Columbus Readies for 74th Pilgrimage

COLUMBUS, Miss. — The arrival of spring heralds the return of warmer weather, beautiful floral blooms, and Columbus’ premier event, the annual Spring Pilgrimage. This year’s celebration takes place over an unprecedented 16 days – from March 28 – April 12 – and will feature tours of resplendent antebellum mansions, gardens and churches as well as recreated activities of the 1800s and exquisite period costumes, inspiring events, heart-pumping races and culinary delights.

“Initiated in 1940 and now in its 74th year, the Columbus Spring Pilgrimage has been recognized as one of the best and most authentic home tours in the South and has repeatedly been named a ‘Top 20 Event in the Southeast,’” said Nancy Carpenter, Executive Director of the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are proud to welcome thousands of local, national and international guests to experience our exemplary historic home tours and unparalleled hospitality.”

In addition to tours of 11 beautiful homes, two churches and gardens, the Columbus Spring Pilgrimage will feature traditional programs and activities, including a garden party, carriage rides, and Tales From the Crypt as well as new favorites, such as a Half Marathon Race and 5K Run and a presentation by internationally-renowned floral design artist Hitomi Gilliam from Vancouver, British Columbia.

New to Pilgrimage this year, but not new to Columbus, is the popular “Catfish in the Alley©” event, which returns on March 29. This event – named ‘Editors’ Choice’ by Garden and Gun Magazine – features a day of fun for the whole family, including a catfish cook-off, vendors, fabulous food, cold beverages and some of the best blues musicians in the South, including the Terry “Harmonica” Bean One-man Band from Pontotoc, Mickey Rogers and the Mickey Rogers Band from Greenville, and Grady Champion and his Blues Band from Canton. All of the musicians have performed throughout Mississippi, the South and in several European countries.

In addition, audiences will enjoy “A Sweet Strangeness Thrills My Heart: The Story of Sallie Independence Foster, 1861 – 1887” presented by storyteller Dolores Hydock and musician Bobby Horton on March 30 at the Rosenzweig Arts Center. This program follows Sallie Independence Foster, a 12-year-old girl living in Florence, Alabama when the Civil War began and paints a picture of a child’s innocent world colliding with the reality of war.

The Spring Pilgrimage will also feature a special book-signing event at the Tennessee Williams Home and Welcome Center on April 5. Guests will have the opportunity to meet local authors Michael Smith, author of Rivers; Deborah Johnson, author of The Secret of Magic; and Rufus Ward, author of several books about our local history, including Columbus Chronicles. The event will also feature the authors conducting readings of their works, as well as an opportunity to speak with them personally. Complimentary refreshments will be served and signed copies of books will be available for purchase.

Whether you’re interested in architecture, history, the arts, culinary traditions – or all of the above, Pilgrimage has something for everyone! View a complete listing of special events below.


Special Floral Design Presentation by Hitomi Gilliam

Friday, March 28 / 2 pm

Presentation by internationally renowned floral design artist ($10 admission)

Trotter Convention Center

Co-sponsored by Mississippi State University

Catfish in the Alley ©

Saturday, March 29 / 10 am – 8 pm

Enjoy a catfish cook-off and live blues music in Columbus’ historic Catfish Alley

Catfish Alley, downtown Columbus

Garden Party

Saturday, March 29 / 3 – 5 pm

Stroll through Colonnade Garden with mint juleps and cheese straws ($10 admission)

Colonnade Garden, 620 Second Street South

National Storyteller

Sunday, March 30 / 2 pm

Storyteller Dolores Hydock and musician Bobby Horton present “A Sweet Strangeness Thrills My Heart: The Story of Sallie Independence Foster, 1861 – 1887”

Omnova Theater, Rosenzweig Arts Center

Kickoff Party

Monday, March 31 / 5 – 8 pm

Crawfish and shrimp boil, live music

Tennessee Williams Home Lawn, 300 Main Street

Tales from the Crypt

April 2, 4, 7, 9, 11 / 7 – 10 pm

Graveyard tour that re-creates the lives of noted personalities interred at the historic cemetery

Friendship Cemetery

Carriage Rides

April 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 / 9 am – until

Wings Over Columbus Air Show

April 5-6 / 10 am – 5 pm

Two-day air show featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds

Columbus Air Force Base

Artisans Alley

Saturday, April 5 / 9 am – 2 pm

Handcrafted period articles and homemade food items

Tennessee Williams Home, 300 Main Street

Book Signing

Saturday, April 5 / 10 am

Meet local authors Michael Smith, Deborah Johnson and Rufus Ward. Autographed copies of books will be available for purchase

Tennessee Williams Home, 300 Main Street

Columbus Girlchoir Kitchen and Home Tours

Saturday, April 5 / 10 am – 1 pm

Tour the kitchens of some of Columbus’ finest homes and enjoy floral designs and complimentary hors d’oeuvres, as well as mini concerts by members of the choir in each home  ($20 admission)

For more information, visit

Half Marathon and 5K Run

Saturday, April 12 / 7 am

Starting at the Tennessee Williams Home, 300 Main Street

Additional information and registration available at

Mayor’s Unity Picnic

Saturday, April 12 / 4 pm

Music, food and fellowship for all! Event is free and open to the public.

Columbus Riverwalk, 117 Moores Creek Road

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