Big weekend for fun in Charlotte area

Want an escape from the gloomy economic forecast, gas shortages and political back-and-forth? This weekend is your best bet. “September is traditionally the kickoff of the cultural and outdoor event season,” said Robert Krumbine of Charlotte Center City Partners. “The final weekend is when it all comes together as the weather begins to cool. ... This is always a great weekend to mark on your calendar.” Check out our picks for the best diversions.

Fall butterfly festival

Get a crash course in metamorphosis and see all kinds of butterflies at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden's “Something's A-Flutter” event. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday through Nov. 9. 6500 New South Hope Road, Belmont. $9; free for members. 704-825-4490.

Culinary Arts Experience

Charlotte Shout has expanded this year to include seven cooking stages. Highlights include celebrity chefs, a Mondavi wine exhibit, and food samples from 14 area restaurants. 5-10 p.m. today; 12-9 p.m. Saturday. 801 W. Trade St. Free. 704-332-2227.

Panthers play the Falcons

See if Jake and the guys can pull out their second home win of the season. 1 p.m. Sunday. Bank of America Stadium. $51-90. www.panthers.com.

Charlotte Film Festival

Support local undiscovered filmmakers by attending one of the film fest's many (cheap!) screenings. Various times through Sunday. Various locations. $3-$8. www.charlottefilmfestival.org.

SCarowinds opens

Get spooked with new mazes, even creepier scaracters and the park's thrill rides. 7 p.m.-midnight, today and Saturday. 14523 Carowinds Blvd. $41.99 (or $36.99 if you buy in advance online). www.scarowinds.com.

International Festival at UNCC

About 50 nations will be represented at this annual event featuring crafts, costumes and, of course, food. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. 9207 University City Blvd. Free. 704-687-7781.

Mary J. Blige concert

Mary J. brings her Grammy-winning voice to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. 7:30 p.m. Saturday. 707 Pavilion Blvd. 704-549-5555.

Denver Days Fall Festival

Country group Marshall Tucker Band will perform at this free fall event near Lake Norman. 4-11 p.m. today; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday. N.C. Hwy 16 on Triangle Circle. Free. www.denvernc.com/denverdays.htm.