The people of Memphis know how to have a good time and there is rarely a period when the city isn't enormous fun to visit.

However, depending on what makes your must-do list for Bluff City, some seasons will be more suitable than others. From the best barbeque you'll ever taste and incredible live music to exploring the wilderness and cultural icons within the city limits, there's something to do every month. 

Here's how to choose the best time for your trip to Memphis, Tennessee.

People enjoying outdoor music festival in Memphis during high season
Take advantage of Memphis's warm temperatures from May to September by heading to an outdoor festival © Oliver Foerstner / Shutterstock

May to September is the best time for outdoor festivals and concerts

Memphis's warm, dry climate is perfect for outdoor festivities. And while there are events throughout the year, the Memphis in May Festival is the official start to the city's peak season. Expect to see legendary pit-masters sweating it out to be crowned reigning champion of the coals. The spike in visitor numbers also means higher hotel prices, so book your accommodation well in advance.  

Those looking to be in the thick of it during high season should book a hotel downtown to be within a hip swivel of the city’s bustling blues joints. Looking for a little respite from the neon symphony of Beale Street? Head to the revitalized South Main District, where hotels are out of earshot but within an easy stroll of the action.

And while temperatures certainly rise in the summer, Memphis is a city that’s geared up for the warmer climate, so expect air-conditioned venues, rooftop bars and alfresco patios to enjoy the balmy evenings. 

July is the hottest month in Memphis. Sun worshippers can bask in the rays at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens, with a weekly showcase of the city’s finest food truck cuisine. The city goes all out for 4th of July celebrations – brace yourself for a party that keeps going into the wee hours.

A series of free music concerts at the Overton Park Shell Amphitheater makes this the ideal time to throw down a picnic rug and let the good times roll. The King dominates the musical landscape in August as Elvis Week is celebrated in Graceland, attracting fans from all over the world to their place of worship.

September brings yet more festival fun times as the Cooper Young district celebrates its artistic community with live music and stalls showcasing their work.

Enjoy BBQ at Memphis's food festivals
No trip to Memphis is complete without indulging in some BBQ © Jordan Adkins / Shutterstock

October and February to April are the best times for outdoor adventures 

October is the best time to visit Memphis with children. The crowds have eased up but there’s still plenty to keep younger visitors occupied, including a slew of Halloween events and pumpkin patches across the city, as well as the River Arts Festival. October and February offer good value, with hotels across town lowering rates as their occupancy dips.

While temperatures are mild, the city still averages five days of rain throughout October. It arrives unannounced, so carry a light waterproof jacket.

March is the best time to visit Memphis Zoo as the spring hours begin and it's open until the later hour of 6pm. Spring Break and St Patrick's Day celebrations mean the streets get lively, so dodge this time if looking to avoid the crowds.

Easter sees outdoor events cranking up; it's the best time to explore Shelby Farms Park, where visitors can kayak, cycle, hike or horseback ride through one of the country's largest urban parks, just 20 minutes from the heart of downtown Memphis. If you're hungry for delicious seafood and live music, your luck is in at the Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival

Unfortunately, the Easter school holidays also mean flight prices crank up (an average of 20%) and hotel rates go beyond budget-friendly options.  

rance to the Graceland complex featuring sign of Elvis
Head to Graceland during low season to beat the crowds © Paul McKinnon / Shutterstock

November to January is the best time for budget travelers

During Memphis’ winter months, both temperatures and hotel prices fall. Excluding Elvis’ birthday celebrations in January, that month (followed closely by November) is the time for rock-bottom flights and great deals on hotel rooms. The weather during low season swings from wet and windy to sunny but fresh, so pack plenty of layers. 

The winter holidays have plenty of free things to do for the budget-conscious traveler, including admiring Memphis’ landmarks dressed in the twinkliest of lights and attending a holiday parade that brings carnival vibes to Beale Street, with floats, marching bands and a procession of elves on motorbikes.

January is also the coldest month of the year, but that shouldn’t put visitors off as it’s also the best time to shake a leg and visit Graceland (nearly 15 minutes from downtown). 

Join the crowds celebrating the King of Rock n’ Roll’s birthday in early January (his actual birthday is January 8). Graceland's visitor numbers dip for the rest of the month, so you may even have the musical mansion to yourself while touring. There are more birthday celebrations on the 15th in honor of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, with the main event happening at the National Civil Rights Museum.

This article was first published May 19, 2022 and updated Mar 9, 2024.

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