Enjoy the Rhythm of Fall Music Festivals

Enjoy the Rhythm of Fall Music Festivals

John Coltrane statue in High Point

Whether your taste in music is rock, rhythm and blues, bluegrass, hip-hop metal, or somewhere in between, there’s a music festival that will have you dancing in the streets this fall.

Smoky Mountain Folk Festival
Aug. 30 – 31, Lake Junaluska
Held annually over Labor Day weekend in Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska, the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival is a celebration of traditional Southern Appalachian music and dance by some of the region’s finest fiddlers, banjo players, string bands, ballad singers, buck dancers and square dance teams, as well as the classic sounds of dulcimer, harmonica, jew’s harp, bagpipes, spoons, saws and folk ensembles. Be sure to check out the impromptu jam sessions under the big tent adjacent to the auditorium.

John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival
Aug. 31, High Point
Sponsored by The Friends of John Coltrane, this event celebrates and preserves the life and music of jazz saxophonist legend (and High Point native) John Coltrane. Headlining the third annual festival are Al Jarreau, Dave Koz and his friends from his Summer Horns Tour, Christian Scott, the Music Maker Blues Revue, and the North Carolina Coltrane All-Star Band. Splurge with a VIP ticket that includes free parking, two drinks, VIP seating at the front of the stage and access to the VIP tent.

Aug. 31 – Sept. 1, Chapel Hill
An outdoor festival of progressive rock music in Chapel Hill, ProgDay has been held annually since 1995, making it the longest running progressive rock event in the world. Featuring artists from as close as Raleigh and as far away as Sweden, Italy, Venezuela and Indonesia, ProgDay shows will run continuously all day Saturday and Sunday at Storybook Farm with a Friday night pre-show at Local 506.

Hopscotch Music Fest
Sept. 5 – 7, Raleigh
Considered one of North America’s most talked-about long weekends for music lovers, Hopscotch Music Festival presents more than 175 national and international bands in more than 15 downtown Raleigh venues over three days. Almost every musical genre is represented including rock, hip-hop, alt-country, heavy metal, dance, punk, classical, noise, drone and folk. And with five varied ticket options from VIP three-day passes to all-ages shows at City Plaza, you can jam as much or as little as you like.

Mile High Music Fest
Sept. 8, Beech Mountain
Taking place in a natural amphitheater at the base of the slopes of Beech Mountain Resort, the inaugural Mile High Music Fest features country music sensation Randy House, who continues to climb the charts, along with two high-energy bands well known to followers of Americana and Bluegrass, Donna the Buffalo and Sons of Bluegrass. Food vendors and canopy rentals will be available to help make it a mile high party with your friends and family.

Mountain Song Festival
Sept. 13 – 14, Brevard
This family-friendly music event was inspired by the youth of Transylvania County and the proceeds benefit the local Boys and Girls Club. Held at Brevard Music Center’s Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium, the scheduled artists for 2013 include Steep Canyon Rangers, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, The O’Brien 3, and Shawn Camp. In addition to the mountain music, there will be plenty of food, local artists, children’s activities and nature interests.

World of Bluegrass
Sept. 24 – 28, Raleigh
The International Bluegrass Music Association’s "World of Bluegrass" annual convention, awards show, and fan festival relocates to Raleigh in 2013. The Wide Open Bluegrass Festival features newgrass, jamgrass and traditional bluegrass by more than 60 top acts such as Allison Krauss, Del McCoury, Bela Fleck and more on two performance stages, a workshop stage, plus evening and after-hours showcases at various hotels and other venues throughout Raleigh. Ancillary activities include a business conference, a music expo, workshops, fan/celebrity meet-and-greets and more.

French Broad Brew Fest
Sept. 28, Hot Springs
The third Annual French Broad Brew Fest in Hot Springs, just north of Asheville, offers up more than a dozen craft breweries, 12 hours of great music, and beautiful scenery. With the festival grounds located on the banks of the French Broad River and its intersection with the Appalachian Trail, festivalgoers can enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. French Broad Brew Fest is all about the music, craft beers, and food in one glorious afternoon.

Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival
Oct. 4 – 6, Manteo
Three days of "good ole Southern pickin’” in the tradition of Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival at Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo features more than a dozen bluegrass performers. Sunday highlights Bluegrass Gospel artists – and don’t miss the parking lot pickin’ and host hotel jam sessions throughout the weekend. The Bluegrass Bus Museum will also make an appearance on Saturday.

Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival
Oct. 12 – 13, Kure Beach
Celebrating its 20th year, this oceanside festival in Kure Beach presents nationally recognized blues and jazz performers on two stages, coastal cuisine, crafts, a wine tasting, and a children’s area with magicians, jugglers, clowns, and more. This years’ headliner is six-time Grammy Award-winner Buddy Guy, with other performances by The Will McBride Group, Wet Willie, Lee Venters and Vermillion Sands and more.

Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship
Oct. 18 – 19, Charlotte
Although mostly a barbecue cook-off with dozens of professional and amateur teams firing up their grills and competing for more than $35,000 in prizes, this annual Uptown Charlotte festival features two days of beer drinking, pork eating, and shaking your pig tail to the sounds of Mac Arnold & Plate Full ‘O Blues, Tinsley Ellis, and the Soul Rebels on the main stage Friday and Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights and Vintage Trouble on Saturday. Tasty food tours, the Carolina Brew Challenge and the ‘Cue Culture Marketplace round out the weekends’ festivities.

Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit
Oct. 25 – 27, Asheville
Celebrating the creative spirit of musical exploration, this 3-day music festival combines contemporary electronic music and the creative use of technology to produce world-class musical performances by many of the greatest artists in the genre. Taking place in various venues throughout Asheville, the summit also features talks, seminars and panels by artists and others, interactive experiences for the audience, art installations and exhibitions, and more within the electronic music world.

North Carolina Music & Arts Festival
Nov. 29 – 30, Lexington
Celebrating North Carolina’s great musicians and artists, the second annual North Carolina Music & Arts Festival in Lexington features more than a dozen local bands, along with celebrated local artists and craftsmen. Visual and writing arts presentations will take place throughout the weekend including spoken word performances by PoetSHE.

Lynn and Cele Seldon

Request your Travel Guide

Download or order FREE guides and maps

Discover Project Project 543

Explore unique spots across North Carolina

See all of our videos »

Close X