Who doesn’t love a good festival? It’s a great excuse to visit a new town across our state. And luckily there is no shortage of engaging festivals taking place in North Carolina in 2023. Whether you’re looking for small-town fun celebrating some of what makes our state great, or huge festivals we’ve got something for you. Many North Carolina festivals celebrate foods that are important to their local area. One celebrates everything North Carolina has to offer. You’ve got arts and crafts vendors, lots and lots of food, beer and wine, rides and other activities for kids, 5Ks, and more.

Events are spread all throughout the state so you’re sure to find one that’s near you. Or if you want an excuse to travel (do you ever really need one?) plan a trip! North Carolina has so much to offer and many of these small towns might be overlooked by you without the draw of these events. Festivals take place throughout the year. So plan a visit this year and experience something new! If you need me I’ll be at the fair food booth trying a new concoction of fried treats. Or shopping from local vendors.


23 North Carolina Festivals To Experience In 2023

  • North Carolina Pickle Festival

    Dates: April 29

    Location: Mt. Olive, NC

    What To Expect: Events such as Cuke Patch 5K, Pickle Eating Contest, Recipe Contest, Tour de Pickle

    Click here to visit their website.

  • North Carolina Cotton Festival

    Dates: November TBD

    Location: Dunn, NC

    What To Expect:  Two stages of entertainment featuring a variety of music, a classic car show featuring more than 100 cars, more than 100 vendors offering commercial products, food and crafts.

    Click here to visit their website.

  • Jiggy With The Piggy

    Dates: May 4-7

    Location: Kannapolis, NC

    What To Expect: Jiggy with the Piggy includes a Kansas City Barbeque Society Competition, Kid’s Zone and rides, 5k Walk/Run, over 100 artisans, concerts, a Saturday outdoor family movie, a People’s Choice Pork Competition, and more!

    Click here for more information.

  • Matthews Alive

    Dates: September 1st-4th

    Location: Matthews, NC

    What To Expect: Rides, games, food, a parade, free entertainment, arts & crafts, a petting zoo – just to name a few activities!

    Click here for more information.

  • Smithfield Ham & Yam Fesival

    Location: Smithfield, NC

    Dates: May TBD

    What To Expect: With pig races, inflatables, vendors, entertainment, and ham and yam foods, craft and commercial vendors , food vendors featuring country ham and sweet potatoes, and entertainment, a barbecue cook-off, rubber duck race, and the always popular “What’s That Yam Thing?” contest. 

    Click here for more information.

  • Black Mountain Sourwood Festival

    Dates: August 12th-13th

    Location: Black Mountain, NC

    What To Expect: Artisans and Craftsmen as well as Kid-Friendly Activities 

    Sourwood Festival

    This annual summer celebration marks the beginning of the sourwood honey-selling season. This distinct honey is gathered from the sourwood tree, a native tree in the Southern Appalachian region. Explore the allure of Black Mountain and find out why we proudly hold a ranking as one of the most picturesque towns in America.

  • Mullet Festival

    Dates: October 14th and 15th

    Location: Swansboro, NC

    What To Expect: A parade Saturday at 9am, street vendors, kids’ area, live music, fish fry, food vendors, and more.

    Swansboro Mullet Festival of NC | Swansboro Festivals

    The Swansboro Mullet Festival of north Carolina 70th ANNUAL MULLET FESTIVAL Planning to attend this year's festival? Coming from out of town? Festival sponsor, Hampton Inn, is offering a discount to festival attendees. Mullet Festival Goers use code MFG and book your stay here. Mullet Festival Vendors use code MFV and book your stay here.

  • Cheerwine Festival

    Date: May 20th

    Location: Salisbury, NC

    What To Expect: The event will feature live entertainment from local, regional, and national musical acts; delicious Cheerwine-inspired food, drinks, and crafts from Carolinian vendors; kid-friendly activities; and plenty of ice-cold effervescent Cheerwine.


  • Blue, Brew, & Cue

    Date: March 25th

    Location: Kenansville, NC

    What To Expect: Bluegrass bands, local NC Breweries, Wineries & Distilleries and of course NC Barbeque!

    Duplin Bluegrass, Beer, and Barbeque Festival - Blue, Brew & 'Que

    Duplin County bluegrass music, beer, wine, and barbeque festival and competition.


  • NC Black Bear Festival

    Date: June TBD

    Location: Plymouth, NC

    What To Expect: Located on the banks of the Roanoke River, Bear Fest is part river festival and part bear festival with over 30 ever-changing activities each year including live music, pontoon boat rides, refuge black bear tours, a 5K, contests, and more!


  • Benson Mule Days

    Date: September 21-24

    Location: Benson, NC

    What To Expect: A rodeo, music, golf tournament, parade and more!


  • NC Oyster Festival

    Dates: October 21-22

    Location: Ocean Isle, NC

    What To Expect: Celebrate everything Oyster as OIB Town Center Park transforms into a walking district offering a variety of foods, crafts, contests and musical performances.

    NC Oyster Festival

    Arts & Crafts Experience fine arts and crafts from around the area. Vendor booths consist of handmade jewelry, holiday decor, natural beauty products, handcrafted clothing items, woodcraft, unique cuisines, and so much more. See Our Vendors Catrinas Local Artists & Unique Finds Catrinas ...

  • North Carolina Whirligig Festival

    Date: November

    Location: Wilson, NC

    What To Expect: The North Carolina Whirligig Festival is an all-inclusive, two-day arts festival that showcases the arts of the region, including the NC Folk art – Whirligigs – created by local artist, Vollis Simpson. The Whirligigs are 20-50 feet in height and they incorporate highway and road signs, HVAC fans, bicycles, ceiling fans, various woods, steel rods, milkshake mixers, and many more such materials form the support and moving parts. 

    Click here to learn more.

  • Southport Spring Festival

    Dates: April

    Location: South Port, NC

    What To Expect: The Spring Festival has over 100 crafters, an exciting variety of food, live entertainment, flower and plant sale, and children’s activities including a tracklist train.

  • Carolina Strawberry Festival

    Dates: May 5th and 6th

    Location: Wallace, NC

    What To Expect: The Miss Strawberry pageant, music, a dinosaur show, model train exhibit, car show, and a tractor show!


  • NC Butterfly Festival

    Date: May

    Location: Hudson, NC

    What To Expect: The Town of Hudson hosts the Hudson Butterfly Festival, featuring food, arts, antiques, music, and a beer garden.


  • Got To Be NC Festival

    Dates: May 20th-22nd

    Location: Raleigh, NC

    What To Expect: Three great days of down-home celebration North Carolina-style at the Got to Be NC Festival at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. Activities include Carnival Rides and Games, Food from Independent Vendors, the Food Lion Local Goodness Marketplace (Local food, wine & beer vendors), Pony Rides, the State Fair Flyer, and the Masonic Carolina Pig Jig


  • Lexington BBQ Festival

    Date: October 28th

    Location: Lexington,  NC

    What To Expect: The festival is held in Uptown Lexington on a ten-block stretch of Main Street. Over four hundred exhibitors sell everything from handmade crafts to handmade fudge. Also, a juried competition includes artists and craftsmen from across the country.  Seven stages of entertainment showcase local and national artists. The festival is for people of all ages and includes a special section of rides and games for children, the Barbecue Carnival & Family Area. Other special attractions this year will include an antique car show, the “Hogway Speedway”- Racing Pigs, Bicycle Stunt Show, 50-ton pig-themed sand sculpture, Corvette display, “Festival Chop Shop”- Lumberjack Sports show, rock climbing wall, and much more! And of course BBQ!


  • North Carolina Seafood Festival

    Dates: October 6-8

    Location: Morehead City, NC

    What To Expect: Created to recognize the importance of Seafood to eastern North Carolina, this annual festival features an Oyster Shucking Contest, musical performances, road races, beer sampling, rides, and wine!


  • NC Apple Festival

    Dates: Labor Day Weekend

    Location: Hendersonville, NC

    What To Expect: The North Carolina Apple Festival is held annually over Labor Day Weekend in Hendersonville, North Carolina. It has been Western North Carolina’s Premier Family Festival for over 60 years. Enjoy 4 days of fun including one of the best-known Street Fairs in the Carolinas with Freshly Picked Apples, Arts & Crafts, Festival Food, and FREE Entertainment at the Historic Courthouse on Hendersonville’s beautiful Main Street.


  • Pimento Cheese Festival

    Date: June 10th

    Location: Cary, NC

    What To Expect: Food trucks will line Academy Street to serve their regular menus, along with new dishes featuring a southern delicacy: pimento cheese! Enjoy live music at Downtown Park, grab a drink from local breweries, and taste some of the best pimento cheese samples from local restaurants. You can even test your skills in the pimento cheese sculpting contest.


  • NC Blueberry Festival

    Date: June 16th-17th

    Location: Burgaw, NC

    What To Expect: Over 20 events ranging from live entertainment to car show, a street fair, recipe contest, barbecue cook-off, a 5K run, kids’ activities, special exhibits, and a variety of other events.


  • Arts By The Sea

    Date: June 10th

    Location: Swansboro, NC

    What To Expect: This fabulous arts and fine crafts festival takes place from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.  Come and see the best artists and crafters as they line our historic streets with beautiful fine art and handmade crafts.  The show, which is a juried craft show, represents some of the finest crafters in the Southeast.  Pottery, jewelry, paintings, stained glass, fiber, carvings, photography, sculpture and metal work are just a few of the crafts represented at this annual event.  

    Arts by the Sea | Swansboro Festivals

    JUNE 8, 2024 9 AM-5PM Planning to attend the 2023 festival? Coming from out of town? Festival sponsor, Hampton Inn, is offering a discount to festival attendees. Go to the website for discount: Arts by the Sea festival goers book here. Arts by the Sea VENDORS book here.

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