Memphis in May is a month-long festival held in Memphis, Tennessee. The festival itself is split into three main events: The Beale Street Music Festival, the kick-off event which showcases a mix of local and national music acts, International Week, a group of events dedicated to the country that is sponsored that year, and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, one of the most popular barbecue contests in the country. This event will mark its 40th anniversary in May 2016.
The Beale Street Music Festival is a three-day music festival that has both a mix of big-name stars performing side by side with local musical acts. Held during the first weekend of May in the city’s Tom Lee Park at the foot of Beale Street, it is considered to be the kick-off event of the entire Memphis in May celebration.
It typically hosts 100,000+ people for each of the first two nights of the event, and usually quite large crowds for the ending big-name finales on Sunday night. The festival was added a year after Memphis in May was created. Its history can be traced back to the 1800s, when African-American musicians throughout the South would come to Beale Street and perform.