Spring fever — Atlanta blooms with festivals, events and more

Break out the plaid shorts and striped tank tops, the flip flops and Ray Bans, get those mani and pedis and gather at the place most holy during this time of year for all of gay Atlanta (and everyone else)―Piedmont Park. It is spring, y’all. Finally.

The sure signs of spring in Georgia, besides the blooming trees and the pollen-covered cars, are the festivals. Dozens and dozens of them. Every neighborhood in every corner of the city welcomes visitors for beer, food, art, live music and the opportunity to be emerge from a long, hard winter.

The season kicks off with straight pride, er, the Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park set for April 11-13. Because Easter fell on the fest’s traditional weekend, this year’s fest is earlier than it has ever been, says Carrie Whitney, festival spokesperson.

New this year is the Backyard Barbecue & Brews, a VIP tasting event on Saturday and Sunday afternoons with barbecue and picnic food from some of the city’s top chefs and restaurants. Craft beer, moonshine, corn hole, lawn bowling, private bathrooms―all of this available to VIPs willing to pay $25-$45, she adds.

And on the other end of the spectrum, the gay event of the season (at least one of them) is the Armorettes Easter Drag Races. This year the event falls on Easter Sunday, April 20―and there’s no rescheduling for this troupe that works holidays―so be sure to don your biggest bonnet and get to Burkhart’s early for a good seat to witness the hilarity, all for a good cause to raise funds to fight HIV/AIDS.

More men in dresses equals the annual Purple Dress Run sponsored by the Atlanta Bucks rugby club. Started about seven years ago as a way to give back to the community while also having a good time, this year’s event raises money to help Lost-n-Found, the nonprofit group helping homeless LGBT youth get off the street.

And what about a road trip to the gayest place in Georgia? The annual Cotton Pickin’ Fair in Gay, Ga. Yep, the city is named Gay and is located about one hour south of Atlanta. The fest is May 4-5. Just think of all the “Gay” selfies you can take to fill your Instagram account.

What else? Check out these festivals and events:

Festival on Ponce
April 5-6
Olmstead Linear Park

Party with Impact for Positive Impact
April 10
The Wimbish House

Dogwood Festival
April 11-13
Piedmont Park

Atlanta Leather Pride
April 11-13
Atlanta Eagle

April 11-13
Oz Campground in Unadilla, Ga.

Sandy Springs Artsapalooza
April 12-13
6100 Lake Forrest Drive NE

Sweetwater Brew 420 Festival
April 18-20
Centennial Olympic Park

Georgia Renaissance Festival
April 19-June 8
Fairburn/Peachtree City

Armorettes Easter Drag Races
April 20
Burkhart’s parking lot

Inman Park Festival
April 25-27

OurSong Spring Concert
Joie de Vivre
May 2-Druid Hills United Methodist Church
May 3-Spivey Hall

Tybee Rainbow Fest Weekend
May 2-5

HRC Atlanta Dinner and Silent Auction
May 5
Hyatt Regency

Shaky Knees Music Festival
May 9-11
Atlantic Station

Sweet Auburn Springfest
May 9-11
Historic Sweet Auburn District

Atlanta Bucks Purple Dress Run
May 10

Buckhead Spring Arts & Crafts Festival
May 10-11
Chastain Park

The Health Initiative Garden Party
May 18

Atlanta Jazz Festival
May 23-25
Piedmont Park

Decatur Arts Festival
May 23-25
Downtown Decatur

Big Peach Softball Tournament
May 23-25
7301 Campbellton Road

Peachtree Hills Festival of the Arts
May 31-June 1
308 Peachtree Hills Ave. NE

CHRIS Kids Premiere Party
June 7
Mason Murer Fine Art Gallery

East Point Possums Show
June 14
Downtown Commons of East Point

Atlanta Cotillion
Cirque de Nuit en Rouge
June 21
Delta Flight Museum

Georgia Equality’s Evening for Equality
June 21
Twelve Hotel at Atlantic Station