The Atlanta Jazz Festival is regarded as one of the Country’s largest FREE jazz festivals. It is an annual musical showcase, celebrates jazz legends and up-and-coming jazz greats in venues throughout metropolitan Atlanta during the entire month of May. Culminating during each Memorial Day weekend, the festival features show-stopping performances at Piedmont Park.
All of the bold, bright and feathery pageantry of a Caribbean-style carnival celebration bursts on the scene. It begins at noon at the Civic Center MARTA station with the Parade of Bands. Groups donning lavish costumes, traditional marching bands, cultural organizations, civic groups and other colorfully clad participants hoof it — mostly down Peachtree Street — all the way to the Sweet Auburn district. That’s the site of the Festival Village located at the corner of Auburn Avenue and Fort Street. Beginning at approximately 3 p.m. an onslaught of more than a dozen popular Caribbean acts perform including Soca artists Skinny Fabulous, Kerwin Du Bois and Claudette Peters. Vendors shill Caribbean food, and arts and crafts within the Festival Village. The performances are set to end at 10 p.m.
Parade begins at noon; music begins at approximately 3 p.m. May 26. $15 entry to Festival Village; free ages 10 and younger. Auburn Avenue and Fort Street, Atlanta. 404-519-6120, www.atlantacarnival.org.
Salute to the Troops at Stone Mountain Park Stone Mountain Park
This three-day celebration of American spirit, which salutes our troops and their families, is Atlanta’s largest Memorial Day weekend celebration. In addition to all the regular Stone Mountain Park attractions, there will also be live music and the famous laser show will feature a special tribute to the troops. Active and retired military personnel get a free Adventure Pass plus discounts for their family. Laser show and music included in parking fee, other activities for an additional fee. Laser Show begins at 9:30 p.m.
4th Annual Rockin Blues, Brews & Barbecue Fest
500 10th St NE, Atlanta
Exactly what it sounds like, beer, bands and BBQ as only Park Tavern can do it! Feast on BBQ platters, ribs and fried oysters. $20 in advance. Free admission with military ID. 2:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. This event is 21+. There will be lots of traffic and street closures in the area due to the Jazz Fest, so Marta is recommended!
Still Swinging at Glover Park
The 2012 edition of the Glover Park Concert Series in Marietta Square is still fresh out of the box. The second event of the season jumps, jives and wails to the sounds of the big band era. Founded and led by trombone player Les Still, Still Swinging consists of some of the same seasoned players you might see in the orchestra pit of the Fox or Chastain Park. Since it’s the holiday weekend, don’t be surprised to hear some patriotic tunes in the set. “America the Beautiful” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” are a few of the many tracks in the band’s repertoire. They may even slide in a song or two from the late ’90s swing revival. Think “Zoot Suit Riot.” The concert is free, but tables are available while supplies last; $45 for a party of six, and $55 for a party of eight. Only blankets and lawn chairs are allowed in the park. Guests can stake their claim as early as 4 p.m. the day of the show. Tables and chairs may be brought and set up in the street on North Park Square after 6 p.m. The Glover Park Concert Series continues through September. Upcoming shows include Doobie Brothers tribute act China Grove (June 29), Yacht Rock Schooner (August 24) and the Georgia Symphony Orchestra Jazz band (August 25).
8 p.m. May 25. Free. Glover Park, 50 N. Park Square, Marietta. 770-794-5601, http://www.mariettaga.gov/city/residents/parks/specialevents/concertseries.
Decatur Arts Festival at the Decatur Square
Now in its 24th year the Decatur Arts Festival firmly cements itself as one of the outdoor go-and-do highlights the hip in-town small town has to offer. More than 160 artists sell their work underneath the tents in the artists market, which sprawls on and around the Decatur Square. Ceramics, paintings, metalwork, woodwork, jewelry, photography and sculpture are just a smidgen of what visitors can find. Organize your shopping plan of attack early by visiting the fest’s website. Go to the Events section and select Artists Market. Each artist and their booth number is listed underneath his or her respective category. Grab a festival map when you arrive and then visit the booths on your hit list. As you shop, be it traditional or window style, you’ll have music in the background. More than 10 acts perform on the Community Bandstand throughout the two days. Don’t miss the Shadowboxers at 4 p.m. on Saturday. This R&B, rock and soul hybrid opened up for The Indigo Girls on its 2011 summer tour. Other acts include the all-female drumming group ConunDrums, Larkin Poe and The Bonaventure Quartet. Aussie ax man Geoff Achison and the Soul Diggers bring the blues at 4 p.m. Sunday. Organizers suggest riding MARTA to the festival. Those who bike to the event score free parking with a special bike valet service.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 26; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. May 27. Free. E. Court Square and E. Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur. 404-371-9583, www.decaturartsfestival.com.