The Southeast is a vibrant region in the U.S., with each state showing off its own unique personality and culture. As a visitor, you can explore the food and fashion of Charleston, South Carolina; the history of Alexandria, Virginia; the southern hospitality and arts in Savannah, Georgia, and plenty of other great cities and communities across the region year-round.
In the springtime, though, locals and tourists flock to the south to take in the food, culture, music, and arts festivals, and these annual March gatherings are not to be missed in 2020. From Saint Patrick's Day gatherings across the country to the Virginia Festival of Books and the Atlanta International Auto Show, there are plenty of great events to check out in the Southeastern U.S. in the spring.
Party on Saint Patrick's Day in Savannah
The Southeastern U.S. offers many St. Patrick's Day parties on and around March 17 including local parades, festivals, and bar crawls. However, the one standout city in the southeast is Savannah, Georgia, which hosts one of the world's largest St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
The Savannah festivities for the Irish holiday come complete with parades, live music, and feasts, and some people have even likened the festivities to Mardi Gras in New Orleans due to the size and scale of the month-long celebration. In 2020, the St. Patrick's Day Festival takes place March 13–14 from 10 a.m. to midnight each day. Popular highlights of the Savannah events in 2020 include the Greening of the Fountain—in which The Parade Grand Marshal dyes the water green in Forsyth Park at noon on March 6—and the annual parade on March 17 from 10:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The parade typically features pipe bands, Irish dancers, and more than 500,000 attendees.
See the Trends at the Atlanta International Auto Show
The 2020 Atlanta International Auto Show will be the 38th annual celebration, taking place from February 26 through March 1 at the George World Congress Center next to the Georgia Dome.
This exciting show features an array of imported and domestic cars, light trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles, many of which have been customized and made slick and speedy. The event will feature opportunities for taking cars for a test drive and some specialty classic and exotic vehicles.
Celebrate Canada and America in Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach in South Carolina welcomes Canadians and other visitors on spring break during their 60th annual Canadian-American Days Festival (Can-Am Days) from March 14–22, 2020.
The festival includes sporting events, concerts, historical tours, and more at various venues along the Grand Strand coastline. Other fun happenings at the 2020 CanAm Days include the Myrtle Beach Marathon on March 7, the annual St. Patrick's day parade and festival on March 14, and the Run to the Sun Car Show from March 19–21.
Watch the Races at the Carolina Cup
This time-honored tradition attracts thousands of fans each year (rain or shine) to enjoy an afternoon of steeplechase horse racing, elaborate tailgate parties, and more in Camden, South Carolina.
The 86th annual Carolina Cup presented by Mullikin Law on March 28, 2020, is a great way to introduce your family or friends to horse racing or to simply enjoy the day. Tailgating is just as much part of the event as the race itself, so be sure to book your tent or spot in advance so you can get the best views of the race from the comfort of your own private setup.
Step Back in Time at the Charleston Antiques Show
The 17th annual Charleston Antiques Show from March 6–8, 2020, is a beloved destination for antique collectors and admirers alike. This renowned annual show brings together collections of English, European, and American period furnishings, arts, garden accents, vintage jewelry, and beyond—mostly from the 17th to 20th centuries. Purchase your tickets online.
Rock out at the Savannah Music Festival
The Savannah Music Festival, one of the largest festivals of its kind in the Southeast, is an annual marathon that showcases a wide variety of music.
Not only will guests hear music from the Deep South but internationally renowned artists performing a diverse range of styles including symphonic music, blues, jazz, gospel, bluegrass, rock, world, and electronic dance music. The event will be held in various Savannah venues from March 26 to April 11, 2020.
Delve Into Literature at Virginia Festival of the Book
The largest gathering of authors, writers, and readers in the Commonwealth, the 26th annual Virginia Festival of the Book will take place March 18–22, 2020, in bookstores, libraries, schools, and other venues in Charlottesville, Virginia. This celebration of books, reading, literacy, and literary culture includes traditional author readings and book signings, panels, discussions, and workshops for budding authors.
Get Sporty at the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic
The Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic is an exhibition of all things outdoors, taking place at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds in Columbia each year. Featuring numerous exhibitors, this hunting, fishing, and outdoor show on March 27-29, 2020, includes family-oriented displays and activities that people of all ages can enjoy.
Other attractions at this annual event include Nature Nick's Animal Adventures, a fast-paced wildlife show that includes a 10-foot python and a Eurasian Eagle owl; Jim Vitaro's Hawg Trough, a 5,000-gallon mobile fish tank; and the State Duck Calling Contest, Junior Contest, and Champion of Champions Contest.
Enjoy the International Cherry Blossom Festival
The International Cherry Blossom Festival is held when Macon, Georgia's more than 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees are in bloom. In 2020, the event occurs between March 27 and April 5.
During this annual festival, you'll find parades, home tours, fireworks displays, concerts, arts and crafts events, amusement rides, and a dazzling Tunes and Balloons hot air balloon gathering that includes live music.
Find a Treasure at the Peaches to the Beaches Yard Sale
If you're a fan of driving and yard sales, there's no better place to do it than the annual Peaches to the Beaches Yard Sale, which takes place along U.S. Highway 341 from Barnesville to Brunswick in Georgia.
This more than 200-mile yard sale is planned from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both March 13 and 14, 2020, and features collections of residents across the state who set up at booths along the highway for the weekend. While the event changes from year to year, you can always anticipate a variety of treasures among the various sales.
Be sure to book a hotel along the highway if you plan to spend some time shopping over the weekend. Also, bring plenty of cash since some vendors won't take credit cards or accept mobile payment methods like Paypal or Venmo.
Have a Blast at the Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival
Held at the Georgia International Horse Park, the award-winning Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival features local and international music and dance, hundreds of arts and crafts vendor booths, food, and games and entertainment for all ages, including a children's area.
The Conyers festival is also geared toward educating visitors about Japanese culture through global collaboration. This year's event will take place on the weekend of March 21–22, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
Tour the Hilton Head Island Wine and Food Festival
If you're a fan of wine and a foodie, you may want to head to the lovely Hilton Head Island Wine and Food Festival, which features coastal culinary treasures and the bounty of South Carolina's local vineyards.
The festival, held from March 9–15, 2020, includes highlights like a Vagabond Sunset Cruise, wine dinners, a movie night, and an exclusive Grand Tasting with award-winning wines and light hors d’oeuvres, along with many other events.
Smell the Roses at the Festival of Flowers in Mobile
One of the largest outdoor flower shows in the Southeast, the Festival of Flowers takes place at the Providence Hospital Campus in Mobile, Alabama, each year. The event features life-size landscaped garden displays, an art competition, a full market of seasonal flowers, a cafe for lunch and snacks, and kids' activities, including immersive educational classes about gardening.
The 27th annual Festival of Flowers will be held on March 26–29, 2020, highlighting gardens of Japanese influence designed by Dale Speetjens of Shipshape Urban Farms. Tickets can be purchased online.
Walk Through the Festival of Houses and Gardens
The Festival of Houses and Gardens in Charleston is one of the best ways to get an intimate view of this decadent Southern city. Running from March 11 through April 18, 2020, each house and garden tour allows visitors to explore several historic properties.
Some buildings on the tours date as far back as the American colonial period, but other homes are from the antebellum and Victorian years of architecture as well as several early 20th-century designs. Guests will be able to explore various historic neighborhoods during Charleston's peak blooming season, which takes place throughout March. Tickets are required for all tours and can be booked online.
Take the Tour of Homes and Gardens in Savannah
If the gardens in Charleston aren't enough, the 85th annual Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens held from March 26–29, 2020, offers visitors the chance to tour a diversity of private homes and gardens in different Savannah neighborhoods.
Each day, you'll see a new area of Savannah’s Downtown Historic District; visitors may enjoy self-guided tours in any order at a comfortable individual pace. While not as big as its Charleston counterpart, it's a good idea to book tickets early online as tour groups fill up fast, especially during spring break.
Have a Spring Celebration at Callaway Gardens
Spring in the Southeast is a great time to take in nature, especially in garden cities like Charleston and Savannah. Also, in Pine Mountain, Georgia—where Callaway Gardens hosts the annual Spring Celebration from mid-March through the middle of April 2020—visitors will find enjoyable activities such as seeing more than 20,000 colorful azalea blooms and the Annual Plant Fair and Sale. People of all ages can also enjoy hands-on activities, educational experiences, guided hikes, and much more during spring at the gardens.