2018 // Annual Events

Did You Know?

The Hamilton County Fair, attracting more than 50,000 attendees each September, is the official kick-off for the fall season in Chattanooga. With a petting zoo, baking competitions, old-fashioned sack races, and classic fair food (fried ice cream and chicken on a stick), the Hamilton County Fair is fun for the whole family.

Fireworks at Riverbend Festival

(above) Riverbend Festival, photo courtesy of Chattanooga CVB

Chattanooga’s calendar is jam-packed with festivals and events, offering something for every age and taste. With nationally and internationally renowned sporting events, music festivals, and a film festival, along with cultural, regional, and neighborhood events, Chattanooga keeps locals and tourists entertained year-round.


With its dramatic backdrop, idyllic weather, and plenty of Southern hospitality, Chattanooga has become the destination for annual outdoor events and athletic competitions. In 2018, Chattanooga will host two IRONMAN events: IRONMAN  in September and IRONMAN 70.3 in May. In March, the Chattanooga Marathon offers full and half races, among others, and draws participants from all over the U.S.

World-class and amateur athletes alike are invited to participate in RiverRocks, Chattanooga’s adventure sports games and outdoor festival. Taking place over several weeks in October, competitions are held in the Tennessee Valley’s most scenic locations and include rock climbing, kayaking, open water swimming, trail running, and cycling.

Each November, the Head of the Hooch brings thousands of spectators to Chattanooga’s riverfront to cheer on one of the world’s largest rowing regattas. Over the two-day event, more than 2,000 boats will race along a 3.1-mile course on the Tennessee River.

Although live music can be found just about every night in Chattanooga, the city’s award-winning music festivals steal the show. Riverbend, Chattanooga’s largest outdoor music festival, draws as many as 350,000 people each June and features headlining acts and up-and-coming artists.  Also in the summer, the Nightfall Concert Series entertains crowds at downtown’s Miller Plaza, and diverse musical acts headline each Saturday at Riverfront Nights Summer Music Series. Rock City’s Summer Music Festival highlights bluegrass, country, and folk music. Coolidge Park hosts Pops on the River, a concert by the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, each July. The 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival brings some of the biggest names in bluegrass to the Scenic City each October for a two-day concert event. Performing classical and orchestral pieces, the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera holds more than 30 concerts at the Tivoli Theatre and other historic venues around town.

Band playing at the 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival

(above) 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival photo courtesy of Chattanooga Presents


Praised by Southern Living magazine as the “Sundance of the South,” the four-day Chattanooga Film Festival celebrates the world of cinema each spring. Including both local film submissions and submissions from around the world, the festival also features special guests, parties, workshops, and panels. 

Throughout the year, residents and visitors can enjoy the festivities at seasonal and cultural events. Ruby Falls celebrates Romance at Ruby for Valentine’s Day. Rock City’s Shamrock City is a springtime favorite, while its Fairytale Nights brings classic children’s stories to life. Additional spring events at Rock City include EarthDayz and the Southern Blooms Festival. The Armed Forces Day parade, the longest-running celebration of its kind in the nation, travels up Market Street to honor veterans and fallen war heroes each May. Independence Day festivities are held across the city, culminating in fireworks on the river. In the fall, the Chattanooga Market and Rock City both celebrate Oktoberfest with German cuisine, beer, music, and more. The Tennessee Aquarium transforms into Aqua-Scarium, and Ruby Falls’ Haunted Cavern presents a haunted experience sure to terrify. The winter ushers in Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights, Ruby Falls Christmas Underground, Tennessee Valley Railroad’s North Pole Limited, and the Chattanooga Zoo’s Holiday Lights.

Neighborhoods celebrate their unique local cultures, foods, and artists. On the Southside, Mainx24 is an all-day party packed with parades, a pancake breakfast, music, and more. The annual Corgi Parade welcomes art vendors, corgi-enthusiasts, and costumed corgis to St. Elmo for an unforgettable event.

Bradley County also hosts seasonal events, including the International Cowpea Festival and the Cleveland Apple Festival each fall, the Blue Springs Valley Gospel Singing and Cherokee Cultural Celebration each summer, and the Main Street Cruise-In once a month from April through October.

Nightfall in downtown Chattanooga

Nightfall, photo courtesy of Chattanooga CVB


Year-Round Events


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.-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 the Banana Ball. The zoo offers many different educational programming to all ages through Kits and Cubs, Zoo Camp, Senior Safari programs, and more.


First Tennessee Pavilion
Late April through 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.


706.820.2531 | 800.854.0675 | seerockcity.com

March features Shamrock City, celebrating Irish, Celtic, and Highlands culture, while April celebrates a different sort of green with EarthDayz. March and April bring Fairytale Nights, when Rock City transforms into a magical kingdom for young knights and princesses. May hosts the Southern Blooms Festival, a Founder’s Day celebration, while the summer brings Rock City Raptor shows and Summer Music Weekends. German heritage is celebrated with Rocktoberfest in October, and to celebrate the holidays, Rock City transforms into the Enchanted Garden of Lights from mid-November through the end of the year.


423.821.2544 | rubyfalls.com

Ruby Falls celebrates Romance at Ruby in February with an intimate night-time lantern tour. The venue also hosts Extended Cavern tours for those who want extra time to explore and take photos. Guests are invited to the nationally ranked Haunted Cavern in October. Other holiday events include Ruby Falls Christmas Underground.


Pier 2 At The Landing, 3rd Deck Burger Bar

Whether you choose a relaxing lunch, informative sightseeing cruise, or a fabulous dinner cruise with live entertainment, you are sure to experience Southern hospitality on the Southern Belle Riverboat! Plan a holiday with the crew! Seasonal cruises include Valentine’s Dinner Cruise, Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, ‘Tis the Season Luncheon, Christmas Carol Dinner, and New Year’s Eve on the River. Fall foliage is incredible from a river point of view! Pier 2 – featuring the Grand Chandelier Deck and the 3rd Deck Burger Bar – is right on the Tennessee River so the scene is dramatic and stationary so guests may come and go, elegant or casual.


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

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.


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), Railfest in September, 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


Presented By BlueCross BlueShield of TN
Downtown Chattanooga
March 2-4
423.765.8689 | chattanoogamarathon.com

A marathon, half marathon, team relay, Classic 150 5K, and a kids’ fun run make up a weekend of family fun at the Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon. Designed by local runners, the marathon route showcases the city’s neighborhoods, such as St. Elmo, the Southside, and Riverview.


First Tennessee Pavilion
April 20-22
423.265.4282 | 4bridgesartsfestival.org

Produced by the Association for Visual Arts, 4BAF is a juried art festival that showcases 160 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.


Downtown Chattanooga
May 2
Chattanooga Area Veterans Council

The annual Armed Forces Day Parade 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. The 2018 parade will feature the United States Coast Guard.

Ruby Falls, waterfall in the cave

Ruby Falls, photo courtesy of R&R Marketing


Presented By McKee Foods
Downtown Chattanooga
May 20

IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga offers the perfect training opportunity for those getting ready for the September IRONMAN Triathlon, 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.

Summer Events


Tennessee Aquarium Plaza
March through September
423.648.2496 | chattanoogarivermarket.com

The River Market features local artists, craftsmen, and artisans offering handmade goods who are directly involved in the creation of their products. It also features musical performances by local and touring artists.


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

This free summer concert series, celebrating its 31st season in 2018, 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 inthe Nightfall series.


Downtown Waterfront
June 8-16
423.756.2211 | riverbendfestival.com

Celebrating 37 years, this award-winning eightday music festival features five stages and more than 100 bands representing various genres of music. Admission can be purchased online.


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 patriotic concert and fireworks.


Ross’s Landing
303.664.4022 | southernbrewersfestival.com

For over 20 years, Big River Grille & Brewing Works has presented the Southern Brewers Festival, an annual event benefiting the Craft-Works Foundation and Chattanooga Kids on the Block. More than 50 breweries gather on the downtown Chattanooga riverfront for a day of handcrafted brews, local food trucks, musical acts, and fun.

Fall Events


Chester Frost Park
423.209.6030 | hamiltontn.gov/fair

The residents of Hamilton County host a county fair in the grandest tradition. The fair features music, games, country crafts, livestock, rides, and more at Dallas Island in Chester Frost Park.


Presented By McKee Foods
September 30

The natural scenery, mild climate, and Southern charm makes Chattanooga the ideal place for the 2.4-mile swim, 116-mile bike course, and 26.2- mile run that make up the IRONMAN triathlon. The 2018 IRONMAN Chattanooga offers 40 qualifying slots for the 2019 IRONMAN World Championship.


First Tennessee Pavilion
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.


Events held throughout Chattanooga area
October 5-21 | riverrockschattanooga.com

RiverRocks celebrates the natural resources of the Chattanooga area with two weeks of outdoor recreation opportunities for enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels.


Ross’s Landing
October 5 & 6
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.

Head of the Hooch

November 2-4

The Head of the Hooch is one of the world’s largest rowing regattas, with 2,000+ boats racing over two days.  More than 9,000 seats are rowed. 1,200 boats compete on Saturday alone, more in one day than any other regatta. Participants come from over 200 different organizations and more than 27 different states.

Winter Events


Main Street, Downtown Chattanooga
December 1 | 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 Convention Center
Saturdays and Sundays in December
423.648.2496 | holiday.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.