While summer is Atlanta's most popular tourist season, the hot and humid weather can be less than ideal. Those visiting in the fall months will enjoy more moderate temperatures, the leaves changing in the city's many parks and an abundance of neighborhood festivals ranging from the Little 5 Points Halloween Festival & Parade and the Cabbagetown Chomp & Stomp Chili Cookoff and Bluegrass Festival as well as special events like the Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade and Taste of Atlanta. Late fall also marks the beginning of seasonal holiday activities like Garden Nights, Holiday Lights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, ice skating at Park Tavern, and other special events, making it a great time to visit the city.
Atlanta Weather in the Fall
With fall foliage on full display and temperatures moderate enough to explore Atlanta's many attractions, neighborhoods, and outdoor festivals, autumn is an ideal time to visit the city. Temperatures are still fairly warm and summer-like in late September but can be quite chilly in late November and early December, especially at night. Expect three to five rainy days per month. Rains can be heavy in September due to hurricane season in the South, so a jacket or umbrella will help protect you from the elements.
What to Pack
As with most travel, layers are key to being comfortable and prepared for all weather and varying temperatures. In September, temperatures can feel like summer in other locations, so be prepared with short sleeves for a base layer as well as a light sweater or jacket for evenings and air-conditioned buildings. Later in the fall, heavier layers like sweaters or warmer jackets will keep you warm on chilly nights and hours spent in the elements at outdoor attractions and festivals. Closed-toed and comfortable shoes are recommended, especially for outdoor events, as Atlanta parks can get muddy after rainstorms.
Fall Events in Atlanta
From neighborhood and music festivals to seasonal parades and more, fall offers many outdoor events that take advantage of the area's great weather. Here are some of the best:
- Music Midtown: Usually held mid-September in the Piedmont Park, the two-day music festival features over 30 acts on four different stages. Expect a mix of mainstream acts like Lizzo, Cardi B, and Leon Bridges as well as indie musicians like Local Natives and Vampire Weekend.
- Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade: The South's largest temporary outdoor art installation is usually held the third Saturday in September along two miles of the Eastside Trail. More than 70,000 people march with glowing lanterns or spectate along the route, which has become one of the city's signature events.
- Atlanta Black Theatre Festival: Live performances of award-winning plays like "Crowns" as well as original works, staged readings, an artist market, live music, and more come together under one roof at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center in Decatur at this festival held in early October.
- Candler Park Fall Fest: This October neighborhood event features a Tour of Homes, 5K race, an artist market with more than 200 vendors, live music, and food and beverage trucks from neighborhood favorites like Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q. It's kid-friendly, too, with yoga, live theatre performances, arts and crafts, and other activities especially for the little ones.
- Atlanta Pride Festival: Atlanta has one of the country's oldest and largest pride events, which was started in 1971. Drawing more than 300,000 attendees, the week-long festivities are usually held in mid-October in conjunction with National Coming Out Day and conclude with a parade through Midtown, which starts at the Civic Center MARTA station on Ralph McGill Boulevard and concludes at Piedmont Park.
- Taste of Atlanta: More than 90 local restaurants participate in this annual three-day celebration of the city's culinary scene. Held in Historic Old Fourth Ward Park, the festival includes tasting tents, chef demonstrations, cooking classes, a bartending competition, and even live music.
- Little 5 Points Halloween Festival & Parade: Leave it to one of the city's most eclectic neighborhoods to put on one of the city's best Halloween events. Held in mid-October, the festival features an artist market, live music, food from local vendors like King of Pops, and concludes with what the Travel Channel has called on of the Top 10 Halloween Parades in the Country, as costumed revelers wind their way through Little 5 Points and neighboring Inman Park.
- Cabbagetown Chomp & Stomp Chili Cook-off and Bluegrass Festival: This neighborhood of historic old mill houses puts on the city's largest chili cook-off each November, with nearly 100 professional chefs and amateurs alike competing for top honors. The event also includes food trucks, live music, and a 5K run that kicks off the festivities in the morning so you can earn that chili.
- Garden Lights, Holiday Nights: In this holiday tradition, the garden becomes illuminated with 70,000 changing LED lights choreographed to music, along with a s'mores station, warming drinks, model trains, and other seasonal trappings. Advanced tickets are highly recommended.
- Fire & Ice Rink at Park Tavern: Overlooking Piedmont Park and open from Thanksgiving weekend through mid-January, this ice skating ring comfortably accommodates 200 skaters. Not into gliding on ice? Enjoy seasonal treats and libations in heated cabanas or near outdoor fire pits or head indoors to catch your favorite team on one of the big screens.
Fall Travel Tips
- For travel around Thanksgiving weekend or to attend special holiday events like Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, plan and book well in advance of your trip.
- Keep in mind that Veteran's Day (the second Monday in November) is a federal holiday, which means popular attractions like the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, the King Center, and others will be more crowded than usual.
- If you have time, take a day trip to visit one of North Georgia's wineries or see peak fall foliage in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.