19 fantastic Atlanta events for kids and families in September

Celebrate falling temperatures with magical parades, hot air balloons, an outdoor dance party, LEGO sculptures, and more
A LEGO butterfly sculpture at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens in Gainesville.

Decatur Book Festival
Where: Multiple locations
When: Events run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Friday); 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Saturday); 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: Free
What: The largest independent book festival features lectures and signings from more than 600 authors, including several YA favorites, like Libba Bray (Beauty Queens), Matt de la Pena (A Nation’s Hope), Sarah Dessen (Saint Anything), and David Levithan (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist).

Dragon Con Parade
Where: Downtown Atlanta
When: 10 a.m.
Cost: Free
What: The enormous four-day (9/4-7) convention draws tens of thousands of attendees, but if you don’t want to spring for the $130 tickets, you can get a taste of the festivities at the annual parade. Expect to spot a range of cosplay characters, from Stormtroopers to superheroes to Disney princesses.

Art in the Park
Where: Marietta Square
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Free
What: If (let’s face it, when) the kids get bored browsing the fine arts market, drop by the Chalk Spot, where elementary, middle, and high school students will create original sidewalk designs; then head to the interactive art-making area.

Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival
Where: Callaway Gardens
When: 10 a.m. to dusk (Friday); 6 a.m. to dusk (Saturday and Sunday)
Cost: $30 for adults; $15 for kids ages 6 to 12; free for kids 5 and under (plus additional fees for tethered rides)
What: There’s plenty to do while you wait for the lakeside “balloon glow” at dusk—swimming, mini-golf, concerts, balloon launches, a classic car show, face-painting, balloon animals, paddle boats, a disc dog demonstration, and (if you can believe it) more.

House in the Park
Where: Grant Park
When: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost: Free
What: Head to the park’s pavilions for this end-of-summer outdoor dance party, featuring house music from live DJs. After you’ve worked up a sweat, hit the grass for a picnic (show up early to nab a primo spot) or grab a bite from the festival’s food trucks and vendors.

Yellow Daisy Festival
Where: Stone Mountain Park
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Thursday and Friday); 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Saturday); 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: Free with paid parking admission ($15 per day per vehicle)
What: For 45 years, this arts and crafts show has weaved through the park’s wooded trails. Browse works from more than 400 makers; watch craft demonstrations; enjoy music from a variety of live bands; and check out the Yellow Daisy Flower Show. The Children’s Corner will have art activities, face painting, magic shows, and storytelling.

Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade
Where: Eastside Trail at Irwin Street in the Old Fourth Ward
When: 7 p.m.
Cost: Free (lantern-making workshops are $25 to $50, including supplies)
What: Last year, 23,000 parade participants and spectators lit up the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail with homemade lanterns. Sign up for a lantern-making workshop (warning: they fill up fast!), then join the procession, which kicks off the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine exhibition—the largest temporary art show in the city.

Where: Gwinnett Center
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Saturday); 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: $10; free for kids 6 and under
What: The region’s largest Japanese cultural festival attracts serious crowds. Catch musical performances from taiko drumming to J-Pop; see traditional dances and martial arts demonstrations; try on a kimono; browse Japanese tea, dolls, ceramics and more; chow down on bento boxes, ramen, and sushi; and make kid-friendly arts and crafts projects.

Ocmulgee Indian Celebration
Where: Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Ga.
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $6 for adults and teens ages 13 and up; $5 for kids ages 6 to 12; free for kids 5 and under
What: The biggest Native American gathering in the Southeast honors the population’s heritage, art, and culture with craftmakers, storytellers, dancers, and living history demonstrations.

Sesame Street Live
Where: Fox Theatre
When: 10:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 5:30 p.m. (Saturday); 1 p.m., 4:30 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: $17 to $37
What: In “Make a New Friend,” Elmo, Grover, and other furry regulars welcome Chamki, Grover’s new friend from India, to Sesame Street for a day of fun.

Nature Connects: Art With LEGO Bricks
Where: Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville
When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Tuesdays); 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Wednesdays through Sundays)
Cost: Free with admission ($18.95 for adults; $12.95 for kids ages 3 to 12; free for kids 2 and under)
What: See 27 nature-themed sculptures by New York-based LEGO artist (yes, that’s a real job) Sean Kenney, all made from hundreds of thousands of the little plastic bricks. The exhibition kicks off on opening day with a family-friendly festival, featuring music, games, and LEGO-themed activities.

Atlanta Greek Festival
Where: Greek Orthodox Cathedral
When: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Thursday); 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Friday); 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Saturday); 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: $5 for adults; free for kids 12 and under
What: Take in traditional Greek music and dancing—as well as a veritable Mediterranean feast—at this popular annual food and culture event. A children’s tent will include arts and crafts, face painting, and other activities.

Anime Weekend Atlanta
Where: Cobb Galleria, Renaissance Waverly Hotel, Sheraton Suites
When: 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Thursday); 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Friday and Saturday), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: $65 (for entire event) for ages 12 and over; $50 (for entire event) for ages 6 to 11. Single-day tickets run from $20 to $45 per person. Kids tickets can only be purchased in-person (not online).
What: This major convention celebrates Japanese animation, comics, cosplay, and culture. Expect a jam-packed events schedule with artwork, games (of the analog and video variety), a fashion show, cosplay costume contest, panel discussions, film screenings, and more. There are even separate lounges for parents/chaperones, and parents with young babies and toddlers.

Peter Pan
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts
When: 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. (Wednesdays through Fridays); 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. (Saturdays); 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (Sundays)
Cost: $16.50 for kids and adults ages 2 and up
What: If your family missed the Lyric Theatre’s live-action production last month, you can still catch this puppet version of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale. Suitable for kids ages 4 and up.

Museum Day Live!
Where: Various
When: Various
Cost: Free
What: Get free admission to Atlanta-area museums—including the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, David J. Sencer CDC Museum, High Museum of Art, and more—during this nationwide Smithsonian-sponsored event.

Sheila Pree Bright
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Tuesdays through Saturdays)
Cost: $8 adults; $5 students; free for kids 6 and under
What: Sure to be a striking conversation-starter for young students, the Stone Mountain-based photographer’s exhibition, 1960 Now, pairs portraits of little-known civil rights leaders with those of contemporary activists in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Pumpkin Festival
Where: Stone Mountain Park
When: Various
Cost: Free with paid parking admission ($15 per day per vehicle)
What: Little ones can learn about the “Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin,” with a “spooky” maze, dance party parade, and character meet-and-greet. Older kids might be more interested in the Pumpkin Palooza Extreme, a messy game show (think: pies in the face) that invites audience participation. Plus: Pie-eating contests, trick-or-treat scavenger hunts, crafts, and more.

Fall Folklife Festival
Where: Atlanta History Center
When: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Cost: Free with admission ($16.50 adults, $13 students, $11 kids)
What: Enjoy local eats and music at this Southern Foodways festival honoring African American chefs and cooks.

Searching for the Queen of Sheba
Where: Fernbank Museum of Natural History
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mondays though Saturdays); 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Sundays)
Cost: Free with admission ($18 for adults; $17 for students; $16 for kids 3 to 16; free for kids 2 and under)
What: Fernbank hosts the world premiere of this exhibition about the legendary Queen of Sheba, featuring ancient artifacts, archaeological reconstructions, contemporary art, and modern media.