In North Carolina, you’ll find plenty of popular festivals and signature events taking place across the state during Labor Day weekend. So end your summer on a high note.
Plus, the week before Labor Day, the National Park Service is hosting its 100th anniversary celebration, August 25-28, and this includes the national parks in North Carolina. Visit the Appalachian Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Wright Brothers National Memorial and more, where special events are planned and admission will be free to all of the national parks.
Labor Day Weekend
Fireworks by the Sea & Boardwalk Blast
Sept. 2, Carolina Beach
The summer-long, weekly series is wrapping up. So get in your chance to enjoy live music from the gazebo stage, the sun setting over the beach, and fireworks on the boardwalk after dark. Admission: free.
46th Annual Smoky Mountain Folk Festival
Sept. 2-3, Lake Junaluska
Enjoy two nights of the music and dance of the Southern Appalachian region, including fiddlers, banjo players, string bands, ballad singers, buck dancers and square dance teams. The grand stage of the auditorium overlooks beautiful Lake Junaluska. Admission: free-$12.
Labor Day Celebration at U.S. National Whitewater Center
Sept. 2-4, Charlotte
Spend part of your long holiday weekend at USNWC. Friday evening features a film showcase outdoors; Saturday begins with a triathlon and ends with the Whitewater River Jam concert; and Sunday offers a full day of events, beginning with a trail race, followed by yoga, a cornhole tournament, live bands and concludes with fireworks. Plus, all the activities will be open, including rafting, zip lining, rock climbing, and the restaurants and beer garden. Admission: free; parking: $5; cost varies to participate in activities such as races and rafting.
70th Annual North Carolina Apple Festival
Sept. 2-5, Hendersonville
This long-running festival features a street fair on historic Main Street, with live music, arts and crafts, apple growers, kids’ activities, special exhibits, food and more. Plus, the King Apple Parade takes place on Labor Day. Admission: cost varies.
27th Annual Oak Island Art Guild Arts & Crafts Festival
Sept. 3, Oak Island
More than 140 artists and craft vendors who will show and sell their handmade wares, including fine art, pottery, stained glass, needlecraft, ornaments, photography, jewelry, toys and more. Food vendors will be on site as well.
John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival
Sept. 3-4, High Point
On Saturday, you can enjoy the music of Esperanza Spalding, Gregory Porter and the Latin Jazz All Stars featuring Nestor Torres, Steve Turre and Pete Escovedo as well as the 2016 NC Coltrane All Star Band. On Sunday, you can listen to the sounds of Kenny G, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ramsey Lewis, Eric Gales and the Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra. Admission: $65 and up.
Emerald Village’s RockFest
Sept. 3-4, Little Switzerland
Celebrate the end of summer at historic mines. There will be live bands performing mountain bluegrass, acoustic, country and gospel. You’ll also learn the geologic history of the mines and enjoy a guided hike to a hidden mine, as well as the special underground Black Light Mine Tour at night. Admission: free.
African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County
Sept. 3-4, Raleigh
This annual celebration of African American culture is expressed through art, music, food and community. Local, national and international artists, performers, food vendors and area business owners will be a part of the showcases. Admission: free.
Inaugural Tema Festival
Sept. 3-4, Laurinburg
It’s a two-day cultural arts celebration highlighting African American history and heritage through exhibitions, music, food and dance. This festival serves to empower and educate while promoting community, unity and healthy living. Admission: cost varies.
110th Canton Labor Day Celebration
Sept. 3-5, Canton
Twenty bands will perform across three days, along with a kids’ village, handmade crafts, a car show, farmers market, food trucks, clogging and more. Admission: free.
After Labor Day
Hopscotch Music Festival
Sept. 8-10, Raleigh
This annual festival has been called “America’s (Secretly) Best Festival” and “the premiere experimental and underground festival in America.” More than 120 bands will perform over three days, including Erykah Badu, Beach House, Young Thug, Andrew Bird, Converge and Anderson Paak. Admission: $35-$225.
Ayden Collard Festival
Sept. 8-11, Ayden
Find lots of food and fun at the “the Official Collard Festival of North Carolina.” The itinerary includes a pageant, parade, road race, art show, live entertainment, carnival rides, games and collard cooking and eating contests. Admission: cost varies.
35th Annual Indian Summer Festival
Sept. 9-10, Hertford
Experience a long-running festival in one of North Carolina’s oldest towns. Friday night starts off with dancing in the street featuring The Main Event band. Saturday, the live entertainment continues, including members of the Native American Meherrin and Cheroenhaka tribes performing traditional music and dance. There will also be fun activities for children, a classic car show, water activities, food vendors serving barbecue and seafood, and more.
National Folk Festival
Sept. 9-11, Greensboro
Celebrating its 76th anniversary, this festival displays the roots, richness and variety of American culture through music, dance, crafts, storytelling and food. The three-day event features more than 300 performers and craftspeople, seven stages, craft exhibits and demonstrations and parades.Read more about family fun at the National Folk Festival, including suggestions on things to do during your visit to Greensboro. Admission: free.
11th Annual Mountain Song Festival
Sept. 9-11, Brevard
This family-friendly music event was inspired by the youth of Transylvania County and the proceeds benefit the local Boys and Girls Club. Held at Brevard Music Center’s Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium, the scheduled artists include Steep Canyon Rangers, The Earls of Leicester, The Kruger Brothers with The Kontras Quartet, Tim O’Brien, Dom Flemmons Trio and Steeldrivers. There will be plenty of food, local artists, children’s activities and nature displays. Admission: $35 and up.
10th Annual North Carolina Hot Sauce Contest and Festival
Sept. 10, Oxford
North Carolina’s finest hot sauces and barbecue sauces, along with local craft breweries and wineries, and live bands spice up the blends and texture of historic downtown. Enter the main event of the day, the pepper eating contest, for your chance to grab the hottest title in the state. There will also be kids’ activities and an antique car show. Admission: free.
Run and Ride at Carowinds
Sept. 10-11, Charlotte
Experience the thrill of the run and the thrill of the ride at this amusement park. Get your heart pounding during one of the running events through the park and then your lungs screaming as you take on some of the best roller coasters in the country, including Fury 325. Choose from a half-marathon, 10K, 5K and 1-mile fun run. Admission: free park entry for the half-marathon and 10K; discounts for the 5K and 1-mile run.
End of Summer Baseball
North Carolina is home to several minor league baseball teams, and they’re nearing the end of the season. Spend an evening at the ballpark – good hot dogs, beer, post-game fireworks – before summer’s over.
McCormick Field, Asheville
Five County Stadium, Zebulon (near Raleigh)
BB&T Ballpark, Charlotte
Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham
NewBridge Bank Park, Greensboro
L.P. Frans Stadium, Hickory
BB&T Ballpark, Winston-Salem
Visit VisitNC for more information