Memorial Day weekend means different things to different folks. Of course you have the true significance of the holiday. For others, it’s the start of summer blockbuster season. Others forgo the darkened theater for outdoor action. Regardless of how you plan to fill your holiday weekend planner, there are more than enough choices to please. Here are but a few.
24th Annual Atlanta Caribbean Carnival Mas and Music at Sweet Auburn
All of the bold, bright and feathery pageantry of a Caribbean-style carnival celebration bursts on the scene. It begins at noon at the Civic Center MARTA station with the Parade of Bands. Groups donning lavish costumes, traditional marching bands, cultural organizations, civic groups and other colorfully clad participants hoof it -- mostly down Peachtree Street -- all the way to the Sweet Auburn district. That’s the site of the Festival Village located at the corner of Auburn Avenue and Fort Street. Beginning at approximately 3 p.m. an onslaught of more than a dozen popular Caribbean acts perform including Soca artists Skinny Fabulous, Kerwin Du Bois and Claudette Peters. Vendors shill Caribbean food, and arts and crafts within the Festival Village. The performances are set to end at 10 p.m.
Parade begins at noon; music begins at approximately 3 p.m. May 26. $15 entry to Festival Village; free ages 10 and younger. Auburn Avenue and Fort Street, Atlanta. 404-519-6120, www.atlantacarnival.org.
Justin Townes Earle at Roswell Cultural Arts Center
Americana poster boy Justin Townes Earle launches the holiday weekend at an arguably unlikely OTP venue. The attractive 600-seat Roswell Cultural Arts Center plays host to the oft-tortured Earle, who will likely serve up songs from all of his studio albums. The most recent, “Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now,” was recorded live in the studio and features a blast of Memphis-style horns. The dreadlocked, bluesy Joe McGuinness gets things started. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., so get there early to snag a choice general admission seat.
8 p.m. May 25. $35 advance; $40 at the door. Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. 770-594-6232, www.roswellpresents.com.
Bret Michaels at Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater
Just a little more than a month before he and his band Poison share the stage with Def Leppard and Lita Ford at Lakewood, frontman Bret Michaels brings his solo Get Your Rock On Tour to the Fred. That doesn’t mean he won’t be dipping into Poison’s bag of hits including “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and “Something to Believe In.” The bleached blonde mike slinger and reality TV star has a handful of solo discs to cull from, too, including the upcoming “Get Your Rock On.” Although he calls it a full-on rock disc, bonus tracks reportedly include Michaels and country legend Loretta Lynn performing a duet of “Thorn,” and Michaels teaming with Jimmy Buffett on a live version of “Margaritaville.”
7 p.m. May 26. $45-$65. Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater, 201 McIntosh Trail, Peachtree City. 770-631-0630, www.amphitheater.org.
Brew at the Zoo at Zoo Atlanta
Now in its fifth year, this food and wine festival allows those 21 and older the opportunity to tip back libations among the wildlife. And we’re not talking about wildlife of the hooch parlor variety. The unlimited beer and wine samples will be available throughout the zoo itself. Visitors get up-close-and-personal animal encounters, access to zoo keeper talks and demonstrations, and free train and carousel rides. Don’t let the latter perk fool you. The rides are for big kids only, because no one younger than the legal drinking age will be admitted. If we had to guess, both Generations X and Y will likely make up most of the demographic, because early-’90s, hip-hop group Arrested Development is the featured act. It’s probably the only time you’ll ever hear “Mr. Wendal” with an elephant horn section in the background.
5:30-9:30 p.m. May 26. $38-$48. Zoo Atlanta, 800 Cherokee Ave. S.E., Atlanta. 404-624-9453, www.zooatlanta.org.
Still Swinging at Glover Park
The 2012 edition of the Glover Park Concert Series in Marietta Square is still fresh out of the box. The second event of the season jumps, jives and wails to the sounds of the big band era. Founded and led by trombone player Les Still, Still Swinging consists of some of the same seasoned players you might see in the orchestra pit of the Fox or Chastain Park. Since it’s the holiday weekend, don’t be surprised to hear some patriotic tunes in the set. “America the Beautiful” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” are a few of the many tracks in the band’s repertoire. They may even slide in a song or two from the late ’90s swing revival. Think “Zoot Suit Riot.” The concert is free, but tables are available while supplies last; $45 for a party of six, and $55 for a party of eight. Only blankets and lawn chairs are allowed in the park. Guests can stake their claim as early as 4 p.m. the day of the show. Tables and chairs may be brought and set up in the street on North Park Square after 6 p.m. The Glover Park Concert Series continues through September. Upcoming shows include Doobie Brothers tribute act China Grove (June 29), Yacht Rock Schooner (August 24) and the Georgia Symphony Orchestra Jazz band (August 25).
8 p.m. May 25. Free. Glover Park, 50 N. Park Square, Marietta. 770-794-5601, http://www.mariettaga.gov/city/residents/parks/specialevents/concertseries.
Memorial Day Weekend Festivities at LanierWorld
Special events stretch across the entire holiday weekend at LanierWorld, Lake Lanier Islands’ water park, beach and entertainment complex. Among the highlights is a special fireworks show exploding at dusk on May 27. The Thank God It’s Summer party takes place on Memorial Day itself featuring a live performance by High Fidelity from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Atlanta-based cover band specializes in danceable rock from the ’80s to the chart toppers of today. Admission to LanierWorld includes access to the holiday revelry and the park’s attractions. LanierWorld consists of three sections: Family Fun Park, Big Beach and Sunset Cove. Amenities run the gamut from an array of water slides, carnival rides, a mini golf course and more.
10 a.m.-7 p.m. May 25; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. May 26-27; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. May 28. $16.99-$34.99; $11.99-$19.99 for those 41-inches tall and shorter; free ages 2 and younger. LanierWorld, 7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford. 770-932-7218, www.lanierworld.com.
Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision at Stone Mountain Park
When the multicolored beams of light start slicing across the night sky above Stone Mountain, it’s a sign of the season. And the extravaganza gets some extra oomph due to the holiday weekend. As a nod to our military veterans, the production includes a special, extended fireworks finale Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights. It’s a choreographed musical salute to the men and women who have served and those who continue to serve our country. Folks who fall into those categories and have a valid military ID each score a free Adventure Pass. They can get as much as $10 off per person for immediate family members. Adventure Passes allow guests access to most of the park’s attractions including Sky Hike, the 4-D Theater, Scenic Railroad and the Geyser Towers, the new water-logged climbing adventure. Don’t forget to flash that ID at the park gift shops and concession stands. Military ID holders receive a 20 percent discount throughout the weekend on most merchandise, food and beverages.
10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. May 26-28; Lasershow Spectacular: 9:30 p.m May 26-28. Adventure Pass: $28; $22 ages 3-11; free ages 2 and younger. Family discounts available online. $10 parking per vehicle. Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Drive, Stone Mountain. 770-498-5690, www.stonemountainpark.com.
Decatur Arts Festival at the Decatur Square
Now in its 24th year the Decatur Arts Festival firmly cements itself as one of the outdoor go-and-do highlights the hip in-town small town has to offer. More than 160 artists sell their work underneath the tents in the artists market, which sprawls on and around the Decatur Square. Ceramics, paintings, metalwork, woodwork, jewelry, photography and sculpture are just a smidgen of what visitors can find. Organize your shopping plan of attack early by visiting the fest’s website. Go to the Events section and select Artists Market. Each artist and their booth number is listed underneath his or her respective category. Grab a festival map when you arrive and then visit the booths on your hit list. As you shop, be it traditional or window style, you’ll have music in the background. More than 10 acts perform on the Community Bandstand throughout the two days. Don’t miss the Shadowboxers at 4 p.m. on Saturday. This R&B, rock and soul hybrid opened up for The Indigo Girls on its 2011 summer tour. Other acts include the all-female drumming group ConunDrums, Larkin Poe and The Bonaventure Quartet. Aussie ax man Geoff Achison and the Soul Diggers bring the blues at 4 p.m. Sunday. Organizers suggest riding MARTA to the festival. Those who bike to the event score free parking with a special bike valet service.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 26; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. May 27. Free. E. Court Square and E. Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur. 404-371-9583, www.decaturartsfestival.com.