The Rocket Blog

Downtown Memphis Heats Up as the Weather Cools Down

Autumn in Memphis is the best time of year to get out and explore downtown, thanks to the arrival of temperatures that don’t bake your brain, electrifying views of riverside sunsets and festivities of all kinds scattered across our revitalized urban playground.

Sure, you might have to deal with the occasional allergy crisis (looking at you, ragweed), but you’ll kick yourself if you miss out on all the fun. Whether you’re looking for art and music experiences, opportunities to volunteer in the community or ways to get the entire family out of the house, downtown Memphis has you covered. So, pack an extra inhaler, and come play with us!

Check out a few of the upcoming RocketFuel-approved™ events listed below.

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RiverArts Fest

Friday, Oct. 23 - Sunday, Oct. 25 | South Main St. | Admission & Tickets

RiverArtsFest is three jam-packed days of art, music and Southern cuisine that raises money to support art education in city schools. With over 170 fine artists from around the country squeezed into a huge open-air market, you’ll be able to cross every name off your holiday shopping list (and pick up a thing or ten for yourself along the way). Beloved by locals and tourists alike, this annual street festival has become a downtown tradition, and it should be on your calendar.

2015 Festival Highlights

  • live performances by Marcella & Her Lovers, Joyce Cobb, Artistik Approach, Los Cantadores, Loveland Duren, Dead Soldiers, Stax Junior Academy and MANY more

  • free Hands on Art interactive art station, open to all ages

  • free Artist at Work demonstrations with creators from a wide variety of disciplines

  • beer and wine booths, local food vendors

Want to get involved as more than an attendee? Sign up to volunteer! (That basically makes you one of the coolest people ever, btw.)

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Day of the Dead Fiesta

Friday, Oct. 30 | The Cadre Building (42 South 2nd St.) | Tickets

Presented by Latino Memphis, this month’s Day of the Dead Fiesta invites you to celebrate life by channeling death in the tradition of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a Mexican holiday that brings people together to commune with the spirits through comfort foods and sweet treats, elaborate graveside ceremonies and colorful storytelling.

While Day of the Dead Fiesta doesn’t take the party all the way to the cemetery, it does get people moving with lots of dancing and live music. Attendees: dress in black and white attire, and come prepared to become a living work of sugar skull art!

2015 Fiesta Highlights

  • musical/theatrical performances by DJ Giovanni Rodriguez, Marcela Pinilla & her Band and Mariachi Guadalajara, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, New Ballet Ensemble and Opera Memphis

  • sangria cocktail bar (2 tickets included with admission!), bites from local restaurants

  • art activities: onsite painting by Paco Gonzalez, paper flower-making, Tree of Life for sharing photographs of loved ones

  • photo booth with Aztec dancers and Catrinas presented by Caza Teatro

If you want to support Latino Memphis in its ongoing mission to celebrate and advocate for Latino culture, you can join up as a volunteer. (Are you starting to see a pattern in how we feel about volunteering?)


Indie Memphis Film Festival 2015

Indie Memphis Film Festival

Tuesday, Nov. 3 - Tuesday, Nov. 10 | Various Locations | Admission & Tickets

The Indie Memphis Film Festival hasn’t been downtown since 2006 and is commemorating its return this year with weekday screenings in the new 361-seat Halloran Centre adjacent to the Orpheum.  Weekend screenings will take place at the 220-seat Circuit Playhouse and at Malco Studio on the Square, both in Overton Square.

This annual festival, now in its 18th year, is presented by Duncan-Williams, Inc. and has grown tremendously since its inception. The festival highlights independent filmmakers – both local and around the world – who bring their short films, documentaries, and full-length features to Memphis audiences.  Past special guests include Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow, Footloose), Tanya Wright (HBO's True Blood), Jason Baldwin of the West Memphis Three (Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory), Daniel Waters (Heathers), Mark Bell (FilmThreat), Mike Ryan (Junebug), Ira Deutchman (Emerging Pictures), and Chris Parnell (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock).

This year's festival features new ticketing options available for single tickets, festival passes, and VIP festival passes. Guests can purchase single tickets and passes directly online or at the door to each event. Check out the full event and film schedule here

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Station 3: The Memphis Firehaus

Thurs. - Sun. now through end of November | 198 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.

Ever wonder what it would be like if R.L. Stine opened a bar? Our best guess is something along the lines of Station 3: The Memphis Firehaus. This 19th-Century fire station-turned-recording studio/nightclub-turned-abandoned creepshow is the latest building to get a spitshine from the team behind the Brewery Revival.

Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday now through the end of November, you can enjoy sipping local beers and meeting new folks in this pop-up beer garden (that may or may not be haunted).

2015 Firehause Fall Highlights

  • various food trucks, brews made by High Cotton, Memphis Made, Ghost River and Tennessee Brew Works

  • live music performances in the outdoor courtyard

  • Grizz and Tigers watch parties, pre-/post-game hangouts

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Downtown Dining Week

Monday, Nov. 9 - Sunday, Nov. 15 | Participating Restaurants

We’ve decided the unofficial slogan of Downtown Dining Week is “TREAT YO SELF” because for one magical week a year, you can enjoy all the perks of downtown dining at a price that feels more like midtown dining. Participating restaurants offer special three-course dinner menus and two-for-one lunch menus at fixed prices, so you try a few different belly-busters that aren’t wallet-breakers.

This year’s culinary roster features downtown stalwarts like McEwen’s and Automatic Slim’s, as well as newcomers like the funky, Santería-meets-jukebox Agave Maria.

2015 Downtown Dining Highlights

  • three-course dinners (or special menus) for $20.15

  • two-for-one lunch menus for $10.15

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Harbor Town Dog Show & Festival: Who Let The Dogs Out?

Sunday, November 8, 12 - 4 pm | Nursery Park, Harbor Town

The 12th Annual Harbor Town Dog Show & Festival is a giant 70’s-themed party for dogs and their humans, benefiting the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County. Boasting games, food, local vendors, prizes and celebrity judges, this is a family-friendly event that’s sure to be a howling good time.

2015 Dog Show & Festival Highlights

  • psychedelic awards for pups, like “Most Jive” (least obedient), “Groovy Moves” (best tail-wagging) and “Most Far Out Threads” (costume contest!!!)

  • first ever Doggie Lip Sync Battle and the return of Paula Raiford’s Doggie Disco Dance Off

  • silent and live auctions