Memphians celebrate their African heritage over a long April weekend in mid-April. Africa in April (901/947-2133, www.africainapril.org ) honors a specific country in Africa each year; activities include cooking, storytelling, music, and a parade. The festival takes place at Church Park on the east end of Beale Street .
Memphis in May (www.memphisinmay.org ), the city’s largest annual event, is really three major festivals rolled into one. The Beale Street Music Festival, which takes place at Tom Lee Park  on the river during the first weekend of May, kicks things off with a celebration of Memphis music. Expect a lot of wow performers, plus many more up-and-coming talents.
The festival has grown over the years, and it is now a three-day event with four stages of music going simultaneously. In addition to music, the festival offers excellent people-watching, lots of barbecue, cold beer, and festivity. You can buy daily tickets, or a three-day pass for the whole weekend.
In mid-May, attention turns to the World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest, a celebration of pork, pigs, and barbecue that takes place in Tom Lee Park. In addition to the barbecue judging, there is entertainment, hog-calling contests, and other piggy antics. If you’re not part of a competing team (or friends with one) you can buy barbecue from vendors who set up in the park.
Finally, at the end of the month, there is the Memphis International Festival, which pays tribute to a different country each year with presentations about its music, food, culture, and history.
Book your hotel rooms early for Memphis  in May, since many hotels, especially those downtown, fill up.
Founded by African Americans in 1936 as an alternative to the all-white Cotton Carnival, the Kemet Jubilee (www.memphiskemetjubilee.com ) was originally known as the Cotton Makers Jubilee. Today, the highlight of the jubilee, which takes place in May, is the parade of marching bands and costumed troupes that runs along 2nd Street in downtown Memphis .