Of all the many festivals and events Chattanooga hosts during the year, the Riverbend Music Festival is the showpiece. For nine nights, about a mile of the riverfront downtown is blocked to vehicle traffic. Five music stages are strategically placed so their sounds don’t clash. All five are busy practically all the time every night. If you like jazz, blues and similar music, try the one outside the Hunter Museum at the top of the bluff. If you like folk and alternative music like That One Guy, try the stage under one of the bridges. Country music is usually near the main entrance. The main stage is a specially built 100 foot barge docked at the premier spot along the riverfront.
You don’t buy a ticket to Riverbend. You buy a lapel pin which entitles you to attend as many nights of the festival as you want. Check around town for discounts on Riverbend pins. Sometimes the pin also gets you entry or a discount at various attractions around town, too.
On the Saturday night that ends the festival, the final show is the most magnificent fireworks display you can imagine, based on and around one of the bridges across the river. Ever year this includes a Curtain of Fire falling from the bridge, but the rest of the show varies. If you don’t want to go to the festival itself, Coolidge Park across the river is also an excellent viewpoint. On either side of the river, you’ll be so close that you’ll smell the cordite and feel the percussion of the explosions all the way through to your bones.
For more information, click here to visit the festival website. It tells about the festival every year. Take a look at the acts booked in. It’s everything from big names to small bands or solo artists you haven’t had a chance to hear before. Every time we go to the festival, we discover some music we like and wouldn’t have learned about otherwise.