Atlanta’s Shaky Knees Music Festival, along with its electronic and hip hop and country festivals named Shaky Beats and Shaky Boots, is the city’s top new festival. Located in the middle of downtown, where the 1996 Summer Olympics took place, the event has views of downtown’s iconic structures like the SkyView Ferris wheel and the Westin hotel. Big-name acts like Florence and the Machine, Wilco, and The Avett Brothers have taken over the city every May for the last few years.
1. Take MARTA.
Since the event is located in Centennial Olympic Park, there’s a shortage of parking options. The few decks and lots will charge an “event” rate, which is higher than the standard amount. Instead, take MARTA to Peachtree Center or the Georgia World Congress Center stations for easy access to the event. The Atlanta Streetcar also connects here. New for 2017, they’re also offering shuttles from around the city for an extra fee.
2. Check the lineup before buying tickets.
Some people buy passes before the lineup schedule is announced. You might end up buying a three-day pass even though you only want to see someone on Sunday otherwise. The event hasn’t sold out in the past so you can actually purchase a few months or weeks beforehand. They offer both individual day and three-day passes as well as VIP options. Tickets start at $99 for one day.
3. Pack light.
The less you have, the shorter you’ll be waiting to get through security. Be sure to check the official website about what’s allowed inside the event. Professional cameras aren’t allowed, nor are tents. But I recommend bringing a small backpack or fanny pack, along with a blanket to sit on, water bottle to fill up, and a hat. Non-aerosol sunscreen should be brought or you can use the festival’s sunscreen at the medical tent. You’ll see plenty of inflatable chairs as well, but bring some sort of rain gear just in case.
4. Bring cash.
One part of the event, apart from the music, is the local food trucks that set up. Enjoy just about every type of cuisine between acts. King of Pops, Roti Rolls, and The Fry Guy are just a few of the favorite vendors. Alcoholic beverages are also sold. Passholders can also enter and exit three times every day, so if you need to run back to your hotel or would rather have a real sit-down meal at one of the nearby restaurants, you can do that.
5. Check out the non-main stages.
Headlining acts are located at the Peachtree and Piedmont stages, but the Ponce de Leon showcases up-and-coming musicians. Special late-night shows at area venues like Terminal West and The Loft are another way to experience the festival. The official Shaky Knees app is helpful for planning which bands you want to see and planning your own schedule.
6. Stay downtown.
If you’re visiting from out of town, or even if you aren’t, make an entire weekend out of it. The Omni CNN Center Hotel is the official host hotel, right across the park from the festivities. But the Marriott Marquis and Aloft are also partner hotels. If you don’t book in time or are looking for a different experience, try the Loews Atlanta Midtown Hotel, just a short train ride away, or an Airbnb in Edgewood, within walking or streetcar distance.
7. Explore Atlanta.
While the festival is sure to take up much of your time, be sure to explore the city of Atlanta as well. Take a ride in the SkyView or dine in the revolving restaurants Polaris and the Sun Dial. Purchase a CityPass to visit attractions like the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium. Explore nearby neighborhoods like Castleberry Hill and find out where your favorite movies were filmed with Atlanta Movie Tours.