2016 Guide to Chattanooga Festivals


Summer is approaching, and you know what that means. It is festival season! There was a time in my life when I would be planning for my trip to Bonnaroo. Then I grew up, moved to the suburbs, had a kid, and bought a minivan, so Bonnaroo might be out of the picture. (At least for this year. One day I’ll be cool again.)

The good news is there are plenty of family friendly festivals and events in and around Chattanooga. So break out your flower crowns and your flowy dresses and check out some of the fun events our area has to offer.

Chattanooga Festival Fun

Fence Posts and Fireflies Festival

April 23-24
Cleveland, TN
We feature a juried Arts & Crafts Show and a Community and Home Based Exhibitor section. Add in Yummy Food, Live Entertainment, and a whole lot of free stuff in the kids’ area for a great day indeed. Free air bounces, free facepainting and games, plus hay and pony rides.

National Cornbread Festival

April 23 – 24
South Pittsburg, TN
The National Cornbread Festival is a weekend-long celebration of cornbread and many cornbread related activities for adults and kids. Activities include the National Lodge® Cast Iron Cornbread Cook-off, Cornbread Alley (sample various cornbread recipes), live music, arts and crafts from area vendors, a cornbread eating competition, and more!


Each Friday from May 5 through August 26
Nightfall is a free concert series held outdoors at Miller Plaza rain or shine. Headlining acts begin at 8pm with local opening acts starting at 7pm. Bring your kids, lawn chairs, pets and friends to enjoy great live music, food and an ice cold beer in the outdoor atmosphere of Miller Plaza.

Having fun listening to music at Nightfall!
Having fun listening to music at Nightfall!

Boxcar Pinion Bluegrass Festival

May 5 – 7
Raccoon Mountain Campground & RV Park
The Annual Boxcar Pinion Memorial Bluegrass Festival is a tribute held in honor of Boxcar Pinion who lost his life to cancer in 1990. The Festival also promotes bluegrass music and keep Boxcar’s memory alive with the music and fun that he gave to so many people.

Little Owl Festival

May 14, 11 am – 6 pm
Audubon Acres
This outdoor event includes local musicians, spoken word performers (story-tellers), art & craft vendors, historical demonstrations, food vendors, children’s activities, a student poster contest and much, much more. All proceeds benefit the Chattanooga Audubon Society and its preservation and education programs! Enjoy an unforgettable day of music and the arts in Chattanooga’s Oldest Wildlife Sanctuary.

Southern Blooms Festival

May 14 – 15
Rock City
Come “See” Rock City in all of its spring glory as we celebrate and honor our original gardener, Frieda Utermoehlen Carter. Walk in Frieda’s Footsteps and learn about the legacy and heritage of the gardens by our tour guides and Master Gardeners. Meet members of our horticulture team and be a part of planting the gardens. Kids of all ages can enjoy educational make-and-take activities and learn what it takes to make a garden grow!

Tennessee Whiskey Festival

May 21, 6 pm – 11 pm
First Tennessee Pavilion
The Tennessee Whiskey Festival showcases our state’s craft spirits and the people who produce them. It’s the perfect opportunity to sample the best whiskey offered in Tennessee as well as other craft distilled products available in the area.

Pollinator Festival at the Barn Nursery

June 4, 10 am – 2 pm
Pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat, yet they are being challenged on every front, from habitat destruction to harmful chemicals, diseases, and climate change. Learn what you can do to create a pollinator friendly garden and what harmful practices to avoid.

Riverbend Festival

June 10 – 18
This year’s lineup includes acts such as REO Speedwagon, Salt N Pepa, Heart, Umphrey’s McGee, Thomas Rhett, 38 Special, Brett Eldredge, and many more!

Beast Feast BBQ Festival

June 12, 11 am – 4 pm
Chattanooga Market
It’s an American tradition…summertime Bar-B-Que, cold beer and live music. And it’s all happening at Chattanooga Market where several local pit-masters will be competing at our 8th Annual Beast Feast BBQ Contest. Each pit-master will offer BBQ bites all day long or market-goers can purchase a full plate of their favorite for an additional charge. It’s a great way to sample the best of Chattanooga’s BBQ while enjoying shopping and entertainment at Chattanooga Market.

Riverfront Nights

2016 dates are TBA but will begin in July.
Riverfront Nights is a free Saturday concert series at Ross’s Landing in downtown Chattanooga. All shows are child and pet friendly, although coolers are not allowed. Doors open and beer sales begin at 6:30 pm. Local opening bands start around 7 pm and headliners kick into high gear promptly at 8 pm and play till 10-ish.

Southern Brewers Festival

August 20, 2 pm – midnight
With beer from over 40 breweries, live music from 2 pm – midnight, and hosted at Ross’ Landing Park adjacent to the Tennessee River, this is a beer festival not to be missed. General Admission entry includes concert and beer mug. Beer tokens are $2 each onsite, 1 Token = Half Pour, 2 Tokens = Full Pour.

Hamilton County Fair

September 24 – 25
Chester Frost Park
The County Fair celebrates our community’s heritage and traditions through the arts, crafts, music, food and blue ribbon awards. The fair features live entertainment from a variety of local bands and showcases dozens of exhibits, contests, demonstrations, food vendors, craft artists, and hands-on activities for the children.

3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival

September 30 – October 1
This year’s lineup and schedule is TBA.

Wine Over Water

October 1, 5 pm – 8 pm
Walnut Street Bridge
Wine Over Water is Tennessee’s premier wine-tasting festival. You can sample wines from over 100 world wineries, while you stroll the historic Walnut Street Bridge, which spans the scenic Tennessee river.

Which summer event(s) are you looking forward to the most? Share with us in the comments!