Annual Special Events in the Southeast

Festivals, Celebrations, and Holidays in the United States

Photo of July 4th Fireworks
••• Photo Credit: Scott Cooley via Getty Images

In addition to all of the great things to see in the Southeastern United States, there are also always plenty of festivals, celebrations, and special events happening every season and every month of the year, and this guide will help you find out about some of the fun things that will be going on during your trip to the Southeast.

Visitors to this region of the U.S. will find several options for celebrating the holidays—from dazzling Fourth of July fireworks to twinkling Christmas lights—as well as a variety of annual special events.

Click on the heading of each section to see specifics on each event season so you can choose what time of year to plan your vacation to Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, or Tennessee.

Spring Events in the Southeast

Never arriving too soon, spring brings not only warmth to the American southeast, but a number of great outdoor events and activities that are perfect for the whole family. From St. Patrick's Day fun to Easter and spring break events, Mother's Day celebrations to the unofficial transition from spring into summer over Memorial Day, spring festivals and events offer an array of fun things to do during your trip to the Southeast.

We recommend the Biltmore Estates' Biltmore Blooms event just outside of Asheville, North Carolina. From late March through late May—the perfect time to visit the Smokey Mountains—this massive mansion and its extensive property's several gardens are just starting to bloom, offering visitors vista of elegant displays against timeless architecture.

The Kentucky Derby and Festival in Louisville that happens the first weekend of May is also a highly recommended event where celebrities, tourists, and horse racing fans of all types come to appreciate the sport in high-fashion attire.

Summer Events in the Southeast

Summer is the most popular travel season in most areas of the Southeast and a great time to explore some of the region's many seasonal festivals and special summer events where visitors are able to enjoy music and dance, arts and crafts, agricultural and food exchanges, and outdoor concerts and activities to celebrate the holidays and warmest time of the year.

Obviously, the most celebrated event in the Southeast during summer is the Fourth of July, and there are several great locations to catch fireworks or parades to commemorate Independence Day. Orlando, Florida and its many amusement parks like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios often host elaborate parades and fireworks displays right on the ocean.

In June, you can also check out the Hellen Keller Festival in Tuscumbia, Alabama which offers guests access to art exhibits, craft vendors, and athletic events throughout the city as well as performances of "The Miracle Worker" and a parade dedicated to the deaf-blind female icon in her hometown.

Fall Events in the Southeast

Autumn is a splendid time of the year in the Southeast when visitors are able to enjoy plenty of seasonal harvest festivals as well as an array of changing colors on the lush foliage of the region. You can find hundreds of fun things to do during a memorable autumn weekend getaway, day-trip, or fall vacation.

We recommend checking out the Georgia National Fair in October or the Alabama Pecan Festival in November for a real look into the culture of the southeast. Both of these events offer guests a variety of family-friendly entertainment and amusement as well as a special taste of the great food of the region.

There's also, of course, plenty of things to do for Halloween and Thanksgiving in the Southeast, such as The Chitlin' Strut in Salley, South Carolina, which happens the Saturday after Thanksgiving and revolves around the preparation and consumption of chitterlings leftover from Thanksgiving turkeys. 

Winter Events in the Southeast

From celebrating Christmas or New Year's Eve during the holiday season to planning a winter escape with your special Valentine or a family vacation during winter break, there are many wonderful annual winter events to enjoy in the Southeast.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana may be the biggest event of the season despite its competition with New Years and Christmas. This week-long festival is held every February and features a massive parade, non-stop parties, and a variety of cultural activities and art displays.

The holiday season is a great time to visit any major city in the Southeast—especially warmer coastal cities like Miami, Orlando, Charleston, and New Orleans—where these destinations offer a variety of Christmas tree lighting festivals, holiday parades and events, and discount shopping, dining, and accommodations for guests.