2021 has been a year of recovery for almost everyone, but no one has felt the impact as much as our arts, cultural and event industries. It’s been a relief and a revelation to see our arts groups evolve, change and re-define themselves over the past 18 months, as well as experience the extraordinary pent-up demand to experience outdoor events, performances and festivals.
And, as we fall into fall, you’ll find dozens of arty events to choose from. So many that just a few years ago, we officially re-christened October as “ARTober!” ARTober is our month-long celebration of all things arty in Gwinnett. Through ARTober, our goal is to celebrate the arts, engage our visitors in local arts, elevate events by adding nightlife elements and highlight through social media, email marketing and our website the 100+ arts, cultural and entertainment events going on in Gwinnett during the month.
While they’re hundreds of events to choose from, here is a recommended “Top 10” for arts outings over the next couple of months. For a complete list, visit our calendar of events at exploregwinnett.org and check out what’s going on this weekend, next month, or just find free or kid-friendly events!
African American Cultural and Arts Festival (Sept. 4, Rhodes Jordan Park, Lawrenceville). Spoken-word, drama, dance and live performances all day.
Aurora Theatre Courtyard Series – A wonderful mix of comedy, live music and jazz. Upcoming favorites include the Latin Jazz Orchestra, Atlanta’s top Latin musicians on September 24, the “Brew Ha Ha” in the Biergarten at Ironshield Brewing and the “I Feel Good James Brown Tribute” on September 11. Ticket prices vary. Visit auroratheatre.com for tickets.
JapanFest – One of the Southeast’s largest cultural festivals will be at the Gas South District (formerly the Infinite Energy Center) Sept. 18-19. Enjoy live performances, anime village and cosplay competition, Japanese Sake vendors, outdoor beer garden, Japanese food, live music, martial arts and game booths. Japanfest.com
Celebrating “Gwinnett Pride,” head over to Thrasher Park in Norcross on September 4 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. for live music, food and drinks as Gwinnett’s LGBTQ communities and friends come together. gwinnettpride.com
Music lovers will be super stoked with the new Southern Wilds Music Festival (September 25) gracing Lawrenceville’s Depot District. Headlined by up-and-comers A Thousand Horses, music lovers can enjoy two music stages, craft beer, vendors and a Food Truck Alley. southernwildsfest.com
While Halloween doesn’t always bring art to mind, when your event is in downtown Duluth, it does! On October 29, Howl on the Green is back. The event turns into fright at night with fire dancers making their way through the crowds, mystical creatures emerging, aerialists hanging from the festival center stage and dancing iconic fairytale characters lighting up the night! duluthga.net
After closing for over 18 months due to COVID, Gwinnett’s most iconic cultural gem, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, has re-opened. Whether it’s for reflection, viewing the exquisite Indian design, workmanship and intricate marble carvings, or participating in Hindu rituals, this is a can’t miss. Tours are offered from 9 a.m.- Noon, and 4-6 p.m., Monday-Sunday.
One of our top kid-friendly recommendations is Suwanee’s two-day, pirate-themed Suwanee Fest (September 18-19). 200 artists and craftspeople, live performances, dance groups, acrobats, buskers and food and drink everywhere! Suwaneefest.com
If you hear bagpipes the third weekend in October, you’ll know why, as the Stone Mountain Highland Games are back. Visitors can enjoy highland dancing, piping & drumming, Scottish harping, dancing and the parade of tartans. smhg.com
Wrapping up the top 10… Gwinnett’s very own Urban Mediamakers Film Festival will celebrate its 20th year at their October 11-24 festival. Actors, animators, filmmakers and writers come together in this multi-day event, which includes a film festival, as well as a screenwriter, photography and music contest. filmfreeway.com for details/tickets.