The Best Time to Visit Memphis

USA, Tennessee, Memphis, Downtown

 

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The best time to visit Memphis is from April to June. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and peak summer hasn't hit yet, which means you'll get moderate temperatures and no mosquitos. That's also when Memphis in May, a month-long festival full of family-friendly activities, takes over the city. There's the Beale Street Music Festival, Barbecue Fest, and more. In May, the average temperature is 82 degrees for a high and 62 degrees for a low, making it pleasant to be outside.

If you are coming to Memphis for Elvis Presley, you might want to visit the mania. During his birthday in January and the anniversary of his death in August, crowds (most of the time dressed as The King) swarm Memphis. It's an experience worth having, but you're going to have to bring a coat or be prepared for some sweltering heat.

Weather in Memphis

Let's start when you should not visit Memphis: July and August are pretty miserable months. Temperatures hover in the 90s, and it's unbearable to be outside. Most locals take solace in swimming pools and air conditioning during that time. There are also a lot of mosquitos, and the humidity is high.

Spring and fall are ideal seasons. Temperatures range in the 50s through 70s, and there is no humidity in the air. Memphis has a lot of parks and places to hike, walk, and bike ride. During those months the entire city is outside taking advantage of the city's beauty.

Memphis's winter isn't as bad as some cities farther north. In January, for example, temperatures can be in the 50s; however, the city's humidity can make it feel colder than it is, and the windchill is often much lower. While it's a rare occurrence, ice and snow can cause the city to shut down.

Outdoor Festivals in Memphis

Memphis has a wide range of outdoor festivals that are worth coming into town for. They are fun, well executed, and unique to this destination. Plus, most of them are in the spring or the fall.

Memphis in May is one of the city's greatest attractions. It's a month-long festival that includes different activities. The first weekend is the Beale Street Music Festival where the greatest artists from around the world transcend on Memphis. Cardi B, The Killers, and the Dave Matthews Band are all making an appearance in 2019. Another weekend is the world barbecue cooking competition where professional and amateur teams compete to make the most mouth-watering Memphis-style ribs. It's outside alongside the Mississippi River, and participants can taste all the delights.

In April there is a growing event, Memphis Fashion Week where you can see the latest designs from local designers and models. In September there is the trendy Cooper Young Festival where all the stores in that neighborhood open their doors and host music, crafts, food, and more fun. In October the Memphis Zoo hosts ZooBoo, where families can come to the zoo and enjoy candy stations, hayrides, stargazing, and more.

There are a few events in the off-season. January, for example, brings events honoring Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis. This is the place he was assassinated, and the city stages educational and memorial events. The Memphis St. Jude Marathon also takes place in December.

Seasonal Openings in Memphis

There are some attractions in Memphis that are only open in the summer.

Mud Island, where you can walk along a replica of the Mississippi River or attend an outdoor concert, is only open in the summer months. The famous Levitt Shell, a historic performing arts pavilion where Elvis Presley made his professional debut, only stages performances in the summer. The concert series is free and a must-do activity.

The Memphis Red Birds, the baseball team, only has games starting at the end of March at the Autozone Park (If you are in the city in the winter, you can catch an NBA Grizzlies game instead.)

The Memphis Botanic Garden and Dixon Gardens are open year-round, but the best parts of these museums are the outdoor gardens, which are in bloom starting in the spring.

January

January is cold in Memphis, with the humidity making it feel even colder. It snows a few times a year in the city, so pack gloves, hat, a scarf, and waterproof shoes in case you're there for it.

Events to check out:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel, now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum. Every year over the MLK holiday weekend, the museum hosts cultural, educational, and volunteer events for the entire family.
  • Elvis Presley was born on January 8, and Graceland, his Memphis home, stages a week of events. Tourists from all over the globe come for Elvis Dance Parties, Elvis concerts, even Elvis birthday parties. Many people are dressed up as The King.

February

February is still cold in Memphis with the average high being 54 degrees. Bring those warm clothes, and make sure you have waterproof shoes. This month has brought some big ice storms to the city in past years.

Events to check out:

  • This is high season for the Memphis Grizzlies, the city's beloved NBA Team. They play at the FedEx Forum, and the spirited atmosphere is not to miss. Get tickets here.
  • Every year in February, hundreds of volunteers gather at Shelby Farms Park to plant native trees. It's a fun way to give back to the environment before summer. Find out the date and information at the Wolf River Conservancy website.

March

March is the start of spring in Memphis. Temperatures go up to the 60s, and the flowers start to blossom in all the public parks. At night it can still be chilly so bring a jacket.

Events to check out:

  • In Memphis St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in style with a parade down the famous Beale Street. Named the Silky O'Sullivan St. Patrick's Day Parade, there is music, drinks, food, and lots of street performers dressed in green. Find out more information at bealestreet.com.
  • The last Friday of every month there is a street party named South Main Trolley Night in downtown Memphis. All the art galleries, shops, restaurants, and bars stay open late with music, art, food, and drink. March has pleasant weather to enjoy it.

    April

    April is when spring is in full bloom in Memphis. The highs are in the 70s, which means you can pull out those spring dresses and sandals. But nights can still be chilly, so pants and a jacket are a must, and layers are key. It also rains a lot this month, so pack those umbrellas and rain jackets.

    Events to check out:

    • April means the start of the Midtown Opera Festival. This ten day event takes place at Playhouse on the Square and includes opera premiers, orchestra concerts, panel discussions, cocktail parties, and more. Get the schedule and tickets at the Opera Memphis Website.
    • Calling all beer lovers! Every April the Taste the Rarity Invitational Beer Festival highlights creative brews from makers across the nation. The festival takes place at Wiseacre Brewery on Broad Avenue and includes live music, street performers, food, even lawn games. It's fun for the entire family.
    • Memphis has a new fashion week in April, and it gets bigger and more exciting every year. Designers get discovered and stars are born.
    • The Annual Southern Hot Wing Festival has been raging for 16 years. People try different hot wings made with different recipes and creatives sauces. All the proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis.

    May

    In May the weather is warm and sunny. There might be some rain so pack a rain jacket. But be prepared for non-humid, pleasant days.

    Events to check out:

    • The Beale Street Music Festival is the most anticipated event in Memphis, bringing world-class artists to the local stage. You can buy a day-pass or individual passes to concerts all weekend.
    • The World Championship Barbecue Festival brings together 250 teams from around the world who compete to be declared the barbecue winners.
    • 901Fest is an outdoor festival showcasing everything great about Memphis (the city's area code is 901): the food, the music, the drinks, the culture. There is even a 901-themed firework display.

      June

      The weather in June starts to get hot. The average high temperature is 89 degrees, and the low is 70. Carry around a lot of water to keep you hydrated, and wear loose-fitting clothes. The flip side is that summer is in full swing, and lots of fun activities are happening.

      Events to check out:

      • The FedEx St. Jude Classic is the golf event of the year. All the proceeds from the PGA tour event benefit the kids at St. Jude, so you can enjoy the show while doing good.
      • The Annual Garden Tour is hosted by the Memphis Area Master Gardeners. You can tour impressive gardens and get inspired to start your own outdoor oasis. The Memphis Botanic Garden also participates with a plant sale. Find out more information on the website.

      July

      July in Memphis is hot; the highs are in the 90s, and there is no escaping the heat. Luckily at night it cools off, and most activities take place then.

      Events to check out:

      • Fourth of July is a big deal in Memphis. There are fireworks at Mud Island, a fancy party at the Peabody Hotel, and parades in neighborhoods from Cooper Young to Central Gardens.
      • When you're in Memphis in the summer, don't miss a concert at the Levitt Shell. There are a variety of free concerts from big names to smaller groups. Bring a picnic, and enjoy music under the stars. Get the schedule at the website.

      August

      August can be tough in Memphis with temperatures in the 90s or 100s and lots of humidity and mosquitos, so plan your itinerary around things to do indoors. Sunscreen is key.

      Events to check out:

      • At night the weather gets cooler, and there is no greater way to enjoy the outdoors than a movie night in Shelby Farms Park. Bring a picnic and the entire family ($10 per car). If movies aren't your thing, there is also s'mores, pajama parties, and more after-dark events.
      • There is no bigger event for Elvis fans than Elvis Week. There is an Elvis candlelit vigil, concerts, panel discussions, movie screenings, memorial services, and more. You can read more on Graceland's website.

      September

      September is an ideal month in Memphis. The weather is warm but not overbearing. It's comfortable to be outside at all hours of the day without a jacket or fan. Everyone is back from vacations, and the city is in full swing with events and fun.

      Events to check out:

      • 30 Days of Opera is a month long event that features free opera performances in Memphis and the MidSouth. Some performances are at festivals or in parks while others are at traditional opera houses.
      • Cooper Young, a historical, hip neighborhood in Memphis, holds an annual festival in September where restaurants, bars, bookstores, and art galleries throw fun activities for the public.
      • For over 15 years, Memphis Pride Fest has been celebrating pride in Memphis. There is a Big Gay Dance Party, and food, entertainment, music, and drink all weekend. There is a parade down Beale Street with prizes for the best costumed groups.

        October

        In October, Memphis is immersed in fall with crisp temperatures and colorful leaves everywhere. Layer up; when the sun is shining it's nice, but when you hit the shade you'll want that extra layer.

        Events to check out:

        • Locals look forward the annual Pink Palace Crafts Fair where artisans from around the country bring their crafts and skills to Memphis. There are demonstrations by craftsmen, kids activities, food suppliers, and more.
        • At the Cooper-Young Beerfest you can find beer from local craft breweries. There are food trucks, tunes from a record player, and lots of fun for the family.
        • River Arts Fest is an annual arts festival along the Mississippi River. Families can browse the works of hundreds of regional and national artists along the gorgeous backdrop.

          November

          In November, winter comes to Memphis. Temperatures range from the 40s to the 60s, and you'll need to bundle up when outside. Often in November, there are still pretty leaves on trees, so it's nice to hike.

          Events to check out:

          • At the Indie Memphis Film Festival you can see more than 200 films at seven different venues. There is also live music, filmmaker talks, block parties, and more. You can buy festival passes or single passes.
          • Downtown Dining Week is Memphis's version of restaurant week. Over 40 restaurants have some kind of deal: two-for-one, extra courses, special menus, etc.
          • The Memphis Hungry Turkey 5K is a Thanksgiving event for the entire family at Shelby Farms Park. You can run or walk the race on Thanksgiving Day and everyone gets a cinnamon role at the finish line.

            December

            December is mild in Memphis compared to other places. Temperatures hover around the 50s. You need to dress warmly, but the chance of a white Christmas is slim.

            Events to check out:

            • Many Memphis parks stage elaborate light displays to bring cheer to the holiday season. Shelby Farms has a drive-thru program named Starry Nights. The Memphis Botanic Gardens has a holiday wonders display where its gardens are covered in decorations. The Zoo sponsors Zoo Lights where animal displays are transformed into festive exhibits.
            • At The Memphis Maker Market, you can shop unique gifts from local artists. Plus there is live music, drinks, and snacks to get you into the holiday spirit.
            • There's nothing quite like bringing in the New Year like the party on Beale Street. This famous street is closed off to cars, and you can party in the road all night long to live music.
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