, folk, blues, classical, jam, rock, and global roots artists are set to perform in Savannah’s beautiful downtown setting. The venues are as diverse as the music, ranging from the Trustees Garden outdoors to the historic Trinity Church on Telfair Square. With a program crafted to blend local and international artists and highlight grammy winners, this popular festival sells out quickly to visitors and locals alike. 

04 of 11

Charleston Wine + Food Festival

Seafood At the Charleston Wine + Food

Lawson Builder courtesy of Charleston Wine + Food

Charleston, South Carolina
March 1 - 5, 2023

In the South, we can eat to celebrate any season. For this spring, it’s hard to give an adequate description to the Charleston Wine + Food Festival. Suffice it to say, if you love food, you’re going to love this event.

Set in the incomparable beauty of Charleston, this festival celebrates the chefs, cooks, authors, and culinary professionals and support staff that make up the talent in this Lowcountry culinary hot spot. T

ickets for educational events and the culinary village are hot commodities, as well as the wine lunch at Hall’s Chophouse and the Husk signature dinner. 

05 of 11

Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry Blossom Festival

Visit Macon

Macon, Georgia
March 17 - 26, 2023

For 41 years, Macon, Georgia has celebrated “The Pinkest Party on Earth” every March during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. For 10 days, the entire city turns pink as more than 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees are in full bloom.

From musical events with national recording artists to amusement rides and Weiner dog races, the festival has something for everyone, including the annual mattress race down Cherry Street and crowning of Cherry Blossom royalty.

Downtown restaurants paint their windows and serve dishes like pink tostadas, pink grits, and cherry French toast. Everything is cherry-themed down to local brews and coffee.

Macon is celebrating its bicentennial this year, putting the revitalization of their downtown with art galleries, venues, restaurants, and boutiques front and center for tourists. If you can’t make the festival, they are offering a ‘Bloom Cam’ to avoid missing the blossoms at their peak. 

06 of 11

Highland County Maple Festival

Maple Festival, maple syrups

Courtesy The Recorder

Highland County, Virginia
March 11 - 12, 18 - 19, 2023

If maple doughnuts and all you can eat pancakes and buckwheat cakes drizzled with fresh maple syrup sound delicious to you, the 63rd annual Highland County Maple Festival might be the springtime event you can’t miss. Known as the "Official Maple Syrup Festival of Virginia," visitors are treated to county-wide events stretching through the area.

Ten sugar camps are open to the public, offering plenty of opportunity to learn how maple syrup is made. There’s also a juried arts and crafts show, live entertainment performances, and more food everywhere you look.

The cost is minimal, a $5.00 cover for the arts and crafts show comes with a collectible keychain and entrance to watch bluegrass, participate in square dancing, or enjoy Appalachian music by local residents. 

07 of 11

Biltmore Blooms Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Blooms


Asheville, North Carolina
April 1 - May 25, 2023

Springtime is obvious at the Biltmore Estate, the historic property of George Vanderbilt and America’s largest home. New baby animals are found playing in the farmyard at Antler Hill Farm, and flowers burst out in vivid color.

The horticultural team’s hard work is on display to celebrate the change of season as thousands of multi-colored tulips, daffodils, crocus, and other flowers paint nature’s palette across the grounds. With a panoramic view of Mount Pisgah and the Blue Ridge Mountains, the estate is remarkably beautiful. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park, guests can tour distinct garden "rooms" around the property.

A favorite is the "Walled Garden" very near the main house with its impressive show of tulips, poppies, snapdragons, and pansies.

The display isn’t limited to the outdoors. Inside the Biltmore House, the on-site floral team creates complex, over-the-top arrangements during festival time to complement the home's incredible architecture and furnishings.

Follow all this verdant beauty with a complimentary sampling of wine in the Tasting Room or outdoors at the Wine Bar (reservations required). Make it a day trip or indulge in a stay at the Inn and live like a Vanderbilt, even for just a bit.

08 of 11

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

2022 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Douglas Mason / Contributor / Getty

New Orleans, Louisiana
April 28 - May 7, 2023

With an amazing all-star lineup of national and local artists, this is the place to be if you love music. In addition to the talent, the event is full of the vibrant food and culture that influences and makes up Louisiana. Jambalaya, crawfish bread, or boudin anyone? Yes, please. 

This year is headlined by such artists as Lizzo, Melissa Etheridge, Robert Plant, and Kane Brown with countless other big name performers. Every type and genre of music is represented from the Mississippi Mass Choir to Kermit Ruffins & The Barbecue Swingers

09 of 11

Great Spring Art Hop

Great Spring Art Hop

Caitlin Harris; Courtesy of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens.

Nashville, Tennessee
April 7 - 8, 2023

The Great Spring Art Hop happens at Cheekwood, a 55-acre botanical paradise that encompasses the historic Cheek estate in Nashville. This two-day festival features 24 egg hunts for multiple age groups stocked full of 36,000 eggs.

Local artists decorate four-foot tall wooden bunnies that are hidden throughout the gardens, ready for a scavenger hunt. With local food vendors and musical entertainment, festival visitors have access to activity stations to design their own bunny art project, create a carrot seed ball, and learn about plants. Spring is special, even without the art hop, as the gardens bloom with over 250,000 bulbs. 

10 of 11

Kentucky Derby

Southern Vacations: The Kentucky Derby
Southern Living

Louisville, Kentucky
May 6, 2023

A bucket list experience for many, the "Greatest Two Minutes in Sports" has run uninterrupted for the last 148 years. One part horse race and one part fashion show, the Derby is known for big, brash Southern hats, seersucker suits, and leggy thoroughbreds.

Visitors to Churchill Downs can expect to sip mint juleps and bet on their favorites, all while partying with 150,000 other participants.

There are other activities through the month to celebrate the race. A half and full marathon is scheduled along with massive fireworks, hot air balloon events, and a great steamboat race.

11 of 11

Alabama Jubilee

Hot air balloon at the Alabama Jubilee

Decatur Morgan County Tourism

Decatur, Alabama
May 27 - 28, 2023

Classic cars, antique tractors, motorcycles, and hot air balloons fill Point Mallard Park in Decatur, Alabama every year on Memorial Day weekend. The mornings begin early with a challenge for hot air balloon pilots to air drop bean bags attempting to get a landing closest to a giant ‘X’ on the ground. Winner of this competition is sure to have bragging rights that stretch well into the evening events, which include tethered balloon rides and glowing balloons.

Sunday evening gets even more exciting with a fireworks display. Attendees are welcome to tailgate along the tree line with their own food and drink, making this a great deal for family fun, but plenty of vendors are available for a bite.

Rounding out the activities list are face painting, inflatables, live music, games, bungie jumping, and balloon animals. 

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