Bought in 1834 for $450, closed to traffic in 1983, and today the 189-acre crown jewel of Atlanta green space, Piedmont Park is an Atlanta icon. Centrally located in the heart of midtown, its big enough to host our largest concert and festival productions, and versatile in its offering for families, young professionals and day-drinking festival herds alike.
For that versatility and durability, we can credit Mark Banta, and the public-private partnership between the city of Atlanta and the Piedmont Park Conservancy he leads. The conservancy is a charitable community group entrusted with fundraising, operation and improvement in the park modeled after New York's Central Park Conservancy.
"We're proudly going to host more than four million visitors in Piedmont Park this year," said Banta, president of the Piedmont Park Conservancy. "While many come to the park for the big, exciting events, we're also working hard to generate the private donations that keep the space versatile in our offerings and sustainable in our operations for the benefit of all in Atlanta."
The park is open daily from 6 a.m.-11 p.m.
2017 events at Piedmont Park:
Atlanta Jazz Festival
Each Memorial Day weekend, the Atlanta Jazz Festival sets itself in Piedmont Park and freely gives the world the great jazz music of our time. There is no cost to attend, and previous performers include both historic legends like Miles Davis, Dizzie Gillespie, Nina Simone and contemporary stars like Trombone Shorty and Kermit Ruffins. AJC.com music blogger Melissa Ruggieri recently posted a sneak peek into the Jazz Festival lineup for 2017 that includes jazz phenom Robert Glasper.
Festival Peachtree Latino
Festival Peachtree Latino has been held each August since 2000 to celebrate Hispanic-American culture. It has been reported as the largest multicultural event in Georgia; a mix of more than 250 exhibitors, arts and crafts, dance demonstrations, ethnic foods and live music from around the world. Festival Peachtree Latino is free to attend and open to the public.
If you think there is anything more quintessentially Atlanta than Music Midtown nights spent in Piedmont Park, we're all ears. The 2017 lineup hasn't been announced, but one thing is certain: many of the biggest names in entertainment will take Atlanta's favorite summer stage to make 2017’s festival one to remember. Last year's lineup included DNCE, Beck, Alabama Shakes and Collegrove (Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz) among many others. Catch all the Music Midtown updates, photos, video and more here.
Atlanta Pride Festival
The 47th annual Atlanta Pride festival will come to Piedmont Park in October, bringing its somehow-still-controversial parade to an end at Piedmont Park's 10th Street and Charles Allen Boulevard entrance. The park will have entertainment and activities throughout the weekend, as both Atanta's LGBT community and visitors from around the world descend on the park and the unmistakable rainbow-themed crosswalks of 10th Street. The Pride Festival began in 1970 and continues today on a mission "to promote unity, visibility and self-esteem among lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender persons." Previous entertainers and speakers of note include Coretta Scott King, Rep. John Lewis and Meghan Trainor.
The future of events at Piedmont Park
Whether Piedmont Park remains a viable host to the concerts and festivals of Atlanta in the decades ahead will have much to do with Banta and his team. The conservancy must raise more than $3.25 million annually to keep the park running and to ensure its ecosystems are thriving in an environment where millions of people share the space today, and even more as the city grows. The park connects with the terminal end of the east side Beltline, a fact that is sure to drive substantial visitor increases in coming years.
"If we don't care for the park in the fullest sense, it will be difficult to keep the park in its form," Banta said. "But I am also confident that we can raise the financial contributions needed and the support in non-monetary contributions.
"There has been an incredible influx of young professionals to Atlanta who care about the sustainability of our most meaningful spaces. As our city is growing we are also becoming more sustainability-driven. We're finding better ways to interact with natural space, and more active participants in both the charitable and service-oriented commitments to Piedmont Park. Groups like the Young Professionals for Piedmont Park and other efforts – those are the initiatives that people spearhead to keep the sanctity of our space intact."
For those interested in supporting the conservancy or in learning more about Young Professionals for Piedmont Park, visit piedmontpark.org.