Charlotte Fall Festival Guide
Anticipating cooler temperatures in the near future, Charlotteans emerge from area swimming pools and lakes ready for outdoor festivals to make the most of the changing of the season. No matter what your interest—bluegrass music, new-to-you international cultures, or deep-fried Twinkies—the Queen City has a fall festival for you.
by Bryan Richards Aug 26, 2019
August 17 – 18
Each August, Charlotte Pride brings well over 100,000 people to Uptown, with participants as diverse as small nonprofits, big banks, churches, gay bars and politicians, all supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Musicians, drag performers and comics entertain all day, and parties at bars extend the excitement into the early morning. This celebration is the crescendo to Charlotte pride week and is a can’t-miss event for the whole family.
August 30 – September 2
Down in the suburbs, check out Labor Day mainstay Matthews Alive. Over 150,000 festivalgoers (let that number settle in for a moment) from throughout the region gather in Matthews’ historic downtown for a weekend of festival fun with rides, food vendors, and arts and crafts. Featuring local and regional acts, the music stages are the hallmark of the weekend (expect crowd favorites like Tusk, Lonestar and The Tams). Families, venture out Saturday morning to enjoy a massive parade with local marching bands, crafts, firetrucks and giveaways.
Monday, September 2
Levine Jewish Community Center
It’s hard to believe, but there’s more to BBQ than pulled pork. Think heaping plates of smoked brisket and chicken alongside the traditional fixin’s of cole slaw, baked beans and mac and cheese (all kosher, of course). Be sure to save room for the pickle-eating and watermelon contests!
September 5 – 8
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral
The Yiasou Greek Festival began in 1978 and since then has become one of Charlotte’s largest cultural events. It’s easy to attend the Yiasou Greek Festival and not get past the mouthwatering foods like the baklava sundaes. The festival is more than a celebration of food, though; it’s a celebration of Greek culture. Take a tour of the cathedral, catch a folk dancing performance, or watch a reenactment of the Greek changing of the guards.
September 6 – 14
Cabarrus Arena & Events Center
Relive the traditional county fair of your youth at the Cabarrus County Fair. Think giant Ferris wheel, deep-fried everything and livestock competitions. Then there’s the obscure: a chainsaw carving artist, pig races, and Frisbee dog acts with K9s in Flight, a group that trains rescued pups to be high-flying entertainment acts.
Saturdays & Sundays, September 14 – October 27
Halloween festivals don’t have to be all ghosts and goblins, which is why Carowinds hosts their Great Pumpkin Festival before the park turns on the scare for SCarowinds in the evenings. The family-friendly event offers all the rides the little ones know and love in Camp Snoopy with the addition of a hay bale maze, costume contest, trick-or-treating with the Peanuts gang, and more!
September 20 – 22
Festival in the Park is Charlotte’s premier arts and crafts festival, attracting 200 artists from around the world. In addition to visual arts, enjoy live performances from the Children's Theatre of Charlotte, the Carolina Raptor Center, the Carolina Clowns, the Charlotte Folk Society, and the Jazz Arts Initiative. Words to the wise: walk, carpool or use a rideshare service to avoid the dreaded parking lot.
Saturday, September 21
There’s something for everyone at this local art festival hosted in downtown Davidson. Stroll the streets and enjoy over 40 of the area’s best artisans. Expect to find a wide variety of pottery, jewelry, photography, fine art, metal work, textiles and more. It’s never too early to start crossing off your holiday gift list, and this fall art festival is the perfect place to start.
Saturday, September 21
UNC Charlotte Campus
Epcot doesn’t have anything on UNC Charlotte’s annual international festival. For 43 years, UNC Charlotte has been celebrating its diverse international student body and faculty with over 50 countries represented via cultural booths, concerts and hands-on games in the international game zone. Come hungry.
September 21 – 22
U.S. National Whitewater Center
Escape to the U.S. National Whitewater Center’s inaugural Flow Fest, a wellness-focused event that invites attendees to enjoy more than 20 yoga practices, wine, kombucha and more in the USNWC’s beautiful outdoor spaces. The event also features guided nature meditation, a three-course Ayurvedic dining experience, moonlit yoga and on-site overnight camping. Per USNWC tradition, live music kicks off in the evening.
Sunday, September 22
Over 15 restaurants and food trucks, two beer gardens pouring local beers and wines, and plenty of live music come together to raise money for Hospice and Palliative Care Lake Norman. It’s a party for a cause.
September 25 – 29
Ayrsley Grand Cinemas
Named “Best Festival” by Charlotte Magazine, The Charlotte Film Festival celebrates its 11th anniversary of bringing independent films to the masses this year. The theme of the festival is “discover different,” and prizes are awarded in the categories of documentary, narrative feature, student narrative and social justice.
Saturday, September 28
Oak Street Mill
Held twice a year, the ‘Tawba Walk Arts & Music Festival prides itself on showcasing only artisans, breweries, performers and food vendors from the greater Lake Norman and Charlotte regions. Occurring on two stages, live art performances are the event’s signature.
Saturday, September 28
Maybe Matthews Alive is a little too family-friendly festival fun for you. Then check out the city’s art walk and jazz festival on the town hall lawn. The event offers plenty of arts and crafts booths to peruse as you sip on beer or wine to the soothing sounds of live music.
October 4 – October 5
Rescue Squad Park
What started as a community event to raise funds to build a much-needed park in Denver has turned into an annual celebration of their efforts with rides (a carousel, slides and many, many spinning contraptions), live music, and plenty of good-for-the-soul fair food. Denver Days is for the whole family to enjoy.
Tuesday, October 5
U.S. National Whitewater Center
Remember those crazy high school physics class projects like popsicle stick bridges and egg drops? Relive those days by crafting your own boat to sail down the US National Whitewater Center’s competition channel. The festival also includes a team obstacle course race and the center’s only nighttime kayak race. Wash it all down with cider sampling.
Saturdays & Sundays, October 5 – November 24
The Carolina Renaissance Festival isn’t just turkey legs, jousting knights and swordsman shows. It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone, using your imagination, and pretending to be someone and someplace else for the day. Breakout that puffy shirt costume, shop the artisan market, and travel back in time for the afternoon.
Saturday, October 12
Celebrate National Hispanic Month in Charlotte with the Hola Charlotte Festival. The region’s largest Hispanic heritage event brings together the culture of 15 Latin American countries through authentic foods, dance performances and a cultural pavilion for hands-on experiences.
October 12 – 13
This Uptown festival celebrates the diversity of Indian culture through performances of traditional Indian and Bollywood dances, film screenings, and an art gallery. Vendors offer Indian foods and souvenirs for sale, and a Kids Art Pavilion allows children to create India-inspired crafts under the guidance of a local artist.
October 17 – 19
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Charlotte Motor SpeedwayLooking to sell that antique car you’ve been restoring over the past few years? Want to buy the muscle car of your dreams? Check out the Charlotte AutoFair’s car corral. There’s also a flea market where you can shop for hard-to-find parts and automotive memorabilia.
Saturday, October 19
While the North Carolina Apple Festival in Hendersonville may get the core of apple-lovers’ attention, Lincoln County’s Apple Festival shouldn’t be overlooked. Enjoy all the apple fun—an apple farmers market, an apple queen pageant, and an apple pie contest—a lot closer to Charlotte.
October 18 – 19
From pie-baking contests to pie-eating contests, the fun doesn’t get any more wholesome than the Pineville Fall Fest. The fest also serves up all the carnival rides, games and foods your heart desires.
October 18 – 20
Statesville Regional Airport
Check riding a hot air balloon off your bucket list at the annual Carolina BalloonFest. The festival allows festival-goers to get up close and personal with these wonders of flight through mass ascensions, an evening balloon glow, and pilot meet and greets. And, if you dare, an actual hot air balloon ride (be sure to book in advance)!
Saturday, October 19
Voted by Charlotte magazine as the city’s best wine event two years in a row, the South End Wine Fest is the event in town for oenophiles. Admission grants winos (and wine novices) unlimited wine tastings from over 25 vineyards spanning from North Carolina to Northern Italy and everywhere in between.
Saturday, October 26
Downtown Mint Hill
Get into the fall spirit at Mint Hill’s first annual Fall Harvest Festival. Gather your family, friends or coworkers and participate in the scarecrow decorating contest. Take your photo in the pumpkin patch. Race through the obstacle course. There’s also a children’s arts and crafts center where kids can paint rocks like those hidden throughout Mint Hill.