Cheré spent years working as a features editor and writer for newspapers and magazines across the country, including Variety magazine in Hollywood, before turning to writing freelance about food, travel and other lifestyle subjects. Her favorite niche is the South and its people, which is why she also pens the quirky blog, Weird, Wacky and Wild South (WeirdSouth.com). When not scouring the region for stories, she pens novels under the pen name of Cherie Claire, plus non-fiction titles under her own name, including Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana; Exploring Cajun Country and Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History.
Thousands head to Gulf Shores in late spring for the wildly popular Hangout Festival, where those weekenders who hang out on the beach are treated to endless live music, beach sports such as volleyball and roller skating and numerous special events. Visitors to Hangout can even get married!
The pandemic halted this annual spring ritual but the fun returns in a big way May 20-22 on the beach where Hwy. 59 (Gulf Shores Parkway) hits the Gulf of Mexico. Dozens of bands are scheduled to perform over the three-day event, including Post Malone, Fall Out Boy, Halsey, DoJa Cat, Tame Impala and Leon Bridges.
Here’s a breakdown to give you a taste.
In addition to three days of live music on the massive Hangout stage, there’s plenty of attractions to enjoy. A deejay sitting on top of a “Roller Rink Bus” provides tunes for Hangout’s makeshift Roller Rink. Participants can sign up while at the festival, with socks and skates available for renting. If beach volleyball is more your thing, anyone’s allowed to join in on an open play format, no signup necessary. There’s also a Ferris wheel that’s perfect for families and a Hammock Beach for those who might need a nap. The Tropical Spa offers massages and treatments right on the beach but don’t worry, it’s outfitted with plush real grass organizers plant ahead of time.
This may sound dangerous but Hangout visitors may stroll up to the Wedding Chapel and get instantly Hangout Hitched, no formal wear, rings or flowers necessary; costumes, bathing suits — you name it — are usually the norm.
Hangout marriages are not legally binding, however. Organizers advise that for those who are serious about tying the knot to reach out to email@example.com in advance and a wedding coordinator can explain Alabama marriage licenses and the like. If all is in order, the coordinator can schedule these marriages in between performances.
For those who just want to play at marriage, the Wedding Chapel is staffed and open from festival mornings to just after sunset. No reservation required.
The festival features a wide array of food vendors for meals on the beach. For those who’d rather get out of the sun, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach run the gamut for indoor restaurants, many serving up fresh Gulf seafood. Of course, there’s always the Hangout Restaurant, the eating establishment that began the festive weekend. Hangout, the restaurant, offers live music and beach family games as well.
OWA in nearby Foley is known for its theme park and shopping district, but it hosts special events all year, including the spring Legends in Concert in the OWA Theater. Singers pay homage to country music greats Shania Twain, Martina McBride, Garth Brooks and Elvis Presley, the latter performed by Patrick Dunn, the 2021 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist.
Performances are 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays with a 3 p.m. Sunday matinee, through May 29. For more information, visit legendsinconcert.com.