Performer at a memphis music festival

Memphis in May Festival

Katie Schnack | March, 2019

Beale Street Music Festival

Memphis in May always kicks off with the Beale Street Music Festival. Don’t let the name confuse you - it doesn’t actually take place on Beale Street, but at Tom Lee Park, a 30-acre stretch on the Mississippi, where most Memphis in May events will be held. Past lineups have included Jack White, Kings of Leon, Post Malone, Ed Sheeran, Alanis Morissette, Snoop Dogg and many more. Head to the festival website to see the this year's schedule. Acts play rain or shine, so check the weather and get some rain boots and a poncho if needed. You can buy single day tickets or go wild and get a three-day pass, online or at the gate. Be sure to read our in-depth guide to Beale Street Music Festival, too. 


Being the friendly and diverse city that it is, Memphis devotes one week of the festival to celebrate a different country and culture. Columbia, Canada, Poland are just a few of the countries that have been honored in past years, and for seven days of themed events take place all throughout town. This year Memphis in May is taking a break from the 42-year tradition in 2019 to honor the city of Memphis to celebrate the city's bicentennial. Community centers, museums, galleries and performing arts venues will all be a part of the celebration. Check the website for what is happening when and where.


Memphis is known for its barbeque, so it makes sense that each year there is a massive competition to decide who is the best meat-smoker and sauce-slatherer in the land. Anyone can compete, or just come out to gawk at the elaborate team tents. They recently added BBQ Alley, a limited-capacity experience that allows anyone in the park to taste championship-quality ‘que from Big Green Egg and several renown barbecue restaurants. But, the good smells are abundant and the festivities are fun, so it’s worth checking out. Tickets are available online and at the gate.  

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celebrate Memphis

This one-day festival celebrates everything that is great about the Bluff City, with live local entertainment on multiple stages, local art on display, Memphis items for sale, and of course local food and brews. There is even an airshow and 901-themed fireworks. You can get your tickets right the gate, and there shouldn’t be any problem getting in.


After a month’s worth of food and celebration, what better way to burn off those extra calories than a half marathon or 5K? The Great American River Run is just that, taking participants along the Mississippi and through downtown Memphis. Live entertainment plays along the route, and of course more music, food and beverages await you at the end. Registration opens in November on the Memphis in May website, so sign up and start training!

A lot of people come into Memphis for these events, so lodging can fill up quickly. There are a good number of hotels downtown, but if they book up you can head out East for more options. 

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