Can’t Miss Atlanta Events: May 2016

In the month that includes National Kids to Parks Day, it’s easy to sense a theme: May is all about getting outside. From a magical evening wandering through the Atlanta Botanical Garden to cheering on jousting knights at the Georgia Renaissance Festival to canoeing across a Georgia State Park lake under a full moon, relish these warmer and longer days with loads of family fun.

atlanta events may 2016

All of May (and beyond): Strawberry Picking

Strawberry picking in Georgia begins near the end of April and runs through most of May. Check out our guide to the best places around Georgia to pick the freshest berries.


All of May (and beyond): Mandarin Oriental Family Adventure Package

Looking for a summer vacation idea? The award-winning Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta in Buckhead invites families to experience the “Big Peach” with the new Family Adventure package, ideal for discovering all the fantastic, family-friendly activities Atlanta has to offer. The exclusive package provides families with plenty of space to relax and unwind in a Two-Bedroom Family Room with over 1,100 square feet of luxurious accommodation. The Family Adventure package starts at USD 1,100 plus taxes and gratuities and includes a one-night stay, “Big Peach” welcome amenities for the kids, tickets to Legoland and the Children’s Museum of Atlanta and an Atlanta-Opoloy Board Game. Here’s why we LOVE the Mandarin Oriental as a family getaway.


All of May (and beyond): Georgia Renaissance Festival

The 2016 Georgia Renaissance Festival runs for 8 consecutive weekends through June 5th, including Memorial Day Monday. Voted a Top 20 Southeast Event by the Southeast Tourism Society, a day spent inside the castle walls of this 32-acre 16th Century Kingdom will delight, amuse and amaze the entire family. Festival guests will be greeted by Queen Anne Boleyn and her Court, merry minstrels, fair maidens, gallant Knights in shining armor and a full-day of entertainment on 10 stages, food fit for kings, and a marketplace of over 150 master artisans displaying their time-honored artistry as they craft their one-of-a-kind treasures. Here’s why we LOVE the Renaissance Festival as a family event.


All of May (and beyond): Chihuly in the Garden

The Chihuly in the Garden exhibit at Atlanta Botanical Garden opened April 30 and runs through October 30. After its stunning 2004 debut, the Chihuly in the Garden revival coincides with the Garden’s 40th anniversary. Out of the 21 installations comprised of glass, polyvetro and resin, two are being created completely unique to the Atlanta exhibit. The exhibit can be experienced during the daytime, as well as at night when the installations are illuminated in neon for Chihuly at Nights.


April 30 – May 1: Spring at the Homestead

Bring the whole family to this living history event at Red Top Mountain State Park and discover what life was like for soldiers and civilians during the Civil War. Living history demonstrations include cooking, blacksmithing, woodworking, toys and games, candle-dipping and more. See soldiers camped nearby and witness black powder weapons demonstrations, including cannons. $5 parking.


May 5: Watermelon Express Train Ride

Enjoy this ride from our Downtown Cordele Depot to Historic Plains, the small Georgia town made famous by President Jimmy Carter. Ticket required. Rides also scheduled for May 21 and 28.


May 6 – 7: Drift Atlanta

Your senses will be in overdrive as speed and car control meld into a dramatic competition that tests driver and car to the absolute limit. With equally exciting off-track entertainment and displays, Drift Atlanta has become the epicenter of car culture in Georgia. The Formula Drift® competition at Road Atlanta will be conducted in the Turn 10 complex, a right left-right-hand combination that will require the drifting competitors to quickly change direction while in full drift mode. A panel of professional drifting drivers will determine the bracket winners. Kids under 12 get in for FREE. Here’s why we LOVE Road Atlanta as a family event.

May 7: Sunset Point at Cloudland Canyon

Take a short walk through Cloudland Canyon State Park with the naturalist to Sunset Point, the park’s “hidden gem.” Enjoy expansive views of Trenton, Lookout Valley, Sand Mountain and more while the sky turns colorful at sunset. Meet at the West Rim Access Parking Lot. $5 parking. Here’s why we LOVE exploring hidden gems at state parks.


May 7: Candlelight Hike to the Mill

This mile-long guided night hike through Sweetwater Creek State Park is moderately difficult and goes down to the Civil War-era textile mill ruins of New Manchester alongside the beautiful rapids of Sweetwater Creek. Candle lanterns are provided. No children under 6 years or dogs permitted. Meet and pay (exact change please, $5 cash only) at the Visitor’s Center. $5 parking. Here’s why we LOVE Red Trail at Sweetwater as a family excursion.


May 7: The Atlanta Opera’s Romeo and Juliet

Come with The Atlanta Opera as we venture to Verona, and meet Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile feuding families. Not seen on The Atlanta Opera stage since 2007, Charles Gounod’s opera in five acts, sung in French, reexamines the story through a decidedly French romantic lens. In France, the work is regarded as Gounod’s best achievement and has correspondingly produced numerous performances. Although it is less frequently performed in the United States, The Atlanta Opera’s version is a rare, magnificent visual treat. Additional performances on May 10, 13 and 15.


May 7: Hills and Dales Ninth Annual Picnic in the Garden

Bring a blanket and a basket and enjoy FREE admission to the garden. Enjoy old-fashioned games and pony rides, face painting, sno cones and a balloon artist. As a special treat, enjoy tethered hot air balloon rides overlooking the house and gardens. There will be live music and special prizes for the best picnic spreads, so bring your creative A Game. Here’s why we LOVE to visit LaGrange, GA for a day of family fun.


May 8: Paws on the Falls

Grab your leash and bring your dog out to walk with some new friends on the High Falls Trail at Sweetwater Creek. A special surprise goes to each dog that attends. $5 per a dog. $5 parking. Here’s why we LOVE the yurts at Sweetwater Creek for a family getaway.


May 11: Healthy Mamma Class

Learn some quick and easy recipes to make healthy, balanced and fun food for your kids. A cooking demo by owner and mom Tal Baum featuring Italian inspired easy kid meal recipes. All dishes will be tasted. Class meets from 6 pm – 7:30 pm at Bellina Alimentari, tickets $35. Other classes offered in May include Pizza Making, Introduction to Amaro Italian culture, as well as a 3 Cheese, 3 Wine tasting.


May 12: Taste of Alpharetta

Get ready to taste your way through Awesome Alpharetta with bites from more than 60 restaurants at Taste of Alpharetta, the Southeast’s premier dining festival, attracting over 50,000 festival-goers each year. Expect cooking demonstrations, chef competitions, three entertainment stages, art exhibits and a Kids Korner. For 25 years, the Taste of Alpharetta, a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event for 2015, has been delighting visitors with tasty treats while a music stage features harmonic rock, folk and R&B bands. A separate Culinary Stage pairs top area chefs against one another in contests. Party with metro Atlanta radio stations and play at the Fun Zones.


May 13: Bat Conservation in Georgia

Presented by Wildlife Biologist Trina Morris of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, this program at Cloudland Canyon State Park will highlight bat species of Georgia, fun facts about bats, why bats are important to us, and the cause of bat decline. A bat mist-netting demonstration will follow. Meet at the campfire outside the Interpretive Center. $5 parking.


May 14: Football Blues

Still haven’t gotten rid of those football blues? The Hall of Fame has just the trick! Chase the blues away at “Football Blues,” the Hall’s football, music, food and fun-filled tailgate with Tex-Mex style cuisine and the Francisco Vidal Band.


May 14: Antique Steam Engine Demonstration

Come “let off some steam” by blowing the whistle atop the Jarrell Plantation Mill Complex, a signal used to communicate between Jarrell’s manning different work positions throughout the mill. See our stationary steam engine in action and experience live steam that puts into motion this important provider of mechanical energy in America’s past. Tickets $4-6.50.


May 14: Food That Rocks

For one night only, more than 20 of Sandy Springs’ favorite restaurants will be rocking the big tent in Hammond Park, in the heart of Sandy Springs. This all-inclusive event will provide you with food, wine, beer and cocktail tastes from local mixologists, local musicians and benefit Sandy Springs-based charities Second Helpings, Ian’s Friends Foundation and the Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance. Tickets are $55 per person in advance and $65 at the door if available. Food That Rocks is a rain or shine event. You must be 21 or older!


May 21: Story Time with Princess Tiana

Princess Tiana, the Frog Princess, invites princes and princesses to take part in Story Time and Dress Up at Olivia’s Dollhouse Tea Room Atlanta at 6:30 p.m. Children can select a dress, suit or armor from our luxurious closet with hundreds of dresses and shoes. Princess Tiana will sing, tell stories and take one-on-one photos with each child. RSVP required and sibling discount available. $20 per child and $15 per sibling.


May 21: Fire in the Fourth Festival 

After being named “Best New Festival” by Atlanta magazine in 2015, Fire in the Fourth Festival will once again descend upon the streets of the Old Fourth Ward this spring. The second annual festival will feature over 30 live, local performances by musicians, dancers and artists; fire games, sculptures and performers; history presentations; food and drink; activities just for kids and much more. 2016 will also bring an array of new activities from a jazz concert at Ebenezer Baptist Amphitheater to exciting new performers to the Tito’s VIP Fire Dome. Fire in the Fourth is open to all ages and FREE to attend. All proceeds will benefit the Old Fourth Ward Business Association.

May 21: Youth Fishing Days at Buck Shoals

Children and their special “big person” can fish in a lake stocked with catfish, bass and bream. Fish caught can be kept. Bring your own bait and rods. This event is not at Smithgall Woods, but at Buck Shoals, a nearby unopened state park. Call for directions. Occurs every third Saturday through September. $5 parking. Here’s why we LOVE Smithgall Woods Cabins for a family getaway.


May 21: Intro to Tree Climbing

Join us “on rope” for an adventure exploring the canopy above Panola Mountain State Park. This is an introductory program to recreational tree climbing. Participants will use rope and harness to ascend into a 200+ year old Southern Red Oak, where they can climb, swing, and scramble. Climbs start at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Call to register. Ages 8 and older. $15 plus $5 parking. Here’s why we LOVE tree climbing at Panola Mountain as a family event.


May 21: National Kids to Parks Day “Full Moon” Lake Paddle

Enjoy a relaxing paddle around Tallulah lake as the full moon reflects off the water. This ranger-led event is an exciting way to get out in the evenings and enjoy nature. National Kids to Parks Day is national movement engages children and families with parks, nature, and healthy outdoor recreation. Space is limited, so register in advance. $15 includes equipment. $5 parking.


May 24- June 5: The Swan at the Center for Puppetry Arts

When a little bird is born and doesn’t look like the birds around him, he goes in search of his parents. A must-see performance based on Hans Christian Andersen’s, The Ugly Duckling. Presented by Théâtre de Deux Mains of Montréal, Québec, Canada, this ages 3+ show is sure to delight little ones.


May 29: Live at the Lake Summer Concert Series

The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, will host its annual “Live at the Lake” concert series on select weekends from May through September. A collection of regional musical talent will headline the summer series with a variety of live shows in the resort’s backyard overlooking beautiful Lake Oconee. The summer concert series will be begin on Sunday, May 29, and will continue through the summer on select Sundays concluding on September 4. As a new and exciting addition this year, all concerts will be followed by a beautiful fireworks display. On May 29, 3 1/1 Men will perform classic melodies and pop standards. Here’s why we LOVE Reynolds Plantation at Lake Oconee as a family destination.

Paige Sullivan | Travel and Calendar Editor

Paige Sullivan recently completed her MFA at Georgia State University, where she studied, wrote, and published poetry. She now works as a marketing professional in the nonprofit sector, and in her spare time, she freelance edits and dabbles in food and travel writing. Find her on social media at @bpaigesullivan.

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