Top 20 Events

Plan your escape:


Jan. 1 26th Annual Polar Bear Dip, Orange Beach, Ala. 850-492-0611  Ensure a prosperous New Year with a chilly swim in the Gulf.  Warm up with music on the beach, steaming bowls of blackeyed peas and frothy New Year’s toasts!

Jan. 1, Feb. 6, Mar.6 First Friday, Gadsden, Ala. 256-547-8696 First Friday of every month the streets of downtown Gadsden are closed, classic cars roll in and the party begins! Live entertainment, special events, sales, food  and artists takeover downtown.

Jan. 6 – Feb. 16 Bayou Lafourche Mardi Gras, Lafourche Parish, La. 1-877-537-5800 A celebration like no other! Over 15 parades, Carnival Balls, parties and Tableaus.  Have a big family picnic, barbeque or seafood boil before the first float hits the streets!

Jan. 14-23 The Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival, Tampa, Fla. 1-888-224-1733 (x3143) Experience a unique blend of African and African American art, culture and history. The ten-day event features speakers, musicians, artists, poets, and craftspeople.

Jan. 15-18 Dream 365 MLK Celebration, Columbus, Miss. 662-425-1234 To honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the celebration will feature musical entertainment, student competitions, awards banquet and much more.

Jan. 22-30 The Augusta Futurity, Augusta, Ga. 706-823-3362 It’s the largest cutting horse event east of the Mississippi and is complemented by the Western Family Fun Festival, Championship Bull Riding and more.

Jan. 23-31 Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts & Humanities (ZORA!), Eatonville, Fla. 407-647-3307 Named in honor of 20th century literary figure Zora Neale Hurston, this multi-day celebration of the arts and humanities features museum exhibitions, public talks, panel discussions, workshops, and concerts.

Jan. 29 – Feb. 21 Edison Festival of Light, Fort Myers, Fla. 239-334-2999 A three week celebration honoring Thomas Edison and the new age of invention.  Enjoy the parades, science and invention fairs, concerts, crafts, races, fireworks and much more!

Jan. 30-31 Cape Fear Model Railroad Society's 13th Annual Model Railroad Show and Sale, Wilmington, N.C. 910-617-1724 Don’t miss the train for this event that features model railroad dealers, free clinics by Tom Staley, door prizes and raffles for train sets.

Jan. 30 - Feb. 15 Carnival on the Coast Mississippi Gulf Coast, Miss. 888-467-4853 An exciting season for the young, old, locals, and visitors! Elaborately decorated floats throw “treasures” to eager bystanders as they enjoy 23 parades--each parade having 20 or more floats!

The deadline to apply to be a Spring (April, May, June) 2010 event is Oct. 9, 2009. For an application, visit the STS Top 20 web page.


Feb. 1-28 Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration, Hilton Head Island, S.C. 1-877-650-0676 A month-long celebration that honors the descendants of slavery by offering a glimpse into their past by showcasing their history and legacy through music, storytelling, dance, food and crafts.

Feb. 4-6 North Carolina Jazz Festival, Wilmington, N.C. 910-793-1111 One of the largest traditional jazz festivals in the Southeast!  Celebrating 30 years of the festival, a musical birthday cruise and barbeque will take place on Cape Fear River.

Feb. 4-6 Southwest District Livestock Show & Rodeo, Western Heritage Days, Lake Charles, La. 800-456-7952 Everyone’s a cowboy during Western Days—and can participate in a live cattle drive!  Wander back to the “Old West” with pony rides, a gumbo cook-off, gun fights and more.

Feb. 4-7 Winter Heritage Festival in the Smokies, Townsend, Tenn. 865-448-6134 A celebration of human history, natural beauty, and cultural traditions.  Enjoy talks, tours, demonstrations, exhibits, musical performances, a barn dance, guided hikes in the Smokies, more.

Feb. 10 – Mar. 21 11th Annual Gulf Coast Winter Classic Horseshow, Gulfport, Miss. 228-832-3691 Six-week event highlighting some of the sport’s finest equine athletes from across the nation! With approximately 1,000 horses it’s the largest hunter/jumper show on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Feb. 13-15 ArtiGras Fine Arts Festival, Jupiter, Fla. 561-748-3945 The three-day outdoor arts festival showcases a juried exhibition of 300 gallery-quality fine artists, live entertainment, interactive arts, activities for children and artist demonstrations.

Feb. 18-20 Georgia National Rodeo, Perry, Ga. 478-987-3247 Cowboys and cowgirls from all over compete in major rodeo events and specialty acts, such as, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, barrel racing and bull riding.

Feb. 19-21 Dogwood Arts House & Garden Show, Knoxville, Tenn. 865-637-4561 The largest house and garden show in East Tennessee for do-it-yourselfers and gardening enthusiasts.  Provides a unique marketplace for shopping and inspiration with home and garden related products and services.

Feb. 20 5th Annual Punta Gorda Wine & Jazz Festival, Punta Gorda, Fla. 941-639-3720 In one of the most picturesque waterfront settings in Southwest Florida, enjoy the sounds of jazz and tastes of Punta Gorda while sitting on the banks of Charlotte Harbor.

Feb. 26-28 Big Cypress Shootout, Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, Fla. 800-GO-SAFARI A reenactment of the Second Seminole War will be presented, as well as music, food, artisans, tomahawk throws, archery competition, Seminole and soldier camps, venomous snake shows and alligator wrestling.

Need a place to stay while visiting these events? Visit to help plan your weekend getaway.

MARCH 2010

Mar. 4-7 Nashville Lawn & Garden Show Nashville, Tenn. 615-876-7680 Experience the many flavorful delights of gardening!  Event includes free lectures and cooking demonstrations, 250 exhibit booths offering products, plants, service, gardening supplies and equipment.

Mar. 4-14 Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City, Fla. 813-752-9194 Great food, hot music, family fun, and delicious Plant City strawberry shortcake awaits you!  Experience Grammy-award winning entertainment, contests, parades with floats, Mar. ing bands and more!

Mar. 5-6 Black Heritage Festival, Lake Charles, La. 800-456-7952 Achievements of African-Americans are highlighted through cultural and performing arts.  Festival activities include live music, art exhibits, pageants, contests, cheer and dance competitions, a Kid Zone, and more.

Mar. 6-7 Jerry Brown Arts Festival, Hamilton, Ala. 205-921-3632 Enjoy the art world as traditions of our southern heritage, artistic legacies and customs are honored while providing the opportunity to experience and participate in potentially lost forms of art.

Mar. 8-15 Hilton Head International Piano Competition, Hilton Head Island, S.C. 843-842-5880 Twenty of the world's best pianists, ages 18 through 30, compete in four exciting rounds of competition for cash and prizes.

Mar. 10-14 16th Annual A Mountain Quiltfest, Pigeon Forge, Tenn. 865-429-7350 A favorite for quilters and crafters!  This special event offers dozens of classes and seminars taught by the nation’s top quilting instructors, and the large quilt show and vendor mall.

Mar. 12-14 Grillin & GREEN on the MS Gulf Coast! Mississippi Gulf Coast, Miss. 888-467-4853 Parades, festivals, and fun!  Score some “throws or prizes” from decorated floats, enjoy food, live entertainment, children’s activities, a grilling competition, and hundreds of arts & crafts vendors.

Mar. 12-14 Blue Grass Trust Antiques & Garden Show, Lexington, Ky. 859-253-0362 Over sixty nationally and internationally renowned antique and garden exhibitors are showcased.  Listen to outstanding speakers and attend informative workshops as you visit.

Mar. 13-14 Shamrock City at Rock City, Lookout Mountain, Ga. 706-820-2531 (x213) Find the luck of the Irish by celebrating with food, specialty beer, music, and other entertainment!  Do an “Irish jig” by the new vendor booths.  Don’t miss the green waterfall!

Mar. 13-14 23rd Annual Forsythia Festival, Forsyth, Ga. 888-642-4628 A family-centered event featuring a two-day arts & crafts show, children’s fair, a 5K and one-mile fun run, sporting tournaments, live entertainment, and much more.

Mar. 13-14 2010 Festival of Art, Orange Beach, Ala. 251-981-ARTS Art aficionados flock to view a wide variety of eclectic to fine art.  Festival also features toe-tapping music, Children’s Art Alley with hands-on projects, and Author’s Row for book signings.

Mar. 13 Warrenton Hunt Point to Point Races, Warrenton, Va. 540-219-1400 Enjoy the brisk beginning of spring as a family outing to enjoy the thoroughbreds and hunting hounds.  Witness timber races over wood fences, steeplechases over hurdles and two flat races.

Mar. 17 First Ever Seventh Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade, Hot Springs National Park, Ark. 501-321-2027 Held on the world’s shortest street in everyday use, the parade features dozens of lighthearted floats, marching groups, bands, and a celebrity grand marshal.  Be sure to catch some beads!

Mar. 19-21 News Sentinel Women Today, Knoxville, Tenn. 865-342-6863 Serious and casual shoppers are invited to browse 300+ exhibitor booths. Guests can attend celebrity presentations, the pet fashion show and adoption drive, the Food City Cooking School.

Mar. 19-21 Iowa Rabbit Festival Iowa, La. 800-456-7952    The only festival dedicated to the rabbit industry! The Miss Bunny Pageant is held in conjunction with the event. Kid's events include petting zoo, pony and carnival rides.

Mar. 19-28 Macon, Georgia's International Cherry Blossom Festival, Macon, Ga. 478-751-7429 Fun and adventure is featured under a canopy of over 300,000 blooming trees in the Cherry Blossom capital of the world!  Enjoy hot-air balloons, parades, fireworks, concerts.

Mar. 24-28 Ozark Foothills FilmFest, Batesville, Ark. 870-251-1189 An eclectic, family-friendly celebration of the cinema arts that is non-competitive and filmmaker-focused. Following most screenings, filmmaker Q&As and social gatherings take place for audience-filmmaker interaction.

Mar. 25-28 The Festival of Flowers, Mobile, Ala. 251-639-2050 A volunteer-based annual garden show dedicated to the promotion of gardening and  horticultural excellence while encouraging the preservation of the environment and conservation of natural resources.

Mar. 26-28 Summerville Family YMCA Flowertown Festival, Summerville, S.C. 843-871-9622 (x119) Flocking from across the southeast, adults and children are excited to celebrate the spring season with over 200 arts & crafts vendors, the “Taste of Summerville,” Children’s Jubilee.

Mar. 27-28    Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival, Conyers, Ga. 770-860-4190 As the town blooms with Cherry blossoms, shop among 300 artist and crafter booths, play in the interactive children’s area, dine in the international food court and watch cultural performances.

Southeast Tourism Society
3400 Peachtree Road, Suite 725, Atlanta, GA 30326
404.364.9847 e-mail:
Top 20 Event descriptions are written in conjunction with Lyn Fendley Foster.

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