Yo Yo Yo it’s Riverbend time! This classic Chattanooga music festival is the highlight of the summer and is a guaranteed beer drinking, music scene hopping, funnel cake eating good time!
In case you didn’t know, Riverbend is an 8-day outdoor music festival (June 8th – 16th) hosted right on the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga. A giant barge carrying the stage is hoisted into place on the river weeks before the event. This festival began in the early summer of 1982 right around the time Chattanooga was aggressively changing its identity to become the destination hot spot it is today. Riverbend today hosts around 650,000 people and is home to over 100 bands and acts on various stages scattered throughout the festival.
The Coke Stage is what you’re looking for to catch the headliners and main attractions of the festival. Some of the headliners we are particularly excited about this year are the Wallflowers, Flo Rida (always popular on the Chattanooga Pints and Pedals bike), Third Eye Blindand Bret Michaels to say the least. All of the main event Coke stage attractions start at 9:30 and end at 11. But don’t be fooled thinking the only good acts are on the main stage. We are also looking forward to some of the side acts such as Tower of Power, The Hatcher/Phillips Band, Courtney Daly & The Daly Grind. If you haven’t done so already, you can purchase your tickets here or find the listed retail locations to buy them in person.
For those of you visiting from out of town who aren’t sure what to do during the day, or if you are taking a night off from concerts, check out these 5 things to do during Riverbend:
- Go check out the MLK or Southside District – These typically are highly populated areas in Chattanooga but well worth it! The Bitter Alibiin the MLK district has really great food, drink and atmosphere but has a fairly small space prone to overcrowding. With Riverbend going on (depending on when you head here), you may be able to get right in, pull up to the bar and be first in line.
- Similar to the above but on the Southside, we recommend checking out The Feed. This too can become an overcrowded watering hole due to how popular their bar and patio has become, live music often found on the weekends, and DELICIOUS food. Our personal favorite is the Sloppy Joe – I mean, how many places in Chattanooga can you get that? Pro Tip – Get it extra sloppy with Tots! If you need another venue after eating, you can walk across the street to Clydes for ping pong, live music and comfy sofa chairs – normally hard to get when they are busy. For late night fun, check out Coyote Jacks one block behind The Feed.
- Station Street is without a doubt the hottest place to go right now. We love pretty much everything about Station Street, particularly the open container laws that passed allowing you to drink on the streets. Be sure to check out the Terminal Brewhouse for a beer, Stir for a fancy cocktail, or further up the road for hipster, backstage, and dance bars.
- Downtown Bowling at Southside Social – This is definitely a place to take advantage of with reduced crowd sizes. With only 10 lanes, it’s next to impossible to not have a wait time for lanes. I’m talking hours on a busy night – maybe not so much during Riverbend? Hey, it’s worth a shot! Even if there is a wait it should be much shorter plus there are things to do while you wait such as corn hole, ping pong, darts and foosball. We will make one recommendation – Do not drink the Jack and coke slushy while you are bowling as things tend to get a little wild.
- Boathouse Dinner and Fireworks – So if you want a taste of Riverbend but don’t actually want to go, you can dine out at the Boathouse on the last night of the festival and see the fireworks show! Riverbend always puts on a fireworks display, usually at 9pm on the last day of the festival June 16th. A cool strategy would be to be out on the Boathouse patio with a clear view of the fireworks on the other side of the river. You might even hear a few tunes while you’re out there.
Whether you choose to go to Riverbend or not, Chattanooga is full of fun things to do – Riverbend included. We love the funnel cakes, street food, cool vendors, music and atmosphere of Chattanooga that can’t be found anywhere else. Riverbend only comes once a year so be sure to plan your trip out and see as much of Chattanooga as possible!