On April 19, 1936, Atlanta invites the world to attend her first Dogwood Festival. Walter Rich, president of ADF and founder of Rich’s department store, seeks to make Atlanta internationally known for the blooming of the dogwood trees during the week-long event. Trees are planted in all parts of Atlanta under the sponsorship of the garden clubs and public spirited citizens interested in the beautification of the city. Pageants, parades and carnivals sponsored by the Junior League, along with performances by the Metropolitan Opera, Philadelphia Symphony, and choruses from local colleges, are featured.
Postcard, ca. 1930–1945: “Dogwood Trees in Bloom, Atlanta, Ga”
The Festival is discontinued because of World War II.
The Women’s Chamber of Commerce (WCC) of Atlanta sparks a revival of the Dogwood Festival.
Under the leadership of the WCC, the Festival becomes one of the largest civic celebrations in the Southeast. Events include a parade, fashion show, symphony in Hurt Park and Dogwood lighted trails.
The Festival produces many new events, including the International Dogwood Festival Juried Art Show, Old Fashioned Day in the Park with a hot air balloon race, a regatta at Lake Lanier, and home tours throughout several prominent residential areas
“Big time” music, such as that of Paul Revere and the Raiders, and League of Decency, is added to the event.
The Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Inc. is created to allow for more community involvement and support. By this time, the Festival is a month-long event with 30 to 50 smaller events.
The Festival becomes an eight-day, three-venue event that includes the Music in the Marketplace lunchtime concert series, the Rock ‘n Run Race, a Volksport, Earth Day events, and the first Christmas Tree Recycling Project.
The now two-week Festival includes events in Buckhead, Piedmont and Midtown.
Leadership for the Atlanta Dogwood Festival becomes involved with the city and the Piedmont Park Conservancy, helping to promote a more conscientious use of the grounds.
The festival is a success with crowds of more than 200,000 people.
An economic impact survey is released announcing that the non-profit Atlanta Dogwood Festival has a whopping economic impact of more than $50 million on the city of Atlanta alone!
The Festival turns 70 and introduces the 1st Annual Rhythm and Blooms party.
Photo by Daniel Mayer
More than 220 artists from around the country fill the walkways of Piedmont Park.
Photo by Daniel Mayer
Due to severe drought conditions, the Festival moves to the forecourt of Lenox Square. A new, “Friends of Dogwood” area welcomes guests with a high-tech art exhibition, refreshing cocktails, quality wines and premium beers. Returning Festival favorites include musical performances and a Kid’s Village for the younger set.
After a 6 month period of uncertainty, it was announced in October that the festival would be allowed to return home to Piedmont Park. A radically new layout was used to stretch the event throughout the entire park. Artist booths were spread out into color coded segments, food vendors were moved to multiple areas and park vistas were used to enhance the aestetics of the festival. An International Performers stage was added to the program, to rave reviews. The changes were well received by the public and there was a special energy as Atlanta celebrated the festival’s return home.
The festival continues with its expanded set up and attracts great crowds. Partnerships with area groups leads to a 6 week comedy competition with Laughing Skull Lounge, a decorated golf cart competition sponsored by Peachtree City, and a large scale green intiative with the US Green Building Council, GA Chapter. That initiative led to record reclamation of waste and a heigthened awareness by festival goers of the importance of sustainability. In its second year the International Stage features entertainment from 20 countries.
Poster design by Kathryn Fortson
The 75th Annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival proved to be a giant success. With the addition of the 9-story Seattle Wheel and vintage Carousel, the festival attracted hundreds of thousands of excited attendees throughout the special diamond anniversary weekend. The Artist Market, music stages, disc dog competition, International Village & Stage, Atlanta High School Art Exhibition and Friends of Dogwood Pavilion were all in full swing. The perfect weather and array of offerings saw the festival close on Sunday with a park still filled with folks not ready to end the spring’s best event.
In its 76th year, the festival welcomed its first presenting sponsor PNC Bank. Thanks to PNC’s support, the festival was able to add a free Saturday night concert in the Piedmont Park Meadow featuring Grammy-award-winning artist the legendary Roberta Flack. Jazz violinist Ken Ford opened the show, and a new festival tradition was born!
Continuing its strong partnership with PNC Bank, the 77th Annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival featured a Saturday night concert from country music sensation Sara Evans. The Meadow became a hot spot with a VIP tent overlooking the Main Stage and carnival and kiddie rides. Competition was high during the Atlanta High School Art Exhibition Art Throwdown and the Museum of Design Atlanta Chair Hack.
The 78th annual festival kept the party going and welcomed the tasting event Backyard Barbecue & Brews. In its first year, this ticketed event sold out, and attendees enjoyed its fantastic location overlooking the main stage. Festival visitors also found thrills at the Art Throwdown, a timed live art competition pitting talented high school artists against each other to sketch, paint and sculpt as quickly and creatively as possible.
The final year of the festival’s 70s, saw the addition of Family Friday, a special day to celebrate families with all-you-can-ride wristbands and discounts on food and beverages. Saturday morning kicked off with the Atlanta Dogwood Festival 5K Run, which led hundreds of participants through the beautiful Midtown neighborhood and finished in Piedmont Park with another great day at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival. And just like the past decades, for the 79th festival, more than 250 fine artists brought the best of their work for festivalgoers to peruse.
The Atlanta Dogwood Festival celebrated its 80th year with a Friday night performance from Jimmy Buffett tribute band AIA and a spectacular fireworks display. The fun kept going on Saturday with the biggest 80s party in Atlanta since the 80s, including Main Stage performances from cover bands Electric Avenue and Members Only. The run earned a new moniker, becoming the Mimosa 5K, when a celebratory toast was added to the finish line. The festival installed a permanent commemorative dogwood limb sculpture overlooking Piedmont Park’s lake, and it quickly became a favorite selfie spot for visitors. And throughout the entire park, 260 fine artists displayed their top-notch artworks. For the 80th anniversary, the festival went big at home!
In its 81st year, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival kept the party going even when the collapse of the I-85 bridge just days before the festival spelled transportation challenges for Atlanta. With strong encouragement for attendees to take MARTA and doubled shuttle bus runs, the festival continued to attract visitors and experienced a rise in attendance. During the weekend, festival attendees enjoyed the diverse fine arts market and the award-winning Atlanta High School Art Exhibition in addition to a global array of live entertainment on the International Stage; a Main Stage performance from Journey tribute band Departure, as well as a Southern Rock Revival and many other genres; libations after the popular Mimosa 5K; Friday night fireworks; amazing food at Backyard Bites & Brews; and much, much more!
Year 82 welcomed more than 200,000 attendees to Piedmont Park for three days of fine art, live entertainment and family fun. A special dose of excitement was provided by the Saturday night Main Stage headliner Shawn Mullins, a Grammy-nominated artist who kept the audience on their feet with favorites like his big hit “Lullaby.” Guests in the VIP Tent had a great view of the stage while they enjoyed barbecue, brews and private seating. After two days of glorious weather and record crowds, Sunday started off with a drizzle, but that didn’t stop the 260 artists from opening their booths and welcoming buyers who were not going to let a little rain keep them away.
There is no question – 2019 was a banner year! In addition to more than 250 fine artists from throughout North America joining us for the Artist Market, we welcomed musicians in many genres, performers from around the world, young artists and competing dogs. Favorite festival features like the midway rides were visible across the city, while the Greater Atlanta Dog & Disc Club wowed attendees on-site with a live competition and demonstrations.
Visitors enjoyed music and entertainment on two stages, including a special performance from Whole World Improv Theatre. In the VIP Backyard Bites & Brews event, top local restaurants and chefs shared their favorite samples. We celebrated high school artists with an exhibition and competition, supported city beautification and the environment with sales of dogwood tree saplings and enjoyed cultural exchange in the International Pavilions, while the Kids Village delighted younger festival attendees.
Spring 2020 was a challenging time. After attempting to reschedule for fall, it became clear that Atlanta’s longest-running fine arts festival would need to take a break in 2020 as the world continued to reel from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite not being able to celebrate together in Piedmont Park, the festival continued its support of youth arts. In October, we encouraged art lovers to get out and head to Ponce City Market to see the special installment of the Atlanta High School Art Exhibition presented by the Atlanta Dogwood Festival. We continued supporting our Artist Market artists too by sharing their work and websites on social media. And we took our run digital with the Atlanta Dogwood Festival Virtual 5K/10K. Giving runners a full month to complete the run, we also provided a commemorative T-shirt and a finisher’s medal to all participants.
The festival took place once again, and even though this annual springtime tradition happened during summer, it was a thrill to be back in Piedmont Park. Held in August, the three-day event included features like the Alliance Theatre‘s Woody Guthrie concert for children, a disc dog exhibition, an eclectic variety of live music and performances and lots and lots of wonderful fine art!
The festival got back on schedule in 2022 with April dates and the many features visitors love to enjoy every year, like the Visit Tallahassee Kids Village, Mimosa 5K Run, 200+ fine artists in our Artist Market and more. We combined the International Stage and Main Stage to keep the live entertainment flowing all day and night for the three days of the festival. For the best view in the “house,” we offered the VIP Experience, giving ticket holders a place to relax in comfortable seating while watching the show.
In 2023, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival was back in full force! Not only did the popular midway rides return, but we also held two 5K runs that welcomed more than 1,500 participants — the Run for the Arts 5K in February and the Mimosa 5K in April on festival Saturday in April.
The city’s favorite springtime tradition, the 2023 festival included a revitalized Artist Market welcoming 270+ fine artists from across the country. The juried Atlanta High School Art Exhibition featured 189 works (over 800 submissions) from local high school students and drew crowds to the Community Center throughout the weekend. Art lovers also enjoyed watching the Art Throwdown, a live art competition that took place on festival Sunday outside the Community Center.
If that wasn’t enough, the festival also featured international performers, live music including two high-energy party bands, the Party in the Park VIP Experience, lots of fun activities in the Kids Village and beautiful spring weather. The refreshed and expanded attractions brought the festival record beverage sales, as 175,000+ attendees joined us in Piedmont Park over three exciting days.