Memphis in May

Beale Street Music Festival - Barbecue Contest - Sunset Symphony

The Memphis in May Festival (MIM) is one of our most popular events. It includes a Barbecue Contest, the Beale Street Music Festival, and the Sunset Symphony.  The festival begins on the first of the month and runs for the next four weeks

Each year an honored country is selected.  Many of the events have aspects tailored to be symbolic of the chosen country. 

The Beale Street Music Festival is the first big celebration to kick off Memphis in May.  The Barbecue Contest is next, and the Sunset Symphony on the last weekend closes out the month of events.

The Beale Street Music Festival

The Memphis in May Music Festival is held in the park at the foot of Beale Street, just before you reach the river. 

In a recent year, there were more than 50 acts presented on three stages over three days of the music celebration weekend. 

It is a bonanza for music lovers with something for everyone. 

The Barbecue Contest

The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is held on the banks of the river. 

Local, national, and international participants plan all year for their entry into the contest. 

There are numerous categories in which to compete such as whole hog, beef, seafood, and rib, to name just a few.  This contest is the highlight of the year for dedicated barbecue fanatics.

The Sunset Symphony

The Sunset Symphony is a favorite of the local residents.  The symphony, at the end of May, marks the last of the festivities. 

It is a family event where you can sit on the banks of the river listening to live music in the late afternoon.  The last act of the day is the Memphis Symphony Orchestra playing at sunset and concluding with a magnificent display of fireworks over the Mississippi River.

Educational resources are provided by MIM for students to learn about the honored country. 

Those resources are available on the web at

- Need to Know -

  • The major events of MIM are held in the park at the foot of Beale Street on the banks of the Mississippi River.
  • There is a charge for all of the events.  Check the pricing structure, particularly for the Music Festival. 
  • The Music Festival, Barbecue Contest, and Sunset Symphony are all held in the park, an outdoor venue.  Be prepared for rainy weather.
  • Parking anywhere close to the park will cost $30.  You might be lucky and find parking on the street, but it is unlikely.  The farther away from the park, the cheaper the parking. 
  • The area around the park is fenced and you will need to enter at one of entrances to present or purchase your ticket.  Be prepared to have your bag, purse, or any other large items examined.
  • The park is accessible, but the area where the events are held is not paved.  Check the MIM web site under MIM 101, then click on Accessibility.  There you will find a complete list of answers to questions about accessibility. 

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