Spring in Chattanooga is in full swing with outdoor activities that cater to families, collectors, market enthusiasts, and music lovers alike. Here’s what Chattanooga has on the calendar for the month of April.
Hug a Bunny
Hop over to the Chattanooga Zoo for bunny ears craft stations, a bubble zone, photos with the Easter Bunny, and other springtime-themed activities at the annual Hug a Bunny event on April 2 and 3. Guests will also enjoy a scavenger hunt, a bunny hop game, a golden egg hunt, and Easter-inspired enrichment in the animal enclosures. Photos with the Easter Bunny, included in the price of admission, are “self serve,” meaning you’ll want to bring a cell phone or camera to snap that perfect picture. Camel rides, giraffe feedings, and the Zoo Choo Train will also be available throughout the day. Due to COVID-19 precautions, Hug a Bunny sessions will be available by reservation only, with sessions at 9:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each day. Chattanooga Zoo members will receive early admission, 30 minutes before the session begins.
First Horizon Pavilion
An event that began as a group of VW enthusiasts gathering in a dealership parking lot in 1999, Bug-a-Palüza is now one of the largest Volkswagen annual events in the region. Part car show, part swap meet, part family-friendly contest series with emcee Dr. FieldingGood, at Bug-a-Palüza you’ll find 39 classes of VW bugs on show. “Best Of” Awards will include Best of Show, Best Paint, Best Interior, Best Engine, and Best Sound System in air-cooled and water-cooled categories. The Engine Sound Off Award will go to the owner with the loudest engine, determined by dB reading. The vendor alley in the swap meet is the place to find new and used car parts as well as VW-themed swag. Gate proceeds will benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Chattanooga.
4 Bridges Arts Festival
First Horizon Pavilion
4 Bridges Arts Festival is an annual outdoor juried art show in Chattanooga with contributing artists in ceramics, oil and acrylic paint, watercolor and pastels, fiber/leather, basketry, jewelry, metal, photography, 2-D and 3-D media, glass, furniture, and printmaking/drawing. This year’s festival will feature 120 artists, including those recognized by the 2020 jury panel, as the 2020 festival was canceled due to COVID-19. The event will begin with a ticketed Preview Party, which will open the weekend events with cocktails, wine, and hors d’oeuvres on site. Over the course of the weekend, you’ll find serious art buyers mingling with those who simply want to see more of what Chattanooga has to offer by way of visual arts. This year’s art jurors include Lamar Wilson, who has served as curator and gallery director at Morris Brown College and curator at the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Maryland; Angela Supan, former assistant direct at River Gallery in the Bluff View Art District; and Chris Whittey, currently the Alan F. Rothschild Distinguished Chair of Art at Columbus State University.
Rock City Gardens
April 17-18, 24-25
At this year’s annual EarthDayz event, guests can launch a flower flair into Fairy Glen Overlook with a slingshot, eat a cup of dirt cake, hear live percussionist Kofi Mawuko at Cafe 7, and participate in Rocky the Elf’s QR-code scavenger hunt. The Living Vine and Living Tree will give you a glimpse of a English ivy moving its way across the site and a magnolia tree coming to life and replanting itself in different locations. New to EarthDayz this year is a partnership with the Chattanooga Zoo. Four animal shows will be scheduled in the Critter Classroom daily at 10:00 a.m., noon, 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. Shows will include an African serval, cape porcupine, fennec fox, rock hyrax, green aracari, American racoon, red tailed boa, carpet python, aldabra tortoise, moluccan cockatoo, and Amazonian parrot. EarthDayz hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and reservations are strongly recommended.
First Tennessee Pavilion, The Commons, Ooltewah Nursery & Landscape
Chattanooga Market’s 2021 opening weekend will be hosted at First Tennessee Pavilion in the historic Southside district on April 24-25. Featuring local farm goods, art, and artisan foods, the event will include nearly 100 socially distanced vendors offering flowers, produce, breads, meats, cheeses, flowers, crafts, and more. This market has been named by USA Today as one of the Top 10 Farmers Markets in the nation. A smaller public market in the East Chattanooga area, Collegedale Market will be open April 11, 18, and 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at The Commons, adjacent to Collegedale City Hall. Here, spring offerings include Moccasin Bend Soap, Chei-Man Tea, goat cheese from Ocoee Creamery, and strawberries from Melon Patch Farms. Finally, Ooltewah Farmers Market is an independent market hosted at Ooltewah Nursery & Landscape approximately 30 minutes east from downtown Chattanooga, where you’ll find locally grown products vetted by the market manager via a farm inspection. Ooltewah Farmers Market is the place to find free-range and pastured chicken eggs, raw honey, jams and jellies, elderberry products, raw dairy products, pastured meats, and fresh and dried herbs. Local food artisans who source their ingredients locally may also be on site with kettle corn, kombucha, breads, lotions, and lip balms.
Outdoor Concert Series
Backstage Chattanooga, The Feed Table & Tavern
Springtime in the Scenic City also means small-scale outdoor concerts at area restaurants and bars. On Wednesdays in April, you’ll find Americana-influenced Toby Hewitt taking requests under the covered patio at Backstage Chattanooga, a whiskey bar located next door to The Comedy Catch at The Choo Choo. On Fridays, it’s Jesse Jungkurth and The Patron Haints’ turn, playing acoustic tunes from their recently released album Sideways in Time. The Feed Table & Tavern on West Main Street joins in the warm-weather patio productions, hosting Zech Dallas on April 2, Courtney Holder on April 9, and Jason Lyles on April 16. Lyles is best known for his upbeat, powerpop, Americana style – and don’t be surprised if he covers a favorite from ‘80s pop or ‘90s alternative rock.