Celebrate Flowers, Music, Pirates, Wine & More
North Carolina comes alive during springtime with warm weather, blossoming blooms and fun-filled festivals. Here’s a selection of North Carolina events this spring. Find more in our events calendar.
Biltmore Festival of Flowers
March 21-May 31
The gardens at George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre Asheville estate come to life with more than 100,000 tulips along with poppies, pansies, snapdragons and acres of azaleas that chime in. Roses begin a reign that runs through summer, and natural gardens and walking trails showcase native and exotic blooms. Designer presentations, seminars and accessible experts add take-home value to the experience, which is accompanied by concerts and other activities.
Birdhouses on Parade
March 23-April 9
If you were a bird, you could probably find your dream house in Chapel Hill at the Carolina Inn’s showcase of one-of-a-kind birdhouses and feeders, all created by North Carolina artists. Azaleas, dogwoods and other spring bloomers enhance the beauty of one of America’s prettiest college towns and add to the reasons to visit.
March 30, May 5
Ramps — also known as spring onions, wood leeks or wild garlic — make a tasty dish if fried up with some potatoes, eggs or freshly caught trout. Celebrate the harvest at one of these events in the North Carolina mountains: Rainbows & Ramps, March 30, Cherokee, (828) 554-6471; 79th annual Ramp Festival, May 5, Waynesville, (828) 456-8691.
Easter Sunrise Service
The nation’s largest Moravian sunrise service in Winston-Salem draws more than 6,000 worshippers to Home Moravian Church for a service that traces its origins to Saxony in 1732. First held here in 1772, the service includes a procession to God’s Acre, the Moravian graveyard, and music from a band with about 500 musicians.
North Carolina Beer Month
With approximately 75 breweries, North Carolina has become a premier state for beer and craft brewing. The inaugural North Carolina Beer Month celebrates the state’s beer with festivals, beer tastings, beer pairings and dinners, tap takeovers and other special events throughout the month from the mountains to the coast.
Statewide Star Party
Jupiter and its Galilean moons, the Orion Nebula, the Beehive Cluster and distant galaxies will all be visible during North Carolina’s first statewide star party. Gazing skyward from mountaintops, beaches, a wildlife refuge, historic sites and other scenic spots, partygoers can do more than enjoy the view — they can also contribute to the GLOBE at Night worldwide citizen science project. The event is part of the 2013 North Carolina Science Festival.
10th Annual Cycle North Carolina Spring Ride
Cycle North Carolina marks a milestone for its spring ride in Edenton, a town celebrating a milestone of its own: its tricentennial. Edenton was host to Cycle North Carolina’s inaugural spring ride, which has since grown to more than 1,100 riders from 27 states. Coastal scenery, flat roads and low traffic counts are signatures of the ride, which has options for 5 to 100 miles.
April 6, April 20, April 27
Admire the nimble horses that run the course and enjoy the competition for fanciest hat and finest tailgate feast — it’s all part of the American jump-racing tradition. North Carolina has three steeplechase events: the Stoneybrook Steeplechase, April 6, Raeford (near Pinehurst); the Block House Steeplechase, April 20, Tryon; and the Queens Cup Steeplechase, April 27, Mineral Springs (near Charlotte).
North Carolina Azalea Festival
The historic city of Wilmington pairs spring’s burst of azaleas with a bevy of belles in antebellum gowns, a fleet of visiting boats at the dock and a pageant with a royal list of past winners including Kelly Ripa, Phylicia A. Rashad and Polly Bergen. Home and garden tours, arts and crafts, concerts, a parade and even a circus play into this uncommonly stylish Southern festival.
Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival
Amid the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the village of Blowing Rock presents a variety of regional wines in tastings, seminars, cooking classes and winemakers’ dinners. Highlights include the final round of the Fire on the Rock Chef Challenge and a partnership with Alaska Seafood that will bring authentic Alaska cold water delicacies to the event.
East Carolina University in Greenville chose the Pirate as its mascot in recognition of Blackbeard and others who sailed into North Carolina history under the black flag. The city’s lively spring festival features the Buccaneer Bash, swordfights, a costume party and a pirate market — and warms up the crowd for summer’s pirate-inspired activities up and down the coast.
Songs are in the air at Wilkesboro, home of one of the world’s finest traditional music festivals. Guitar master Doc Watson created the four-day event in memory of his music partner and son, Merle, who died in 1985. Headliners for the 26th rendition include The Avett Brothers, The Charlie Daniels Band, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Delta Rae and Sam Bush, but this family-friendly festival’s true magic comes as much from its spirit as star names.
Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance
Pinehurst, America’s original golf resort, turns on the dazzle with its first Concours d’Elegance, gathering the crème de la crème of historic automobiles and motorcycles. Festivities include the Iron Mike Rally, a 36-mile drive to the Parade Field at Fort Bragg to honor the men and women of the military; a collector car auction; a “Heroes” gala; and the climactic Concours competition.
Paddle for the Border
Hundreds of colorful canoes and kayaks ease into the darkly beautiful waters of the historic Dismal Swamp Canal for a 7.5-mile paddle from South Mills across the Virginia border to Chesapeake. And as uninviting as the name “Dismal Swamp” might sound, be advised that this event typically fills up quickly.
Carthage Buggy Festival
Buggies were big business after the Civil War, and the Tyson and Jones Buggy Factory in Carthage produced top-of-the-line carriages. The town celebrates this heritage with the Buggy Festival, which includes a display of Tyson and Jones models, a doctor's buggy and several built by Amish communities. Entertainment, contests, crafts and other activities round out the event.
Tour de Falls
To see DuPont State Recreational Forest’s splendid falls (and, incidentally, sites where The Hunger Games was filmed in 2011), people normally hit the trails on foot or mountain bike. The Tour de Falls allows less active sightseers a rare bus ride to scenic spots in the forest — High Falls, Triple Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Julia. DuPont is between Hendersonville and Brevard.
Grandfather Mountain Naturalist Weekend
Observe the rare pink-shell azalea (Rhododendron vaseyi), endangered birds of prey, mountain crayfish and more natural treasures at Grandfather Mountain in Linville, an International Biosphere Reserve. The weekend includes a bird count, an owl prowl, a climate workshop, a culture walk, a habitat animal training workshop and other programs — plus a walk across the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge.
White Squirrel Festival
Brevard, a town on the edge of Pisgah National Forest is best known for music, mountain biking and white squirrels, which are counted in fall and celebrated in spring. Memorial Day weekend’s White Squirrel Festival includes music, a gallery walk, a Soap Box Derby down Jailhouse Hill and other events in the delightful downtown.
added: March 28, 2012
updated: March 20, 2013
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