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Wild Rumpus Will Take Over Downtown This Halloweekend

Credit: Mike White

The Wild Rumpus Parade & Spectacle, one of the city’s largest events of the year, is celebrating 15 years of transforming downtown Athens into a spooky, spoopy wonderland.

Every year a massive crowd flocks to the festival area: the young and old, families and friends, local townies and regional tourists. You’re guaranteed to see a cross section of everything imaginable, including the costumes, which range from store-bought classics to month-long homemade projects or just someone in a black hoodie. Nevertheless, part of the joy of Rumpus is that everyone is welcomed to participate and have a good time. Creator Timi Conley keeps the good times rolling as a centerpiece to the event, and each year he chooses a fun theme. This year’s theme is Twin Laser Kittens II, commemorated by merch available at the festival.

More than just a parade, events connected to the Rumpus will take place over two days this year. Local booking and promotions organization Afterglo has teamed up with Rumpus in an official capacity this year to present Freak Fest ‘23, a kickoff party on Friday, Oct. 27 at Creature Comforts Brewery. Between 5–10 p.m. there will be live music, art and food vendors, spooky DIY activities and a costume contest. If parades aren’t your thing, it’s the perfect excuse to wear a costume out and take in the Halloween spirit on a smaller scale. However, if you’re that person who looks forward to the parade all year, here’s another opportunity to just extend the party and make a full weekend out of it.

The main event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28 with a pre-parade Rumpus Rally from 5–8 p.m. at Creature Comforts, hyping the masses to begin their parade march at 8 p.m. sharp. At the Rally, enjoy some live music entertainment and a chance to mingle with other creatures of the night. The parade route will start on West Hancock Avenue adjacent to Creature Comforts, winding its way through the downtown streets before ending on W. Washington Street. Local musicians will be set up along the parade route to boost morale. Then the spectacle begins—there will be multiple stages featuring live music, community groups and other entertainment in addition to fire performers, trapeze and pole performers, installations and more.

Rumpus has you covered if you’re prepared to party all night. When the street dance party and main stage close at 11 p.m., the Royal Rumpus Ball will begin at Paloma Park as the official after party. Live music entertainment will keep the party raging until 2 a.m.

Open container festival zones have become popular fixtures in recent years at downtown festivals, and the open container zone will return to Rumpus between the hours of 3 pm.–1 a.m. The festival zone will be marked by barricades, and drinking alcohol on the streets outside of the designated zone is still illegal. Wristbands are required to participate in the outdoor drinking, and they can be purchased for $5 at Creature Comforts, Paloma Park, Ted’s Most Best, Rook & Pawn and Trappeze Pub.

Although the kick-off party, parade, spectacle and after party are all free to attend, this year’s Rumpus is fundraising for Books for Keeps, a nonprofit organization that provides free books to local youth. There is an online auction that closes Oct. 27 at 10 p.m. with proceeds benefitting the nonprofit. The auction items vary greatly, but up for grabs this year is a Washburn HB-35 guitar signed by the members of Widespread Panic.

Mike White

The event continues to grow and evolve as one of Athens’ true landmark events. Over the past 15 years, the festival has become a seasonal highlight not just within Athens but within the region. It’s a beacon of creativity and whimsical fun that illuminates the quirkiness of the local culture and the people who make it unique. Just as the need to support local businesses becomes increasingly pressing in the current economic climate, so does the need to support local events and festivals. Of all the ways you can show up for your community, putting on a costume and dancing the night away has to be one of the most entertaining.

For more information about the individual events, fundraising mission and more, visit

Freak Fest ‘23 Kick-Off Party Friday, Oct. 27, 5–10 p.m. (Creature Comforts Brewery): Trvy & The Enemy, Telemarket, Molly Tu Hott, Motorhead2x and Regalis (DJ Izzy)

Rumpus Rally Saturday, Oct. 28, 5–8 p.m. (Creature Comforts Brewery): Immaterial Possession, Bichos Vivos and DJ Tomb Lily (Adria Stembridge)

Wild Rumpus Parade Saturday, Oct. 28, 8 p.m. (Downtown Athens): High Falootin’ Scallywags Drum Brigade, Nightshade Family with Dado and Ellwin, BlackNerdNinja with L.G. (HOTC) and friends, Evergreen, Gerald & the Dragon, White Rabbit Collective, Way Past Cool, Curbside Pickups, Wyld Staleyz, Like Totally!, JiiG and djbobfish, Kxng Blanco, Ant Da Ripper, Wix Patton and Simba The Ripper

Rumpusland Livewire Stage Saturday, Oct. 28, 8–11 p.m.: DJ Karezza, Belli Dance Company, League of Step, Athens Burn Consortium, Tonalli and Classic City Wrestling

Rumpusland Main Stage Saturday, Oct. 28, 8–11 p.m.: DJ Reindeer Games, The Booty Boyz and Canopy Studios
Royal Rumpus Ball Saturday, Oct. 28, 11 p.m.–2 a.m. (Paloma Park): Classic City Jukebox and The Asymptomatics