Top things to do in Atlanta this summer

Downtown Atlanta skyline at dusk © tableatny / Flickr Creative Commons CC by 2.0

Downtown Atlanta skyline at dusk © tableatny / Flickr Creative Commons CC by 2.0

If your travel plans include a trip to the Deep South this summer, the sizzling city of Atlanta is hosting a packed calendar of shows, festivals and kid-friendly events. Here’s a few cool ways to make the most of the season…

Cinderella Della Circus

Running until 23 July, Cinderella Della Circus kicks off the 2017-2018 Family Series at the Center for Puppetry Arts; Atlanta’s famous puppet museum which was opened in 1978 by none other than Kermit the Frog. This year’s performances blend circus skills with the magic of puppetry, and feature a host of folk and fairytale characters, along with handcrafted marionettes and shadow puppets. Tickets include entrance to the Worlds of Puppetry Museum, which houses the largest collection of Jim Henson puppets and artifacts in the world.

Fourth of July – Centennial Olympic Park

Celebrating the Fourth of July in Atlanta with fireworks in Centennial Olympic Park © William Brawley / Flickr Creative Commons CC by 2.0

Celebrating the Fourth of July in Atlanta with fireworks in Centennial Olympic Park © William Brawley / Flickr Creative Commons CC by 2.0

It’s the largest fireworks display in the southeast United States, so don’t miss your chance to celebrate Independence Day at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park in Downtown. This year the entertainment line-up includes headline sets from the likes of Bobby Brown and CeCe Peniston, followed by a spectacular fireworks show at 9.45pm. Gates open at 6pm and the entire event is free – just try and get there early to secure a good viewing spot.

Atlanta Ice Cream Festival

Try delicious sweet treats from Jake's Ice Cream, one of the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival sponsors © Counse / Flickr Creative Commons CC by 2.0

Try delicious sweet treats from Jake’s Ice Cream, one of the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival sponsors © Counse / Flickr Creative Commons CC by 2.0

Beat the sweltering summer heat by spending the day at the seventh annual Atlanta Ice Cream Festival in Piedmont Park on 22 July. Despite the name, this one-day event is not your normal US-style food frenzy. While it does include an ice cream eating contest, it also offers free health screenings, yoga sessions and loads of energetic family activities like hula hooping, jump rope and a frisbee toss – so you can burn off all those extra calories before you leave.

The Decatur Barbeque, Blues & Bluegrass Festival

This wildly popular barbeque, blues and bluegrass festival is now in its 17th year, with this summer’s shindig taking place on Saturday 12 August. Held at Harmony Park in suburban Atlanta’s Oakhurst neighbourhood, the gathering has evolved into a multi-stage event with more than 6,000 attendees and seven hours of live music. Feast on classic southern barbeque fare from Georgia’s best pitmasters and beers from New Belgium Brewing, and settle in for a day of great tastes and tunes.

Piedmont Park Arts Festival

Piedmont Park is home to the city's annual arts festival © Chris McClanahan / Flickr Creative Commons CC by-SA 2.0

Piedmont Park is home to the city’s annual arts festival © Chris McClanahan / Flickr Creative Commons CC by-SA 2.0

Also held in Piedmont Park, this free two-day visual arts festival on 19-20 August features a nationwide line-up of eclectic artists and makers, from glass blowers and metalworkers, to painters, jewellers and photographers. Presented by the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces, expect live music, demonstrations, food and drink vendors, a kids’ play area and a dedicated pavilion for emerging artists.

Virgin Atlantic operates flights to Atlanta from London Heathrow. Visit our new Atlanta destination guide for more ATL tips and ideas.

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