10 things you MUST do in May around Charlotte

Summer is so close we can almost taste it. Glorious pool days and beach weekends await. Pat yourself on the back. You’ve made it through the tough seasons and now the fun is really starting.

This month that fun comes in the form of festivals, games and, in true Charlotte fashion, plenty of craft beer. Mark your calendars and make your plans. We’ve got your ultimate summer-is-coming checklist. 

(1) North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival


If you can think of a better way to spend a spring Saturday than on a picturesque farm drinking NC beer, eating at local food trucks and listening to eight bands, then we clearly have different interests. This festival, held May 6 and 7 at the Historic Rural Hill farm just north of Charlotte, includes eight bands and more than 30 brewers. Go for the day, including a three-hour tasting session, on Saturday. Or get serious about your beer and bands and camp out for the weekend on the grounds.

(2) Mother’s Day Sip & Shop

You’re officially out of excuses for not having a Mother’s Day gift. Uptown’s Seventh Street Public Market is hosting this pop-up shopping event from 3-8 p.m. on Friday, May 6, just in time to find something cool and local for Mom. From candles to jewelry, this is your one-stop-shop for the holiday — or for a little something fun for yourself. Speaking of fun, Assorted Table Wine Shoppe will offer a glass of free sparkling wine to the first 50 customers at both 5 and 6 p.m. Cheers to moms!

(3) Crowntown Throwdown

Biergarten (5)

The current world record for the largest cornhole tournament is 161 teams. Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is determined to break that on May 21 with this tournament benefitting InReach. And if being charitable and getting Charlotte in the history books wasn’t enough incentive, consider that the $80 entry fee for a two-person team also includes four beer tickets, live music, lunch and a T-shirt — oh, and the chance to hang out in a beer garden playing games all afternoon.

(4) Midwood Maynia and Home Tour

David T. Foster, III

With its rich history and current hip vibe, Plaza Midwood may be Charlotte’s hottest hood. Decide for yourself with a behind-the-scenes look during this two-day festival May 6-7. Maynia includes a home tour of eight stylish neighborhood homes and gardens, the Midwood Miles 5K race, kids activities, live local music in Midwood Park, and even a highly entertaining pet parade.

(5) Pumped: The Art and Craft of Shoemaking 

OK, ladies, here’s how this works: You check out this style-savvy exhibit, which opens on May 7 at the Mint Museum Uptown and features more than 100 pairs of shoes. You learn about traditional shoemaking methods and new technology in the design process. Then, the next time you’re perusing the racks at your favorite store, you justify your purchase as “continuing education.” You look so smart in those new stilettos.

(6) South End Hops Festival

We’ve got the beer festival concept down now: Offer samples of local craft beer, throw in some live music and include a few food trucks. As far as formulas go, this one is undeniably fun. This festival at the corner of Carson Boulevard and Mint Street May 14 adds an extra element to the good time by inviting one of the more friendly members of the family — your dog. We’re betting that news elicits a tail wag or two.

[Related: Do dogs and babies belong at Charlotte breweries?]

(7) The Addams Family

Turn off the Netflix and step away from the couch. It’s time to turn up the drama at Theatre Charlotte, now in its 88th season. May 13-29, the talent-packed community theater in Myers Park is performing a musical comedy about the morose Wednesday Addams, who falls for a guy from a family a little less macabre and hosts them all for dinner at her home. Hilarity obviously ensues.

(8) 600 Festival Speed Street


Not into NASCAR? Don’t worry. This festival, which takes over the streets of uptown May 26-28, isn’t limited to race lovers. With live music from big names like Montgomery Gentry, Kellie Pickler and The Band Perry, as well as food and drinks, there’s plenty to entertain you off the track. If you are a fan, though, driver appearances, autographs and exhibits make this fest a must this month.

(9) Dogwood Southern Table Barkeep Series


If you haven’t had one of Dogwood bartender Brian “The Hammer” Lorusso’s cocktails, stop reading and make reservations. Order the Barkeep’s Call — you choose a liquor and style and Lorusso expertly handles the rest. And when you’re making those reservations, snag a seat ($50) for the May 9 Guest Barkeep dinner when Lorusso will be joined by Gary Crunkleton from Chapel Hill’s The Crunkleton. The series, which highlights great bartenders from around the state and includes a four to five-course dinner with cocktail pairings, continues throughout the summer.

(10) Beer, Bourbon and BBQ

OK, transplants, it’s time to get serious about being Southern. This annual festival held on May 7 in Symphony Park offers a flavorful taste of the South. In addition to the chance to sample 60 beers and 40 bourbons, you’ll find lots of local barbecue vendors on site. Live rock and bluegrass music, a cigar tent, and even something called the “Shrine of Swine” round out this ultimate cultural culinary experience.

Photos: Charlotte Observer file; Marty Price; Courtesy of Dogwood Southern Table; Courtesy of The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery