Are you a dedicated blues fan looking for the perfect music or blues festivals in Mississippi? Well, you’ve come to the right place! From Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival to the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival, these iconic blues festivals offer an exciting journey across Mississippi’s diverse musical landscape.
Mississippi, known as the birthplace of the blues, is a musical treasure trove. The Mississippi Delta Region, in particular, has a rich history and legacy of blues music, which is celebrated annually through a variety of vibrant and soul-stirring blues festivals.
Whether you are a lifelong blues fan or someone looking to explore new musical horizons or want to explore the roots of this iconic genre, blue festivals in Mississippi are sure to delight and entertain everyone.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the best blue festivals in Mississippi, each offering a unique experience and opportunity to immerse yourself in the soulful sounds of the Delta that will leave a lasting impression on your musical soul.
So, take a deep breath and immerse yourself in the magical world of blues festivals as you dive into the heart of Mississippi’s cultural melting pot.
Where: Greenville, Mississippi
Let’s start with the grandfather of all blues festivals, the Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival! It is widely known as the second-oldest blues festival in the United States.
If you recognize the names John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Big Joe Williams, and Sam Chatmon, you must attend the Mississippi Delta Blues & Heritage Festival.
As the oldest continuous blues festival in the state, this festival preserves the essence of delta blues music by showcasing outstanding performances from well-known artists and up-and-coming musicians. The festival has a mix of blues and gospel music.
From daytime performances on outdoor stages to late-night jam sessions at local venues, Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival offers a dynamic and vibrant schedule every September that caters to different tastes and preferences in Greenville.
The Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival features top-notch musical performances and pays homage to the blues’ cultural significance. Visitors can explore exhibitions and displays throughout the festival grounds that highlight the history, significance, and influence of the blues on American music and society. Moreover, the festival provides an immersive educational experience for blues enthusiasts of all ages, with informative panels, workshops, and stunning visual presentations. The festival typically lasts multiple days, fully immersing visitors in the blues experience.
Where: Clarksdale, Mississippi
Although several places claim, Clarksdale, Mississippi, is the real birthplace of the blues. Clarksdale hosts the exceptional Juke Joint Festival in April, inviting music fans to explore the unique charm of historic “juke joint” venues.
Formerly home to John Lee Hooker, Ike Turner, Muddy Waters, and many more, the Juke Joint Festival honors the origins of American music on front porches and in former juke houses. From acoustic solo performances to high-energy blue bands, the festival features a diverse range of musical styles that display the depth and breadth of the blues genre.
The Juke Joint Festival also celebrates the region’s culinary traditions. Food vendors line the streets, offering a variety of Southern specialties like barbecue, fried catfish, and soul food. The aroma of smoky ribs and the sizzle of hot pans fill the air, adding a sensory experience to the soulful sounds of the blues.
Moreover, Clarksdale, Mississippi, is a treasure trove of blues attractions. Located on Delta Ave, behind one of those front porch stages, Cat Head Delta Blues and Folk Art Gallery is a must-visit to admire the incredible collection of local folk art! Visit Pro-Monkeys, a legendary old-time juke joint.
Be sure to check out Ground Zero Blues Club, a prominent club co-owned by renowned actor and blues fan Morgan Freeman. The club hosts live performances by local and traveling musicians. It’s a lively spot where you can hear real blues in an electric atmosphere.
A visit to the Juke Joint Festival will take you back in time and allow you to explore the roots of blues music and its lasting influence on modern soundscapes worldwide.
Where: Clarksdale, Mississippi
The Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Music Festival, a dynamic celebration of blues and gospel music, takes place in Clarksdale, Mississippi, every August. With its origins dating back to 1988, the festival has become a highly anticipated event, attracting locals and guests worldwide. The festival takes its name from the Sunflower River, which flows through the center of Clarksdale and is known for its enormous contributions to the blues genre.
One of the distinctive features of this festival is its celebration of both blues and gospel music, reflecting the intertwined history of these genres in the Delta. From soulful guitar solos and passionate vocals to uplifting gospel harmonies, the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival performances exhibit diverse styles and talents within these genres.
The festival takes place in a variety of outdoor venues across Clarksdale, creating a festive and communal atmosphere. Visitors can explore the historic streets, immerse themselves in local culture, and enjoy the vibrant energy that permeates the city during the festival. Local vendors offer amazing cuisine, including Southern delicacies, allowing attendees to satisfy their appetites while enjoying music.
For those looking for a more upscale experience, the event offers VIP tickets. These tickets provide access to exclusive places, amenities, and opportunities to interact with the artists.
Where: Clarksdale, Mississippi
If you want an authentic and immersive blues experience, join the Deep Blues Festival!
Celebrating the raw and unfiltered sounds of deep blues music, the Deep Blues Festival takes place every October in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Chris Johnson, a guitarist and music journalist, first hosted the Deep Blues Festival in 2007. Over the years, it has gained recognition as a unique and authentic blues festival.
Every year, the festival features talented performers who draw inspiration from Delta blues, hill country blues, and other raw and stripped-down genre forms. With soulful vocals, powerful guitar riffs, and emotionally charged performances, these musicians captivate listeners with their deep blues aesthetics,
The Deep Blues Festival provides an immersive musical experience with performances on multiple stages and venues throughout the festival. You’ll experience a blend of acoustic and electric blues, with performers exhibiting their talent through soulful vocals, expressive guitar playing, and foot-stomping rhythms. The festival prides itself on offering an opportunity for performers to express themselves fully and intimately through their music.
With its talented lineup, intimate venue, and sense of community, the Deep Blues Festival offers an immersive experience that connects visitors with the essence of the blues and the rich musical heritage of the Mississippi Delta.
Where: Bentonia, Mississippi
The small town of Bentonia in Yazoo County, Mississippi, hosts the Bentonia Blues Festival to honor and preserve the rich musical history of Bentonia blues, a style distinguished by haunting melodies and minor key tonality.
The Bentonia Blues Festival owes its origins to Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, an outstanding blues artist and custodian of the haunting sounds of the “Bentonia Blues” guitar legacy. Holmes, known for authentic and soulful performances, played a crucial role in drawing attention to the distinct blues style connected with Bentonia. The Bentonia Blue Festival honors the legacy of legendary bluesman Skip James, who introduced Bentonia blues through his recordings in the 1930s.
The Bentonia Blues Festival attracts a lineup of talented blues artists that uphold the Bentonia blues tradition. These musicians attract audiences with their soulful vocals, intricate guitar playing, and heartfelt storytelling. The intimate setting of the festival creates a close-knit and welcoming atmosphere.
In addition to music, the festival offers various activities and attractions. Check out the local food vendors, explore art and craft booths, or engage with cultural exhibitions highlighting Bentonia and Mississippi’s Blues heritage.
While in Bentonia, you can explore Bentonia’s rich blues history. Visit the Blue Front Cafe, Mississippi’s oldest surviving juke joint and an iconic landmark in the blues world. The cafe was once owned by bluesman Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, who played a pivotal role in keeping the Bentonia blues alive. You can also visit the Bentonia School, a gathering spot for local blues musicians.
Where: Rolling Fork, Mississippi
The Great Delta Affair in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, is a unique cultural festival that celebrates the region’s natural heritage and honors the famous black bear that once roamed the area.
The festival draws its name from the Mississippi Delta’s rich history of black bears, notably honoring Teddy Roosevelt, a legendary bear. The Great Delta Bear Affair allows visitors to learn about the black bear’s ecological importance and the efforts to conserve this majestic creature.
While not solely focused on blues music, the festival features blues elements and provides a stage for local musicians to display their talent. Local musicians will perform live on stages across the festival grounds, allowing you to experience live music. The festival’s blues performances encapsulate the spirit of the Delta’s musical legacy, providing a soulful and melodic backdrop to the festivities.
The Great Delta Bear Affair also includes a variety of activities and attractions, like art exhibits, craft demonstrations, and educational seminars, highlighting the Delta region’s cultural traditions and artistic expressions.
Moreover, the festival features a bear-themed parade with floats, costumes, and live performances. This vibrant parade displays the bear’s cultural significance in Mississippi history and the community’s creativity and pride. The procession adds a joyful and lively element to the festival, giving attendees a sense of joy and unity.
By bringing together conservation, music, and culture, the Great Delta Bear Affair offers a unique experience that honors the natural and artistic legacy of the Delta region.
Where: Aberdeen, Mississippi
The Bukka White Blues Festival in Aberdeen, Mississippi, honors the life and music of the great blues musician Bukka White. Born in Houston, Mississippi, Bukka White was a legendary figure in the blues. His powerful voice, slide guitar prowess, and emotionally charged performances
made an unforgettable impression on the blues world.
This event, named in his honor, pays tribute to the renowned singer. The festival combines various blues performers representing Bukka White’s spirit and style. These performers, ranging from seasoned artists to emerging stars, captivate the attendees with their heartfelt renditions of the blues. The performances include a variety of blues subgenres, including Delta blues, Chicago blues, and country blues, demonstrating the diverse influences and styles within the genre.
In addition to musical performances, the Bukka White Blues Festival features seminars, educational sessions, and entertainment events for people of all ages, such as a pet costume parade, arts and crafts, cooking contests, and more. These activities allow blues fans to enhance their understanding of the genre while also engaging with the rich Mississippi blues culture. Aberdeen itself offers historical and cultural attractions, including the childhood home of Bukka White.
With its lineup of talented artists, engaging activities, and exploration of local attractions, the festival provides a memorable blues experience.
Where: Grenville, Mississippi
If you’re a blues fan looking for an energetic event, the Delta Soule Picnic Festival is for you! Held in Greenville, Mississippi, Delta Soule Picnic Festival blends the joys of a picnic with the soulful sounds of blues music.
The Delta Soule Picnic Festival has a rich history that dates back to the late 1800s. The festival takes its name from the Delta Soule community, a historically notable African American neighborhood in Greenville. The festival began as a gathering for African American families to celebrate their community, culture, and traditions. Over the years, it has evolved into a vibrant festival that celebrates the music, food, arts, and crafts of the Mississippi Delta.
The festival attracts talented musicians that perform in various musical genres such as blues, soul, gospel, jazz, and R&B. These local and national performers captivate audiences with their exciting performances, soulful vocals, and amazing musical talents.
The Delta Soule Picnic Festival features a variety of activities for people of all ages. Live music concerts, dance performances, art exhibitions, cultural demonstrations, and interactive workshops are some of these activities. You can also participate in dancing courses, learn about traditional crafts, and interact with local artisans.
The festival also offers the chance to explore the Greenville attractions and landmarks like Greenville History Museum, Mississippi Riverfront, and more, making your journey more exciting.
Check the 2023 schedule here and stay tuned for the 2024 schedule.
Where: Mississippi Gulf Coast
Hosted on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Blues and Heritage Festival is a highly awaited event that brings blues lovers from near and far.
The Blues and Heritage Festival invites many blues performers that hit the stage to provide fascinating performances. From legendary blue icons to rising stars, the musicians highlight the diversity and depth of the blues genre. Soulful vocals, masterful guitar solos, and irresistible rhythms will take you to the heart and soul of the Mississippi Delta.
The festival’s location on the Mississippi Gulf Coast adds a unique element to the experience. The pristine beaches, breathtaking panoramas, and warm Gulf breezes create a magnificent backdrop for the music. The natural beauty of the shore, combined with the soul-stirring melodies of the blues, creates a magical ambiance that is hard to imitate.
From gorgeous beaches and waterfront activities to seeing historical landmarks and experiencing local culture, the coastal region offers a variety of exciting opportunities to enhance your festival experience.
So, whether you’re a dedicated blues lover or just looking for a cultural experience, the Blues and Heritage Festival provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the soulful sounds and vivid heritage of the blues.
The Bottom Line
Mississippi is a haven for blue fans, offering a plethora of exceptional blues festivals throughout the state. Whether you’re captivated by the haunting sounds of the Delta blues, the energetic rhythms of juke joints, or the diverse range of blue subgenres, these 9 blues festivals in Mississippi are for you. Whichever festival you choose, you’re guaranteed to be immersed in the soulful rhythms and timeless melodies of the Mississippi music scene.