Memphis' neon-lit, bar-centric Beale Street may be packed with revelers on any given summer's eve, but fall in this Tennesseean city is worth a visit just the same. From September through November, you'll find festival after festival—many centered around music, of course.
In 2020, many events have been altered or canceled. Check the websites of organizers for updated information.
Delta Fair and Music Festival
The Delta Fair and Music Festival held annually at Memphis' Agricenter is an exceedingly popular event that features concerts, rides, animals, exhibits, and food over about 10 days. Highlights include helicopter rides, a mechanical bull, and pig races. There are theme days, such as Latino Day and Dave & Busters Day, and the beloved redneck yacht races in which boats are raced on the pavement. The 2020 event will take place from September 4 to 13.
River Arts Fest
Memphis' River Arts Fest is a blowout arts festival that spans the entirety of Riverside Drive between Jefferson and Beale Streets, stretching alongside the beautiful Mississippi River. Attendees can expect live local music, artist demonstrations, and hands-on craft making for participants of all ages. There are typically nearly 200 participating artists from all over the country, making it one of the region's largest outdoor art markets. In 2020, River Arts Fest will take place online as a virtual art marketplace instead.
The Germantown Festival—named after the suburb where it's held—typically features an arts and crafts area full of handcrafted goods from pet supplies to hot sauce; a kid zone where little ones can play on climbing walls, bungee jumps, and moonwalks; and a very popular Weenie Dog Race where the pups compete for prizes. One of the longest continuously run festivals in the area, it usually takes over the Germantown Civic Club Complex, but it was canceled in 2020.
Hosted by the Cooper-Young Community Association, this annual, music-filled gathering is held in Memphis' largest historic district. It's a combination of arts and crafts from 400-plus artists (both local and national), food and drink from local restaurants and breweries, and one of the most anticipated concert lineups of the year. According to the organizers, more than 130,000 people attend. The 2020 event, however, was canceled.
Bartlett Festival, BBQ Contest, and Car Show
This annual event is known for—and partially named after—its highly competitive, official Memphis BBQ Network barbecue contest, but it also features a car show, live music, hot air balloons, children's activities, arts and crafts, and food vendors. On the Saturday morning of the festival, there is also a 5K run at 8 a.m. for those looking to burn a few calories before eating and drinking the day away. The event would normally be held at W. J. Freeman Park, but in 2020, it was canceled.
Olive Branch Oktoberfest
Just across the Tennessee-Mississippi border, about 30 minutes from Memphis, Olive Branch is city of about 33,000 that puts on a rather unlikely Oktoberfest celebration. This annual, all-day festival sponsored by the Olive Branch Beautification Commission is the longest-running event in the city's history. It features crafts, games, food, and the obligatory libations in a beautiful park setting, and admission is free. In 2020, the event was canceled.
Pink Palace Crafts Fair
With more than 100 craftsmen showing off their skills in woodworking, pottery, glasswork, jewelry, woven goods, and more, the Pink Palace Crafts Fair is one of the city's most anticipated annual events. Some use it as an opportunity to sell their goods while others provide family-friendly entertainment in the form of demonstrations. In 2020, it was canceled.
Millington Farmer's Market Fall Festival
Autumn marks the end of farmer's market season, but Millington—about 25 minutes from Memphis—concludes it with a bang. Sponsored by the Millington Arts Recreation & Parks Association, this farmer's market-fall festival hybrid includes yoga, a bouncy house, craft vendors, fall treats, and more. In 2020, the event was canceled.