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Friday, April 2, 2010

Previewing Memphis in April

One would think that Memphis’ favorite month is May, what with a whole month-long festival and all. But Memphis in April can hold its own.

From the tulips in bloom at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens to baseball at AutoZone Park, April is a great time for locals and visitors alike to get out and experience what Memphis has to offer.

The great thing about April in Memphis is we haven’t yet reached the busyness of the summer travel season and we’re still weeks away from May, when Memphis shines with an abundance of events. Sure, the weather still has potential to turn cool in the evenings and drop some rain showers from time to time, but spring in Memphis is here and that means more times than not, the weather is beautiful.

And what better way to celebrate the season than a trip to AutoZone Park where you can usher in the 2010 baseball season by cheering on the 2009 Pacific Coast League champion Memphis Redbirds. The Red Carpet Home Opener will be April 16 and will be the first fireworks night of the season.

Baseball and beer tend to go together and debuting at AutoZone Park this year is Memphis’ own Ghost River Brewing with a beer made just for the park, Home Run Red.

And speaking of beer, the Memphis Brewfest will be held April 24 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at AutoZone Park. It’s an opportunity to sample a number of beers from around the world.

On the art front, if you haven’t had the chance to make it to the Dixon for its exhibition titled “Monet to Matisse” it’s not too late, although you better hurry. The show will end on April 4. The exhibition features more than 40 paintings and works on paper by the most influential artists of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements from the Dixon’s permanent collection of late 19th and early 20th century art.

Image courtesy of Dixon Gallery & Gardens (until I can get over there and snap my own)

But if you’re too late for the art, it’s a perfect time for the tulips. Beginning in mid-March and expected to be in bloom until at least the middle of April, the Dixon has an amazing display of some 20,000 tulips. For this beautiful exhibition, Dixon floriculturist Greg Francis and greenhouse manager Manjula Carter designed the planting with 35 varieties of hybrid tulips and 16 species tulips, along with hundreds of camassia and allium bulbs. All 14 types of tulips are represented.

But if you’re hunkering for some art, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art exhibition “Venice in the Age of Canaletto” is on display through May 9. The exhibition is inspired by Giovanni Antonio Canaletto’s painting The Grand Canal from Campo di San Viola. The exhibition focuses on a period – spanning the 18th century – that saw Venice transformed into a destination for wealthy European tourists. The exhibition features paintings, prints, furniture and textiles.

And not to be outdone by Memphis in May, this month will feature the annual Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival April 15-18 in Robert F. Church Park along Beale Street. This year’s event will honor the Republic of Nigeria and will feature a diverse cultural marketplace, food and entertainment.

And finally, not to forget the opportunity to sit outside and enjoy the great weather with good friends, April in Memphis means prime patio season and the Bluff City has plenty of offerings, particularly in Midtown and Downtown. Whether you want to simply take a glass of wine from the hotel bar at The River Inn of Harbor Town up to the rooftop to enjoy a spectacular sunset or enjoy a beverage along Beale Street, there are a multitude of offerings.

Some favorites include Celtic Crossing (903 S. Cooper St.), which is aided by a great Monday pint night special of $2.50 per beer. Other standouts include Boscos Squared (2120 Madison Ave.), Young Avenue Deli (2119 Young Ave.), Calhoun’s Sports Bar (115 E. GE Patterson Ave.) and, if you can get a spot by the windows, the Flying Saucer (130 Peabody Place).

Here’s to a fabulous April in Memphis.

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