Let’s call it spring fever. This month, we’re all ready to get out and enjoy everything that Charlotte has to offer. And the timing couldn’t be better. From culture-soaked festivals to mouth watering markets, April is packed with undeniably fun events. We’ve found 10 you definitely don’t want to miss.
(1) Rally with 20+ food trucks and craft beer at Rural Hill
Bring your camp chairs, blankets and appetites. It’s time for a spring picnic at historic Rural Hill, which is hosting a food truck rally April 2 complete with more than 20 food trucks, local beer and wine, hayrides, and family-friendly games. Once you’ve gotten your fill of fare from trucks like Lobster Dogs, Juan Taco and Maryland Crab Co. hike off those tasty calories on the farm’s 2.5 mile trail.
(2) Shop till you drop at the South End Spring Bazaar
This local shopping event in South End’s C3Lab touts itself as a great spot to find gifts for things like upcoming graduations or Mother’s Day. This is always my plan when I go to one of these artisan markets, which include local craft beer and food. And then I inevitably leave with like six “gifts” for me. Don’t judge me until you’ve gone on April 16 and not done the exact same thing.
(3) Grab seasonal fare at local farmers markets
’Tis the season for finding fresh farm fare at local markets. Seasonal markets open this month from Kings Drive to Kannapolis and these are the region’s Saturday morning hot spots. At urban versions like Atherton Market or 7th Street Public Market you can sip your local latte while you shop. While small-town stops like Davidson and Matthews feature chef demos, tastings and even contests during weekend markets.
(4) Enjoy learning and libations at uptown museums
Gentlemen, listen up. I’ve planned your nerdiest (read: coolest) date night. On April 15 the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Uptown presents Bechtler by Night featuring free gallery tours from 5-9 p.m. Once you’ve checked out its current The House That Modernism Built exhibit, head up Tryon Street to Discovery Place for Science on the Rocks: Geek Out, Freak Out ($10) featuring comics and cocktails. It’s cheap, culture-savvy and way more fun than another movie night.
(5) Sip and sample Charlotte at Taste of the Nation
Here’s how this works: You buy a ticket ($85). You hang out at the Fillmore on April 18 sampling dishes and drinks from more than 20 top Charlotte restaurants like Dogwood Southern Table, Lumiere, Passion8 and ROCKSALT. One hundred percent of the evening’s proceeds benefit the No Kid Hungry campaign, connecting kids in need with healthy food. Everyone wins.
(6) Turn up the tunes and competition at Tuck Fest
There is literally nothing about this three-day outdoor festival April 22-24 that doesn’t sound fun. There’s daily live music from famed bands like St. Paul & The Broken Bones and Langhorn Slim & The Law. You can participate in (or, in the case of those of us who are less athletically inclined, happily watch) land and water competitions including trail runs, mountain biking, kayaking and even whitewater stand up paddle boarding. And the whole thing is held at the Whitewater Center where there’s plenty of craft beer to enjoy between activities.
(7) Celebrate spring with Cajun flair at OMB
Bring out your bayou best and let the bon temps rouler. Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is hosting its Sixth Annual Louisiana Spring Fest April 23-24 complete with boiled crawdads and bluegrass. The family-friendly event, which is held in the brewery’s tree-filled biergarten, also includes the release of the popular summer seasonal, Hornet’s Nest hefewiezen.
(8) Get out on Charlotte’s greenways
Sure, Charlotte may not have mountains or rivers right in town, but the city’s greenway system is one of the best in the country. And now that the Carolina weather is warm, it’s time to get out and explore the more than 35 miles of greenways in Mecklenburg County. Searching for a stroll with views? Check out Little Sugar Creek Greenway between 7th and Morehead Streets where the creek-side trail offers a dramatic skyline backdrop.
(9) Take in the tunes at Charlotte Jazz Festival
Whether you can distinguish between Miles and Coltrane, or just enjoy the sax melodies you hear in your favorite coffee shop, Charlotte Jazz Festival 2016 hits all the high notes. In addition to famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis performing with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at the Knight Theater, the festival from April 18-22 features lunchtime jazz concerts, late night jam sessions, pop-up clubs and a second line parade.
(10) Break bread at the International Sandwich Festival
From banh mi to Brazilian baurus, now is your chance to get a taste of Charlotte’s international flavor—on bread. Aldersgate, which is located in Charlotte’s diverse east side, is celebrating its surrounding community with a free festival offering the best international bites and bands highlighting the many cultures of the neighborhood. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on April 30 you can catch live music and dancing on the performance stage (entertainment begins at noon), while you indulge in fare from Asia to Latin America.
Photos: John D. Simmons/Charlotte Observer; Marty Price; Robert Lahser/Charlotte Observer; Mark Hames/Charlotte Observer