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With a wealth of early American history, attractive sites, and eclectic neighborhoods, it’s easy to see why there are so many sterling festivals in the Yellowhammer State.
In northern Alabama, you’ll find festivals like the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Festival, and the Riverfest BBQ Cook Off, both in Decatur, and a short drive from Cullman and Huntsville.
The Will Rogers Heritage Festival is an annual event held in Guntersville every June, and makes for a great afternoon activity when driving from Athens or Madison.
More centrally located in Alabama are cities like Birmingham and Leeds. In Leeds, you’ll want to plan an afternoon around the Leeds Downtown Folk Festival and John Henry Celebration. Make the drive in from Clanton, or Demopolis.
Fans of literature and live stage performances will most certainly want to plan a visit to Montgomery, home of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. You can make your way in from Tuscaloosa or Bessemer.
As you continue your journey south, you’ll find charming cities like Mobile, near the coast, and Andalusia, set closer to the southeast corner of the state. Enjoy the Southern Alabama Film Festival in Mobile. An annual event, the films start rolling during the first weekend in November.
Wherever you wind up in Alabama, be sure to keep an eye open for local festivals – enjoy food, live music, arts and crafts, and generally a large group of friendly people.
Montgomery & Birmingham Lead the Way
Centrally located Alabama cities like Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Montgomery are all near or home to entertaining festivals throughout the year. On your next Alabama vacation, be sure to venture into the central area and enjoy the festivities at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, or the Irondale Whistle Stop Festival.
Less than 20 miles east of Birmingham is Leeds. Incorporated in 1887, Leeds is a pleasant suburb of Birmingham, and home to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. In September, Leeds hosts its annual Leeds Downtown Folk Festival and John Henry Celebration. Bring the family and celebrate the eclectic history of folk music. Taste food from local artisans, enjoy free parking, and enjoy the scenic drive from Pelham or Gardendale.
Another of Birmingham’s charming suburbs is Irondale. Irondale is said to be the setting for the famous Fried Green Tomatoes book and movie. In late September, venture into Irondale from nearby Bessemer and check out the Irondale Whistle Stop Festival – don’t forget to check out the Irondale Café and their famous fried green tomatoes.
Head south into Montgomery and check out the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Slightly different than most festivals in that it is a revolving, year-round event, with up to nine performances in a year, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival takes place at the Carolyn Blount Theatre. Make the drive in from Clanton or Opelika.
Check out Riverfest BBQ Cook Off in Decatur
On your trek through northern Alabama, watch for fun and interesting local festivals in cities like Decatur, Guntersville, and Hartselle. You and the family will find plenty to do and see in the Heart of Dixie.In June, be sure to attend the Will Rogers Heritage Festival. With four days of exhibits, parades, performances, and tributes to the famous vaudevillian performer.
Experience the annual Will Rogers Heritage Festival with a short drive from Gadsden. Presented by the Decatur Jaycees, the Riverfest in Decatur features “BBQ, bands, and brews” – it’s officially sanctioned by the state of Alabama as an official State Barbecue Championship competition.
Riverfest features 70 pro and amateur teams, cooking and smoking the very best in southern cuisine. When you’re hungry for some legendary BBQ, make the drive in from Athens or Madison.
Another of Decatur’s famous festivals is the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic, held in May. With its roots dating back to 1978, the Alabama Jubilee features free admission and parking, an array of games, arts & crafts, live performances, and plenty of food. It’s a sterling summer destination, especially with nearby cities like Russellville, Cullman, and Huntsville a short drive away.
Be sure to plan accordingly on your next northern Alabama family excursion.
Make Memories in Valdosta, Atlanta or Savannah
Exploring southeastern Alabama and you’re looking for some fun local festivals? Perfect.With a range of charming and pleasant cities like Andalusia, Opp, and Greenville, you and the family will travel right into a wealth of festive opportunities in SE Alabama.
A quaint city, set just 30 miles west of Dothan, Enterprise is part of Coffee and Dale Counties.Enterprise attractions include the famous Boll Weevil Monument, only minutes from Fort Rucker. Keep an eye out for the annual Boll Weevil Festival, held in October.
Make your way to Opp and enjoy a unique fall celebration. Held in October, Opp Fest features local art – for viewing pleasure and for purchase – all day music, a car and motorcycle show, activities for the kids, and even a very fun tractor show. Enjoy the scenic drive in from nearby Troy.
Continue your exploration of southeastern Alabama festivals with a trip to Abbeville. An affable little city in Henry County, Abbeville hosts the annual Yatta Abba Festival in April. The single day event is named for the Creek Indian phrase, “grove of dogwoods,” and features an array of attractive fare – food vendors, local art and music, and plenty of kid-friendly activities.
Visit Mobile on Your Trip Into Southwest AL
Make your way into the gulf area of Alabama and explore local festivals in cities like Monroeville and Saraland. The gulf area of southern Alabama is a small section of land nestled between Florida to the east and Mississippi to the west, with gulf waters hitting cities like Gulf Shores, and Dauphin Island.
Make your way into Mobile and explore many of the local attractions like the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Once you’ve visited some of the historical sites, be sure to check out some local festivals.
Daphne, for instance, hosts its annual Woofstock Festival in October. Especially perfect when you travel with your favorite pooch, make your way to downtown Mobile and try some local food, enjoy live music, witness the popular Weiner Dog Race, be sure to enter your dog in the Doggie Costume Contest.
Continue your excursion through Mobile and check out the South Alabama Film Festival, held the first weekend in November. Make the drive in from Foley and check out a selection of independent films – short and feature length – as presented by the Mobile Arts Council.
Just over an hour and a half north of the coast is Monroeville. Enjoy the drive along I-65 and check out the Heritage Arts Festival, a celebration of Black History Month. You and the family will be blown away by the dance performances, live music, a fashion show, and of course, great local food. It’s an easy drive from nearby Jackson.
Hosted annually in October, the Madison Street Festival is a one-day event held in northern Alabama in the city of Madison. The Madison Street Festival features festival booths, live performances, kid-friendly activities, and the Miss Madison Street Festival Pageant.
Set just west of Huntsville, the festival begins at 8 a.m. on the first Saturday in October, ending at 4 p.m. in Historic Downtown Madison on Main Street and Front Street. The festival has been recognized as one of the "top 20 fall festivals in Alabama."
Covering 118 acres, the Morgan County Celebration Arena is a 4,000-seat indoor venue set in northern Alabama. Located in Decatur, the arena is ideal for rodeo, livestock exhibits, and dog and pony shows.
Owned and operated by State Product Mart, the Morgan County Celebration Arena features an exhibit floor, warm up area, vendor booths, nearly 700 stalls, and a concession stand.
Trips into Alabama can yield full days of fun – there's never a shortage of things to see and do in the Heart of Dixie. Many visitors travel in from across the globe for races at Talladega, there are a wide range of excellent festivals to check out all year long, and the RTJ Golf Trail is a must for golfers. During your stay in Gardendale, though, be sure to visit the Gardendale Civic Center.
A top attraction within the central region of Alabama, the Gardendale Civic Center is open each day of the week, with a varied schedule or operating hours – call ahead for specifics. This space hosts a variety of events, functions, meetings, and more throughout the year.