22 Popular Festivals In North Carolina, USA

festivals in nc
| 9 min read

Located in the southeastern part of the USA, North Carolina is bordered by South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Virginia to the north, Tennessee to the west, and stretches along the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The state is known for the city of Lexington, a place that has been dubbed the “Barbecue Capital of the World”. Another claim to fame is that the 20 largest emeralds in the US were found in this state. The oldest State University in the country is the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Kill Devil Hill in Kitty Hawk is famous for the first powered flight achieved by the Wright brothers in 1903. As for accommodations, visitors can choose one of the top Airbnb vacation rentals, cozy cabins with a pool, and resorts in North Carolina. This place also hosts a number of events every year. Scroll below to read up on some of the most popular festivals in North Carolina, USA.

1. Rogallo Kite Festival

Rogallo Kite Festival is held each year in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in honor of Francis Rogallo, a NASA scientist who invented the flexible wing. Rogallo’s first invention sparked the sport of hang gliding, and his designs have been used in power kites, stunt kites, and hang gliders. The event is hosted by Kitty Hawk Kites and involves 30-100-ft (9-30-m) kites flown from the top of Jockey’s Ridge every June. Everyone is welcome to fly their own kites, participate in free stunt kite lessons, and try their hand at kite making.

Rogallo Kite Festival

Address: Jockey’s Ridge, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA

Takes place: June

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2. North Carolina Azalea Festival

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Wilmington celebrates North Caroline Azalea Festival each year, and it is the largest of its kind in the state. The festival started in 1948 and runs each April to welcome spring’s natural beauty with festive galas, musical and theatrical entertainment, and fun family events. One event planned is Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA, performed by the Thalian Association Community Theater. The finale of this event will be held at Bluewater Grill, and it will feature their Waterfront Music Series with a patio party to end the event.

North Carolina Azalea Festival

Address: 5725 Oleander Dr B7, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA

Website: North Carolina Azalea Festival

Takes place: April

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3. LEAF Festival

Posted by LEAF Community Arts on Sunday, 10 November 2019

Run by LEAF Community Arts, LEAF Festival is held each spring and fall and has been running since 1995. LEAF is an acronym for “Lake Eden Arts Festival”, and the event is held in Black Mountain, North Carolina. This is said to be one of the best cultural festivals in the southeast, and it covers many exciting aspects, including local and international music, dancing, drum circles, handicrafts, cuisine, outdoor adventures, ziplining, and canoeing.

LEAF Festival

Address: Black Mountain, North Carolina, USA

Website: LEAF Festival

Takes place: October

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4. North Carolina Jazz Festival

Posted by North Carolina Jazz Festival on Wednesday, 27 February 2019

The 40th North Carolina Jazz Festival will be held in January 2020 in Wilmington. All the concerts start at 7:30 pm in the ballroom at Hotel Ballast, one of the nicest hotels in North Carolina. Thursday, January 23 will see a special event called Styles of Jazz. Friday and Saturday evening will feature 15 jazz musicians. They will play nearly five-hour concerts in traditional sets of six or seven players. A brunch will be held on Saturday morning, starting at 10:30 am, and the event will wrap up with a jam session in the afternoon.

North Carolina Jazz Festival

Address: Hotel Ballast, 301 N Water St, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA

Website: North Carolina Jazz Festival

Takes place: February

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5. Barbecue Festival


Posted by The Barbecue Festival on Tuesday, 25 July 2017

This annual, one-day festival includes food, live music, and plenty of fun for the whole family. Lexington considers itself the “Barbecue Capital of the World”, and this event attracts tens of thousands of visitors to sample food from as many as 20 local restaurants in North Carolina. There will also be stalls selling all kinds of arts and crafts for you to take home. Lexington was ranked number four on a list of best cities for barbecue by US News and World Report.

Barbecue Festival

Address: 1 North Main Street, Lexington, North Carolina, USA

Website: Barbecue Festival

Takes place: October

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6. Biltmore Festival of Flowers

Biltmore Estate 5
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Biltmore Estate offers visitors the chance to celebrate spring by viewing a beautiful array of colorful blooms all over the property. The magic continues indoors, with a stunning display of tropical plants and flowers. In the gardens, see thousands of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils in full bloom. The admission fee includes entry to the Antler Hill Village, winery, farm and barnyard, restaurants, and gift shops.

Biltmore Festival of Flowers

Address: 1 Lodge Street, Asheville, North Carolina, USA

Website: Biltmore Festival of Flowers

Takes place: April to May

Price: from 25 USD

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7. Woolly Worm Festival

Held in the beautiful small town of Banner Elk, North Carolina, the Annual Woolly Worm Festival offers visitors the chance to purchase handcrafted wares, Christmas gifts and decorations, jewelry, and more. Inflatable rides are available for the children, as well as live music and dance teams. On Saturday morning, the “Woolly Worm Wace” is held, so expect loads of fun.

Woolly Worm Festival

Address: Historic Banner Elk Elementary School, 185 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, North Carolina, USA

Website: Woolly Worm Festival

Takes place: October

Price: 4 - 6 USD

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8. Fayetteville Dogwood Festival

Fayetteville Dogwood Festival is a four-day event held in Festival Park over the last weekend of April each year. It features food vendors, a carnival, live musical entertainment, and inflatable play areas for the kids. The concert series begins on Friday night. A number of vendors selling arts and crafts, food, and commercial products will set up on Saturday. There is also a car show to enjoy, and plenty of fun for the whole family.

Fayetteville Dogwood Festival

Address: Festival Park, 535 Ray Avenue, Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA

Website: Fayetteville Dogwood Festival

Takes place: April

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9. Seagrove Pottery Festival Weekend [Last event in 2019]

Posted by Seagrove Pottery Festival on Friday, 28 August 2015

Seagrove Pottery Festival Weekend was first held in 1982 and has been running each year ever since. Visitors can enjoy the work of 120 of the area’s finest potters, with pieces that come in different styles and in gorgeous colors, as well as the work of those from Seagrove’s colonial cottage industry. The event will also feature educational activities, local food, and craft demonstrations.

Seagrove Pottery Festival Weekend

Address: Seagrove Elementary School, 528 Old Plank Road, Seagrove, North Carolina, USA

Website: Seagrove Pottery Festival Weekend

Takes place: November

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10. North Carolina Pickle Festival

festivals in nc | north carolina pickle festival
Source: instagram

The event begins on Friday night with live music performances. On Saturday, visitors can explore the streets of Downtown Mount Olive to sample delicious pickles, see a car show, watch BMX bike stunts, and more. Enjoy some local brew in the beer garden and listen to the live music that is played on the main festival stage. Lots of entertainment is provided, including competitions where visitors can win cases or jars of pickles to take home.

North Carolina Pickle Festival

Address: 123 N Center St, Mt Olive, North Carolina, USA

Website: North Carolina Pickle Festival

Takes place: April

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11. Biltmore Estate Christmas

The Gatehouse
Source: Photo by user anoldent used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Visit Biltmore Estate during the day to enjoy the scent of evergreens and beautiful holiday decor, including garlands, wreaths, and thousands of ornaments sparkling on over 55 Christmas trees. Visitors can explore the conservatory with its beautiful and colorful holiday blooms, or enjoy a commemorative glass of Christmas wine at the winery and dine at the on-site restaurant. Another must-see is Antler Hill Village with its evening lights display.

Biltmore Estate Christmas

Address: 1 Lodge Street, Asheville, North Carolina, USA

Website: Biltmore Estate Christmas

Takes place: November to January

Price: from 69 USD

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12. North Carolina Seafood Festival

North Carolina Seafood Festival is held in Morehead each year on the first weekend of October. The festival draws more than 200,000 visitors to the city. It will feature live music concerts by local musicians, plenty of seafood to eat and local brews to drink, as well as a number of family-friendly activities and things to do. Chef cooking demonstrations are held so visitors can learn about the best way to cook seafood and to sample the food. Road races, sailing regattas, and pier fishing tournaments are held alongside the annual Southern Outer Banks Boat Show.

North Carolina Seafood Festival

Address: 412 Evans St, Morehead City, North Carolina, USA

Website: North Carolina Seafood Festival

Takes place: Usually held in October

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13. Folkmoot International Festival

2008 Folkmoot 1
Source: Photo by user anoldent used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Folkmoot is held in Waynesville, North Carolina on the third Thursday of July each year, and it runs until the last Sunday of the month. It is a festival offering enjoyable concerts in the performance center. Groups include local Appalachian and Cherokee performers and will feature dancing, music, and other events. Over the run of the festival, some of the weekend events are a Gala for Friends of Folkmoot, Many Cultures Day, a Parade of Nations, and the Sunday Soiree that features folk music and dance.

Folkmoot International Festival

Address: Folkmoot, 112 Virginia Ave., Waynesville, North Carolina, USA

Website: Folkmoot International Festival

Takes place: July

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14. Wilmington Riverfest

Posted by Wilmington Riverfest on Sunday, 18 November 2018

Wilmington Riverfest features a street fair selling everything from turkey legs to waffle cones and popcorn. The fair also includes vendor stalls with local art, woodcarving, jewelry, and sculptures. A colorful, free fireworks display is held on Saturday night that visitors can watch from the boardwalk overlooking Cape Fear River and Cape Fear Bridge. Throughout the event, live music will be played by dozens of bands performing classic rock, bluegrass, jazz and more, while a beer garden serves up the best brews. An exhibition of classic and vintage cars is also held during the course of the festival.

Wilmington Riverfest

Address: Wilmington, North Carolina, USA

Website: Wilmington Riverfest

Takes place: October

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15. Carolina Renaissance Festival

Carolina Renaissance Festival
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Greg Douglas used under CC BY 2.0

Carolina Renaissance Festival is held in Fairhaven, North Carolina each year and brings history alive with jousting knights on horseback, feasts, and plenty of entertainment. Arts and crafts will be for sale, and games and rides will be available for the whole family. Visitors can enjoy a birds-of-prey display involving falconry. Fourteen stages will feature live music, dance, comedy, and circus acts, while more than 500 costumed villagers roam around and interact with everyone. A marketplace gives glass-blowing and blacksmithing demonstrations, and potters, cobbers, and sculptors will also be present. This is the ideal time to shop ahead for Christmas to get your loved ones unique gifts.

Carolina Renaissance Festival

Address: 16445 Poplar Tent Rd, Huntersville, North Carolina, USA

Website: Carolina Renaissance Festival

Takes place: October to November

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16. American Dance Festival

New Faculty!! Just Announced!! Jawole Willa Jo Zollar will be teaching Urban Bush Women's Generative Dance-Making ...

Posted by American Dance Festival on Tuesday, 30 October 2018

American Dance Festival has been heralded as one of the USA’s most important events, and the organization is committed to serving dancers, choreographers, and professionals in the field. The event features musical concerts, a variety of dance groups, and dance performances of all types. Details have not yet been revealed for 2020, but an official website will provide updates.

American Dance Festival

Address: 715 Broad St, Durham, North Carolina, USA

Website: American Dance Festival

Takes place: September

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17. North Carolina Apple Festival

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by The North Carolina Apple Festival on Tuesday, 10 September 2019

North Carolina Apple Festival is held in Hendersonville, North Carolina each year over Labor Day Weekend. This event has been running for more than 70 years now. It is basically four days of fun that includes a street fair where freshly picked apples, festival food, and arts and crafts can be purchased. A variety of free entertainment is provided at the Historic Courthouse on Main Street.

North Carolina Apple Festival

Address: 2951 Chimney Rock Rd, Hendersonville, North Carolina, USA

Website: North Carolina Apple Festival

Takes place: September

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18. National Black Theatre Festival

Posted by National Black Theatre Festival on Tuesday, 30 July 2019

National Black Theater Festival is held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina each year. The event runs over six days, with great stage performances, enjoyable films, spoken word poetry, and workshops. Each evening, the festival will host a celebrity reception, Midnight Readers’ Theater, or late-night poetry session. The opening night gala is spectacular, with a parade of African drummers and dancers and followed by 40 celebrities from film, stage, and television. A variety of live music in different genres is performed each night at the Marriott Hotel.

National Black Theatre Festival

Address: 610 Coliseum Dr NW Suite 1, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA

Website: National Black Theatre Festival

Takes place: August

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19. Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

The 62nd Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament will be held in June 2020 in Morehead City, North Carolina. This is one of the oldest and largest sport fishing tournament of its kind in the USA. Deep-sea fishermen head to Big Rock on the Crystal Coast for a week of angling, combined with a community celebration. Dates have not yet been set for the 2020 tournament, so check their website for updates.

Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament

Address: 710 Evans Street, Morehead City, North Carolina, USA

Website: Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament

Takes place: June

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20. Grandfather Mountain Scottish Highland Games

Grandfather Mountain Scottish Highland Games is an annual gathering of Scottish clans in North Carolina. This is where they can enjoy traditional Scottish dancing, drumming, piping, music, culture, whiskey tasting, and athletic events. It is held in MacRae Meadows on Grandfather Mountain, close to Linville in North Carolina. The non-profit organization puts funds earned by the event to good use by establishing college scholarship funds for students of Avery County High School.

Grandfather Mountain Scottish Highland Games

Address: MacRae Meadows, Grandfather Mountain near Linville, North Carolina, USA.

Website: Grandfather Mountain Scottish Highland Games

Takes place: July

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21. Moogfest [Last event in 2018]

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Moogfest is an annual music, technology, and art festival that is heading for its 16th anniversary in 2020. The event was created as a way for artists, inventors, scientists, and entrepreneurs to exchange ideas. During the day, conversations and discussions are held. In the evenings, Moogfest offers live performances by musicians in contemporary pop, electronic music, and more in various venues throughout Durham, North Carolina. The festival is a tribute to Dr. Robert Moog, a pioneer in analog synthesizers.


Address: Durham, North Carolina, USA

Website: Moogfest

Takes place: April

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22. Carolina Beach Music Festival

The weather forecast on Saturday is HOT. On line ticket sales go off at 6:00 pm tonight - we are approaching a sell-out! Get your tickets NOW

Posted by Carolina Beach Music Festival on Friday, 1 June 2018

The 35th annual Carolina Beach Music Festival is all about dancing on the sand while listening to the best beach music bands in the state. Enjoy listing to laidback versions of familiar blues music. The entertainment runs all day from 11 in the morning and can be accessed from the historic Carolina Beach Boardwalk. Everyone is welcome to bring their own chairs and coolers, but glass pets are not allowed.

Carolina Beach Music Festival

Address: Carolina Beach Ave S., Carolina Beach, North Carolina, USA

Website: Carolina Beach Music Festival

Takes place: June

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Experience exciting festivals in North Carolina!

When planning a visit to this exciting US state, enjoy the history, nature, amusement parks, attractions, BBQ joints, and shops on offer. You can even visit the “Barbecue Capital of the World”! Where possible, try and time your visit to various cities to coincide with some of the most popular festivals in North Carolina, USA.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Anne Sewell was born in England, but has spent most of her life in Africa - Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa - and now resides on the beautiful Costa del Sol in southern Spain. She loves writing...Read more

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