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What’s New in the Deep South USA 2024 

Year of Alabama Food – A real taste of the South for the foodies 

The Alabama Department of Tourism has officially declared 2024 as the Year of Alabama Food.   

What’s the recipe for the perfect trip in 2024? – Try a food and travel break, following the BBQ trail on Alabama’s smartphone app, which features everything from the Original Alabama White Sauce invented at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur to the special house slaw at Brooks Barbeque in Muscle Shoals. Or, if you prefer a history lesson with a meal, visit Brenda’s Bar-B-Q Pit in west Montgomery. Brenda’s namesake and founder secretly tutored neighbourhood residents to pass the literacy test, which was required for them to register to vote.  

For a change from BBQ, check out Chris’ ​​Famous Hotdogs in Montgomery, whose customers have included everyone from Elvis and Hank Williams to Clark Gable and Franklin D. Roosevelt. And don’t forget the James Beard award-winning restaurants in Birmingham, known as the Dinner Table of the South, and home to Alabama’s oldest restaurant, The Bright Star in Bessemer.  

Tourists are encouraged to bring a hearty appetite and let the 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama be a guide.  

Newest Attractions  

On July 8, 2023, Africatown Heritage House opened, with multisensory exhibits and artifacts from the ship to bring life to the story of the 110 survivors, who demonstrated remarkable optimism and resilience. Visitors will also be able to ​​take a boat tour on the Mobile River and hear stories of the captives who sailed the same waters — but in a very different manner. Today, the National Geographic documentary Clotilda: Last American Slave Ship is out on Disney+, while Netflix has bought the rights to Descendant, which tells the story of the slaves’ descendants. 

Holt Street Baptist Church: What once was the first meeting spot for the Montgomery Improvement Association and where Martin Luther King Jr was voted as president of the MIA in 1951, is now a museum and the newest addition to the Alabama Civil Rights Trail. The MIA was created after Rosa Parks was arrested and the Montgomery Bus Boycott had begun.

Equal Justice Initiative Announces New Freedom Monument Sculpture Park: The Legacy Sites invite visitors to reckon with America’s history of racial injustice in places where that history was lived. Opening early 2024, the new 17-acre Freedom Monument Sculpture Park will bring together history, narrative, large-scale sculptures, contemporary art commissions from many of the greatest living artists, a new National Monument to Freedom honouring enslaved people who were emancipated after the Civil War, and many historic artifacts that together create an immersive, multifaceted examination of America’s history with a focus on slavery and its legacy. The Sculpture Park will join EJI’s award-winning Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice to form the Legacy Sites.

Louisiana

Music is ingrained in the soul of Louisiana. The birthplace of jazz, zydeco, Cajun, and swamp pop, Louisiana has also inspired genres ranging from blues and country to hip-hop, gospel, rap, and rock ‘n’ roll. In 2024, visitors will see a grand celebration of musical genres across the state.  

2024 Year of Music 

Since January 1st, Explore Louisiana has been celebrating its “Year of Music,” putting a special emphasis on this huge part of Louisiana culture. In 2024, Louisiana will also launch its new Louisiana Music Trail. The trail has been crafted to share Louisiana’s musical history through museums, historic locations, performance venues and will also celebrate Louisiana’s artists, including legends throughout the state’s music history. 

The Good Housekeeping Institute named New Orleans a “must see city” for 2024 getaways. Here are a few of the reasons why: 

New Exhibits and Hotels  

Prospect 6 New Orleans is a citywide contemporary art triennial and the first exhibition of its kind in the US with a decade-long history. Every three years, they bring new art to an old city by inviting artists from all over the world to create projects in venues spread throughout New Orleans.  

Caesars is investing in New Orleans properties promising a luxury experience for visitors. Nobu Hotel New Orleans and restaurant are set to open within the Caesars Hotel New Orleans. Caesars is investing $435 million to expand, renovate and rebrand the 450-room Harrah’s Hotel and Casino with the 340-room hotel tower and is expected to be completed by 2024.   

Festivals Galore 

With an extra day added to the festival in 2024, now expanding to 8 days and the news that the Rolling Stones are headlining, attending the New Orleans Heritage & Jazz Festival is established as a leading music festival on the world stage. Jazz Fest is an annual festival celebrating the music, art, culture, and heritage of New Orleans. The Rolling Stones are set to headline Jazz Fest on Thursday, May 2 – the band’s only festival appearance on their 2024 tour.  

In 2024, the Essence Festival of Culture will celebrate its 30th anniversary in New Orleans. Held over the 4th of July weekend at the Caesars Superdome and other venues in the city, this three-day party named for its founder and sponsoring magazine, combines high-octane music performances with inspirational speakers and provocative conversations about gender, race, culture, and art.  

Tennessee

Tennessee promises unique and hands-on experiences in 2024 with new attractions, restaurants, distilleries, hotels, exhibits, iconic anniversaries, and impressive renovations.

Iconic Anniversaries in 2024

2024 marks the Franklin’s 225th anniversary and 10 years of Franklin’s Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival. Franklin also celebrates new additions like the luxury resort Southall Farm & Inn and world-class music venues like FirstBank Amphitheater.

The Tina Turner Museum at West Tennessee Delta Heritage Centre in Brownsville marks its 10th anniversary where visitors can learn about the Queen of Rock through memorabilia, costumes, records and even her high school yearbook.

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, which honours the legendary Bristol Sessions recordings through immersive experiences, celebrates its 10th anniversary.

New Year, New Experiences

Northeast Tennessee – Visitors can escape to the enchanting night skies of Northeast Tennessee along the Tennessee Night Sky Trail, where 9 breath-taking spots await stargazing adventures.

Chattanooga – The River to Clouds Route (RCR) is a new 34-mile trail system connecting Cloudland Canyon State Park to the Chattanooga Riverwalk in St. Elmo perfect for biking, trail running & hiking.

Chattanooga – The newly renovated Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo allows visitors to experience a night inside restored train carriages and blends historic and modern elements to offer an inviting and captivating atmosphere. Inside the property, Elsie’s Daughter is a parlour designed with history in mind and serves up classic cocktails and French-Belgian cuisine with a nod to Appalachia.

Knoxville – Southern Skies Music & Whiskey Festival returns to World’s Fair Park with a brand new TN Whiskey Experience, food trucks, craft beer, wine, specialty cocktails, Maker Market and performances by Old Crow Medicine Show, The Dirty Guv’nah’s and Maggie Rose.

Mississippi

Mississippi has been home to many musical and cultural legends, and in 2025 the State will be commemorating some significant anniversaries.  Further details of key events will be available early in  2024.   

Iconic Birthdays 

September 16, 2025, will mark the 100th Birthday of BB King. Located in the heart of the Delta in Indianola, the B.B. King and Delta Interpretive Centre, through exhibits, tells the story of BB King’s life and music. For visitors travelling through this region, it provides insight into the events of B.B. King’s time, including discussions about civil justice and race relations, and it also explains how King contributed to Mississippi becoming known as “The Birthplace of America’s Music. January 8, 2025, will mark the 90th birthday of Elvis Presley, who was born in Tupelo Mississippi and lived at various locations until he was 13. 

Mississippi Blues Trail 

For an unforgettable journey through blues history in Mississippi, the Mississippi Blues Trail tells the stories of the names and places that shaped the genre and speaks to generations of music lovers with historical landmarks and trails, music festivals, concert venues, and more.  After journeying through the past, dive into the music of the present by visiting one of Mississippi’s many juke joints and blues clubs. Musicians bare their hearts and souls on stages across the state, and there’s nothing quite like listening to authentic blues performers in person.  

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