Where: Downtown Atlanta (specifically: Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Sheraton Atlanta, Westin Peachtree Plaza, and AmericasMart)
When: August 30 through September 3
Cost: $160 for a membership through 8/28, $10-$140 at the door for various day and multi-day passes
Details: The mother of all nerdy events in Atlanta, this annual celebration of all things pop culture will unleash 80,000 fans upon downtown. A pass will get you access to hundreds of panels, workshops, and dance parties; among this year’s celebrity guests are Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Karen Gillian (Doctor Who), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), and Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man and the Wasp). If you just want to see the spectacular costumes, the parade will be held on Peachtree Street at 10 a.m. Saturday (arrive early; it gets packed), or just grab a bite to eat anywhere near the host hotels.
Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game: Washington Huskies vs. Auburn Tigers
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
When: September 1, 3:30 p.m.
Details: College. Football. Is. Back. Kicking off the 2018 season, the Pac-12 takes on the SEC as the No. 6 Washington Huskies face off against No. 9 Auburn Tigers.
Where: Georgia State Stadium
When: September 2, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Details: And don’t forget HBCU football. SWAC’s Prairie View A&M Panthers and MEAC’s North Carolina Central University Eagles will duke it out at Georgia State Stadium. Can’t make the event? It’ll also be televised at noon on ESPN2.
Black Gay Pride Weekend
Where: Locations vary
When: August 29 through September 4
Details: Self-dubbed the largest black gay pride celebration in the world, thousands are expected to come to Atlanta for club parties, poetry slams, comedy shows, the Pure Heat Community Festival in Piedmont Park, and even a booze cruise on Lake Lanier.
Decatur Book Festival
Where: Downtown Decatur
When: September 1-2
Details: The largest independent book festival in the U.S. is back in Decatur with hundreds of acclaimed authors coming together to attend panel discussions, book signings, and writing workshops. Along with the live music, book readings, and panels with titles ranging from “Publishing a Book? Avoid These Top 10 Mistakes!” to “The Military Science of Star Wars,” this festival is every bookworm’s dream.
Taste of Soul Atlanta
Where: 10 Northside Drive
When: August 30 through September 2
Details: Just weeks after the passing of Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul, Atlanta is coming together to celebrate all things soul: music and food included. Maroon 5 keyboardist PJ Morton and Grammy-nominated R&B soul singer Kelly Price headline the festival’s two-day lineup, which you should be sure to go to with an empty stomach—ribs, fried chicken, and mac and cheese dishes will be available to satisfy anyone looking for soul food. The event will also include a 5K, artTOSA, a free art exhibit at Westside Arts Center, and vinTOSA, a wine tasting at Westside Arts Center.
Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival
Where: Callaway Gardens
When: August 31 through September 2
Cost: Friday: Adult: $24.95, Child: $14.95; Saturday-Sunday: Adult: $34.95, Child: $24.95 (slightly cheaper if you order in advance online)
Details: Spend the weekend riding and gazing upon colorful hot air balloons while hanging out on the beach at Robin Lake. This annual festival also features a classic car show, disc dogs, live music, a birds of prey show, and more.
Big Peach Sizzler 10K/5K
Where: Races begin in Chamblee and end in Buckhead
When: September 3
Cost: 5K: $45, 10K: $55
Details: This popular race raises money for cystic fibrosis research, kicking off at the Brookhaven (5K) and Chamblee (10K) MARTA stations and ending at the Buckhead Station shopping center. Finishers get a T-shirt and a snazzy medal, and yes, it is a Peachtree Road Race qualifier.
Holy Smoke 5K
Where: Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta
When: September 3, 9 a.m.
Cost: $25 (price increases after 9/1)
Details: This Marietta race, which raises money for Predisan Health Ministries in Honduras, features an after-party with barbecue, an antique car show, a silent auction, and live music.
First Responders Labor Day 5K/10K/15K
Where: AMC Theatre, Cobb Place Lane, Kennesaw
When: September 3, 8 a.m.
Cost: 5K: $30, 10K: $35, 15K: $40
Details: If you’re a first responder (police, fire, EMT), you can run this Kennesaw race for free. Participants get a tech T-shirt (women can get a racerback tank), and proceeds benefit the Gold Shield Foundation.
Labor Day Pig Out
Where: Avalon (Palmer Plaza)
When: September 2, 5-8 p.m.
Cost: Adults: $40; Kids: $20
Details: Avalon’s Oak Steakhouse and Colletta are serving up an all-you-can-eat barbecue spread of brisket, pulled pork, chicken, mac and cheese, potato salad, cornbread, and more. The event is kid-friendly, with face-painting, a photo booth, and lawn games.
House in the Park
Where: Grant Park
When: September 2, 12-8 p.m.
Details: The all-day dance party, held near the rec center at Grant Park, will feature four DJs: Salah Ananse, DJ Kemit, Kai Alce, and Ramon Rawsoul. There will also be a cash bar, along with food and merch vendors.
When: August 31 though September 2
Details: This annual event’s lineup, all of which benefit Ludacris’s foundation, includes celebrity golf and bowling tournaments; a celebrity basketball game; LudaFamDay, a free community festival with food, vendors, music, and a kids zone; and a takeover of the Westside TopGolf.
2018 National Puppet Slam
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts
When: August 31 and September 1, 8 p.m.; September 2, 5 p.m.
Cost: $20 ($15 for museum members)
Details: The concept is similar to a poetry slam, but puppets are the stars of the show, which features a variety of short sketches across genres and puppetry types. A ticket includes museum admission, so arrive early to check out the new The Dark Crystal special exhibit, which opens August 31. (Also, this is an 18 and older event, so leave the kiddos at home.)
Marietta Art in the Park
Where: Marietta Square
When: September 1-3
Cost: Free, $15 for Chalk Spot
Details: Back for its 32nd year, more than 175 artists from around the country are descending on Marietta Square to display their acrylic paintings, drawings, glass, pottery, sculptures, watercolor, wood carving, jewelry, and photography. Along with the pros, kids will also be able to show off their drawing talents at Chalk Spot.
Atlanta Caribbean Jerk Festival
Where: Georgia International Horse Park
When: September 2, noon-10 p.m.
Details: Spare the napkins—you’re gonna want to lick your fingers after every meal here. Back for a 13th year, chefs are coming together to flaunt their version of the tasty Jamaican cooking technique while reggae and rap artists take the stage for live music. Who’s Atlanta’s top jerk chef? Amateur and experienced chefs will also face off in a competition to claim the title.
Where: Temple Kol Emeth
When: September 2-3
Details: Brisket, matzo ball soup, latkes, kugel, corned beef, potato knish—Noshfest is all about celebrating Jewish culture throughout the two-day festival. The event is about Jewish culture, but food is the focus here with a bagel eating contest, food vendors, and a brisket brunswick stew cooking demonstration by chef Wilson Gourley with the General Muir.
Cirque du Solei: Corteo
Where: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth
When: August 29 through September 2
Details: The plot of this performance: A clown imagines his own funeral as a festival of the acrobats and musicians you’d expect at a Cirque show. This production claims to be more theatrical than other Cirque shows, with hand-painted curtains inspired by the Eiffel Tower.