Depending on which facet of Memphis you want to tap into - from its famed barbeque scene and musical heritage, to exploring its urban wilderness or keeping kids entertained - there’s a month to suit every visitor.

Here’s our guide to the best time to visit 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

High season is the best time for outdoor festivals and concerts (May to September)

Memphis's warm, dry climate is the perfect host for outdoor festivities. And while there are events dotted throughout the year, the Memphis in May Festival is the official start to the city’s peak season. The spike in visitor numbers also means higher hotel prices, so plan early.  

Those looking to be in the thick of it during the high season should book a hotel downtown and 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 and alfresco patios to soak up the balmy evenings. 

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.

Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent straight to your inbox with our weekly newsletter.

Shoulder season is the best time for outdoor adventures  (October, and February to April)

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. 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.

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. 

The Easter school holidays also mean higher flight prices (an average of 20%) and hotel rates.  

15 free things to do in Memphis 

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

Low season is the best time for budget travelers (November to January)

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

The holidays heralds plenty 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.

The coldest month of the year is January, 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 on the second week in January. Graceland's visitor numbers dip for the rest of the month, so you may even have the musical mansion to yourself while touring.

Memphis best day trips 

January is for celebrating change-makers

Memphis celebrates the birthdays of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Elvis Presley with a host of events. Just wrap up warm, as the whistling wind can be biting.
Key events: Elvis’ birthday celebration at Graceland, King Day at the National Civil Rights Museum

Hop on a tour bus in February

With a chill in the air and an average of nine days of rain, take shelter and explore the Bluff City by bus. Backbeat Tours offers an all-singing dive into the music scene, while Tastin' 'Round Town will make you a barbeque connoisseur.
Key events: First Saturday Paddle at Wolf River, Carnival Family Day at Dixon Gallery & Gardens 

Head to the Memphis Zoo in March 

March is the best time to visit Memphis Zoo, as it extends its opening hours to close at the later hour of 6pm. Spring Break gets lively, so dodge this time if looking to avoid the crowds.
Key events: Beale Street St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Go crawfish bobbing in April

Marking the unofficial start of spring, the epic Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival serves up live music under a mountain of crawfish and Cajun cuisine options.
Key events: Peabody rooftop parties, River City Jazz and Music Festival 

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

May is for barbecue and blues

The air fills with the sweet smell of barbecue and the sound of Blues music as the Memphis in May festival rolls into town. Expect to see legendary pit-masters sweating it out to be crowned reigning champion of the coals.
Key events: Beale Street Music Festival, World Champion Barbeque cooking contest

June is all about rooftop bars 

Things start to feel tropical as the humidity and temperature rise. Cool down with frozen daiquiri at a downtown Memphis rooftop bar, offering ringside seats to the sun setting over the Mississippi River.
Key events: Craft food and Wine festival, Bluff City Balloon jamboree 

The 9 best Memphis museums 

Indulge during food truck Friday in July

July is the hottest month in Memphis. Sun lovers should bask in the rays at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens, with a weekly showcase of the city’s finest food truck cuisine.
Key events: Memphis Barbecue, Blues & Bourbon Festival, Cooper-Young Fourth of July Parade

Exterior shot of the Stax Museum in Memphis. The marquee reads "Soulsville USA"
Memphis' musical influence has impacted all of the American music © Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

Explore Memphis’ musical history in August

Temperatures are still pretty sweltering so take shade and brush up on Memphis’ contribution to music at the Stax Museum and Sun Studio. The Elvis Week celebrations can be heaving and hotels often book up a year in advance.
Key events: Elvis Week at Graceland, Memphis chicken and beer festival 

The 5 best neighborhoods in Memphis 

Enjoy a street festival in September

Make the most of the warm weather and 13 hours of daylight by heading to Cooper Young district for their annual street festival, with stalls from local artists and live music sets.
Key events: Delta Fair, Gonerfest, Latin Fest 

Things get spooky in October

Haunted house tours, pumpkin patches, Halloween laser shows and mysterious scavenger hunts make this a fun time to visit with children.
Key events: Soulsville USA Festival, River Arts Festival 

Woman pouring a glass of beer in Memphis, which has a number of microbreweries
Cozy up in one of Memphis's microbreweries during the chillier month of November © MmeEmil / Getty Images

Eat and drink like a local in November

There’s a chill in the air and a one in four chance of catching a rainy day. Play it safe by factoring in indoor activities, including visiting Crosstown Concourse for locally owned restaurants and a microbrewery.
Key event: Graceland holiday lighting weekend

Get festive in December

You’re unlikely to see snow falling during the Holiday season but Memphis still goes all out to create a festive atmosphere. Holiday markets pop up across the city, the streets are decked out in lights and Santa makes an appearance or two.
Key event: Beale Street Holiday Parade

Buy the latest edition of The Travel Book

The Travel Book Fourth Edition

Get ready for a journey through every country in the world. This fourth edition of The Travel Book features incredible photography that illustrates each country, accompanied by a profile that includes details of when to visit, what to see and do and how to learn more about the country’s culture.

Buy the latest edition of The Travel Book

Explore related stories