Memphis is a city with a love of music. As the Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll, music just seems to flow through our veins. With that in mind, it is only fitting that Memphis is also home to a wide variety of festivals that celebrate our collective love of music. These festivals take place throughout the year and there is truly something for everyone.
Updated by Holly Whitfield, November 2017
The Beale Street Music Festival is one facet of the annual Memphis In May International Festival. It features three days of live music on four stages from dozens of nationally known and local artists. Some of the bands and artists who have performed at the Beale Street Music Festival include The Dave Matthews Band, Ray Charles, Three 6 Mafia, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sheryl Crow, James Brown, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Charlie Daniels, Saliva and Bob Dylan.
This is, without a doubt, the biggest musical event in Memphis and it offers something for everyone. It is held annual on the first weekend in May.
The Memphis Music and Heritage Festival is hosted each year by the Center for Southern Folklore over Labor Day weekend. It features two days of live music from a wide variety of genres and highlights many other aspects of our local and regional culture. You can view and purchase local art, sample regional dishes like cornbread and cobbler, and listen to stories that have been passed down from one Southern generation to the next.
Presented by The Blues Foundation, the International Blues Challenge is the world's largest gathering of blues bands. The event began in 1984 and strives to advance the careers of up and coming blues artists by showcasing their talents and bestowing upon them awards that are recognized industry-wide. Each January, the nearly week-long event features nearly 200 blues acts from around the world competing for cash and prizes on Beale Street in downtown Memphis.
Delta Fair and Music Festival
The Delta Fair and Music Festival is a traditional fair with an emphasis on music. In addition to rides, games, fair food, and exhibits, the Delta Fair offers an impressive array of live music from a variety of genres. In fact, the Delta Fair boasts more than 150 acts on four stages.
While most of the bands and artists have southern roots, there are a number of nationally know acts that perform each year. The Delta Fair is held at the Agricenter each
Gonerfest is an annual three-day live music festival focused on punk, metal, ska, and indie rock. Hosted by the Goner Records label, the festival has events at several venues in the Midtown area, usually at the Hi-Tone Cafe, Murphy's and the Cooper Young Gazebo in front of the Goner Records store. It is usually held in late September/early October.
DreamFest was first held in 2011 as a one-night show to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January. Now, it's a weekend-long event that features R&B, soul, jazz, trap rappers, backpacker rappers, singer/songwriters, spiritual, reggae, and spoken word artists. It's usually held at Midtown venues, including Minglewood Hall and 1524 Madison.
MEMPHO Music Fest is a two-day outdoor festival held at Shelby Farms Park featuring a wide variety of genres of live music on multiple stages. The first MEMPHO music fest was held in October of 2017 and was headlined by Cage The Elephant, Jason Isbell, and Anderson Paak and The Free Nationals, in additional to dozens of other local and nationally touring acts.
Rock For Love is a multi-day, multi-venue music festival held as a fundraiser for the Church Health Center, a non-profit that supports the working uninsured in Memphis. Usually held in September, in 2017 the 11th annual Rock For Love was moved up to August. The lineup often features Memphis' favorite local bands, both established and up-and-coming.