Best Arts Festivals In Atlanta

April 2, 2012 6:00 AM


As spring approaches, Georgia’s new year of art festivals are just around the corner. Atlantans will purchase new paintings and photographs to decorate their homes as well as jewelry and other crafts. Unlike the commercial art fares of Miami and New York, these festivals are more about fun than finding the next big thing. Whether it’s for the music, the beer or a centerpiece for the living room, thousands will be visiting these art festivals throughout 2012.
dogwoodfestivalofthearts Best Arts Festivals In Atlanta


The 76th Annual Dogwood Festival of the Arts

1320 Monroe Drive, NE
Atlanta, GA 30306
(404) 817-6642

Price: Free
Dates: April 20 to April 22, 2012
Hours: Friday: Noon to 9 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Art market closes at 7 p.m.)

Many Georgians think of this festival as an annual obligation, and many craft vendors from the surrounding states make the Annual Dogwood Festival the one worth the journey. There is a carnival atmosphere thanks to the merry-go-round and the fair food. Funnel cake, potato ribbons and lemonade are staples. The side effect of having so many artists to check out is that the crowds can quickly overwhelm.

atlantaartsfest geoffreyharris1 Best Arts Festivals In Atlanta

(credit: Geoffrey Harris /

Atlanta Arts Festival
1071 Piedmont Ave. NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
Neighborhood: Midtown
(770) 941-9660

Price: Free
Dates and times: September 15 to September 16, 2012 – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Like most of these festivals, visitors to the Atlanta Arts Festival will find a healthy mix of interesting bric-a-brac to complement the paintings and photography booths. There is a slightly sharper focus on the tone of artwork here, though, as this festival awards prizes. There are some novelty art and cooking classes offered as well, but the art tents are the main attraction. The variety of food and beer and wines are par for the course, fair food and barbecue are ubiquitous.

chastainartsfestival Best Arts Festivals In Atlanta


Chastain Park Arts Festival
4469 Stella Drive
Atlanta, GA 30327

Price: Free
Dates: November 3 to November 4, 2012
Hours: Saturday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

This will only be the second year of this festival, but its no insult to say that it is simply a more obscure version of the Dogwood and Atlanta Arts Festivals discussed above. While the scale is slightly smaller, so are the crowds. There are juried awards, once again, which is a plus for participants as well as the increased attention for their displays.

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The 24th Annual Decatur Arts Festival
Corner of Ponce and Church Streets
Decatur, GA 30030

Price: Free
Dates: Memorial Day weekend, May 26 to May27, 2012
Hours: Saturday, May 26: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, May 27: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Fine Arts Exhibition Closing Reception Sunday, June 3:  4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Decatur Arts Festival is different because it’s a longer, more involved affair. There is a month of programming, which is great for nearby residents. There are opening and closing receptions for the fine arts exhibition which encourage appreciation for art versus the “always be selling” mentality of most festivals. Take advantage of the prolonged format; pick and choose among theater events, dance events, a silent auction and even a sub-festival, which highlights the artwork of kids.

summerfest1 Best Arts Festivals In Atlanta


Atlanta, GA 30306

Price: Free
Dates: June 2 to June 3, 2012
Hours: Saturday: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This juried festival boasts impressive sales every year, however some vendors report hit-or-miss results depending on their luck. While the traveling artists have a risk to consider, the visitors rarely leave disappointed. There are the usual staples: good food, good music, good beer, and plenty of art and crafts to see. This event is a scaled down version of the Decatur event, in that the surrounding shops and neighborhood provide another feature for visitors.

Related: Best Movie Theaters In Atlanta

athfest Best Arts Festivals In Atlanta


300 N. Thomas Street
Athens, GA 30601

Price: Outdoor Stages Free, Individual events and Wristband prices TBA
Dates: June 20 to June 23, 2012
Hours: June 20: 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., June 21: 5 p.m. to 12:01 a.m., June 22: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., June 23: 12:01 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Living up to its musical reputation, Athfest puts music first and art is almost an afterthought to the marathon of concerts. There are outdoor stages, which are a mixed bag of tricks, but for the price of a wristband there are movies, special events, and concerts galore. While there are fewer chances to buy the paintings of would-be artists, Athfest makes up for it with avant-garde and unique work.

Related: Best Art Museums In Atlanta

With a BFA in Digital Media, Sean Mills has worked for design firms with clients across the United States. He has worked as an illustrator and visual designer, and has shown paintings in juried exhibitions. He currently works as a studio artist and writer in Atlanta, Georgia. His work can be found at

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