15+ Can’t Miss Atlanta Events: September 2016

We won’t speak too soon about summer ending, but let’s just say being outside is a bit more bearable in September. Little wonder that this month’s roundup is packed with festivals that celebrate books, crafts, pianos, balloons and more. Enjoy the holiday weekend, the (sort of) cooler days and the sweet shift from summer to fall.

atlanta events september

September 1 – October 28: Social Spaces in Preserved Places: A Visitors’ Scrapbook of Georgia’s National Parks

As the U.S. National Park Service celebrates its 100th year as keeper of America’s natural and cultural treasures, the agency encouraged visitors to “find their park”. This curated collection of visitor captured images mined from social media depicts them “finding” the many diverse ways they enjoy Georgia’s national parks. We are very excited to announce that OUR FAMILY is included among the collection, including a cute picture from our visit to Fort Frederica on St Simon’s Island. The exhibition is open Monday-Friday, from 10:00 am until 4:30 pm, during all Rialto performances, and by appointment.

September 2-4: AJC Decatur Book Festival

The AJC Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the country and one of the five largest overall. Since its launch, more than 1,000 world-class authors and hundreds of thousands of festival-goers have crowded the historic downtown Decatur square to enjoy book signings, author readings, panel discussions, an interactive children’s area, live music, parades, cooking demonstrations, poetry slams, writing workshops, and more. Take the kids down to Decatur for books, activities and a slew of readings and performances on the Children and Teen Stages.


September 2-4: Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival

Soar into September at our 18th annual Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival. The weekend kicks off with extraordinary Night Balloon Glows and continues with balloon flights and tethered balloon rides, a classic car show, live music, beach activities and much more.


September 3-5: Labor Day Celebration at The Beach at Clayton County International Park

Soak up the last rays of summer at The Beach’s Labor Day weekend celebration. Bring the family out for a fun-filled day close to home with sand, sun and slides. The cost is $5.00 per person all day.


September 3: Dragon Con Parade

For the fantasy and sci-fi lovers, the Dragon Con’s annual takeover of Downtown Atlanta is not to be missed. Dragon Con hosts the largest parade in Atlanta, with 3,200 costumed participants marching down Peachtree St in front of thousands of spectators. The parade is the perfect way to enjoy the spectacle with the family without committing to the full conference. If you can’t be there in person, catch the first-ever televised parade on the CW.


September 3: Living History at Stately Oaks Plantation

Join Stately Oaks Plantation for reenactments as civilians evacuate Jonesboro and learn what happened “When the Yankees Came” to the house. See what life was like during the time of the Civil War through house tours, children’s games, and displays and discussions about camp life and civilian life. Try period food from Aunt Lucy’s Kitchen, on the grounds at Stately Oaks Plantation.


September 3: Family Canoe Day

Get your feet wet with our canoe guides on Beaver Pond! This 1 ½ hour introduction to canoeing is great for first-time paddlers, families with young kids, or adults coming back to the sport. We’ll spend extra time going over paddling techniques and equipment but will also provide races, games and water squirters for those hot summer mornings. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the nature center grounds afterward. The CNC provides all equipment for participants. Another Family Canoe Day will also take place on September 24.


September 3-18: Pianos for Peace Festival

Welcome to the 2016 Pianos for Peace Festival! Our beautifully painted pianos will be in the streets and parks of Metro Atlanta from September 3 – 18, 2016 for everyone and anyone to enjoy. As one of the largest public art display projects in Atlanta, Pianos for Peace will feature 29 pianos and impact an estimated half a million Atlantans and visitors this year. After the two week outdoor festival, all Pianos for Peace will be donated to local schools, nursing homes, healthcare facilities and community centers where our volunteer artists will participate in year long meaningful programs making art accessible to all. Our Ambassadors for Peace will unite and transform communities by building peace through music and education.


September 8-11: Yellow Daisy Festival

Despite its growth from a small arts & crafts show to the four day event that it has become today, the Yellow Daisy Festival Presented by Humana continues to be a big show with a small-town feel. The mission of re-connecting families and friends with fun, shopping, live entertainment and good food has remained constant over the past forty-eight years. Multi-generations of mothers, daughters and grandmothers meander the wooded trails together in search of the perfect item. More than 400 artists and crafters from 33 States and two countries display their works for your appreciation and purchase. Enjoy daily live entertainment, Children’s Corner activities, fabulous festival foods and crafter demonstrations throughout the event.


September 10: Pirate and Princess Day

ARR! Shiver me timbers, Pirate & Princess Day at Georgia Aquarium returns on Saturday, September 10, 2016. Kids 12 and under who come dressed in their finest royal attire or as a scallywag that sails the seven seas will receive FREE admission (1 FREE child age 12 and under in princess, prince or pirate costume with each paid adult or Annual Pass Member). with each paying adult from 9am – 4pm. Special activities will be held in the atrium from 11am – 2pm and the whole day will be filled with pirates and princesses galore! Activities will include a special Pirate and Princess edition of “Deepo’s Chat,” rhinestone and tattoo stations, “What’s Your Pirate or Princess Name” activity, pirate themed treasure map quest, take home photo frame activity, photo opportunities with royal and pirated characters and more!


September 10: Organ Discovery Day at Spivey Hall

Spivey Hall’s Fratelli Ruffatti pipe organ is a marvelous instrument. But how does it work? Why are there so many pipes, and why do they sound different? What’s going on with all those keyboards, knobs, and switches on the organ console? Answers to these and other organ mysteries will be revealed in a family-friendly, interactive session led by a trio of experts who star in Spivey Hall’s new educational video, The King of Instruments: History, Science, and Music of the Pipe Organ. This is a FREE event, but tickets are required.


September 10: Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade

Each year, Art on the Atlanta BeltLine celebrates our exhibition with a captivating and energetic Lantern Parade, created and hosted by Chantelle Rytter and the Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons. The glowing procession of light, music, and color illuminates the Eastside Trail to open the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine exhibition, held from annually from early September through mid-November. The Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade debuted on the Atlanta art scene in 2010, and has been growing every since. In 2012, there were 1,200 participants and tailgaters along the parade route, and in 2015, the Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade brought together more than 60,000 people for an awe-inspiring spectacle of lights and sounds.


September 17: Fall Folklife Festival

Celebrate all things Southern at the Atlanta History Center’s Fall Folklife Festival. The Smith Family Farm provides the ideal backdrop for exploring our Southern foodways traditions with chef demos and discussions in our open hearth kitchens. Hands-on demonstrations explore Southern crafts such as basket weaving, woodworking, pottery, food preservation, and candle dipping. Sip local brews while listening to the sounds of Georgia folk musicians, visiting with regional folk artists, and exploring signature exhibitions and the fall foliage in our Goizueta Gardens.


September 17-18: Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music

When the new teacher’s instruments go missing, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Big Bird, and more come to the rescue and discover instruments they never knew existed. Children learn that everyone can make and enjoy beautiful music together! Get your tickets now for one of five Sesame Street shows coming to the Fox Theatre in September.


September 17-18: JapanFest

Buckle your seatbelts and get ready to explore Japan like never before. This year’s JapanFest theme “Cooler Japan” will present the “old cool” (tradition) and “new cool” (pop culture) of Japan, highlighting five categories: Tradition, Fashion, Music, Technology and Anime. JapanFest Weekend will be held on September 17-18, 2016, from 10 am to 6 pm (Saturday) and 10am to 5pm (Sunday) at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth. Admission is $10 and FREE for children aged six or younger.


September 17-18: Marietta StreetFest

Established in 1992, the Marietta StreetFest is an annual tradition that draws an estimated 12,000 people to the Marietta Square. The festival focuses on the family with many free activities including make and take projects and giant inflatables in the Kids Zone, arts and craft vendors, the Classic Car Cruise-In and the Grassroots Music Festival. The Festival’s location provides additional opportunities for guests to take in the rich history of Marietta and tour any one of four registered historic districts, visit museums, shops, antique stores and unique boutiques which surround the Square. The local restaurants cater to all tastes and styles; in or outdoor café seating is available.


September 18: IronKids Alpharetta Triathlon

The largest youth triathlon in the country is returning to Alpharetta, Ga. on Sept. 18, 2016. The IronKids Alpharetta triathlon actively works to promote healthy living and fitness among America’s youth, providing children age 6 to 15 with the unique chance to test their strength in a family-friendly competitive setting. Race registration ends Saturday, September 17. The triathlon will take place in Alpharetta, Ga. at Wills Park, located at 1825 Old Milton Pkwy. The race is an interactive experience, and triathletes and their families are encouraged to spend the weekend in Alpharetta to take full advantage of this unique, family-friendly event. With 23 upscale yet affordable hotels, Alpharetta provides families with ample opportunities to rest easy in-between racing, eating and exploring.


September 24 (and beyond): Magic Tree House at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta

Young explorers are invited to swing into adventure at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta’s newest feature exhibit Magic Tree House®, an educational traveling exhibition created by The Magic House® and based on the best-selling children’s book series written by Mary Pope Osborne. Taking root in Atlanta September 24, 2016, visitors will branch out through three periods of American history including the first Thanksgiving, the Civil War and life on the prairie circa 1870. Guided by Jack and Annie, two ordinary siblings from Frog Creek, Penn., children of all ages will exercise their imaginations with interactive activities and simulations via a magical, time-traveling tree house!


September 24: Jim Henson’s 80th Birthday Celebration

A momentous occasion to celebrate Jim Henson’s 80th birthday, Center for Puppetry Arts will host a birthday bash on Saturday, September 24, 11 a.m. -5 p.m.! Festivities will include a special guided tour of the Jim Henson Collection, Henson-focused story time, puppet building, Henson gallery carts with an informal Q&A with Center conservators and will culminate with special film screenings of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller and Farscape at 8 p.m. All activities will take place in and around the Jim Henson Collection in the newly expanded Worlds of Puppetry Museum at the Center, which also includes a Global Collection.


September 25: Atlanta Streets Alive

On Sunday, September 25th, Atlanta Streets Alive takes over Eastside neighborhoods on North Highland, Highland Ave, and Boulevard! The event kicks off at 2:00 p.m. with a bicycle parade, and it continues until 6 p.m. Enjoy biking, skating, walking and rolling down the streets and take part in this fun, free, family-friendly event! It’s FREE and for EVERYONE. No matter the age, ability, or neighborhood you rep, even if you have no clue what exactly Open Streets is, come! We promise you’ll like it!
Find an annual list of Atlanta events here.

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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