Nothing says fall in North Carolina like pumpkins, apples, and foliage. It's such a unique period of the year that many people all around the state and beyond like to celebrate. And what better way to say hello to the new season than by attending an outdoor festival? Well, if you happen to reside in North Carolina or are just around it in time for fall, you're going to like hearing what we're going to say next. It doesn't matter if you're looking for apple cider, pumpkin butter, or just a plate of otherworldly barbecue; there are lots of events to explore around the Tar Heel State that provide all of these options and more. With that said, we bring you the list of the best fall festivals to visit in North Carolina.
The first festival we will talk about is the famous Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival. Held in a charming little town named Elkin, located approximately an hour from Winston Salem and Charlotte, this event draws thousands of visitors to Elkin's main street.
Next to the many stands selling anything from antiques to ceramics, home decor, and one-of-a-kind presents, there are also a variety of food vendors selling treats like polish sausages, pumpkin butter, and funnel cakes. However, the real highlight of the year is the Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off, where producers from all across the country bring their finest specimens to be judged to make the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth Top Ten. And trust us: You don't miss out on seeing submissions that have previously weighed over a thousand pounds!
Next up, we have Wilmington Riverfest. Just as its name suggests, this festival is held in Wilmington, which also doubles down as one of the best places for families in North Carolina. One thing is for sure; if you happen to pay a visit to the area at any time of the year, but especially during the Wilmington Riverfest, your entire family will be able to have fun here together since it’s one of the best places for family fun in NC.
The annual Wilmington Riverfest sees roughly a quarter of a million guests. It is situated on the Cape Fear River's beautiful waterfront and features local artisans' wares, musical performances, delicious food, a kid-friendly zone, and a spectacular fireworks display on Saturday night. During the event, Miss Riverfest is also crowned.
No list of the best fall festivals to visit in North Carolina would be complete without Autumn at Oz. Fans of the books and the movie, young and old alike, will feel like they've stepped into the magical world of Oz at the Land of Oz theme park near Beech Mountain. After a decade of unprecedented success, the park was officially shut down in 1980. However, its legacy continues to live on, thanks to the festival that was born in celebration of it - the Autumn of Oz. Here, you'll be able to join Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion on their journey from the Kansas farm, down the yellow brick road, and into the enchanted Land of Oz to celebrate the beginning of autumn.
Over 400 arts and crafts, hundreds of snack bars with delightful treats, intriguing gospel, country, bluegrass, and folk music, and of course, plenty of apples and apple cider are all to be found at the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival, one of the biggest one-day arts and crafts events in the Southeast - held precisely in North Wilkesboro. Lots of fun is also provided by folk, clog, and square dancers, along with rope skippers.
The Carolina BalloonFest in Statesville is not only a spectacular sight to see but also a fantastic weekend getaway for the whole family. The hot air balloons' ignition and subsequent ascent into the air are the event's principal draws. If you want to enjoy the fall weather in comfort, bring a blanket or lawn chair and watch as more than 50 magnificent hot air balloons take off twice a day.
But the fun doesn't end here! Festival-goers may do more than just look at the balloons from the ground. In fact, the courageous ones can actually even book a balloon ride! In addition, one of the best fall festivals to visit in North Carolina offers you a chance to witness three mass ascensions, flyovers, and a balloon glow on Saturday night. It also gives you the opportunity to meet the pilots and watch live performances on many stages.
Lexington's Annual Barbecue Festival, which has been going strong since 1984, is a popular destination for tourists and business owners of Davidson County's many barbecue joints. For this reason, Lexington, North Carolina, and neighboring Davidson County have designated the whole month of October as "Barbecue Month.''
The month-long celebration culminates on the last Saturday with the annual Barbecue Festival. Ten blocks of downtown Lexington's Main Street are closed down every year to accommodate the tens of thousands of tourists that flock to the area. There are almost four hundred vendors at the festival, selling everything from fine art to gourmet cuisine. Furthermore, local and national acts are performed on several stages, and there are also automobile shows, bicycle stunt shows, a Corvette exhibit, lumberjack competitions, and even a pig race!
Truth be told, it's hard to say which of the above fall festivals to visit in North Carolina is the best of the best, as they are all utterly unique. Of course, having learned about them, you'll be able to decide which way to go this coming fall. We do suggest visiting a couple of the best fall festivals, however, in case you find yourself in a position to do so. Each and every one of these events has a unique vibe to it and a tight-knit community that, if possible, you shouldn't miss out on!