2020 // Annual Events

(Above) Rock City Southern Blooms Festival (Photo Courtesy of Rock City)

Entertainment Galore

 

Locals and visitors alike flock to the Scenic City each year to participate in a myriad of events and festivals that Chattanooga has to offer. With energetic music festivals, prominent sporting competitions, and one-of-a-kind cultural celebrations, there is plenty of fun to be had.

 

Did You Know?

The Chattanooga MotorCar Festival debuted in 2019 and saw an attendance of approximately 10,000.

Spring arrives, and the Scenic City starts to come alive with events such as Rock City’s Shamrock City, EarthDayz, and Southern Blooms Festival. Movie lovers unite as the Chattanooga Film Festival kicks off and provides ticket holders access to feature films, short films, special events, and creative workshops. For those looking to stay active, the area also plays host to events including Erlanger’s Chattanooga Marathon in March and the IRONMAN 70.3 in May, both of which draw participation from across the country.

As summer approaches, the Armed Forces Day Parade honors veterans and fallen heroes, and the annual Riverbend Festival, a four-day music festival featuring dozens of artists performing along the banks of the Tennessee River, entertains patrons.

Throughout the summer months, locals have access to live music with Miller Plaza’s Nightfall, Ross’s Landing’s Riverfront Nights, and Rock City’s Summer Music Series. Chattanooga Symphony & Opera’s Pops on the River also treats attendees to live music in honor of the 4th of July.

Fall arrives, and Chattanoogans gather for another IRONMAN in September. Also in September is the family-friendly Moon River Music Festival, which brings concert fanatics to Coolidge Park in droves. October kicks off with the 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival, and Oktoberfest celebrations can be found at the Chattanooga Market and Rock City. As Halloween approaches, the Tennessee Aquarium transforms into Aqua-Scarium, and Dread Hollow at Ruby Falls serves up scares for the more adventurous. Idyllic weather allows November to host the Head of the Hooch, one of the world’s largest rowing regattas with more than 2,000 boats racing down the Tennessee River.

The Scenic City turns into a place of magic and wonder as winter approaches. With events such as Ruby Falls’ Christmas Underground, Tennessee Valley Railroad’s North Pole Limited, Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights, Tennessee Aquarium’s Ho, Ho, H2O, and the Chattanooga Zoo’s Holiday Lights, there is something for people of all ages and interests. MAINx24 is a local favorite and is a 24-hour festival on Chattanooga’s Southside that includes cook-offs, parades, live music, and more. As the holiday season comes and goes, Ruby Falls wraps up the winter with its signature Valentine’s Day event, Romance at Ruby.

While these events are some of Chattanooga’s most popular, the area has much more to offer. From a corgi celebration to cowpea and cornbread cookoffs, there is something for everyone.

Ruby Falls (Photo Courtesy of Ruby Falls)

 

Year-Round Events

Chattanooga Zoo

423.697.1322 | chattzoo.org

The Chattanooga Zoo’s mission is to engage and inspire the community to better understand and preserve wildlife by creating meaningful connections between people and animals. In an effort to create these connections, the Chattanooga Zoo is open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. In addition, the zoo hosts numerous seasonal events throughout the year including Hug-a-Bunny Day, Q & Brew, and Spirits in the Wild. Additionally, the zoo offers educational programming to all ages through Kits and Cubs, Zoo Camp, Senior Safari programs, and more.

 

The Chattanooga Market

First Tennessee Pavilion | Late April-November | 423.648.2496 | chattanoogamarket.com

The region’s largest outdoor market features produce from regional farms and local food manufacturers, as well as handmade artistry at small-town prices. Throughout the year, each Sunday Market features a theme in keeping with the season.

 

Dread Hollow

423.800.0566 | dreadhollow.com

The nightmare returns to the tainted town of Dread Hollow with over 20,000 square feet of pure terror. Taking fear to the next level, Dread Hollow presents extreme haunts and escape rooms throughout the year with New Year’s Nightmare, Bloody Valentine, Scream Break, and the award-winning October haunt.

 

Rock City Gardens

706.820.2531 | 800.854.0675 | seerockcity.com

Known for its legendary giant rock formations, Swing-A-Long Bridge, Fairyland Caverns, and seven states view, Rock City has been welcoming guests since 1932. Memories await year-round on Rock City’s Enchanted Trail starting with a Valentine’s Day package in February, the Irish festival Shamrock City in March, and EarthDayz in April. May hosts Southern Blooms, and from Memorial Day through Labor Day, guests can enjoy Summer Music Weekends. October weekends are for Oompah! time at Rocktoberfest. Starting in mid-November, Rock City also opens at night for the award-winning holiday spectacular The Enchanted Garden of Lights. All events feature live entertainment, specialty food, and hands-on activities for all ages, and leashed pets are always welcome.

 

Ruby Falls

423.821.2544 | rubyfalls.com

There’s always something new to discover at Ruby Falls with events and tours year-round. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a Romance at Ruby Lantern Tour, enjoy barbecue and live music at Battle Below the Clouds, and take a magical journey to visit Santa at Christmas Underground in December. It’s been a favorite destination for 89 years.

 

Southern Belle Riverboat

423.266.4488 | chattanoogariverboat.com

The Southern Belle Riverboat offers many cruise options, including daily cruises, dining cruises, seasonal cruises, sightseeing cruises, and private cruises. Seasonal cruises include Valentine’s Dinner Cruise, Easter, Mother’s Day, Fall Foliage, Thanksgiving, ‘Tis the Season Luncheon, Christmas Carol Dinner, and New Year’s Eve on the River.

 

Tennessee Aquarium

423.265.0695 | 800.262.0695 | tnaqua.org | app: tnaqua.org/app

Come celebrate “The Year of the Turtle” at the Tennessee Aquarium in 2020 with a new turtle gallery. In March and April at the Tennessee Aquarium, kids enjoy spring break activities. September highlights include Serve & Protect sustainable seafood events. October features the month-long celebration ODDtober and the family-friendly Aqua-Scarium Halloween Party. In December, visitors are invited to enjoy Holidays Under the Peaks.

 

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

423.894.8028 | tvrail.com

In addition to daily Missionary Ridge Local train rides, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum features several seasonal specials, including dinner trains throughout the year, Day Out with Thomas in April/May, excursions to Chickamauga and Summerville (Georgia), Halloween Eerie Express in October, and the North Pole Limited during the holiday season. Additionally, Hiwassee River Rail Adventure trains run out of Etowah through the scenic Hiwassee River Gorge.

 

Spring Events

Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon Weekend

Downtown Chattanooga | March 6-8 | 423.226.2020  | erlangerchattanoogamarathon.com

A marathon, half marathon, team relay, 5K, kids’ fun run, and EXPO make up the Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon Weekend. Start training today for this weekend of family fun!

 

4 Bridges Arts Festival

First Tennessee Pavilion | April 17-19 | 423.265.4282 | 4bridgesartsfestival.org

Produced by the Association for Visual Arts, 4BAF is a nationally recognized juried art festival that showcases over 120 national and international artists. The festival is an established conduit for connecting visual artists with avid art buyers and offers local food, live music, and kids’ art activities.

 

Armed Forces Day Parade

Downtown Chattanooga | May 1 | ChattAreaVeterans.com

The annual Armed Forces Day Parade, hosted by Chattanooga Area Veterans Council, features participants from military service units, area veterans’ groups, high school bands, patriotic organizations, and many others. Each year, the parade features a different service branch, and 2020 marks the parade’s 71st year, making it the longest continuous armed forces parade in the nation. The 2020 parade, held on May 1 at 10:30 a.m. and starting at the intersection of Market Street and MLK Boulevard, will feature the United States Navy.

 

Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga

Downtown Chattanooga | May 17 | ironman.com

IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga offers the perfect training opportunity for those getting ready for the September IRONMAN, or a chance to race in one of the sport’s most welcoming race sites. It begins with a point-to-point swim, transitions into a bike course, and then ends with a two-loop run. The 2020 Sunbelt Bakery IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga will offer 40 qualifying slots to the World Championship in New Zealand.

 

Memorial Day Celebration

McCoy Farm & Gardens | May 25 | 423.886.4568 | mccoywalden.org

A true Memorial Day commemoration, this free celebration, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., includes a salute to the flag and veterans, the national anthem, picnic food for purchase, a children’s play area, local musical entertainment, and more.

 

Riverbend Festival

Downtown Waterfront | May 27-30 | 423.756.2211 | riverbendfestival.com

Celebrating 39 years, this award-winning, four-day music festival features four stages and dozens of bands representing various genres of music. Admission can be purchased online.

Rock City (Photo Courtesy of Rock City)

 

Summer Events

Chattanooga River Market

Tennessee Aquarium Plaza | March-September | 423.648.2496 | chattanoogarivermarket.com

The River Market features handmade goods from area artists, craftsmen, and artisans. It also features musical performances by local and touring artists.

 

Nightfall Concert Series

Miller Park and Plaza | First Friday in May – Last Friday in August | 423.265.0771 | nightfallchattanooga.com

This free summer concert series, held on Friday nights, celebrates its 33rd season in 2020 and features an eclectic mix of music by national and international talent with local opening acts. Food, beer, and concessions are available during the event. In March, the “Road to Nightfall” events will feature local bands competing to win one headline spot in the Nightfall series.

 

Riverfront Nights

Ross’s Landing | Summer Saturday Nights | 423.756.2211 | riverfrontnights.com

Celebrating its 14th year, this free summer concert series features live music, food and beer for purchase, and exhibits focusing on local people and institutions who promote healthy lifestyles, sustainable development practices, and outdoor adventures.

 

Pops on the River

Coolidge Park | July 3  | 423.265.0771 | chattanoogapops.com

Celebrate Independence Day under the stars at Coolidge Park while enjoying the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera’s annual free patriotic concert and fireworks.

 

Fall Events

Moon River Music Festival

Coolidge Park | September | moonriverfestival.com

Presented by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, this family-friendly music festival features two days and two stages of folksy pop and Americana bands.

 

Hamilton County Fair

Chester Frost Park | September 26 and 27 | 423.209.6893 | hamiltontn.gov/fair

Each year, the Hamilton County Fair welcomes the fall season with its commitment to home-town traditions and community heritage. Visitors can enjoy various arts and crafts vendors, joyful music, fair-food favorites, family-oriented entertainment, and, of course, blue ribbon awards for agricultural and home-centered competition events.

 

Ironman Chattanooga

Downtown Chattanooga | September 27 | ironman.com

The natural scenery, mild climate, and Southern charm make Chattanooga the ideal place for the 2.4-mile swim, 116-mile bike course, and 26.2-mile run that make up the IRONMAN. The 2020 Little Debbie IRONMAN Chattanooga presented by McKee Foods Corp. – A Family Bakery will offer 40 qualifying slots to the 2021 IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii.

 

Culture Fest

First Tennessee Pavilion | October 4  | 423.697.3204 | chattanoogamarket.com

Celebrate Chattanooga’s rich cultural diversity at Culture Fest, a free event featuring multicultural performances, colorful booths, multicultural kids’ activities, and food representing cultures from around the world. The event will be held from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

 

3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival

Ross’s Landing | October 4-5 | 423.265.0771 | 3sistersbluegrass.com

This free two-day event features bluegrass music performed by local, regional, and national bluegrass artists on a stage overlooking the Tennessee River.

 

Chattanooga Oktoberfest

First Tennessee Pavilion  | October 17 and 18 | 423.648.2496 | chattanoogamarket.com

The area’s largest Oktoberfest celebration comes to life each year at the First Tennessee Pavilion. German-inspired foods, live Oompah music, and over 99 varieties of local and seasonal beers are complemented by the Chattanooga Market’s lineup of vendors and artisans. This family event is free to the public.

 

Head of the Hooch

November 7-8 | headofthehooch.org

The Head of the Hooch Regatta is one of the world’s largest rowing events with 2,000+ boats racing over two days. Over 1,200 boats compete on Saturday alone, more in one day than any other regatta. Participants attend from over 200 different organizations, 30+ states, and several countries.

4 Bridges Art Festival

 

Winter Events

Ice on the Landing

Glenn Miller Outdoor Gardens | November 15 – January 20 | 423.265.0771 | iceonthelanding.com

Celebrating its sixth year, Ice on the Landing is Chattanooga’s outdoor holiday ice skating rink. Enjoy a fun evening out or purchase a season pass to keep the good times going all season long.

 

Southside MAINx24

Main Street, Downtown Chattanooga | December 5 | mainx24.com

The Southside hosts its annual MAINx24, a 24-hour-long festival along the Main Street corridor. The event showcases local businesses and features neighborhood parties, as well as the EPB Southside Holiday Parade from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

 

Chattanooga Holiday Market

Chattanooga Convention Center | Saturdays and Sundays in December | 423.648.2496 | chattanoogamarket.com

The Holiday Market features more than 200 vendors selling handmade original works perfect for the gift-giving season. Shoppers enjoy the festive environment with holiday music, tasty samplings, and artisan finds.

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