Sprawled across a huge field in Fairburn, roughly 13 miles southwest of the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the festival teems with life, noise, and the PG-13 debauchery of nearly 1,000 costumed rakes, harlequins, ne'er-do-wells, knights, wenches, and the ever unpredictable royal treasury accountants. Catch jousting, falconry shows, and surprise inquisitions to make sure you're having a good time. Take up a sword and have a blast repressing the local Irish, or dress up your niece and nephew for a crusade to bring endless laughter and good times to frowny infidels. On the weekend of April 24 and 25, visitors can enjoy Irish dancing and a highlander pipe-and-drum band, while on Mother's Day weekend (May 8 and 9), the first 100 moms through the gate will receive free flowers.
Featured on Access Atlanta, JapanFest's two-day festival gives crowds of more than 17,000 people a chance to taste varied Japanese cuisine, watch live performances from Japanese musicians and artists, and practice traditional arts in hands-on exhibits. The tunes of Grammy-winning recording artist Yukiko Matsuyama, whose compositions feature the traditional stringed koto, drift through the air as festival-goers watch the hands of professional calligrapher Kotaro Hachinohe bring a large paint-sodden brush down on paper in bold strokes. Pairs of guests can practice the art of petal positioning at the Japanese flower-arranging exhibit, then carefully prune miniature trees at the bonsai demonstration, pruning branches as gingerly as generals clipping budding turrets from the potted tanks in their offices. A range of other participants fills the center's showroom, including anime collectors, kimono crafters, and sake sellers. After perusing the swarm of exhibitors, visitors can reboot with traditional Japanese fare from vendors such as Kotobuki Cafe and Sushi Niko Niko.
Sips n Strokes gifts paintbrush-wielding neophytes the tools and confidence to create, with a mélange of masterpiece-making tutorials and a bring-your-own-beverage policy. Artists can elect a class from the shop's calendar to hone the painting style that best complements their home, office, or neighbor's windshield, including picks of imagery from Parisian scenes to funky roosters. Each course, led by an instructor well versed in the trade, pairs well with the liquid inspiration of each student's choosing. Silence-seeking artists or easily corruptible mimes may opt for an afternoon or weeknight session, as the weekends generally garner 20 to 50 rowdy rookies.
Stomp has thrilled audiences with mind-blowing percussive pieces for more than 20 years, touring 350 cities and 36 countries across the globe. Kinetic dance numbers incorporate ubiquitous everyday objects, using brooms, sheets of newspaper, and Zippo lighters to fashion intricate beats and sterling examples of what children should not do. The current tour revamps the classic show, phasing out old numbers and adding in exciting set pieces involving paint cans and tractor tires. The BJCC's capacious concert hall provides plenty of room for airborne harmonies to stretch their wings while orchestra- and tier-level seats provide enviable views of onstage numbers and chimpanzees capering in the catwalk.
As part of the Alabama Symphony's Sounds for Summer series, both shows bring contemporary musical entertainment to the ornately gilded, classy venue. The Act of Congress and Three on a String show tickles tiny earhammers with modern bluegrass and genre-spanning hits. Or hear Country's Hit Makers: Behind the Hits, which packs a 15-song set with recent country billboard toppers such as "Cowboy Casanova" and "American Honey." Both shows are conducted by Christopher Confessore, the ASO's principal pops conductor.