Fall festival season arrives even before the leaves start turning. Be it a cultural immersion, an artsy indulgence, or exercises in in-town hip and small-town quaint, there’s a festival that should fit your personality.
Yellow Daisy Festival
Stone Mountain Park’s convergence of artists and crafters first bloomed modestly 47 years ago. The latest installment serves as a four-day bountiful bouquet in the park’s events meadow. More than 400 participants from 38 states and two countries will be on hand. Shoppers can scope the booths and munch on festival edibles, and kids can get playful in the Children’s Corner. Live music will include Americana, jazz, rock and country. Even football fanatics can get their fix watching games in the Men’s Den. Why Yellow Daisy Festival? Hikers can find the flower along the mountain’s trails.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 10-11, 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Sept. 12, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 13. Free. $15 daily parking, $40 annual parking pass. Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Drive, Stone Mountain. 1-800-401-2407, stonemountainpark.com.
This September celebration will take place in Suwanee’s 10-acre Town Center Park. Expectations may be high this year, as the 2014 edition took top festival honors at the Southeast Festivals and Events Association 2015 Kaleidoscope Awards. The festival parade will launch at 9 a.m. Sept. 19, and participants are encouraged to get creative for prizes and bragging rights. An arts and crafts market will share space with chow vendors. Also on offer will be lots of music and live performances, including a high school choir, local dance groups and even a reptile show. A Billy Joel and Elton John tribute band will perform at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 19.
9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 19, noon-5 p.m. Sept. 20. Town Center Park, 370 Highway 23, Suwanee. 770-945-8996, suwaneefest.com.
This festival at Infinite Energy Forum, formerly Gwinnett Center, will feature exhibits and performances tied to certain areas of Japan. Sounds will come in the form of taiko drumming, Japanese pop and rock, jazzy acoustic folk and classical music. Japanese dance performances will range from traditional to contemporary. Eyes may widen at martial arts demonstrations, the clashing of samurai swords and a bicycle-riding robot boy. You also can taste offerings from local Japanese eateries, buy from festival vendors and get animated at the Anime Village.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 19; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 20. $10; free ages 6 and younger. Infinite Energy Forum, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth. 404-842-0736, japanfest.org.
Glover Park provides the special events canvas for this two-day festival. Arts and crafts vendors will include a special jewelry row showcasing artful bling. As adults get their shopping on, young ones can dive into the expanded Children’s Zone for make-and-take crafts, inflatables and other attractions. A car show featuring righteous rides will roll from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 19. That same day will see the Marietta Grassroots Music Festival (3-9 p.m.). The fest serves as a fundraiser for the Marietta Museum of History, which will be open for free during festival weekend.
9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sept. 19; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 20. Free. Glover Park, 50 N. Park Square, Marietta. mariettastreetfest.com.
Atlanta Greek Festival
As it hits the big 4-0, don’t expect this annual event to show signs of graying. It looks to be as vibrant as ever, with plenty of “opas” sure to be heard. Guests can park and hop on shuttles at Century Center Office Park on Clairmont Road. Upon arrival, it’s all Greek to you, both indoors and out. Traditional music inevitably lures visitors to the dance floor. Others opt to boogie with baklava and an assortment of other Greek dishes. And there will be cooking demonstrations, cultural exhibits and retail vendors. Can’t commit to a full-on visit? The fest will offer drive-through food service all four days.
5-10 p.m. Sept. 24; 5-11 p.m. Sept. 25; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sept. 26; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 27. Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 2500 Clairmont Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-633-5870, atlantagreekfestival.org.
Duluth Fall Festival
Downtown Duluth goes all out for its annual fall fete. A flashy, full-on carnival — think brightly lit midway, Ferris wheel and other rides — will crank up two days before the fest and run throughout the weekend. A parade, featuring former Atlanta Falcon Chuck Smith as grand marshal, is set for 10 a.m. Sept. 26. Offerings from more than 250 artists and craftspeople will run the gamut from paintings to pottery and soaps to stitchery. More than 50 food vendors will offer funnel cakes, kettle corn and other expected eats. Live music and performers will include an Elvis tribute artist and a Mexican dance troupe. The Duluth Donut Dash 5K race will take place the morning of Sept. 27, as will a nondenominational Christian worship service at Duluth Town Green.
9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 26, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 27. Duluth Festival Center, 3142 Hill St., Duluth. 855-385-8841, duluthfallfestival.org.
East Atlanta Strut
East Atlanta wears its eccentricities proudly for this one-day annual event. The day will hit the ground running with 5K, 2-mile and 1-mile road races. Later in the morning, the intersection of Flat Shoals and Glenwood avenues will come alive with music, food and drink vendors, an artist market, kiddie activities and grown-up games. The latter include Feats and Eats at the Midway, featuring carnival games, eating contests and a hipster beard competition. The parade will step off at 2 p.m., with over-the-top floats, marching bands and more. Although the fest remains free, drinkers must pay $5 for a wristband, which can be purchased at the festival itself and at participating East Atlanta bars and restaurants. You can get started the night before with the East Atlanta Roll (Before You Strut), a car and motorcycle show running 4-11 p.m. Sept. 25.
11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sept. 26. Free. Intersection of Flat Shoals and Glenwood avenues, Atlanta. eastatlantastrut.com.
Fall Fest in Candler Park
The 55-acre in-town park serves as ground zero for this seasonal soiree. Even before the fest officially opens Oct. 3, participants in the Totally ’80s 5K and 1-mile fun run will be slipping on leg warmers and other period costumes. Beginning at noon, arts vendors will offer their wares against a musical backdrop featuring Gringo Star, Blair Crimmins & the Hookers and tribute bands Smithsonian (the Smiths) and Clashinista (the Clash). Also on hand will be a bevy of food trucks, and younger guests can explore Kidlandia, with its hands-on activities and attractions. A ticketed Tour of Homes event outside the park will provide a look at old-school abodes and even treehouses.
Noon-9 p.m. Oct. 3-4. Free. Tour of Homes: $20-$25. Candler Park, 1500 McLendon Ave. N.E., Atlanta. fallfest.candlerpark.org.
Festival on Ponce
Located in three sections of Olmsted Linear Park along busy Ponce de Leon Avenue, this fest has both fall and spring editions. The October festival will gather more than 125 purveyors of art. Booths featuring fine art and crafts will sit next to folk and outsider art amid the park’s winding walkways. There’ll be live music, and tots can romp among inflatables and other kiddie attractions. Food trucks and grub vendors will provide festival fuel.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 17; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 18. Free. Olmsted Linear Park, 1451 Ponce de Leon Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-873-1222, festivalonponce.com.
Atlanta Arts Festival
About 200 artisans from around the country will bring their creative game for this juried arts festival and shopapalooza. Painters, sculptors, glass blowers, photographers and others will set up along the snaking pathways of Piedmont Park. But the fest is more than simply a chance to acquire art. You can flex your own artistic muscles and walk away with newfound knowledge by taking a two-hour Canvas by U! adult art class. The festival’s Creation Station holds art demonstrations and classes throughout the weekend, from jewelry making to basket weaving. Kids can get interaction and entertainment in the Lil’ Artist Alley. You can indulge in plenty of festival food and liquids, and the Art of Cooking stage will have cooking demonstrations and tastings courtesy of local chefs. Plus, there’ll be live musical performances. Instead of driving to the park itself, organizers suggest using one of several options found on the website.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 24; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 25. Free. Piedmont Park, 14th Street and Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta. atlantaartsfestival.com.