You can find something to suit everyone in your household when looking for things to do in the Huntsville area over the course of a year. Here are some family friendly ideas to get you started, most of them are annual events.

‘Dancing With The Stars: Live!’

The stage will be Hot! Hot! Hot! Feb. 10 when performers from “Dancing with the Stars” take over the Von Braun Center’s Mark C. Smith Concert Hall. Dubbed “Dancing with the Stars: Live! Light Up the Night,” the 2-hour show features dancers from the ABC program who will perform familiar and new routines – accompanied by driving music and sparkly costumes. The 2-hour show starts at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10. Tickets, starting at $46.50, can be purchased at the VBC Box Office or through Ticketmaster. 


Huntsville Comic Convention

The 2018 Huntsville Comic Convention is set for March 30-31 at Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment, 2211 Seminole Drive SW. Comic book lovers and gamers can buy pop culture merchandise, play games and tournaments, sit in on panel discussions, see performances and find unique areas for photo opportunities scattered around the historic mill. The whole facility will be open so visitors can stop in to see artists at work in their studios. The convention is a joint effort of Lowe Mill A&E and SuperPowered Studios. This event is separate from the Huntsville Comic & Pop Culture Expo set for Feb. 24-25 at the Von Braun Center. 

Biergarten at Space & Rocket Center

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center brings back the weekly German Biergarten March 15, 2018. This family-friendly event serves up authentic German fare alongside the Saturn V rocket in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. each Thursday through October. Admission is free, while food and beverages, including beer and German wines, are available for purchase. Get a whole meal with dessert, or appetizers such as pretzels and cheese dip. Each week there will be a live band, and a portion of sales will be donated a nonprofit organization. Leashed dogs are permitted for those who choose to take their dinner out to the Apollo Terrace or Apollo Courtyard (service dogs are allowed indoors). The Space & Rocket Center is at 1 Tranquility Base. 

Panoply Arts Festival

The annual Panoply Arts Festival covers many bases with its mix of visual art, music, dance, puppetry and theater. Arts Huntsville will present the three-day event the weekend of April 27-29 at Big Spring International Park. Artwork from local schoolchildren is on display, while artisans from around the region sell their handmade wares. Several stages will be set up for local performers in the day and headliners in the evening. There also will be interactive stations and crafts for children. Vendors will sell food and local craft beer and wine. Admission is $10 for one day or a weekend pass for $18. Children 12 and under get in free. 

WhistleStop Weekend and Rocket City BBQ

Got a hankerin’ for barbecue? The WhistleStop Weekend and Rocket City BBQ will quench that craving, whether you want to just eat BBQ or pit your secret recipe against your peers’. There are professional (Kansas City Barbecue Society) and amateur BBQ divisions, a Kids-Q, WhistleStop Wing Thing and People’s Choice categories. Competitors enter their best pork, pork ribs, chicken or brisket dishes. Live music by a variety of bands will lend to atmosphere at the Huntsville Historic Depot, 320 Church St. NW. Festival hours are 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday, May 4; 10 a.m.- 11 p.m. Saturday, May 5. The festival also hosts the Alabama Corn Hole Championship. Visitors can purchase weekend or one-day passes in advance or at the festival. WhistleStop Weekend is a fundraiser for the the EarlyWorks Children’s Museum, Alabama Constitution Village and the Depot.

Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic

What a colorful Memorial Day weekend planned May 26-27 at Point Mallard Park in Decatur, starting with a Hare & Hound Balloon Race at 6 a.m. Saturday, May 26. About 60 balloons attend each year, with flights in morning and afternoon, a balloon glow at dusk and tethered balloon rides. In addition, the schedule includes the Decatur Arts Guild Arts and Crafts Show, antique tractors and tractor games, the Alabama Jubilee Auto Expo, demonstrations by ice skaters and a karate school, concessions and retail booths. A fireworks display caps off the weekend at 9:30 p.m. Sunday. The park is at 2901 Point Mallard Drive in Decatur. 

Olympic-style Alabama State Games

Drawing competitors from around Alabama (and Tennessee), the Alabama State Games will bring Olympic-style competition to the Rocket City, complete with opening ceremonies. From June 8-10, more than 6,000 athletes are expected to participate in at least 25 sports, from archery to wrestling. Opening ceremonies will be held at the Von Braun Center while the sporting events will be held around town, such as swimming at the Natatorium. The games will be held here two consecutive years. The games are organized by the ASF Foundation. 

Monte Sano Art Festival

Just in time to start holiday shopping, the Monte Sano Art Festival will bring around 140 artists from around the region to the state park Sept. 15-16. Wares include painting, metalwork, textiles, pottery, glasswork, fiber arts, jewelry, woodworking and much more. Local food trucks and musicians will be scattered around the venue. Arts Huntsville organizes this festival, with hours 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free, but there is a $5 parking fee that benefits the state park. Get there early as the car line grows along Monte Sano Boulevard. 

Madison Street Festival

Every year, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on the first Saturday in October, the streets of historic downtown Madison fill with the vibe of the community for the Madison Street Festival. At 9 a.m., a colorful parade with floats and marching bands kicks off the day, which includes a car show, Artist Alley, a children’s area, entertainment expo, arts and crafts for sale, food trucks, and booths showcasing organizations in the Madison and Huntsville area. In 2018, the festival will be Oct. 6. Free shuttles run from nearby parking areas, Madison City Schools Football Stadium and Crosspointe Church. ​

Ride a Train with Santa 

For two weekends in December, the North Alabama Railroad Museum invites families to ride the rails with Santa aboard the North Star Limited. The evening excursions last about 45 minutes, allowing all children – dress code: pajamas! – to talk with Santa and receive a gift. There will be snacks for everyone. The cost in 2017 was $35 per person. The museum is at 694 Chase Road NE, Huntsville. ​

By: Deborah Bennick

Deborah Bennick is a freelance writer and editor in Huntsville whose journalism career spans 25 years in four states. She enjoys cooking, reading, volunteering, outdoor activities, watching her kids play sports and being involved with education.


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