Fall Guide - Up and autumn

10 reasons why Atlanta is the place to be this season

The excitement turns with the colors of the leaves in North Georgia, because the fall automatically means limitless options for everyone to enjoy. Sports, music, the arts, festivals, the outdoors ... you name it. Atlanta has it.


The fall's biggest theatrical event, both in terms of local bragging rights and sheer showbiz spectacle, is the Alliance Theatre's world-premiere musical The Women of Brewster Place (Sept. 5-30). Rising playwright Tim Acito writes the book, music and lyrics in this adaptation of the beloved, award-winning novel by Gloria Naylor (which was made into a 1989 TV movie with Oprah Winfrey and Cicely Tyson). Expect roof-raising vocals and song styles ranging from funk to gospel to R&B in this tale of a group of women who find sisterhood while living at the same impoverished housing block. The cast includes Marva Hicks and Atlanta actor Terry Burrell. $25-$35. Showtimes vary, Wed.-Sun., through Sept. 30. Alliance Stage, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-5000. www.alliancetheatre.org.



For much of the past four decades, the collected work of Stevland Morris – particularly his '70s masterpieces such as Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life – has served as a template for urban soul music. But the man himself has been relatively silent of late: 2005's A Time to Love is the only Wonder album to emerge this decade. Meanwhile, there hasn't been a full-fledged tour – apart from benefit concerts, festival and TV appearances – since 1995, when he promoted his album Conversation Peace. This makes his upcoming "A Wonder's Summer Night" something of an event, and a chance for a new generation of fans to experience one of the greatest musical talents in pop history. $58-$128. 8 p.m. Fri., Sept. 14. Chastain Park Amphitheater, Stella Drive and Pool Road. 404-233-2227. www.classicchastain.com.



There are few major metropolitan areas that provide the kind of range of football Atlanta does, and we're not just talking about prep football or Georgia Tech, which opens at home against Samford this Saturday, Sept. 8; or even the Falcons, who host their home opener Sept. 23, against the Carolina Panthers. Perhaps the biggest event for fall football comes Sept. 29, when the city serves as the neutral site for the annual Atlanta Football Classic matchup between the Florida A&M Rattlers and the Tennessee State Tigers. While the football action has been sweet – FAMU has won the last three meetings in the fourth quarter – the halftime battle of the bands is why half the fans come. $15-$40. 3 p.m. Georgia Dome, 1 Georgia Dome Drive. www.atlantafootballclassic.com.



Many Atlanta singles ponder the puzzles of dating. But modern dating games pale in comparison with those in Turandot. The Atlanta Opera opens its new season in the recently completed Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre with Puccini's last opera, the classic tale of a Chinese princess who asks her royal suitors to solve three riddles or face beheading. Don't miss the memorable aria "Nessun Dorma." Arthur Fagen conducts. Opening performance Sept. 29, 6:30 p.m.; Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 5, 8 p.m.; Oct. 7, 3 p.m. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway. 404-881-8801. www.atlantaopera.org.



Stronger than ever in its ninth year, one of the city's key fall events shows Atlanta's emergence as a photography hotbed. Highlights of this year's monthlong ACP are a High Museum lecture by England's Sam Taylor-Wood, whose images of famous Crying Men (Larry Fishburne, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law) will be featured at Jackson Fine Art from Sept. 14-Oct. 27. Also, Jason Fulford has conceived a subversive take on this year's public art component with Paper Placemats, featuring artists' work gracing restaurant lunch tables across the city. Various locations. 404-634-8664. www.acpinfo.org.



You are what you eat, or so the Field of Greens organizers believe. The all-day festival benefits Georgia Organics and touts, "Grow it and they will come." Held not on a baseball field but on an organic farm in nearby Walnut Grove, you can stay chemical-free as you listen to live music and eat, drink and be merry. Attend cooking demonstrations and even shop an organic market without going to an expensive food chain. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Whippoorwhill Hollow Organic Farm, Walnut Grove. www.fieldofgreensgeorgia.org.


OUT ON FILM (OCT. 11-18)

Produced by IMAGE Film & Video, the Out on Film festival celebrates its 20th year, making it the longest-running LGBT film festival in the nation. The festival includes work by numerous independent writers and directors. Last year's festival included more than 40 screenings, and parties that lasted until the wee morning. Times vary. Plaza Theatre. 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. www.outonfilm.com.




One of the most promising additions to the fall-festival season has to be the Echo Project. This Woodstockian event allows everyone to become one with nature and experience art and music, all while getting high on the feeling that you are aiding Mother Earth. The all-star lineup includes the Killers, Phil Lesh & Friends, the Flaming Lips and the Disco Biscuits. If you're feeling philanthropic – or like an urban superhero – join them for a Chattahoochee River cleanup before the festival begins. It is a camping event, so bring a tent and be prepared to get your hair greasy, your feet dirty and your freak nasty. $155.50-$200. Bouckaert Farm, Berry Bennett Road, Chatsworth. www.the-echoproject.com.

– Selena Lawson


It seems fitting that George Carlin came in second to Richard Pryor in Comedy Central's ranking of the greatest comedians of all time. Both perfectly understand the complexities of language and their impact on our culture. Carlin, whose use of profanity was at the heart of a U.S. Supreme Court case, went beyond language and remains one of the few comedians to take a sophisticated and hilarious approach toward religion. Having hopefully side-stepped recent health scares (including rehab for various addictions), the 70-year-old legend is back on the road. $42-$45. 8 p.m. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. 404-881-2100. www.foxtheatre.org.



How much younger could the Hawks get? A lot younger, as this summer's NBA Draft proved when the team decided to keep both its lottery picks and selected power forward Al Horford and point guard Acie Law. They'll join fellow young shavers Josh Childress, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith and Shelden Williams to form one of the least-experienced lineups in the NBA. One thing is certain: With the return of Joe Johnson, this season opener against the Dallas Mavericks won't be dull. Ticket prices vary. Philips Arena, 1 Philips Drive. 866-715-1500. www.nba.com/hawks.



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