MLK Day Atlanta, Martin Luther King Day in Atlanta, things to do on MLK Day
The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lives on in Atlanta, the city in which the famous minister and scholar led the American Civil Rights Movement.
There is no shortage of things to do on MLK Day, which is Monday, January 16, 2023, or over the holiday weekend.
We invite you to celebrate Dr. King’s memory through one of these activities or events.
You can also check our full events calendar for January 16th, but remember that some activities, like those hosted by the King Center, will start the week before the Monday holiday.
At the bottom of the post, you’ll find a calendar listing of general activities taking place over the MLK Day holiday weekend — including ice skating, drive-in movies, and more.
During this time of frequent cancellations, please verify that an event is actually happening as planned, before you head out.
Things to do over the MLK Day weekend
This list will continue to grow as we get closer to the date.
Pick up a FREE kids’ craft kit at Dekalb Libraries
Each month, select branches of the Dekalb County Library offer Take & Make kits for children age 5 to 10. You can just swing by the designated branch and ask for your craft kit at the circulation desk.
Here’s what’s available this January, in honor of MLK Day, at the Hairston Crossing Library (4911 Redan Rd. in Stone Mountain):
Dove of Peace craft kit —Pick up any day through Jan. 14th
MLK Flipbook craft kit — Pick up any day from Jan. 17th through 31st
(Remember, the library is closed on Sundays)
Volunteer for an MLK Day of Service Project
Did you know that MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service?
If you want to volunteer for a project, you can find an MLK Day of Service project at this clearinghouse site. Just check the box for “MLK Day” and enter your zip code in the green box. You an also specify how many miles outward you want to search.
Examples of service projects include cleaning up a park, delivering meals, planting flowers, painting murals, and more.
There is a very long list of MLK Day service activities on the Hands on Atlanta site, ranging from Jan. 13th to 17th.
Want to focus your efforts on your immediate community?
You can find MLK Day service projects through community newsletters, municipal websites, Facebook groups, etc. Most of the city calendars we look at regularly include service projects. And if you have a favorite park or non-profit organization, check its website or social media pages to see if there’s a scheduled Day of Service this year.
Cheer on a parade in Dekalb
Monday, Jan. 16, 2023
FREE & open to the public
The NAACP DeKalb Branch will observe the MLK Holiday with a parade. The theme is “Marching to the Sounds of Justice.” The procession will launch from the Green Pastures Christian Ministries (5455 Flat Shoals Pkwy, Decatur) and march to MLK High School (3991 Snapfinger Rd., Lithonia). This is about a 2 mile route down Snapfinger Rd.
More info here
Join the FREE celebration in Cobb County
Monday, Jan. 16, 2023
10 a.m. to noon
County leaders and the local branch of the NAACP host this annual celebration. It is FREE and open to the public. The celebration takes place at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre at the Cobb Civic Center. It includes music, dance, spoken word, and other performances — as well as the presentation of a local service award.
See a performance of Dear Dr. King at the Woodruff Arts Center
Monday, January 16, 2023
FREE with advance reservation
This annual tradition is back for the first time since the pandemic began. Each MLK Day, young artists from the Palefsky Collision Project reconvene to put on this performance, based on letters to Dr. King. It takes place in the Rich Theatre, at the Woodruff Arts Center.
Reserve tickets here
Join a FREE community run
Saturday, January 14, 2023
9 to 11 a.m.
The Atlanta Track Club sponsors this annual community run — there is no registration fee. The 6-mile run starts at John Howell Memorial Park (869 Virginia Ave), heads to the King Center, and returns to the starting point. Bagels and coffee will be served afterward.
Enjoy FREE admission at the Marietta History Center
NOT YET CONFIRMED FOR 2023
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There are four galleries presenting local history, plus a special film that features never-before-seen images.
The History Center is located at:
1 Depot Street
Marietta, GA 30060
more info here
Explore the Center for Civil and Human Rights
This museum shows, through exhibits, how the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s-1960s connects with the global human rights movements of today. It is operating during limited hours, and you must purchase a timed ticket for entry — about $20.
The permanent galleries are open including, including the exhibit “Fragments,” which is a stunning illuminated sculpture of King’s handwriting and phrases. Another exhibit, “Rolls Down Like Water,” immerses visitors in sights, sounds, and interactive displays depicting the courage of civil rights activists.
There is usually special programming scheduled for the MLK Day weekend.
Visit the APEX Museum
Open Tuesday thru Saturday
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The APEX Museum is currently requiring visitors to reserve a timed ticket online in advance. For $8 to $12, you can browse museum galleries that celebrate black heritage. Exhibits include Sweet Auburn, Women in STEM, The Georgia Negro, and more. The mission of the African-American Panoramic Experience (APEX) Museum is to accurately interpret and present history from an African-American perspective.
The APEX Museum is located at 135 Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta.
Explore MLK’s legacy at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta
MLK Day Celebration
Jan. 14th – 16th, 2023
Enjoy scheduled activities that celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Learn about Dr. King’s life and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on stage, then explore his legacy through activities in the Creativity Café, and work on a collaborative mural.
Head to the Atlanta History Center
Jan. 16, 2023
1o a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tour the Martin Luther King Birth Home & Visitor Center
After a long hiatus due to Covid, the FREE tours are back, although they’ve been modified for safety. The tours are now limited to groups of ten people and will limit time indoors to just ten minutes of the 30-minute tour.
It can be tricky to get a spot on this 30-minute, ranger-led tour of the home where MLK spent the first 12 years of his life. The tour slots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the tour. There are no advance reservations. The first tour is at 10 a.m. and the last tour of the day begins at 4 p.m.
Your best bet for getting a tour spot? Arrive early in the day, sign up for an empty time slot, and be prepared to wait several hours — you can spend the time visiting the other MLK attractions and historic landmarks nearby.
Pay your respects at the Crypt
While many of the buildings remain closed, visitors can still stop by the tomb of Reverend and Mrs. King, with its eternal flame — a symbol of the continuing effort to realize the dream.
The MLK World Peace Rose Garden is also open, although there’s not much in bloom in January.
Attend a service at Ebenezer Baptist Church
Besides the usual Sunday church services, there is usually a Martin Luther King Day Annual Commemorative Service.
Sunday services are held in person each week at 9 and streamed live at 11 a.m. via Facebook Live, the church YouTube Channel, and the Ebenezer Baptist website. You must be fully vaccinated to attend an in-person service.
Pop into a National Park
Visit a National Park for FREE on MLK Day.
For a list of the best National Parks closest to Atlanta, click here.
Run the MLK Day 5K
Let Freedom Run — this race is famous for the 3-mile drumline all along the course. There is a new location this year — the race starts at the First Baptist Church of Doraville (5935 New Peachtree Road, Doraville, Ga 30340), which is just across from the Doraville MARTA Station.
Come early for the music, beginning at 8 a.m. The run starts at 9 a.m.
Register online, for $35.
Enjoy an Art & Film Celebration in Sandy Springs
January 16, 2023
1 to 6 p.m.
The city of Sandy Springs is hosting a family-friendly event at its City Springs complex. It features interactive art projects and a movie. Our Friend, Martin is an animated children’s film about Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement. The movie plot follows two young friends who travel back in time to meet Dr. King. Screenings at 1:15 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. More info
Kids will be able to complete art and crafts projects throughout the day. There will also be games and storytime.
While the event and parking are FREE, reservations are encouraged.
Head to Henry County for a parade!
NO info yet for 2023 — please check back for details on this annual event.
Enjoy Gwinnett County’s MLK Day Parade
January, 16, 2023
The parade begins at the Gwinnett Justice Center in downtown Lawrenceville.
Details and route map here
Attend Brookhaven’s MLK Day Celebration
January 16, 2023
5 to 7 p.m.
Brookhaven will host its seventh annual MLK Day Dinner and Program.
This year it takes place at the Lynwood Recreation Center.
Tickets are $10 per person.
Other activities and events happening over MLK Day weekend:
Thursday, January 13, 2022
Friday, January 14, 2022
Saturday, January 15, 2022
Sunday, January 16, 2022
Stone Mountain Park
Jennie T Anderson Theater
Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center
Lynwood Park Community Center (Brookhaven)
Hairston Crossing Library (Stone Mountain)