Living Here Guide

Mark your calendars: 16 Charlotte festivals you don’t want to miss

At least 200 dancers and audience members took part in a flash mob of traditional Greek dance at the Yiasou Greek Festival in 2016.
At least 200 dancers and audience members took part in a flash mob of traditional Greek dance at the Yiasou Greek Festival in 2016. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

If you like craft beer, delicious food, live music, shopping local vendors and other fun outdoor activities, then the city of Charlotte is right for you.

Throughout the year, Charlotte hosts dozens of festivals. Here are 16 you need add to your Queen City Bucket List:

Festival in the Park

Sept. 22-24, 2017. Freedom Park, 1900 East Blvd., Charlotte. festivalinthepark.org.

Charlotte’s oldest (and free) arts festival features fine and traditional arts and crafts, and live music.

Courtesy Festival in the Park
Festival in the Park, held in Freedom Park, is Charlotte’s oldest arts festival. unknown Photo courtesy of Festival in the Park

Charlotte Film Festival

Sept. 22-Oct. 1, 2017. Ayrsley Grand Cinemas, 9110 Kings Parade Blvd., Charlotte. CharlotteFilmFestival.org.

Charlotte’s only week-long film festival allows emerging filmmakers to showcase their works to other independent film enthusiasts. If you are a huge lover of film festivals, be sure to also check out Joedance Film Festival (August) a festival dedicated to works by Charlotte film producers, writers and directors, and 100 Words Film Festival (Nov. 3-4, 2017), a festival challenging filmmakers to create films that deliver compelling yet concise stories using exactly 100 words.

Carolina Renaissance Festival

Sept. 30-Nov. 19, 2017. 16445 Poplar Tent Road, Huntersville. www.carolina.renfestinfo.com.

Hear ye, hear ye! Watch knights joust on horseback, ride Da Vinci’s Flying Machine, experience the art of falconry and sink your teeth into a juicy turkey leg at this weekend festival.

Courtesy of Carolina Renaissance Festival
The 19th annual Carolina Renaissance Festival runs every weekend Sept. 30-Nov. 19, 2017. Photo courtesy of the Carolina Renaissance Festival

South End Wine Fest

Oct. 21, 2017. 308 W. Carson Blvd. at the corner of Mint St. southendwinefest.org.

Are you a lover of red, white and rosé? The South End Wine Fest, which benefits Classroom Central, features live music, Charlotte’s favorite food trucks and wine galore.

Queen City Brewers Festival

Feb. 3, 2018. 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. qcbrewfest.com.

This popular local beer fest brings together Charlotte breweries, brewpubs, craft-beer-focused restaurants and sponsors to support its mission: To help those in the area affected by autism spectrum disorders.

Moo & Brew Festival

Typically held in April. 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. mooandbrewfest.com.

If you love all things involving beer and burgers, then this is the festival for you. Taste some of Charlotte’s best burgers and wash them down with samplings from various breweries while listening to live music. Keep an eye on the website for finalized dates.

BOOM Festival

Typically held in April. Scattered around Plaza Midwood; mostly on Commonwealth Ave. and Central Ave. boomcharlotte.org.

The three-day, artist-led Plaza Midwood festival features works in musical theatre, spoken word, performance art, dance and contemporary visual art. Check the website for finalized dates.

Charlotte Jazz Festival

Typically held in April. 430 S. Tryon St. www.blumenthalarts.org/charlotte-jazz-festival

Expect jazz morning, afternoon and night. The festival features a main jazz show at the Knight Theater and smaller jazz concerts throughout the entire day, from before brunch through late-night.

Tuck Fest

April 19-22, 2018. U.S. National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway. tuckfest.org.

At this three-day outdoor festival listen to daily live music, participate in (or watch) land and water competitions like trail runs, mountain biking, kayaking and whitewater stand-up paddle boarding. And of course there is plenty of craft beer to be enjoyed. U.S. National Whitewater Center hosts a lot of other festivals throughout the year, too, like Brew Stash Bash in June – a festival including a 6K, live music and craft beer samplings with purchase of ticket.

N.C. Brewers and Music Festival

May 11-12, 2018. 4431 Neck Road, Huntersville. www.ncbrewsmusic.com.

Come drink North Carolina beer, grab food from local food trucks and enjoy live music at the North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival, held at the beautiful Historic Rural Hill (15 miles from uptown Charlotte in Huntersville). The only required item you are asked to bring? A state-issued I.D. But also feel free to bring blankets, lawn chairs and pop-up tents to make the most of your festival experience.

South End Hops Festival

May 19, 2018. 308 W. Carson Blvd. southendhopsfest.org.

Head to South End to enjoy local craft beer, live music and your favorite food trucks. This annual festival will take place at the corner of Carson Boulevard and Mint Street and is dog-friendly (bonus).

600 Festival

May 24-26. Uptown Charlotte. 600festival.com.

Better known as Speed Street, this festival (not limited to race lovers) shuts down uptown Charlotte as people from all over flood the streets. (These events have had 8 million guests). With live music from big names like Jake Owen at last year’s festival, and food and drinks, it’s no surprise that this festival is a big hit.

600 Festival Nell Redmond
Rick Wiethorn (left) and his son, Nick, admire a race car on display during Speed Street in May 2017. Nell Redmond

Taste of Charlotte

Typically held in June. Tryon Street, from Stonewall Street to 5th Street. www.tasteofcharlotte.com.

Choose from more than 100 samples from local restaurants at this three-day uptown festival. You can also enjoy live music, street performances and shopping. It is free to attend the festival and coins are available for purchase to use for the food and beverage samples.

Taste of Charlotte Alex Kormann
Thousands walked down South Tryon St. in June for the 19th annual Taste of Charlotte event, where patrons can sample from dozens of local restaurants and shop from local vendors. Alex Kormann akormann@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte Pride Festival

Typically held in August. South Tryon Street. charlottepride.org/festival.

This two-day cultural festival honors Pride Week with live music and entertainers on the Wells Fargo Stage, food and a parade. Join hundreds of people decked out in their rainbow-best.

Charlotte Pride Diedra Laird
Crowds filled Tryon Street during the Charlotte Pride Festival. Diedra Laird dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Yiasou Greek Festival

Typically held in September. 600 East Blvd. yiasoufestival.org.

Experience authentic Greek cuisine and culture at one of Charlotte’s largest cultural events. Try your first bite of souvlaki on a stick, sit back and watch live music and dancing, wander around the Hellenic cultural exhibits and, best of all, shop for belly dancing skirts.

Greek Festival T Ortega Gaines
Eleni Bisbikis (left) and Anna Sohoritis stack fresh greek pastry "diples" on the tray during the lunch hour rush at the annual Yiasou Greek Festival in 2011. T. Ortega Gaines ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

Oktoberfest

Typically held in September. At Symphony Park in 2017, 4400 Sharon Road. www.charlotteoktoberfest.com.

Grab your pretzel necklaces and get ready for The Charlotte Oktoberfest. Enjoy a great premium craft beer selection and take advantage of the amazing food and fun activities offered at the festival.

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