Visit Macon – Enjoy Festivals, Culture, History, and Music!


If you’re in the Atlanta area and looking for a short day trip or even a long weekend, Macon, Georgia is a great place to visit!

by S. Pakhrin via wikimedia commons

Whether your interests tend toward Native American history (they have North America’s only reconstructed earth lodge), or African-American art (you’ll see Georgia’s largest collection), or music (sometimes known as the home of Southern Rock), or the nationally acclaimed International Cherry Blossom Festival (March 19-April 4 this year), you’re sure to find plenty to do when you visit Macon!

The Cherry Blossom Festival starts this coming weekend, and there are loads of family friendly activities. There’s a parade on March 22, there’s plenty of food, arts and crafts, and of course, music. Beginning in 1982, the festival has grown to become one of the top 100 Events in North America. As a part of The Cherry Blossom Festival, The Mulberry Street Arts Festival runs March 28-29. The Spring Spirit Stroll, a one-hour guided tour through historic Riverside Cemetery, is offered from March 20-29. Throughout the festival, you’ll enjoy the beautiful streets lined with gorgeous Yoshino cherry trees, the very same as those in Washington, DC.

by Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation via wikimedia commons

The Spring Stroll of Macon’s Houses and Gardens is May 1-3, where you’ll tour private gardens as well as newly renovated loft spaces downtown. Be sure to visit the garden market on the grounds of Hay House and pick up that special plant or birdhouse to take home.

The 19th Annual Pan African Festival will be held this year May 16-17 – “Embracing cultural diversity while celebrating 19 years of African influence in middle Georgia.”  There’ll be music, dance, food, art, as well as the International Children’s Village. The festival is one of the Tubman African American Museum’s signature events.

by visiblyannoyed via wikimedia commons

Native American history goes back 17,000 years at Ocmulgee National Monument. You’ll be able to see Native American history including the earth lodge, a council chamber more than 1000 years old. The museum has over 2,000 artifacts on display.

There are special Lantern Light Tours on March 20-22 and March 27-29. These are ranger guided night-time tours of the park’s history using lanterns and luminaries. Tickets are available at the Visitor Center.

If music is your thing, Southern Rock especially, you know that Phil Walden’s Capricorn Records was the home of the Allman Brothers Band. But Phil Walden’s music career started in the early ‘60s when he and his brother Alan managed a number of rhythm and blues performers including Al Green, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and Percy Sledge. Although the Waldens had hoped to start a record label with Otis Redding, the 1967 plane crash that killed Redding put an end to that particular partnership.

by Capricorn Records via wikimedia commons

Capricorn’s creation in the late ’60s was tied to the Allman Brothers Band, and many other southern performers like Elvin Bishop, Wet Willie, Dixie Dregs, and the Marshall Tucker Band came through their offices in the ‘70s. Unfortunately, Capricorn filed for bankruptcy in 1979, and although it was revived in the early ’90s, it never regained its previous fame.

In 1996 until it closed in 2011, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon held memorabilia from many of Capricorn’s artists as well as numerous other Georgia musicians. Sadly, there was not enough interest in these exhibits, and the building was sold to Mercer University in 2012. The exhibition was broken up with some pieces going to the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, and the University of West Georgia. Some remain in private collections.

The Otis Redding Foundation, established in 2007 by Mrs. Zelma Redding, has a mini-museum highlighting the life of Otis Redding, his accomplishments and many awards.

And The Big House is where the Allman Brothers Band members, family and friends lived from 1970 until 1973. It’s been through a number of incarnations since then, but it’s currently operated as The Allman Brothers Band Museum. There’s a book signing and live music featuring Michael Buffalo Smith’s latest book, Rebel Yell: An Oral History of Southern Rock, April 12 from 2-5:30.

by Jud McCranie via wikimedia commons

Phil Walden’s niece, Jessica, co-owns Rock Candy Tours, which keeps some of the Southern Music vibe alive. Even though she says she’s not a historian or a musician, she relies on stories passed down from her father, Alan Walden.

If movies and movie-making are something you’re interested in, be sure to take the Macon Film Tour, seeing locations used in filming “The Fifth Wave,” “Need for Speed,” “42,” “The Trouble with the Curve,” “The Crazies,” “Followed,” and many others.

So whatever your interests are, there’s bound to be something to see and do on your visit to Macon. What a great place to spend a spring afternoon or weekend!

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