Now is the Time. Memphis is the Place.

Memphis Festivals to Look Forward to in 2020

Photo: Jamie Harmon

Welcome to 2020, a new decade of Memphis and a new decade of local celebration! This year, save the date for these upcoming festivals you won’t want to miss:

P.S. Make sure to check back, as we’ll be updating this post with more information throughout the year!

January

The Pink Palace Museum will be hosting another year of The Science of Beer, where participants can taste beer from professional craft breweries and home brewers, learn from local brewers and attend guided tasting sessions. Stop by to sample food and drinks from returning favorites and a few new local restaurants and breweries.

DreamFest Weekend is back for its 9th year dedicated to promoting Memphis music and artist collaboration. This three-day event will feature artists such as Sexi Killa, Sumo Tre, Queen Fee, B.A. Barber, LeeLee, Juz Real, Fullersbad, Tay Rob, Terrance Love, Emillio, Aspen Price, R.E. Double, RSK the Poet, Music by DJ X, Phatmak and more.

Bridging The Music is headed to Memphis for an evening of music, art and community in a festival-style atmosphere at the Hi-Tone.

The 2020 International Blues Challenge Showcase will kick off five days of blues with competition rounds in venues located along historic Beale Street and will conclude with finalists performing at the Orpheum Theater Saturday, February 1.

 

February

  • (January 30) – February 25 – The Morris and Mollye Fogelman International Jewish Film Festival
      • Monday, January 30 “The Keeper” 7:30 at the Malco Paradiso
      • Thursday, February 6 “Flawless” 7:00 at the MJCC Belz Theatre
      • Sunday, February 9 “Golda’s Balcony, The Film” 2:00 at the MJCC Belz Theatre
      • Tuesday, February 11 “Crescendo” 7:00 at the Malco Ridgeway
      • Thursday, February 13 “Skin” 7:00 at the MJCC Belz Theatre
      • Monday, February 17 “Abe” 4:00 at Malco Ridgeway
      • Thursday, February 20 “King Bibi” 7:00 at the MJCC Belz Theatre
      • Sunday, February 23 Short Stories, Small Bites, Short Film 5:30 at the MJCC
      • Tuesday, February 25 “Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles” followed by special performance by Broadway singer and actress Alexandra Silber, 7:30 at Temple Israel.
  • Saturday, February 1 – Onesie Pub Crawl – 12 p.m.

Yes, you read it right. Better Bar Crawls is hosting a bar hop in onesies for up to 14 hours! Join anytime for a wristband and enjoy live entertainment throughout, no cover charges, drink specials, professional photographers and a costume contest with cash prizes. The first 100 participants get FREE registration!

Rock For Love is back for another year to support and provide emergency services to victims of crime in the LGBTQ+ community. Stop by and enjoy live music and entertainment by local bands such as Mama Honey, Native Blood, Chinese Dub Connection Embassy, Nefarious Damn Thing and Magnum Dopus.

The Winter Festival of Lights is Merge Memphis’ largest Fundraiser, supporting its mission of turning on the lights for homeless women in our community. All proceeds from this year’s event will go to Clare’s House, a place for homeless women to live, learn and work toward a new independent life of self-sufficiency.

The 9th Tennessee Equality Project Gumbo Contest will be held on Sunday, February 16, 2020 from 4:30 to 7 PM at the Pipkin Building on the Mid-South Fairgrounds. TEP’s annual Mardi Gras gumbo competition draws large crowds who support the LGBTQ community of the Mid-South and draws many public and elected officials. Online ticket sales available through midnight on February 9, 2020.

 

March

Entering its 5th year, Memphis Black Restaurant Week offers deals on a variety of delicious eats and provides a deserved economic boost to some of the city’s best black-owned restaurants.

The Brooks Museum of Art hosts this annual event to help local artists in transforming the Brooks plaza into a colorful canvas! Bring your own chalk or buy a box on-site while enjoying live performances, food trucks, hands-on art-making, games, gallery exploration and more.

Coffee lovers in Memphis are invited to be a part of the inaugural Grind City Coffee Expo. From the roasters to the shops, the Expo will highlight the amazing coffee community we have available in our wonderful city. All proceeds will go toward Protect Our Aquifer, an organization with a mission to protect and conserve water and manage the Memphis Sand Aquifer.

Who’s ready for another year of live music, food trucks, local vendors, the BeLeaf Cigar mobile lounge, game trucks and more? The 4th annual Soulful Food Truck Festival is making its way back to Tiger Lane Sunday, March 15, starting at noon. Tickets are available for $5 on Eventbrite.

Opera Memphis is gearing up to host another year of the Midtown Opera Festival. Keep an eye out for the full lineup and location, coming soon!

Memphis Brewfest is back for its 11th year of food trucks, live music, games, vendors and, of course, unlimited beer samples from incredible local, national and international breweries. This year, attendees can get a VIP experience, presented by Crosstown Brewing Company, which will take place in the Tiger Home Locker room and feature a pop-up taproom from Crosstown.

 

April

The annual MFW puts a spotlight on the exceptional talent and swagger that exists in this city.  Emerging designers, established local talent, and major designers from other parts of the country come together to put on a packed itinerary of runway shows, special events, and some sought-after VIP shopping opportunities.

The Memphis Comedy Festival is a four-day celebration of stand-up comedy and the comedic arts. MCF hosts stand-up showcases, themed comedy shows, improv showcases, podcasts, informational seminars and comedy open-mics. Keep an eye out for more information on different venues and performers to look for in 2020.

Art in the Loop is a three-day festival at Ridgeway Loop Road and Briarcrest Avenue in East Memphis that showcases original artwork across multiple mediums, such as metal, glass, wood, clay, jewelry, painting, photography and more. Guests will also enjoy fare by the town’s top food trucks, and performances of classical music by area youth ensembles.

The Lights Water Fest is an experience where thousands of friends and families gather to listen to live music, fill up on great food and light up life by sharing personal wishes, dreams and goals. At the perfect moment, everyone will gather at the banks of water and send their led candle lantern into the blue lagoon of hope.

Vintage901 is back for its 4th annual Vintage901 Spring Weekend 2020, a three-day spring festival featuring the best in wine, food, and music to celebrate community, culture, and purpose.

Meet local health experts, watch cooking demonstrations and try a free fitness class at the 2020 Healthy 901 Festival at Overton Square. This health education event is free and family-friendly.

Join WISEACRE Brewing Co. Saturday, April 18 for their biggest party of the year! The annual event will feature 35 breweries from all over the country. Your ticket gets you a wristband, taster glass and four hours of unlimited drinking, as well as live music, food trucks and other nonsense for all to enjoy.

The 9th Annual 2020 Shelby Forest Spring Fest will be held April 18 in the old UA Moore Ballpark (Shelby Forest State Park). There will be live music, food, arts and crafts vendors, wildlife and cultural exhibits, and a corn hole tourney! New things are being added every day, so stay tuned for more.

Porter Leath presents its annual Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival this year in Downtown Memphis, on Wagner Place and Riverside Drive. Over 35,000 festival-goers will enjoy live music on three stages from nationally-known and local award-winning artists in Memphis, games including crawfish bobbing, eating, and racing, arts & crafts vendors, and a play zone for the kids.

The Southern Hot Wing Festival is now the World Championship Hot Wing Contest and Festival. This event, hosted at Tiger Lane, will benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis. Get ready to pack the street with the sweet smell of hot wings, terrific music and entertainment that the whole family can enjoy.

The 9th annual V&E Artwalk will feature over 70 artists selling their work. It will also include demonstrations by the Metal Museum Mobile Forge and other artists, a silent auction, a large children’s area and youth art competition, local musicians, an assortment of food, craft beer, wine and soft drinks. The event not only raises awareness about sustaining the V&E Greenline as an important Memphis and neighborhood asset but also provides an outlet for local artists to gain exposure and highlights the thriving art community which exists here in the Memphis area.

 

May

Beale Street Music Festival returns for another packed weekend of music. Over the course of three days, across four stages, #BSMF2020 will feature artists like the Lumineers, Lil Wayne, The Avett Brothers and Three 6 Mafia. Stay tuned for the rest of the lineup, coming soon!

Hosted Saturday, May 9, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Overton Square, the Memphis Flyer’s new Crafts & Drafts: Spring Shop event will showcase local artists and makers in a fun and exciting setting in midtown Memphis. Join your fellow Memphians and take over the Overton Square Courtyard and Trimble Street for a fun day of shopping local, along with fun family activities and local beers on tap!

This long-standing Mid-South tradition started as a small pastry sale and has grown into a full-fledged two-day festival boasting over 10,000 attendees every year. Go for the kabobs, baklava, and bevy of other tasty delights. Stay for the dancing!

Memphis in May returns with the 42nd World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, a Memphis staple that was deemed the “Most Prestigious Barbecue Contest” by USA Today. Every year, the event brings 75,000 attendees together to celebrate all things barbecue. More than 200 teams from around the world travel to the banks of the Mississippi River in Tom Lee Park to compete for a chance at winning over $120,000 in prizes and bragging rights. Guests who aren’t competing are invited to watch Ms. Piggie Idol, sauce wrestling, or take a walk down Barbecue Alley or the Kingsford Tour of Champions.

Get ready for another year of jazz at the Shell! The Bluff City Jazz Festival kicks off May 22 at 5 p.m. with performances by jazz veterans and new performers taking the stage by storm.

Music, games, arts & crafts, and of course, all the Italian food you can eat! Join hundreds of Memphians for another taste of Italy right here in the Bluff City.

Celebrating brunch with some of Memphis’s best restaurants in the brunch game, with some of the best bloody marys, mimosas, beer and cider in town. Stop by for an afternoon of fun games, live music, a DJ and the best meal there is.

 

June

Get your best friends together and sample some of the best margs in town at the Memphis Flyer’s annual Margarita Fest! Your ticket gets you entry to the event and 15 margarita samples from your favorite restaurants, with awesome entertainment. Food will be available for purchase, and there will also be a cash bar with full-sized drinks available. This festival, held in the Creative Arts Building in the Fairgrounds in midtown Memphis, is guaranteed ​to be awesome squared, rimmed with salt, and served up chill!

Pack a blanket and a cooler of drinks and make your way to the Levitt Shell to hear from local artists and GRAMMY-nominated performers in soul, R&B and Gospel music. 

The Craft Food & Wine Festival brings 40+ local artisanal food and beverage makers together under one roof for a tasting experience you won’t want to miss. Sample from bountiful charcuterie boards and all the accompanying jams, honey, sauces, and such plus desserts, specialty snacks, and more.

July

  • Events and festivals TBA

 

August

Mark your calendars for one of the most notable celebrations in Memphis – Elvis Week. Each year, Elvis fans from around the world gather for a celebration of the music, movies and legacy of Elvis Presley. Elvis Week features concerts, panel discussions, dances and much more – plus traditional Elvis Week events such as the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest and the annual Candlelight Vigil.

 

September

The mission of the Southern Heritage Classic is to provide an annual cultural celebration as the premier sports and entertainment event in Memphis that creates a strong economic impact and promotes higher education.

Cazateatro invites you to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at their Annual Latin Fest! The family-oriented Latin festival provides a place to gather with family and friends to listen and dance to live Latin music, taste some Latin food and drinks, also crafts for kids, vendors and fun for everyone in an open social space.

The Cooper-Young Festival, hosted by the Cooper-Young Business Association, is one of Memphis’s most anticipated outdoor celebrations. Held in Memphis’ largest historic district, the Cooper-Young Festival celebrates its 33rd year Saturday, September 19. Stop by and catch some of your favorite local artists, live performers, craftspeople and food trucks.

Gonerfest is an annual music festival hosted by Goner Records, an independent record label in Memphis. The festival showcases bands from around the world across a diverse range of genres. More information coming soon!

The 48th annual Pink Palace Crafts Fair is set to take place September 25-27! This event is the largest juried arts and crafts fair in the Mid-South. Guests will enjoy shopping, demonstrations, food, entertainment and activities for the whole family.

Mid-South Pride is an annual free festival and parade. Celebrate the local LGBTQ+ community with your fellow Memphians, enjoying live entertainment, a kids area, food and merchandise vendors, a brunch event and more.

 

October

The Mempho Music Festival will take place at Shelby Farms Park in October. Dates are set to be announced in the coming weeks with a lineup announcement in the Spring. Mempho features some of music’s biggest names playing one of the largest urban parks in America.

At the Memphis Flyer’s 5th annual Bacon & Bourbon Festival, guests will find creative bacon-inspired dishes of all kinds from some great Memphis restaurants, plus a vast array of distilled spirits to tempt your tastebuds. There will also be live music from Graber Grass and all sorts of party activities. A portion of all proceeds will go to the Memphis Farmers Market.

This 17th annual event, which takes place each fall at Agricenter International, is free to the public and attracts over 4,000 people. There will be pumpkin-painting, kid’s activities, arts and crafts, hayrides and educational stations. Entertainment will be provided by Grassfire bluegrass band and concessions are available.

MCX is one of the few remaining creator-focused conventions that shines a spotlight on artists and writers in the world of comics. Bringing you the best in local and regional talent, up and coming creators, and of course, the big names. There’s something for everyone with over 50,000 square feet of comics, a cosplay contest, video game tournament, vendors, artists & writers, food, drinks, and more!

The 23rd annual Indie Memphis Film Festival presented by Duncan-Williams, Inc., transforms the city into a connecting point for filmmakers, musicians, artists and audiences from October 21-26, 2020. The festival brings a range of independent features, documentaries, and short films to Memphis from all corners of the world.

SAVE THE DATE for this year’s annual Dia de los Muertos Parade & Festival. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and Cazateatro Bilingual Theatre Group hold this annual event, where families are invited to honor ancestors and celebrate the cycle of life and death.

RiverArtsFest is a street celebration of fine arts and fine local music with live artist demonstrations and hands-on art activities for all ages! More than 180 artists from around the country and right here in Memphis gather to exhibit and sell their latest works of original fine arts in what’s become the largest outdoor juried artist market and urban street festival in the Mid-South.

 

November

This 6th annual Crafts & Drafts event will be hosted again at the Crosstown Concourse on Saturday, November 14, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Attracting thousands of shoppers this year, the Memphis Flyer will host 85+ local artists and makers in this indoor/outdoor holiday shopping event. With live entertainment, Santa visits, and multiple beer gardens, this is sure to be a fun day at Crosstown for the whole family.

 

December

  • Holiday events and festivals TBA

Know about a festival that should be on this list? Submit it here for consideration.

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