Everything You Must Do in Memphis This Winter
Thanksgiving came in late this year and compressed the holiday season, but that just means you’ll have plenty of energy for the rest of winter come January. Here’s a list of events to bring 2019 to a festive end while getting 2020 off to a rollicking start. Parade down Beale with Santa, become a regular at the farmers market, hear some great music, run in an off-road series, and become an expert on coffee, wine, and beer. Here’s everything you need to do in Memphis this winter (and here's everything you should do in Memphis no matter the season).
The biggest holiday parade in Memphis happens on “world famous” Beale Street from 3:00-4:30pm Expect Santa and his reindeer to lead marching bands, car clubs, community groups and cheerleaders. Wear an ugly sweater, get a big frozen drink, and get the holidays started off right.
Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market
Every Saturday morning this winter, you can get your fill of fresh vegetables, microgreens, baked bread, pasta, pastured pork, chicken and more at the Winter Market in Cooper-Young. It’s a great time to meet and talk to farmers and artisans, drop off your compost, support the local food system, and feed yourself the very best.
Music lovers, rejoice! Then get on over to the amazing Crosstown Theater for a performance of Big Star's 1974 album Third featuring Jody Stephens and conducted by Carl Marsh, the album’s original arranger. But wait, there’s more! Mike Mills of R.E.M., Chris Stamey of The dB’s, and members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra will be on hand as well during this star-studded affair.
Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association
If you’re in the market for a volunteer project between Christmas and New Year’s, look no further than the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association’s Meals on Wheels program. Volunteers are needed to deliver pre-made meals to homebound senior clients. Christmas morning is an especially festive time to volunteer with loved ones.
The Blue Monkey
Local Smiths cover band, Louder Than Bombs, will once again be playing at the Blue Monkey in Overton Square on New Year’s Eve in what has become a bit of a Midtown New Year’s tradition. With a champagne toast at midnight, lead singer Scott Miles brings just the right amount of emo for the audience to stay upbeat so you can start 2020 feeling fine.
Cost: $10-$20 cover
Elvis is turning 85 in early 2020, so there’s going to be plenty of birthday candles to blow out on January 8. In the following days, Graceland is hosting a myriad of special performances, tours, movie screenings, cocktail parties and whatnot including a special tour of the mansion with Priscilla Presley.
The Memphis Runners Track Club Winter Off-Road Race Series is a collection of four races held every other Sunday in various parks around town (Overton Park, W.C. Johnson Park, Nesbit Park, Shelby Farms) in January and February. Because Memphis weather is notoriously unpredictable, temperatures could range from 10 to 70 degrees. Hey, it’s all part of the fun, right?
Cost: $20 per race or $60 for the series
Now in its seventh year, Science of Beer brings together local and professional craft brewers to discuss the science behind beer “from aquifers to ales and carbonation to climate change.” This year’s beer gurus include Ajax, Cooper House, Grind City, Hook Point, Southern Prohibition, Yazoo and more. Talk to the makers, eat great food, attend guided tasting sessions, and watch science experiments with beer.
The Blues Foundation’s 2020 International Blues Challenge (IBC) brings musicians and music lovers from all over the world to town. The festivities include panels, workshops, master classes, and the International Showcase. Quarterfinals and semifinals take place January 29-31, with the finals being held February 1 at the historic Orpheum Theatre. To get the most blues for your buck, buy a $10 wristband and club hop down Beale Street during the quarterfinal round on Wednesday.
The super popular and wildly delicious Tennessee Equality Project-hosted Gumbo Contest is back for another year at the Pipkin Building. The competition is open to anyone who thinks they have what it takes to compete, or you can just come and eat. All ticket holders get to taste each entry and vote for the People’s Choice award.
The Guest House at Graceland
Dale Watson’s Ameripolitan Awards bring the best honky tonk, rockabilly, Western swing, and outlaw artists to town for one big night. Put on your country finest and live it up like a king at the Guest House at Graceland. And you can be sure there will be one heck of an afterparty at Dale’s newly (re)opened Hernando’s Hideaway just down the road. Not bad for a Monday night.
409 South Main
This Oregon-themed wine tasting event is a Pacific Northwest vino enthusiast’s dream come true. Hosted by Joe’s Wines & Liquor, this is a unique opportunity to taste some of the best and most highly sought-after wines from the Willamette Valley and greater Oregon, including several new wineries just entering the Tennessee market. Talk with producers and get great deals on purchases.
Christian Brothers University
This year’s Mid-South Farm to Table Conference is focusing on conservation and regenerative agriculture. And while that may not sound too sexy, knowing where your food comes from and how it got to you is pretty cool. The all-day event is open to farmers, educators, non-profit leaders, local food entrepreneurs, students and, of course, eaters.
Cost: $25 (free to students with ID)
Coffee lovers! Gather round for the second annual Grind City Coffee Xpo. Centered around coffee culture and everything that goes along with it, participants can try local roasts, learn about local shops, meet the passionate people who make up the local coffee community, and shop. With two separate entry times and prices, proceeds benefit Protect Our Aquifer.
Tiger Lane, 450 Early Maxwell
The Soulful Food Truck Festival brings together Black-owned businesses (primarily food trucks) and features live music, unique vendors, a mobile cigar lounge, a game truck and more. It’s not only a great place to try lots of food, but you’ll definitely want to see and be seen at this well-attended event.
Cost: $5 admission
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