Flagpole’s AthFest Music and Arts Festival Guide: Plan Your Weekend Highlights

The three-day AthFest music and arts festival returns to the city center this weekend, June 21-23, for its 26th edition. In addition to more than 100 performers on 3 outdoor stages and 12 club crawl venues, the free festival features an artist market, vendors, food trucks, children’s activities and more.

Last year, the nonprofit AthFest Educates raised more than $100,000 for arts and music education through the AthFest and AthHalf half-marathon, which spotlights a diverse range of creatives and musicians. One of the goals of this year’s Board of Directors and Booking Committee is to select a large number of new musical acts to take to the AthFest stage. A new crowdfunding program allows donations to AthFest Educates as a vote for participating performers, with the top fundraiser receiving a spot on the 2025 AthFest evening main stage.

Affiliated AthFest events will begin on Thursday, June 20, and continue throughout the weekend, including Nateball’s Funny Bones, the official launch party, and the Athens Art Book Fair (see page 17 for more information). See below for details on all things AthFest and see page 14. 12 for flagpolecomprehensive performance schedule.

club crawl

When the headliners wrap up on the outdoor stages on Friday and Saturday nights, 12 different venues will be ready to keep the party going. The easiest way to get the full show jumping experience is to purchase a club crawl wristband. Pay $35 in advance or $40 on the day for wristband access to shows at Ciné, Clarke’s Collective, Flicker Theater & Bar, 40 Watt Club, The Foundry, Georgia Theatre, The Globe, Hendershot’s, Live Wire (subject to capacity and age restrictions) Athens, Nowhere Bar, Palomar Park and The Roadhouse. A VIP day pass ($75) includes admission to all Club Crawl venues, a commemorative mug, three beer tickets, and access to VIP areas near the outdoor main stage and the Georgia Theater and 40 Watt Club. A full VIP weekend pass ($150) will come with a commemorative T-shirt and three additional drinks. Wristbands and VIP passes may be purchased in advance at athfest.com or in person at the festival merchandise tent.

AthFest Artist Market

While live music may take center stage, the annual AthFest Artist Market is an integral part of the festival and an exciting opportunity to discover artists and producers from the area. This year’s lively open-air market will feature more than 70 stalls along Washington Street between Hull and Lumpkin Streets. From fine art to handmade products, original works include paintings, drawings, mixed media, photography, digital art, fiber arts, clothing, accessories, jewelry, sculpture, ceramics, glass, woodwork, furniture and more. As a judged market, awards and cash prizes will be awarded to Best of Show, second place and five honorable mentions. The Artist Market will be open Friday from 5pm to 10pm, Saturday from 12pm to 10pm and Sunday from 12:30pm to 8pm

AthFest theme artist

Each year a different local artist is chosen to create festive artwork that appears across town on merchandise, banners, posters, ads, billboards and even covers. flagpole. This year’s featured artist is Lydia Kinsey, a professional tattoo artist at Pink Goblin Tattoo & Piercing, a female-owned and operated studio located in Chase Park Warehouses. Kinsey has lived in Athens since 1999 and graduated from the Lamar Dodd School of the Arts at the University of Georgia in 2013 with a BFA in Painting. It’s been about ten years. Her themed artwork combines her signature “psychedelic heritage” style with inspiration from the movie poster aesthetic of the Italian murder mystery horror thriller genre “giallo”. Kinsey’s illustrations will be back in town this fall ahead of the AthHalf half marathon and 5K race.

children’s day

Adjacent to other entertainment venues, KidsFest transforms a block of Washington Street between Lumpkin and College avenues into a playground for arts and crafts, demonstrations, ticketed bounce houses and inflatables, and other child-centered activities. The outdoor KidsFest stage hosts performances for all ages. The first day kicked off with the UpNext Showcase, focusing on middle and high school musicians from Full Moon Music Academy. The rest of the weekend will feature a variety of music and dance performances, either for young audiences or performed by young entertainers themselves. KidsFest will take place on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m., and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to entertainment on the outdoor stage, there will also be DJ Mahogany Hosted free KidsFest dance party Saturday, 1 to 3 p.m., indoors at the Georgia Theater

Food trucks offering gourmet and refreshing options

One of the new additions to AthFest is Union Fare, a food truck park located in a surface parking lot between the Morton Theater and the West Washington Street parking lot that is scheduled to become a permanent fixture of Hospitality South this fall (Palomar Park, Sandbar Park owners), shopping malls, etc.). Cafe Racer, Kelly’s Jamaican Foods, Taqueria La Parilla, Munch Hut, Propaganda Pizza, La Chancla and Tamez Barbecue are all located at this location. Common cooling delicacies such as King of Pops, Kona Ice, Smoothie King and La Michoacana will appear in the main areas of the festival, providing A little relief from the June heat.

Beer Garden and Festival Area Wristbands

In designated festival areas, attendees can purchase a $5 festival area wristband, which allows them to freely walk around the festival area with their purchased beer or wine. There will be four beer gardens within the area, and wristbands and drinks can be purchased close to the event so attendees can return right away to watch bands perform or browse vendors. The beer garden bar, wristband sales and merchandise will all be cashless this year, so be sure to bring your card.

Videos, photos, etc.

Whether you can’t make it this weekend or just want to relive the magic, there are many different ways to experience the sights and sounds of AthFest from the comfort of your own home. JOKERJOKERtv returns with an official affiliate event that will host virtual broadcasts featuring interviews, performances, music videos and other programming highlighting this year’s artists. Following the preview this Thursday from 6:30–8:30 p.m., the live broadcast will be on Friday from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. via YouTube (@JOKERJOKERtvofficial) Broadcast – 8pm Live streaming platform Volume.com will exclusively stream The Foundry’s Saturday show, which includes The Shut-Ups, David Barbe, Armi from Armistead and the Sneakers.

In preparation for AthFest, wORT Ort Internet Radio Station, a new station on athensgeorgialive.com, will broadcast AthFest artists 24 hours a day through the end of June. Gregory Frederick of the Athens GA Live Music YouTube channel will be the official photographer of this year’s festival, flagpole Readers can look forward to extensive film summaries in his weekly reviews. Official AthFest photographer Mike White will be posting photos on his website fataldesigns.com, as well as flagpole Photographers Mason Pearson and Jake Zerkel plan to share the gallery on flagpole.com.

Label and Promoter Display

Choosing among so many great actions can often lead to decision paralysis. Sometimes it helps to rely on carefully curated showcases from brands, gig promoters and artist groups who have steadily built their respective scenes throughout the year.

Indecent Artistry, the boutique record services, booking and management company led by Adam Wayton (Telemarket, The Pink Stones), will launch Hiding Places, Honeypuppy, Coma Therapy and Wieuca at Nowhere Bar on Friday. Metal music isn’t usually a big presence at family-friendly music festivals, but it can be found at Ciné’s Shadebeast show. That evening, Classic City Rotary and the Vic Chesnutt Songwriter of the Year Awards will simultaneously host a relatively leisurely evening with singer-songwriters at the Globe Theatre.

Live Wire will bring the best of both worlds on Saturday, with ATHFactor-Liberty Entertainment and Volumes Hip Hop teaming up for a night of hip-hop, while Nightshade Family keeps the beat flowing with EDM DJs and silent disco. Normaltown Records and Strolling Bones Records (both part of New West Records) will host showcases at Nowhere Bar alongside Rose Hotel, Spencer Thomas, Elijah Johnston and The Pink Stones, the former two of whom have recently released new albums.


It’s impossible to capture the current Athens music scene without paying homage to the past, and AthFest always features some throwback acts that contribute to this rich history. Moody Southern post-punk outfit Kilkenny Cats headlined the Hull Street Stage on Saturday. Formed in Athens in 1983, their hypnotic and haunting melodies played a pivotal role in the local early post-punk scene. Armi by Armistead will perform at The Foundry during Saturday’s nightclub event, marking the live debut of a new project from acclaimed artist Armistead Wellford. As one of the founding members of Love Tractors of Athens, Armistead will be joined by leading local musicians and special guests. Headlining the night was the Sneakers, a band from North Carolina who released their influential six-song EP in 1976, engineered by Don Dixon.

Once an Athenian, always an Athenian

Not only is AthFest a popular time for former residents to venture back into town and reconnect with friends, it’s also an ideal time for relocated musicians to do the same. Soulful singer-songwriter Kyshona Armstrong moved to Nashville a few years ago and is returning to the place where she began sharing her music heritage, a new album inspired by her family’s once-hidden history. Rock band Reverend Tribble & The Deacons, whose vocalist Conner Tribble now lives in Mexico, has already sold out their homecoming show in July, so it makes sense to see them on the main stage now. Transatlantic band Feather Trade, whose singer and guitarist Chisolm Thompson moved to the UK a few years ago, also has few local gigs.

catch them while you can

Although AthFest is a primarily locally focused festival, it also shares the stage with some talented touring performers from around the world. Powerful art-punk duo Lung, made up of classically trained opera singer and cellist Kate Wakefield and drummer Daisy Caplan, will take to the Hull Street Stage on Saturday Performance. On Sunday’s main stage, musician Jamil Rashad’s project Boulevards will bring soul, country, jazz, hip-hop and indie rock-infused funk from Raleigh, North Carolina music. On Friday night, alt-country rock band Susto will perform at the 40 Watt Club, while longtime pop-punk band Left Front Tire will perform on Saturday. Saturday’s show at the Georgian Theater kicked off with Maps & Atlases, a Chicago-based band influenced by alternative rock, folk and experimental music.

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