Summer is quickly approaching, which means in Hattiesburg, it’s that time of the year for FestivalSouth. The highly acclaimed arts celebration returns this weekend and will continue throughout the month of June.
From its humble beginnings, FestivalSouth has become the largest project of the Hattiesburg Concert Association and brings a multitude of only the best “arts-related entertainment that aims to transcend social, cultural, and economic lines.”
“The idea for FestivalSouth was born during a conversation on a driveway in 2009, and one year later, the first two-week FestivalMusic series began,” Rachel Ciraldo of the Hattiesburg Concert Association explained. “Since then, it has grown into four full fantastic weekends featuring music, theater, art, dance, and so much more.”
The first week of the festival focuses on the family with Forrest General Hospital and Hancock Whitney Bank proudly inviting the public to a showing of “the most enchanted musical of all time” in Beauty and the Beast. The Disney stage classic will run from May 30-June 3 at the Mannoni Performing Arts Center on the campus of Southern Miss.
FestivalArt, a portion of the ever-expanding FestivalSouth, will provide opportunity for individuals to spread their creative wings by showcasing the talents of artists and artisans around the world. To help everyone explore their artistic side, Artie Events for Families will feature daytime educational events at St. Fabian Catholic Church on June 3 and 4.
Moving over to FestivalDance, this part of the celebration will include world-class dance events, free dance classes, and so much more. According to Ciraldo, these events will be “committed to the art of movement and showcasing different styles and genres of movements from around the world.”
The second weekend (June 9-10) will bring focus to the music scene, featuring chamber music experiences in “American Landscape” and “Red, White, and Bourbon” at the Hattiesburg Train Depot. Ciraldo, flute, and Theresa Sanchez, piano, will be joined by special guest conductor, Jay Dean, on a program including a quintet by Arthur Foote, “Appalachian Spring” by Aaron Copland, and “American Canvas” for flute, cello, and piano by Pulitzer Prize and three-time Grammy Award-winner Jennifer Higdon. The event will also feature a wine and Bourbon pairing option.
Festival activities will then coincide with Juneteenth celebrations and just in time for Father’s Day weekend too. Plenty of great music, golf, and libations are to be enjoyed followed by a one-night-only performance by Matt Maeson, who’s coming off showings at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Forecastle. Maeston will take the stage on June 17 at the Hattiesburg Saenger Theatre.
That weekend will also include a ton of musical fun in iconic performances of some of Broadway’s classics, including songs from “Les Miserables,” “Hamilton,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” and so many more. You’ll be treated to music from Ella Fitzgerald to Beethoven, Celtic to Jazz, and a wide variety of musical talents that will keep your soul singing and dancing all summer long.
FestivalSouth is a time to celebrate the cultural, artistic, and historical elements that bring so much enjoyment to life in the Pine Belt.
“If you have never attended FestivalSouth, choose an event and don’t be afraid to hear, see, and feel the arts,” Ciraldo said. “The arts are for everyone! Come as you are, bring a friend or two, and be ready to experience the depth of talent we have here in Hattiesburg.”
To learn more about FestivalSouth 2023 or to find a full schedule of events, click here.