Shaky Knees in Atlanta

Shaky Knees in Atlanta

7 Can't-Miss Spring Music Festivals in Georgia

In Georgia, we have weather on our side for a festival season that lasts all year long. The best of spring includes the best of Georgia's signature music festivals, where a cross-section of genres take you all across the state for a full experience of live music, local flavor, cultural celebration and more.

Guitarist performing at Savannah Stopover. Photo by Geoff L. Johnson

Savannah Stopover. Photo by Geoff L. Johnson

Savannah Stopover, March 11-12, 2022

For more than a decade, Savannah Stopover has been putting on stellar lineups of ones-to-watch, saw-them-whens and look-at-them-nows of music’s hardest-working touring acts before they get to Austin’s SXSW. This spring, the festival takes place at the Georgia State Railroad Museum, where live music will radiate from multiple stages at the historic site. Be sure to arrive early for the opening night event March 10 at Service Brewing.

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Che Malambo at the Savannah Music Festival

Savannah Music Festival, March 24-April 9, 2022

Georgia's largest musical arts event and one of the most distinctive cross-genre music festivals in the world, the Savannah Music Festival is a world-class celebration of musical arts. Find a true medley of melodies where music ranges from country to folk to jazz to chamber. Venues showcase the best of Savannah’s walkable vibrancy and include intimate churches, synagogues and club venues, breezy outdoor streets settings and revered cultural centers and historic theatre spaces, like the Johnny Mercer Theater. With a strength in classical music, Americana, acoustic and jazz -- but also rock n’ roll, dance events and a variety of world music -- the Savannah Music Festival is the tie that binds an immersive, global music experience to peak spring in an iconic Southern city.

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Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega, Georgia

Bear on the Square Mountain Festival, Dahlonega, April 23-24, 2022

Bear on the Square is as authentic as it gets. This Appalachian heritage festival and experience will play you some mountain music -- or you pick your own fiddle, bajo, dulcimore and more and join in on this annual town tradition. Dahlonega's historic public square is prime music territory for two full days, kicked off with pre-festival jam sessions on Friday as live music circulates all weekend. Spotlighting bluegrass and old-time music, Bear on the Square also includes a juried artist marketplace featuring traditional mountain crafts, storytelling, free music workshops and demonstrations, local wine and beer, dancing and more against a backdrop of mountain city springtime charm.

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Sweetwater 420 Fest in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta

SweetWater 420 Fest, Atlanta, April 29-May 1, 2022

With its annual dynamic blend of music, arts and local brew, plus a healthy dose of food, entertainment and respect for Mother Earth, the SweetWater 420 Fest is a revered annual tradition that celebrates springtime in the city. What started on the small stage at SweetWater Brewing Company has blossomed to today’s jam-packed, mega-festival status in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.

But even with major headliners like The String Cheese Incident, Snoop Dogg, Trey Anastasio Band and more, SweetWater 420 Fest still has the heart of the local brewer. In addition to the entertainment, you can taste more than 25 unique styles of SweetWater beers, enjoy presentations on topics “as wide as our brewers’ bellies,” such as sustainability, and experience an artist market, food court and eco-village. This is where beer, music and the spring season get the best of each other.

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The MILL Amphitheater in Villa Rica, Georgia

West Georgia Jazz Festival, Villa Rica, April 30, 2022

Villa Rica is the birthplace of the Father of Gospel Music Thomas Dorsey, but before he wrote his best-known composition “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” he was also a revered blues pianist who accompanied Ma Rainey with his Wild Cats Jazz Band. So, while Villa Rica is worth a return visit for the annual Thomas Dorsey Birthplace Festival in June, consider the West Georgia Jazz Festival a perfect spring primer to the city’s festival season, where jazz, blues and gospel remain rooted. This rain-or-shine festival takes place at The MILL Amphitheater, and it features multiple acts during the day and an evening headliner. The event is free to attend, and reserved seating can be purchased.

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Little Roy and Lizzie

Little Roy and Lizzie Music Festival, Lincolnton, April 28-30, 2022

The Lewis Family Homeplace in Lincolnton makes the perfect spring setting for the Little Roy and Lizzie Music Festival, a regional bluegrass experience featuring on-site camping and more bluegrass acts than you can shake a fiddlestick at. This rain-or-shine event has a big tent for inclement weather and has become a destination festival headlined by the talent of “Little Roy” Lincoln and Lizzy Long of the Little Roy and Lizzie Show. Little Roy has carried the Lincoln Family’s “First Family of Bluegrass Gospel” music tradition with him, recognized today as one of the foremost five-string banjo pickers in the country.

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Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta

Shaky Knees Festival, Atlanta, April 29-May 1, 2022

It's one of the youngest, biggest, hippest music festivals in Atlanta, and with its cityscape landscape and stellar line-up of 60-plus acts, Shaky Knees is on solid ground in Georgia. Since its inception in 2013, Shaky Knees has featured a diverse lineup, ranging from world-renowned acts to up-and-coming artists. It’s more than a music festival but a full-throttle, three-day extravaganza with late-night shows and post-fest parties at local venues featuring more intimate sets from many of the festival's acts. With heavy-hitting headliners like Green Day, Nine Inch Nails and My Morning Jacket, Shaky Knees is three-day take-over of a rock lover's dream.

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Athens Twilight Criterium

Worth mentioning: Athens Twilight Criterium, April 29-30, 2022

Cycling may be center stage, but the Athens Twilight Criterium is a 40-plus-year tradition that doesn't just attract 150 eager cyclists from around the world and now plays up what Athens does best: live music! The festival-like atmosphere is full of large, energetic crowds, kid-friendly events and an outdoor music stage with performances on Friday.

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Published: January 2022