The Southeast Tourism Society (STS) is dedicated to promoting and developing tourism in its member states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. In 1985, in recognition of the unique, diverse and unparalleled events in the region, STS began the Top 20 Events award program. A Top 20 Award seeks to bring more publicity and recognition to the best events in the Southeast, whether it be media, attendees or both! STS selects the Top 20 events, per month, and publishes them on a quarterly basis. Recent winners are listed below. Learn more about Southeast Tourism Society at www.SoutheastTourism.org
Current Top 20 Events
January 1, 2017, Polar Bear Dip, Perdido Key, FL, www.FlorAbama.com
The Flora-Bama Lounge on the Florida-Alabama state line on Perdido Key hosts this popular splash in the Gulf of Mexico. The annual submergence into the icy cold waters provides great laughs and fun for the whole family. After the Polar Bear Dip is completed, everyone joins in a southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day and warms up with good music and beverages.
January 6-February 28, 2017, Mardi Gras Southwest Louisiana, Southwest Louisiana, www.SWLAMardiGras.com
Southwest Louisiana hosts the second largest Mardi Gras in Louisiana. With more than 60 krewes, the whole family will have something to celebrate. The excitement kicks off on January 6 with the annual 12th Night Celebration, as the royal courts from 2016 usher in the new year in style with their extraordinary and intricate costumes. After 12th Night, Laissez les bons temps rouler, as the celebration and festivities pack the calendar until Fat Tuesday on February 28. As the Mardi Gras weekend approaches the celebration really kicks into full gear with parades, cook-offs, balls, galas and more. Don’t miss the 2017 Royal Gala on February 27, as the royal courts of krewes parade for the public in full regalia at Lake Charles Civic Center. Set your alarm clocks on February 28 as Fat Tuesday starts off early with the Iowa Chick run followed by live music, gumbo and the Knight of Columbus Hall. Afterwards, reserve your spot for the grand finale of SWLA Mardi Gras, the Krewe of Krewes Parade featuring elaborate floats, costumes and plenty of beads that winds through Lake Charles.
January 13-14, 2017, Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival, Cameron, LA, www.VisistLakeCharles.org/events
The Annual Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival will highlight all the local, natural resource industries in the area. The festival caters to all ages and interests, featuring parades, a Gumbo Cook-off, pageants, a 5k and 1 Mile Run/Walk, dances, Cajun music, exhibits and a carnival complete with amusements rides. And don’t forget about the unique contests like duck and goose calling, trap setting, nutria and muskrat skinning, oyster shucking and skeet shooting. The dog trials are always a favorite among hunters! These contests and more make this a memorable experience for the whole family and a reason why people keep coming back to Southwest Louisiana’s “oldest and coldest” festival. Proceeds benefit the Cameron Parish Junior Livestock program as well as a valedictorian scholarship for the local high schools.
January 13-16, 2017, Martin Luther King Jr. Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival honors the courageous effort and sacrifices of Martin Luther King, Jr. The festivities kick off with a memorial breakfast, held at Trinity Baptist Church on Friday, January 13, which honors outstanding individuals in the community. The celebration continues on Monday, January 16, with the Family Day Festival where guests can enjoy live, local and national entertainers in the R&B, Blues, Zydeco and Southern Soul genres. Kids of all ages will get a chance to catch throws at the parade, which will depart from Lake Charles Civic Center. A day of commemoration and fun, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival is a celebration for the whole family.
January 23-28, 2017, Charleston Restaurant Week, Charleston, WV, www.CWVRestaurantWeek.com
Warm up this winter with menus that satisfy at Charleston Restaurant Week. Chow down on three-course meals for only three dollars from local restaurants of all varieties. This event has grown from 8 restaurants in its first year to twenty restaurants in its third year. This sell-out event is a six-day promotion of Charleston’s tastiest establishments. This year, expect more food than ever, look out for an exclusive preview called “First Course” and expanded regional advertising.
January 28, 2017, 16th Annual African American Cultural Celebration, Raleigh, NC, www.NCMuseumofHistory.org
The African American Cultural Celebration is North Carolina’s official statewide kickoff to Black History Month. This lively festival celebrates North Carolina’s rich and diverse African American heritage. Black residents have played an integral role in shaping the state’s politics, education, literacy, arts and religious practices. This annual event, co-sponsored by the N.C. African American Heritage Commission, brings together cultural organizations and presenters from across the state for a day of free programs that highlight the state’s African American history and culture. More than 75 presenters participate, including musicians, storytellers, dancers, historians, playwrights, authors, artists, re-enactors, and chefs. Visitors of all ages and backgrounds enjoy fun, hands-on activities that enhance their learning experiences. High-quality visual artists and craftsmen demonstrate their work throughout the museum. Each year, nationally known authors and poets share their work in the Literature and the Spoken Word Area. Come see the historic presentations, dramatic performances and film screenings that celebrate North Carolina’s African American Heritage.
January 17-March 26, 2017, Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS), Ocala, FL, www.HitsShows.com/ocala/hits-ocala-winter-circuit
The Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) Ocala Winter Show Jumping Circuit is a 10-week meet beginning January 17 and ending with the big One Million Dollar Grand Prix Finale on Sunday, March 26. Growing in size and popularity, families travel far and wide to Ocala to participate in the HITS competitions. The HITS Ocala Winter Circuit has become a major sports attractions and destination in the Ocala/Marion County area, bringing in a significant number of spectators from both in and out of state.
January 25-30, 2017, 20th Annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival, Titusville, FL, www.SpaceCoastBirdingAndWildlifeFestival.org
The Annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival highlights the importance of nature-based activities on Florida’s Space Coast. The Festival is a premier event offering opportunities for attendees to explore this world-renowned natural area of Florida, home to the largest collection of endangered wildlife and plants in the continental United State and over 300 species of birds. The Festival offers field trips, outdoor workshops, classroom and keynote presentations by bird experts, pelagic boat trips, a nature-based trade show, art show and competition and the Raptor Project. Don’t miss the special programs and outdoor opportunities to work with national and internationally known photographers.
February 2-4, 2017, The North Carolina Jazz Festival, Wilmington, NC, www.NCJazzFestival.com
The North Carolina Jazz Festival is one of the oldest traditional jazz festivals in the U.S. This party sounds off on Thursday evening with a special event concert, “Styles of Jazz”, where several styles of the genre will be celebrated. Friday and Saturday evenings, guests will enjoy 14 All-Star musicians from around the world as they present seven sets of Traditional Jazz, with a different leader for each set. This event takes place at the Wilmington Hilton Riverside and brings attendees from across the U.S. and beyond for a weekend where jazz rules the night, but the days are free for exploring the local historic sites, beaches, golf courses, art galleries, shops and fine dining restaurants.
February 2-4, 2017, Southwest District Livestock Show & Rodeo, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
Called “The Greatest Show on Dirt,” the Southwest District Livestock Show and Rodeo returns to the Burton Complex with rodeo performances, livestock shows, Queen’s Pageant, a stick-horse rodeo, appearances by Miss Rodeo Louisiana and more. The “mane” attraction is the professional rodeo performances that kick into gear each night featuring bucking broncos, thundering hooves and cheering fans. Don’t miss the Western Heritage Days, celebrating cowboys, the great outdoors and all things western. Sure to “draw” a crowd, don’t miss the shoot-out, petting zoo, vittles and more. Mosey on over to the SWLA Western Heritage Rodeo Trail Ride and Parade that will kick off Thursday.
February 3-5, 2017, Athens Wine Weekend, Athens, GA, www.AthensWineWeekend.com
Bottoms up! Sip the weekend away at Athens Wine Weekend. This yearly event benefits The Classic Center Cultural Foundation. The Foundation helps provide performing and culinary arts scholarships for high school and college students and supports various arts programs in the Athens community. The weekend features a special amuse-bouche presentation on Friday, a grand tasting, premier wine seminars and a six-course gourmet dinner on Saturday and finally, the weekend comes to close Sunday with a sparkling wine brunch. New this year to Athens Wine weekend, sip while shopping for a good cause at local pop-up shops around the venue.
February 4, 2017, Double Bridge Run, Pensacola, FL, www.DoubleBridgeRun.com
Don’t walk, run to one of the country’s premier 15K races in the country—The Pensacola Double Bridge Run. This 15K carries runners over two bridges, across Pensacola Bay and Santa Rosa Sound, which are complete with stunning ocean views. The course also takes runners from downtown Pensacola with a tour that includes the historic district, and picturesque Bayfront Parkway, a run through Gulf Breeze, and onto Pensacola Beach. The 5K invites both runners and walkers to travel from Gulf Breeze to beautiful Pensacola Beach on Santa Rosa Island and the Gulf Islands Seashore. A Kids Fun Run wraps up the action along the Gulf of Mexico. Run from the winter blues by escaping to Pensacola’s Double Bridge Run.
February 4-5, 2017, Brooksville Native American Festival, Brooksville, FL, www.BrooksvilleNativeAmericanFestival.com
The Brooksville Native American Festival immerses guests in Native American art, culture and history. The event features two full days of entertainment, including music, dance, primitive skills demonstrations and more. Past entertainment has included The Big Mountain Family, Ulali, Nahui Ollin Aztec Dancers and a Men’s Fancy Dance Competition. New this year, is the Na Ka Oi Polynesian dancers who heat up the stage with a fire knife show. Vendors offer handmade and Native American inspired art, crafts and jewelry. Numerous food trucks sell native foods such as: Indian tacos, buffalo burgers and fry bread. The festival supports local organizations such as the veterans clubs, the Hernando Historical Society, 88.5 WMNF community radio and the blood mobile by providing them free booths at the event.
February 11-12, 2017, ArtsFest, Stuart, FL, https://martinartsorg.presencehost.net/news_events/artsfest/artsfest.html
For 30 years, the Arts Council of Martin County has hosted ArtsFest in beautiful downtown Stuart, Florida. ArtsFest attracts more than 125 artists to participate in this juried art show. Over 30,000 patrons enjoy everything from paintings, photography, sculptures, jewelry and ceramics. The art show may be the main attraction but the Arts Council incorporates all components of the arts to give guests a unique experience. For the third year in a row, local chefs will compete in a “Chopped” culinary competition preparing a meal on site from a box of mystery ingredients. Grammy award winning flautist, Nestor Taures will take the stage and then a one-act play—Friends Welcome: The One with the B-word fills in the 23-year gap since the hit TV Show Friends aired, showing us the lives of 21-year old Ben Gellar and the 18-year-old Buffay triplets.
February 23-25, 2017, Georgia National Rodeo & Junior Livestock Show, Perry, GA, www.GeorgiaNationalRodeo.com
The fun times roll—and ride—at the Georgia National Rodeo & Junior Livestock Show in Perry, Georgia. The Rodeo is sanctioned by the PRCA. The even features specialty acts, plus cowboys and cowgirls from across the country compete in seven categories: saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, bull riding and barrel racing. Points earned at the rodeo qualify riders for the national finals held every December in Las Vegas. The Junior Livestock show features Georgia’s 4-H and FFA students competing for statewide championships. Every year is different, new competitors and stock, make each night new and exciting.
February 24, 2017, Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade, Pensacola, FL, www.PensacolaMardiGras.com
Held at one of the country’s original celebration sites, Pensacola hosts this family-oriented Mardis Gras Parade in Pensacola’s historical downtown. Crowds catch beads, doubloons and moonpies galore at this classic event. The parade takes place on Palafox and Garden Streets. The Parade starts at 2:00pm and continues until around 6:00pm. Have little ones? Take advantage of the children’s viewing area where there is kid friendly food, face painting, and other family friendly entertainment. This is the largest and most extravagant parade in the area, bringing in hundreds of thousands of guests each year.
February 25, 2017, Krewe of Gemini Grand Parade XXVIII, Shreveport, LA, www.KreweOfGemini.com
Celebrate carnival season in North Louisiana. The Krewe of Gemini will celebrate its 28th year of throwing the largest free event in Shreveport. The night before the parade, organizers host the “Load the Floats” party at 2101 East Texas Street in Bossier City beginning at 5 p.m. The parade will roll the next evening beginning on Clyde Fant near the Sci-port, travelling down the Shreveport-Barksdale Highway, then onto East Kings Highway to conclude at Preston Boulevard. Invite family and friends to enjoy the festivities and yell, “Throw Me Something Mister!” Expect more than a million beads, cups, doubloons, toys and other trinkets to fly from the floats and into the crowds.
February 25, 2017, Krewe of Lafitte Mardi Gras Parade, Pensacola, FL, www.PensacolaMardiGras.com
Come enjoy the only illuminated nighttime parade in Pensacola. The Krewe of Lafitte Mardi Gras Parade entertains with marching bands, lighted floats and great throws as they kick off the Mardi Gras celebration in Pensacola. This is the largest Krewe in Pensacola, including 275 Gentlemen Pirates. This fun-filled time rolls out at 7 p.m.
February 26, 2017, Krewe of Wrecks Mardi Gras Parade, Pensacola, FL, www.PensacolaMardisGras.com
The Krewe of Wrecks Parade is a Mardis Gras parade with an island atmosphere. This Pensacola classic will have the best floats throwing beads, candy and doubloons. No one will leave the island beadles! Afterwards, parade parties are everywhere and the biggest is on the boardwalk, at the shell, where parade participants wait for the results of judges and trophies to be awarded. Of course the music is playing and partiers dance the night away.
March 2-12, 2017, Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City, FL, www.FLStrawberryFestival.com
With nearly 10,000 acres of strawberries grown annually in Plant City, Florida, the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World, it is only appropriate that their harvest be given a proper celebration. Since 1930, the Florida Strawberry Festival has strived to provide visitors from around the globe with a family-friendly event that has something to offer everyone. A board of directors, staff and nearly 2,500 volunteers from around the community work together to host 24 headline entertainment acts, seven livestock shows, a midway of 90+ attractions, hundreds of concessionaires, daily free entertainment acts, competitive exhibits and much more—all while paying homage to the strawberry.
March 3-5, 2017, Swamp Fest, Weeki Wachee, FL, www.SwampFestWeekiWachee.com/
The annual Swamp Fest began in 1993 as an effort to help the communities of Weeki Wachee and Hernando Beach in the aftermath of the No-Name Storm. The event is now held at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Enjoy shows held at the park as well as festival activities including local musical talent, arts and crafts vendors, prize drawings and contests. The event features a Swamp Monster contest and a mascot contest for artists to submit their designs to be printed T-Shirts sold at the event.
March 4-5, 2017, Jerry Brown Arts Festival, Hamilton, AL, www.JBAF.org
The Jerry Brown Arts Festival (JBAF) is an indoor, juried arts festival headlined and named in honor of Hamilton resident and Smithsonian potter, Jerry Brown. Brown is a ninth-generation potter and was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship in 1992 and in 2003 he received the Alabama Heritage Award from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Artists from throughout the Southeastern United States participate in this two-day festival celebrating the festival’s theme, “Reflections of the South.” Art isn’t the only thing that feeds the senses, this festival is also known for its delicious food. Make sure to stay fueled while shopping for one-of-a-kind pieces, by chowing down on burgers, fried Oreos, funnel cakes and more.
March 6-11, 2017, 2017 Hilton Head International Piano Competition, Hilton Head Island, SC, www.HHIPC.org
Young Pianists go key to key at The Hilton Head International Piano Competition. This is one of the leading events of its kind in the United States and is in its 22nd year. In 2017, twenty of the world’s best pianists, ages 13-17, will compete for $18,500 in cash prizes, a return performance with Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra as well as other performance opportunities. The competitors are adjudicated by a panel of five jurors who are internationally known for their careers as concert pianists and teachers. Only a few locations in the United State host a piano competition at this level of excellence and international renown. Visitors travel from 32 states and eight countries to watch this show-stopping competition.
March 10-12, 2017, Black Heritage Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
The annual Black Heritage Festival features live entertainment, mouthwatering food and great family fun. The festival brings together the cultures of Africa and Southwest Louisiana and highlights the best in the community. While celebrating diversity, culture and education, performers fill the air with the sounds of legendary Zydeco, Jazz, R&B and Gospel music. Saturday’s events will take place at the Lake Charles Civic Center and will include a Baby Expo/Healthy Baby Contest, Vendor’s Expo, Africana Culture Performance Extravaganza, Zydeco Aerobics, a Hall of Fame Ceremony, educational workshops, magic shows and much more. Come hungry because food booths in the interactive experience will serve plenty of tasty Louisiana Creole and traditional African-American foods, including gumbo, jambalaya and barbeque.
March 11-12, 2017, Art in the Park, Brooksville, FL, www.HernandoArts.org/index.php/art-in-the-park
The 33rd annual Art in the Park is a weekend for visual and performing arts enthusiasts. The Hernando County Arts Council hosts the event in Tom Varn Park and has booths for over 100 exhibitors to display and sell their art. This event includes a juried art show with prizes for top contenders. Exhibitors include fine arts, crafts, musicians and local food vendors. A student exhibit displays the works of all ages from Hernando County public and private schools. Art demonstrators and the Hernando Symphony Orchestra provide entertainment throughout the day. Have little ones? Don’t miss the Kids Zone—complete with a petting zoo and a hands-on booth for children to experience playing different types of instruments with the help of musicians on site.
March 11-12, 2017, Forsythia Festival, Forsyth, GA, www.ForsythiaFestival.com
For 30 years, The Forsythia Festival has celebrated community and crafts during this two-day event. The festival season is kicked-off with Hello Yellow, a month prior to the festival weekend when the town is encouraged to paint the town yellow. The festival is free to the public, featuring handmade arts and crafts, a 5k/one-mile fun run, tailgate toss, food and a children’s area. Additionally there is a faith-based singing competition celebrating music, faith and the community. There are also multiple events leading up to the awaited weekend, including the festival logo contest. New this year, expect a 30-year anniversary gala.
March 11-12, 18-19, 2017, Rock City’s Shamrock City, Lookout Mountain, GA, www.SeeRockCity.com/shamrock
Looking for the luck of the Irish? Visit Rock City’s 10th annual Irish celebration and festival—Shamrock City! This premiere St. Patrick’s Day event includes live Irish Music, Irish jig lessons, Irish food, specialty beer, dance performances, costumed characters and fun for the whole family. You can even see the High Falls flowing green! If you have little ones, don’t miss the Shamrock Quest Kid’s Adventure and be sure to stop by the Fudge Kitchen, which will have green fudge making demonstrations throughout the day.
March 17-18, 2017, Iowa Rabbit Festival, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
Celebrating the economic and culinary impact rabbits have in Southwest Louisiana, the annual Iowa Rabbit Festival is a one-of-a-kind event. Enjoy all things rabbit—from rabbit gumbo to the crowning of the new Miss Bunny, who will go on to represent the festival at other statewide competitions. The family-friendly event has some of the best music in the area from local Cajun favorites to regional headliners. From live music, to cook-offs, this festival is a hare-raising good time. All proceeds from the festival go to support the community of Iowa and various other youth organizations, schools and non-profit groups.
March 18, 2017, McGuire’s Prediction Run 5K, Pensacola, FL, www.McGuiresIrishPub.com
McGuire’s Prediction Run is celebrating its 40th year in 2017. With more than 5,000 participants, it is Pensacola’s largest run and the nation’s largest prediction run. Each runner/walker predicts how long it will take them to complete the 3.1 mile course. The finishers who come closest to the time predicted on their registration form, wins! The use of watches or timing devices will disqualify participants. Run into St. Patrick’s Day fun at McGuire’s 40th Annual Prediction Run.
March 18, 2017, Southwest Florida Reading Festival, Fort Myers, FL, www.Readfest.org
The Southwest Florida Reading Festival is the largest one-day reading festival in Florida and has a first-rate reputation with prime authors and publishers. The festival’s allure is the diverse line-up of approximately 25 nationally acclaimed, best-selling authors for all reading interests and ages. This festival is so loved that attendees come back year after year. It is a fun, free event for the community and draws and average of 18,000 people to downtown Fort Myers for the day. The fans attend to hear and meet best-selling authors, participate in contests and activities and find the latest and greatest in books, technology and accessories. In addition to author appearances, there are programs and shows for youth, a free book for every child and teen, a teen battle of the bands, crafts and a graffiti and chalk wall.
March 18-19, 2017, Lake Charles Civic Ballet, Assemble` 2017, Lake Charles, LA, www.VisitLakeCharles.org/events
The Lake Charles Civic Ballet and the Southwest Louisiana arts community will present Assemble` 2017: Alice in Wonderland at the Lake Charles Civic Center. This classic fairytale will be transformed into a full-length ballet in two acts, featuring the debut of William G. Rose’s original composition for a 16-piece orchestra. The show also features whimsical costumes, transformative sets, vibrant lighting and original choreography—all of which will be a collaboration of numerous community members, helping to encompass a variety of dance and music styles including tap, jazz, contemporary, circus acrobatics and more.
March 20-April 8, 2017, 77th Annual Columbus Spring Pilgrimage, Columbus, MS, www.VisitColumbusMS.org/index.php/attractions/Spring%20Pilgrimage#top
Long recognized as one of the best and most authentic home tours in the South, the annual Columbus Spring Pilgrimage offers a varied array of cultural activities to celebrate the best Columbus has to offer. Approaching its 77th year, Pilgrimage showcases resplendent antebellum mansions, inviting gardens and magnificent churches, while providing a feast for the senses. The food-fun starts with the Pilgrimage Kickoff Party crawfish and shrimp boil and ends with a timeless garden party as guests stroll through the Colonnade Garden with mint juleps and cheese straws in hand. In between the tasteful, highly-anticipated events, Pilgrimage sports the 4th annual Pilgrimage Half Marathon/5K run, enlightens guests through Tales From The Crypt performances in historic Friendship Cemetery and serves up Catfish in the Alley—a 2014 Garden and Gun Magazine Editor’s Choice event that is complete with cool, soulful blues and handcrafted items presented in Artisan’s Alley. Columbus’ unparalleled hospitality thrives throughout the 10-day event with horse-drawn carriage rides through one of Columbus’ National Register Historic Districts and double decker bus rides to Pilgrimage tour homes.
March 23-26, 2017, Festival of Flowers, Mobile, AL, www.FestivalOfFlowers.com
Have a “Wildly Whimsical” time at the 2017 Festival of Flowers in Mobile, Alabama. Imagination and intrigue meets fun and fantasy at the largest flower show in the southeast. This year the show celebrates its 24th year with its most impressive array of blooming beauty. The light-hearted theme, “Wildly Whimsical” sets the tone for a one-of-a-kind experience that will evoke curiosity and wonder in all who travel through the festival’s fanciful gardens. Come and see the wonders of this region’s most popular floral extravaganza—it’s truly a feast for the senses. Enjoy expertly landscaped gardens, an art competition, shopping and kids activities.
March 24-April 16, 2016, 2017, Rock City’s Fairytale Nights, Lookout Mountain, GA, www.SeeRockCity.com/fairytale
Adventure awaits at Rock City’s newest spring event, Fairytale Nights—where dreams come to life! Come on a journey and travel to a faraway kingdom where magic is around every turn. Help Little Red Riding Hood avoid the Big Bad Wolf; follow Jack as he ventures off the beanstalk into the giant’s lair, enjoy radiant gardens with Cinderella and learn to sword fight with a knight. This enchanted event includes a kid’s activity center where children can meet their favorite characters and collect stamps in their passport to enchantment.
March 25, 2017, Coastal Living Show, Wilmington, NC, www.CoastalLivingShow.com
Life’s a beach at the Coastal Living Show. This event is in its 38th year and will be held at the Grand Ballroom and River Concourse of the Wilmington Convention Center from 10a.m.-5p.m. The show features a variety of gifts, products and services to make everything about coastal living beautiful. Come spruce up the home, garden, office, the entertainment collection and even personal wardrobes. In addition, there will be door prizes, raffles, exhibitor seminars and food—something for everyone in the family. Admission is free and all proceeds from Coastal Living Show will go towards various local organizations that serve to improve the lives of women and children.
March 25-26, 2017, Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival, Conyers, GA, www.ConyersCherryBlossomFest.com
In 1982, Maxwell (a previous local Japanese manufacturing company) and the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce held the first Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival to further nurture the friendship and exchange of Japanese culture. Scheduled during the blooming of the beautiful Yoshino Cherry Trees, the Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival brings the community together to focus on cultural understanding and friendship through art, music, dance, crafts, food and entertainment. The Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival is held at the Georgia International Horse Park and continues to grow and strive for excellence each year. The Southeast Festivals Association awarded the event “Best Festival in the Southeast” in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2015.
March 27-April 3, 2017, Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic Champions Tour, Saucier, MS, http://2017mgrc.com/index/php/
This three-day, 54-hole stroke competition takes place at the nationally renowned and world-class Fallen Oak, designed by Tom Fazio. With seven World Golf Hall of Famers and 17 major championship winners, the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic field will feature some of the greatest golfers in the world. PRG Tour Champions is a membership-based organization of professional golfers ages 50 and older. This is a Golf Channel televised event.
March 31-April 1, 2017, Springtime Tallahassee, Tallahassee, FL, www.SpringtimeTallahassee.com
Experience true southern hospitality with one of the largest and most celebrated festivals in the southeast—Springtime Tallahassee. This free two-day event kicks off with a Friday Night Music Festival featuring national entertainment acts along with tasty food and beverage vendors. Saturday begins with the Grand Parade featuring over 100 colorful entries and is followed by the famous Jubilee in the Park, which offers handcrafted items, a children’s park and two entertainment stages in downtown Tallahassee.
March 31-April 2, 2017, Summerville Family YMCA’s Flowertown Festival, Summerville, SC, www.FlowertownFestival.org
For 45 years, the Flowertown Festival has been the premier fundraising event for the Summerville YMCA. Every spring, thousands of people visit Summerville to see nature’s bounty awash in color, from the hot pink azaleas, to the purple wisteria, to the delicate white dogwood. On this three-day weekend, 200,000 festivalgoers visit this gracious Southern town to take in the flowers and attend one of the largest arts and crafts festivals in the Southeast. The festival hosts nearly 500 vendors from arts and crafts, businesses, nonprofits, farmer’s market and commercial food and beverage. This family-friendly event has a Children’s Jubilee and a music venue.