Photo via Jake Guild. (Flickr//cc)
JazzFest, Hangout, and Memphis In May are staples for many Mississippians, but far fewer are aware of the many festivals that grace the state each season. Here are six springtime festivals within driving distance that you shouldn’t sleep on when you’re looking to get away in 2017.
1. Oxford Film Festival (Feb. 15-19, Oxford)
The Oxford Film Festival, now in its 14th year, has quickly become the foremost annual showcase for film and video in Mississippi. MovieMaker Magazine named OFF one of the “Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” in 2016–a year that saw the fest bring in the state’s first VR screenings. This year’s festival boasts progressive programming–including an LGBTQ film block–as well as panels on working in the ever-changing industry. And for the star-seekers among us, celebrity guests have been known to make appearances: James Franco in 2015, Danny Glover this year.
2. Hal’s St. Paddy’s Day Parade & Festival (March 17-18, Jackson)
Many Gulf Coast towns make much ado about Carnival, but in recent years no holiday celebration has brought the Jackson locals out of the woodwork quite like St. Paddy’s. The capitol city’s answer to Mardi Gras turns downtown Jackson into an Emerald City of beads and beers. This year’s festivities include a 5K and no fewer than three parades (counting the precursor events for children and pets). Later in the afternoon, popular cover bands such as The Molly Ringwalds and Mustache the Band are slated to perform at the $10 festival outside Hal & Mal’s.
3. Hubfest (April 1, Hattiesburg)
Running for 33 years and spanning the entire historic downtown district, HUBFEST is Hattiesburg’s arts and music festival. Another highly affordable fest, a grand total of $0 buys you a full day’s access to all the arts and crafts vendors, 40+ food vendors, and live music (local and otherwise) across four stages throughout the day.
4. Crossroads Film Festival (April 6-9, Jackson)
5. Juke Joint Festival (April 20-23, Clarksdale)
If you’re looking for a unique slice of southern culture with the most authentic Mississippi music out there, just go down to the crossroads. The 14th annual Juke Joint Festival will draw blues aficionados from all over the world as it presents 100+ artists on 20+ stages over the course of the weekend. You won’t have to sell your soul to the devil to get in on the action, either; pre-sale wristbands for Saturday’s festivities, including a scenic daytime bus tour, are going for just $20 online.
6. Double Decker Arts Festival (April 28-29, Oxford)
The city of Oxford obtained the titular double-decker bus in 1994, and the city started hosting an arts festival on the Courthouse Square not long after that. In the time since, the arts-and-crafts festival has expanded into one of Mississippi’s best music weekends; 2017 is no exception. Legends like Dr. John and Luther Dickinson will be joined by up-and-comers such as Seratones (signed to hometown heroes Fat Possum Records) and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.