Where to See Fireworks in Georgia this Summer

It’s a rite of summer. Relaxing on a blanket spread out on a grassy lawn, while the kids run around with glowing jewelry around their necks, waving sparklers. The little ones jump as caps explode near them. The evening culminates in a fiery show in the nighttime sky, accompanied by lots of ooooos and ahhhs from spectators. There is nothing quite like a Fourth of July fireworks display, except maybe a fireworks display that is NOT in July. Here are five places to see fireworks in Georgia through the summer, not just in the first week of July.

Stone Mountain Park

Photo courtesy Stone Mountain, Facebook.

Photo courtesy Stone Mountain, Facebook.

The Stone Mountain Laser Show Spectacular in Mountainvision is an Atlanta-area tradition that includes not only an impressive laser show, but state-of-the-art digital graphics, fire effects and fireworks in a multitude of colors. New this year, a segment called Drone Wars: The Mountain Awakens. It features two-dozen drones and tells the story of a galaxy far, far away. The entire laser show spectacular is set to music and is free with the $15 parking. Enjoy all the attractions at Stone Mountain before the laser show at a discount with the Sunset Adventure Pass.

Savannah Riverfront

Photo courtesy of Savannah Waterfront, Facebook, and Pablo and Britt Photography LLC

Photo courtesy of Savannah Waterfront, Facebook, and Pablo and Britt Photography LLC

Fireworks over the water are especially spectacular. Celebrate the end of the week and the beginning of a new month with the First Friday Fireworks on historic River Street in Savannah. Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m.

Ritz Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee

Photo courtesy Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, Facebook

Photo courtesy Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, Facebook

The Ritz Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee combines fireworks with a summer concert series. Beginning May 29 and running through Sept. 4, on select Sundays enjoy the sounds of bands like Sixty Four, Pete Mayer, Cissy Crutcher, Jason Eskridge, Jackson Well and Pop Rox followed by an awesome fireworks display.

Baseball Games

Photo courtesy Atlanta Braves, Facebook

Photo courtesy Atlanta Braves, Facebook

Fireworks are as American as apple pie and baseball, and if you select the right game, you can combine at least two of these famous pastimes. The Atlanta Braves are in their final season at Turner Field. They are celebrating each Friday home game with an amazing display in the stadium. The Gwinnett Braves also host fireworks on Friday home games. The Augusta Green Jackets light up the night on Memorial Day with post-game mega Memorial Day fireworks. May 27 is when the Rome Braves host a post-game display. The Savannah Sand Gnats are waiting until June 4 to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the National Parks with a post-game display.

Village Green in Smyrna

Most people celebrate a birthday with cake. In Smyrna, Ga., they celebrate with a fun-filled festival, a giant birthday cake by McEntyre’s Bakery AND fireworks on Aug. 6, 2016.

SueSue Rodman is Georgia’s official Smart Travel Explorer and the editor and publisher of the award-winning family travel blog Field Trips with Sue. Click here for more Smart Travel content from Sue.

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5 Festivals That Kickoff Summer in Georgia

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional kickoff for summer throughout the United States, and Georgia hosts numerous festivals throughout the weekend. Join the party at these family-friendly festivals across the state!

Hello Summer Festival (St. Marys)

The LandSharks, a Buffet/Beach Boys tribute band, will perform at the Hello Summer Festival in St. Marys.

The LandSharks, a Buffet/Beach Boys tribute band, will perform at the Hello Summer Festival in St. Marys.

Th annual Hello Summer Festival on the Georgia Coast mixes music, fun, food, arts and crafts together to make a full day of family-friendly fun. The 2016 festival will be held May 28. Admission is free.

Decatur Arts Festival (Decatur)

Decatur Arts Festival courtesy of Facebook.

Decatur Arts Festival courtesy of Facebook.

Downtown Decatur comes alive with live music, performance art, a children’s parade and festival, food, drinks and a juried Artist’s Market during the Decatur Arts Festival. The 2016 festival is set for May 28-29. Admission is free.

Spring Arts in the Park (Blue Ridge)

Spring Arts in the Park in Blue Ridge, courtesy of Facebook.

Spring Arts in the Park in Blue Ridge, courtesy of Facebook.

Downtown Blue Ridge transforms into a full-blown art festival each year during the Spring Arts in the Park festival, which benefits the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association. In 2016, the festival will be held May 28-29. Admission is $5 for adults, and children receive complimentary admission.

St. Simons Island Antique Show (St. Simons Island)

Postell Park, courtesy of The Golden Isles Facebook.

Postell Park, courtesy of The Golden Isles Facebook.

Postell Park is home to the annual St. Simons Island Antique Show, featuring antique dealers from across the Southeastern United States. The 2016 festival will be held May 28-29. Admission is free.

Alpharetta Arts StreetFest (Alpharetta)

Alpharetta Arts StreetFest

Alpharetta Arts StreetFest

Visit the newly renovated downtown Alpharetta during the annual Alpharetta Arts StreetFest, which features three days of revelry, including a showcase featuring nearly 100 artists, musicians and performers from throughout the U.S. The 2016 festival is set for May 28-30. Admission is free.

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen Falkenberg-Hull is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.

Funky Former Georgian Headlines Atlanta Jazz Festival

The genre-bending, queen of funk, JOI, headlines the Atlanta Jazz Festival on Friday, May 27. A member of OutKast’s extended Dungeon Family and once a staple of the Atlanta music scene, JOI relocated to L.A. in 2012, but still thinks of Atlanta as home. Below, JOI talks about her excitement for the festival and her favorite things to do when she’s in town.

See JOI perform Friday, May 27 at the Atlanta Jazz Festival in Piedmont Park.

See JOI perform Friday, May 27 at the Atlanta Jazz Festival in Piedmont Park.

Are you excited to perform at the Atlanta Jazz Festival?

“I’m so excited to come back to Atlanta, and it is extremely mentionable that I’m coming back and doing Jazz Fest. They always have amazing entertainment, but it’s usually pure jazz. Maybe some world music.”

Is performing in Georgia different than performing elsewhere?

“Yeah it’s different. Because it became my home for the second half of my adult life up until 2012. The various things that I would I experience [in Georgia] would prove to shape me into a better artist.”

JOI

JOI

What is your favorite thing to do in Georgia?

“Visit with my loved ones and family. Atlanta has changed a lot. I love Tropical Cuisine, which is off of Old National [Highway, College Park]. It is very delicious Caribbean [food]. There’s lots of different places that I like. There’s a nice variety of things to do.”

Do you still identify as an ATLien*?

“I spent 20 years there, I definitely still identify in that way.”

(*The name of OutKast’s second album and a widely accepted term for Atlanta residents.)

The Atlanta Jazz Festival is one of the largest free jazz festivals in the country. The festival takes place annually over Memorial Day weekend at Piedmont Park in Midtown. JOI takes the stage at 9 p.m. on Friday, May 27. To see the rest of the lineup and for more information, visit http://atlantafestivals.com. For other Memorial Day music festivals, check out Music Explorer Glen Sarvady’s picks.

nicole-webBorn and raised on collard greens and sweet tea, Nicole Rateau also identifies as an ATLien. She provides marketing and communications support for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, but would gladly sing backup for the Dungeon Family.

3 Georgia Music Festivals for Memorial Day Weekend

Given the temperate weather, end of the school year and the extra day of leisure, people hardly need another excuse to get outdoors to celebrate Memorial Day weekend. Several Georgia towns have nonetheless upped the ante with some impressive outdoor music festivals. Here are three stylistically and geographically diverse options. All are family-friendly, and each wraps up before the Monday holiday.

Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que, May 27-28, Evans

Evans Towne Center Park

Willie Nelson and Old Crow Medicine Show are set to perform at Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que at Evans Towne Center Park Memorial Day weekend.

Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que returns for its 7th go-round May 27-28 just outside of Augusta, in Evans, Ga. It’s hard to argue with Friday night’s headliner Willie Nelson, but Saturday’s deep lineup may be even better. Old Crow Medicine Show return as heroes. When they played the fest in 2014, they drew a crowd of 9,000, Banjo-B-Que’s largest turnout to date. Add in the Steep Canyon Rangers, a sprinkle of indie rock flavor (Blitzen Trapper, Susto) and a wealth of others, and you’ve got a smokin’ day.

Speaking of smokin’, non-music fun includes a ginormous BBQ cookoff, with 40 Georgia craft beers to wash it down. On the kids’ front, there’s a playground, petting zoo, and pig races. The Banjo-B-Que is a paid event, with proceeds benefiting the Central Savannah River Area Foundation.

1890’s Day Jamboree, May 27-28, Ringgold

Join the crowd in Ringgold for live music on multiple stages at the 1890's Day Jamboree.

Join the crowd in Ringgold for live music on multiple stages at the 1890’s Day Jamboree.

Meanwhile, the population 3,500 town of Ringgold will swell to 25,000 for its annual 1890s Day Jamboree May 27-28. This Catoosa County hub — about five minutes from Tennessee — preserves a turn-of-the-century town square feel for its free festival, but not to the exclusion of modern accoutrements like the long-standing car show or this year’s addition of a zip line. Music spans three stages, with highlights including Friday Night Gospel and Saturday’s Dance & Fiddle contest, which draws contestants from numerous states.

Atlanta Jazz Festival, May 27-29, Atlanta

Atlanta Jazz Festival 2013. Photo by Robb D. Cohen.

Atlanta Jazz Festival 2013. Photo by Robb D. Cohen.

Last but not least, the Atlanta Jazz Festival returns to Piedmont Park May 27-29, the culmination of the city’s 31 Days of Jazz celebration. Daily crowds approaching 50,000 are expected, but Piedmont Park’s spacious environs leave ample room for blankets and chairs. Performances are spread across Main, Local, and International stages, with Georgia artists figuring prominently on all three.

For instance, Friday night headliner JOI (who chatted with ExploreGeorgia about her return to town) has deep ATL roots as part of the Dungeon Family that also included Outkast. The festival is free with the exception of Saturday’s late night Park Tavern set by the Russell Gunn Quartet, which will feature a one-time Prince tribute with L’il John Roberts that should be worth the price of admission.

glen-headshotGlen Sarvady is Georgia’s official Music Explorer. He has lived in Atlanta for more than 20 years, and has written about music both locally and nationally for at least as long. More recently, he has written regularly for the music/arts publication Stomp & Stammer as well as GeorgiaMusic.org.

Five Insider Picks for Shaky Beats

Photo from Shaky Beats, Facebook.

Photo from Shaky Beats, Facebook.

Assuming your Shaky Knees have stabilized since this past weekend’s revelry, it’s time for another go. Friday through Sunday, May 20-22, the Shaky Beats festival makes its inaugural run, with an emphasis on electronic dance music in live performance.

Shaky Beats will take place on the same Centennial Olympic Park grounds as its Shaky Knees cousin, with a somewhat scaled-back footprint (three stages rather than five, anticipated crowds in the 15,000 range as compared to 20,000-plus for Knees). The opportunity to leverage a shared foundation helps explain Founder/Curator Tim Sweetwood’s ability to move forward while similar events (TomorrowWorld, CounterPoint) went on hiatus this year. Shaky Beats has the 2016 Atlanta EDM festival landscape pretty much to itself.

Sweetwood sees another plus to riding the Shaky Knees stage setups rather than mimicking the elaborate set designs of those other, more “experiential” fests. Shaky Knees placed a premium on booking a heavy dose of live — as opposed to DJ — sets. “It’s all about the music,” explains Sweetwood, who’s spent most of his two decades in Atlanta promoting live music events. “Those eye-popping backdrops can make it tough for anything but a DJ to plug in.”

On that front, Sweetwood is particularly excited to see Sunday afternoon’s set by Floating Points, for which the UK producer (and neuroscientist!) Sam Shepherd is bringing an 11-piece band for a live rendition of his wide-ranging sound. When asked for other picks, Sweetwood pointed to Zhuwho first rose to prominence mashing up tracks by Atlanta’s OutKast. “Marshmello has really blown up in recent months since we booked them, !!! (pronounced chik-chik-chik) always puts on a great show, and it’s great to have nostalgic ones like Nas.”

Let me add a few highlights of my own: the somewhat more pop-inflected UK imports AlunaGeorge (Friday 7 p.m.), and it’s hard to argue with the good-time energy of Chromeo (Saturday 8:30 p.m.) and Major Lazer (Friday’s 9:30 p.m. headliner). Mix in a healthy dose of talent from the fertile local scene (including HXV, Treasure Fingers, Organik. J Proppa, and Nugs Bunny) heavily weighted toward Sunday’s bill, and your knees should be braced for another beatdown.

glen-headshotGlen Sarvady is Georgia’s official Music Explorer. He has lived in Atlanta for more than 20 years, and has written about music both locally and nationally for at least as long. More recently, he has written regularly for the music/arts publication Stomp & Stammer as well as GeorgiaMusic.org.