Festive occasions 

As the weather cools down, the festivals heat up

The smog alert has fallen below orange, and jeans and hoodies cover summer's bare shoulders, legs and midriffs. Outdoor activities can keep urban adventure seekers feeling sexy even after the tan starts to fade. If your idea of getting your groove on includes food, music, art and plenty of alcohol, Atlanta offers plenty of festivals to keep experienced relaxation athletes off the couch.

September starts with the 39th annual YELLOW DAISY FESTIVAL, Sept. 6-9, at Stone Mountain Park (U.S. Highway 78, Stone Mountain; 770-498-5690; www.stonemountainpark.com/yellowdaisy). The premier art fest of the season features more than 400 artists from 38 states and two countries, live entertainment and more. Find the perfect conversation piece for the next dinner party while strolling through the park.

The sometimes-trendy, sometimes-sleepy, sometimes-gentrifying East Atlanta neighborhood hosts its 10th annual EAST ATLANTA STRUT Sept. 15 (Brownwood Park; www.eastatlantastrut.org). The festival features a 5K run/walk (or "strut") with prizes for the fastest man, woman and child. More action comes from live music (including Moresight and Tag Team), a kids' area, artist market, silent auction and more. Get off your bar stool and strut, don't saunter, down to Brownwood Park for the parade, which features locally made floats. There's even an award ceremony for the best float in more than 10 categories.

After you've run your tail off, the 10th annual ATLANTIS MUSIC CONFERENCE, Sept. 19-22, (www.atlantismusic.com) unites scenesters and indie bands in focusing on the business end of music. Support local music by heading to Midtown to the CW complex (1374 W. Peachtree St.; 404-885-1365) to watch them as the scenesters and the leather-arm-band-wearing, Stratocaster-playing indie bands try to catch a break.

Pace yourself. Before heading off to Atlantis' final evening, boogie down to Kenny's Alley (50 Upper Alabama St.; 404-523-2311; www.underground-atlanta.com) for September, I mean OKTOBERFEST, Sept. 22-23. From noon to 7 p.m. guzzle ale and listen to live music right in the heart of downtown. Stumble, shimmy and shake among other lager lovers, all while trying to convince the cutie next to you you're not slurring but practicing German. Gesundheit! Take a cab (put the number in your phone before you go) back to the CW and keep the party going.

If hippies don't make you feel the love, and flashbacks make you wary of camping festivals, head to Apple Valley Road for the fourth annual BROOKHAVEN ARTS FESTIVAL (404-266-3426; www.brookhavenartsalliance.com) Oct. 13-14. More than 100 artists, including Brookhaven's Lucinda Carlstrom, winner of last year's festival, showcase their work. The festival includes live music and more.

There's one festival that's totally worth the drive. Save some of that party energy/regenerative liver tissue for the "other" OKTOBERFEST (Edelweiss Drive, Helen; 706-878-1619; www.helenchamber.com/oktoberfest.htm). Yes. This year the festival lasts almost two months, Sept. 13-Nov. 4. Since you've been busy hobnobbing, put it aside until the end of the month, and remember: Sundays are free! Beer, German food, dance, music and exhibits make this festival a classic.

You have plenty of reasons to stay off the couch, and it's not even Thanksgiving yet. So get up, get out and stay active. The leaves fall, the wind chills and the city's hopping.


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