Music Midtown is one of Atlanta’s largest annual events, bringing in big-name music acts spanning just about every genre. The festival started in 1994, originally hosted in a vacant lot in Midtown before moving to Centennial Olympic Park in 1995. In 2005, the event went on a six-year hiatus, but returned in Piedmont Park, the city’s largest green space. The two-day event has multiple stages and has hosted names like The Black Keys, Coldplay, and Destiny’s Child.
1. Take MARTA.
Parking in this part of town is hard to come by, so make alternative plans on how to get there. MARTA is your best bet, walking from the Midtown station. But there’s also a bike valet if you want to ride there on your own two wheels or borrow one from the Relay bike stations nearby. After the shows are over, be prepared to wait a while to catch a train as attendees flood the platforms. Buy a Breeze card in advance and pre-load it with a few trips to avoid waiting for the machines.
2. Save money by eating outside the gates.
As with many concerts and festivals, food and drink can quickly add up. But thankfully attendees can enter or exit the festival and simply scan their wristbands to get back in. There are plenty of restaurants on all sides of the park. On the Monroe Drive side, try Mediterranean Grill and Woody’s Cheesesteaks for quick and affordable eats.
3. Pack light.
You won’t need much to get through the day and the less you bring, the faster it will be to get through festival security. I recommend bringing a small backpack or fanny pack, along with a blanket to sit on, water bottle to fill up, and a hat. Leave the aerosol sunscreen, professional cameras, drugs and alcohol, and selfie sticks at home.
4. Plan your day in advance.
Because there are multiple stages, acts are playing at the same time. This makes it difficult to see everyone you want to. The stages are also much farther apart then they appear on the map, many up a grassy hill from one another. Choose one band per time slot or see the beginning of one act and the end of another. There’s no way to see them all, so set up your expectations.
5. Expect lines for everything.
Be patient at this event, which can have around 40,000 attendees. Lines start as soon as you get there through festival security, which can wind down the length of the park. Food and drink lines can also be long, especially in between acts. There are bathrooms, but be prepared to wait for them. In past years, there’s been a mens urinal that cuts down on wait times. The festival also provides water for your bottles, but this also has a high demand.
6. Stay nearby.
Use a Midtown hotel as your base, even if you live in town, for a weekend getaway. That way, you can come back and relax in between acts or be there as soon as the gates open. The Loews Atlanta Hotel (book here) is well located, just a few blocks from the festival, and has a restaurant, spa, and fitness center. The Mediterranean-inspired Artmore Hotel is right next to the Arts Center MARTA Station and has its own restaurant and studio-style rooms for longer stays. There’s a party vibe at W Midtown, especially its rooftop pool with cabanas. If you don’t mind walking on the Beltline to get to the event, there’s nowhere better than the stylish Hotel Clermont (book here). Airbnb is another option, but be prepared to pay a bit more than a typical weekend.
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.
Tickets start at $155 for the weekend with optional VIP upgrades for a fee.