cherry-blossom-fest

10 Events You Don’t Want to Miss This Spring

Highlights include an exhibit devoted to the Muppets and music, cherry blossoms in the nation’s capital, and a finger-licking good celebration of Southern fare.

Picture a Perfect Day

March 12–June 9

Los Angeles

About 150 years before Photoshop turned every shutterbug with a computer into an aspiring artist photographer, Oscar Gustave Rejlander was holed up in a darkroom, meticulously combining photo negatives to create evocative tableaus of Victorian life. Rejlander’s experimental work, including a series of expressive portraits made in collaboration with Charles Darwin, is collected at the Getty Center in the first major retrospective focusing on a man sometimes known as the “father of art photography.”

Strum Along

Through August 31

Oklahoma City

He’s no Earl Scruggs, but Kermit the Frog has done wonders for the popularity of the banjo. You’ll recall his duet with Steve Martin, or the opening of 1979’s The Muppet Movie, in which Kermit performs from a log in a Florida swamp. (“Why are there so many songs about rainbows?”) Kermit’s affinity for the most American of instruments is reason enough for the American Banjo Museum to host an exhibition dedicated to the life and work of Muppets creator Jim Henson. Guests can see original art and objects related to Henson’s legacy alongside that famous banjo and the frog who played it.

Go Green

March 16

Chicago

Every city celebrates St. Patrick’s Day, but only Chicago gives its river a dye job to match all the shamrock decorations and green beer. After the ceremonial spring greening, stick around downtown for the parade, one of the biggest in the country. The party continues with a festival at the Irish American Heritage Center, where you’ll find authentic Irish music and dancing all day long.

Bask in Blooms

March 22–April 13

Washington,D.C.

In 1912, as a sign of friendship between the U.S. and Japan, the mayor of Tokyo gave 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington, D.C. It’s a gift that keeps giving every year with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a series of events celebrating the arrival of spring and the blooming trees. It all culminates on April 13 with a parade down a mile-long stretch of Constitution Avenue, in the heart of D.C.

Embrace Your Inner Poet

Throughout April

Miami

Roses are red, violets are blue. This city’s got beaches, and lots of sunshine, too. Fortunately, this city also has better poets than us, as evidenced by O, Miami, a monthlong poetry festival whose stated goal is to make sure everyone in town encounters some verse before May 1. Organizers go beyond readings and workshops to present poetry in unconventional formats. In years past, poems have been sewn into blouses at a thrift store, written in the sky, and read from speakers tucked inside shells on Miami Beach.

Listen to March Madness

April 5–7

Minneapolis

Your bracket will bust(if it hasn’t already), but there is at least one thing that’s predictable about the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament: The Final Four host city gets to enjoy a lot of live music. In this case, that means three days of free concerts at the Minneapolis Armory. Our predictive abilities only go so far—as of press time, the NCAA had yet to announce who’s playing—but last year’s performers included Imagine Dragons and Luis Fonsi, and we’re still kicking ourselves for missing Bruce Springsteen at the Big Dance in Dallas in 2014.

Savor the South

April 13–14

North Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is known for its food scene, which rivals what you would find in cities 10 times its size. It makes sense that the High Water Festival, put on by the band Shovels & Rope, would feature family-style dining experiences, loads of top-notch Southern cuisine, and oyster education classes, among other culinary delights. But we’re just as interested in the live music, and performers include Leon Bridges, Jenny Lewis, and Mitski. In North Charleston, you can’t have a great concert without great food.

Visit a Living Museum

Through June 30

Sarasota, Florida

French post-impressionist Paul Gauguin traveled widely, taking inspiration from the rich environments he found in French Polynesia, Brittany, and Martinique. The plants that gave those environments their vibrancy will be presented with some of Gauguin’s woodcut prints and engravings in Gauguin: Voyage to Paradise, an ongoing exhibition at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. It’s a rare opportunity to see an artist’s muse—in this case, a selection of flora that includes banana trees, palms, and taro—alongside their work. And the garden’s tropical setting surely makes it one of the country’s most beautiful museums.

Say Cheese

April 13

Atlanta

The Atlanta Grilled Cheese Festival promises live bands and seasonal cocktails, but there’s a reason it’s not called the Atlanta Live Bands and Seasonal Cocktails Festival. Come—and stay—for the restaurant vendors serving up gooey, warm sandwiches loaded with creative fixings and, of course, cheese. A ticket covers some complimentary samples, but if you’re still hungry, you can pay a vendor directly for the grilled cheese of your choice. The festival, located in the Atlantic Station neighborhood, has two sessions: early and late afternoon. 

Laugh It Up

April 24–27

Austin, Texas

South by Southwest gets all the press a month earlier, but the Moontower Comedy Festival is Austin’s much more hilarious, and much less crowded, spring festival. Headliners like Jenny Slate, David Spade, and Amanda Seales perform at venues throughout the city. But don’t sleep on the sets by local comedians, who make Austin a pretty funny place to be the other 361 days of the year.


Photography courtesy of National Cherry Blossom Festival (header)

Originally Published March 2019