- April Hunt For the AJC
Atlanta offers a wide variety of festivals, events and shows just about every week of the year.
To help you get some ideas of things to do that you can mark on your calendar, we've listed some of the best events for each month, for the full year.
Here are all the best Atlanta events to add to your must-do list this year:
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
For 23 days, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival brings a collection of international movies, documentaries and shorts from around the globe to various theaters around town. The 2018 festival's opening and closing night receptions will be held at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. www.ajff.org.
Martin Luther King Jr. March and Rally
Atlanta's civil rights icon is honored with multiple parades and marches in metro Atlanta, including the march and rally that caps King Week events including worship services, youth panels and human rights breakfasts. www.mlkmarchcommittee.com/
Battle of the Bands
The eight best marching bands from historically black college and universities (HBCUs) take to the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in an annual showcase of musical talent and exceptional performance. http://www.hondabattleofthebands.com
Larger-than-life trucks were the final performers in the now-demolished Georgia Dome last December, and the 12,000 pound vehicles battle at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the first time this February. New for 2018: A chance for fans to vote on final positioning of judged competitions. Remember to bring your phone to vote and earplugs to counter the 1,500-horsepower machines maneuvering in the dirt. monsterjam.com.
Mardi Gras At Avalon
Alpharetta's Avalon Boulevard turns into an OTP version of Bourbon Street, celebrating Fat Tuesday with live music and food and drink in the style of New Orleans. www.experienceavalon.com
»RELATED: Places to go in downtown Atlanta
Atlanta Science Festival
The celebration of science and technology returns for its fifth year with more than 100 events throughout the city, including the Exploration Expo in Piedmont Park. Can't miss events include a robot petting zoo, a geoscience hike on the granite dome we call Stone Mountain and the Chemistry Carnival. https://atlantasciencefestival.org/
The world-class athletes who make dazzling dunks and complex trick shots look easy – not to mention entertaining – will perform at both Duluth's Infinite Energy Arena and Phillips Arena in Atlanta. The 2018 team reflects the growing popularity of female stars and will introduce the "Flying Globies," an acrobatic trampoline dunk team. http://www.harlemglobetrotters.com/
Purim off Ponce
The annual commemoration of the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia is one of best costume parties in Atlanta. http://www.sojourngsd.org/pop2018/
»RELATED: Atlanta Festivals 2018 calendar
Atlanta Dogwood Festival
Now in its 82nd year, the three-day Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park features a juried fine art market, live music, art and jewelry for purchase and a 5K that ends with a mimosa toast. http://www.dogwood.org.
Atlanta Grilled Cheese Festival
Restaurants from across the metro will serve up their best melty, gooey treats at this two-day festival, which is moving from Old Fourth Ward to Brookhaven. The Saturday event is 21-plus only, while children are welcome on Sunday. https://www.atlantagrilledcheese.com/
Inman Park Parade
The highlight of the Inman Park Festival is its eclectic parade that, for the 10th year in a row, will feature the Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons' attempt to beat the Guinness World Record for "largest gathering of people dressed as garden gnomes.Inmanparkfestival.org.
Kentucky Derby Party
Dress in your seersucker or best giant hat and celebrate at Atlanta's largest Kentucky Derby fundraising event, Derby Day at Chastain Horse Park. In 35 years, event has raised $4.7 million for the Shepherd Center's Recreational Therapy program. https://www.derbyday.com/.
Shaky Knees Music Festival
The three-day gathering that takes its name from a My Morning Jacket song returns for its sixth year with 50-plus indie and alternative bands on three main stages, this year at Atlanta's Central Park. https://www.shakykneesfestival.com/
The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
Southern food and drink traditions take center stage when the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival takes over Midtown for a four-day celebration of the best chefs, meals and beverages between Washington, D.C. and Texas. http://atlfoodandwinefestival.com/
Roswell Lavender Festival
The free Roswell Lavender Festival at Barrington Hall includes live music, cooking and craft demonstrations food samples and even guided meditation and yoga featuring lavender. http://roswellgov.com.
The Atlanta Braves will host 15 home games at SunTrust Park in June, including one the afternoon of Father's Day. http://braves.com.
AJC Peachtree Road Race
Some 60,000 people start their Independence Day every year by lining up next to Lenox Square Mall, then running 6.2 miles in waves down Peachtree Street and veering into Piedmont Park. https://www.atlantatrackclub.org/peachtree
»RELATED: AJC Peachtree Road Race guide
Minor league baseball
The once-Gwinnett Braves start their season under a new name, the Gwinnett Stripers, in April. But they will spend half of their 28 July games home at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville. http:gostripers.com.
Pythons, king snakes, tortoises and other reptiles and amphibians will come face-to-face with museum-goers at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History's Reptile Day. http://www.fernbankmuseum.org
The Grammy-winning Atlanta country duo Sugarland ended 2017 with a comeback performance on “Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve” special. In 2018, Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush are touring together for the first time in five years, including an August date at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth. https://sugarlandmusic.com/
Starting at the end of the month and running into Labor Day weekend, Dragon Con brings together fans of science fiction, fantasy, comics and gaming for a weekend extravaganza. One highlight of the annual event is the Dragon Con parade, which features members in costumes and celebrities strutting their stuff along downtown Atlanta streets. http://dragoncon.org/
Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival
The Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival offers a balloon glow in the sky every night and a classic car show on the ground. The Labor Day weekend event, on the grounds of Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, also includes live music and fireworks. http://www.callawaygardens.com.
AJC Decatur Book Festival
Billed as the largest independent book festival in the country, the AJC Decatur Book Festival technically starts in August this year for its annual takeover of Labor Day weekend. https://www.decaturbookfestival.com/
Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade
On the first Saturday after Labor Day since 2010, a spectacle of handmade lanterns and lights have kicked off the Art on the Atlanta Beltline celebration. https://art.beltline.org/lantern-parade/
Starting in September and running into October, the Georgia State Fair will offers rides, shows, live music, animals and vendors at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton. The North Georgia State Fair will have rides, food, animals and country/Christian concerts for 10 days at Jim R. Miller Park in Marietta. https://www.georgiastatefair.org/ and http://www.northgeorgiastatefair.com.
The highlight of the annual Atlanta Pride Festival that celebrates the city's sizable LGBT community is the parade, which showcases the diverse community and supporters in a moving party down Peachtree Street and into Piedmont Park. http://atlantapride.org/
Georgia Apple Festival
The apple houses open in October, sending tourists scattering among the mountains looking for fall colors and some fried pies and barbeque. The Georgia Apple Festival brings it all together, with 300 vendors of food and handmade items, for two weekends in Ellijay. http://www.georgiaapplefestival.org/
Little 5 Points Halloween Parade
The Halloween parade in Atlanta's funkiest neighborhood features outrageous floats, wacky themed costumes and marching bands that strut for crowds along Euclid Avenue before passing the Vortex skull on their way to Freedom Parkway. http://l5phalloween.com/
Native American Festival and Powwow
The four-day Native American Festival and Powwow returns to Stone Mountain Park to showcase Native American culture through dance, music, craft demonstrations, cooking traditions, storytelling, wildlife presentations and more. https://www.stonemountainpark.com/Events/Native-American-Festival-and-Pow-Wow
After a half century performing, Elton John has announced his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour will be his last ever. He will perform at Atlanta's Phillips Arena for two nights: Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Both are expected to sell out. www.eltonjohnlive.com.
Festival of the SEAson
The Georgia Aquarium gets into the holiday spirit early, with a festival that features a light and music show, tree-lighting ceremonies, Santa and SCUBA Claus and live entertainment from mid-November through the end of the year. The aquarium's usual exhibits also will be open. https://www.georgiaaquarium.org
The holidays are a magical time for our canine pals, who for one day only can enter the Atlanta Botanical Gardens to compete in categories such as Best Lookalike and Best Botanical. The gardens will host its annual high-tech Garden Lights, Holiday Nights during the parade day. http://atlantabg.org
Christmas with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
This beloved annual concert has become a holiday favorite for many Atlantans. The show features the orchestra with a chorus, performing Christmas carols and holiday music. The ASO hosts additional holiday concerts featuring classics such as Handel's Messiah and a Holiday Pops event. www.atlantasymphony.org
Marietta PilgrimageChristmas Home Tour
Featured in Southern Living magazine, this unique home tour offers a glimpse of six homes by daylight – or three homes by candlelight – in the Whitlock Avenue District around Marietta Square. Each of the private homes has been restored and decorated for Christmas. http://www.mariettapilgrimage.com/