Family Fun at the National Folk Festival in Greensboro

Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors BureauFamily Fun at the National Folk Festival in Greensboro

The National Folk Festival features performances by more than 300 musicians, dancers and craftspeople

As the most-populated of the Triad cities, Greensboro showcases the richness in arts, culture and history the area is known for. It’s a great destination year-round for family fun and special events, and one of its largest is kicking off festival season for the third consecutive year. The National Folk Festival takes place September 8-10, 2017, the final leg of Greensboro’s three-year run hosting one of the country’s oldest festivals.

The National Folk Festival is revered for its diverse musical lineups and variety of entertainment. The festival features performances by more than 300 artists, including blues, bluegrass, gospel, hip-hop, honky-tonk, jazz, mariachi, polka, rockabilly and more genres. The lineup also showcases traditional music and dance from Native American, Celtic, Acadian, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, East Asian, Appalachian, Latin American, Eastern European, African and Pacific Island cultures.

Spread across seven stages throughout downtown Greensboro, the free, three-day festival offers plenty for families to see and do. It features a dedicated family area where you’ll find hands-on crafts, parades, games and learning activities for children and adults, in addition to storytelling and interactive music and dance on the family stage.

National Folk Festival family activities

Greensboro Area CVB

Enjoy hands-on activities, storytelling, puppetry and more at the National Folk Festival

The North Carolina Folklife Area will display the rich traditions found from the southern Appalachians to the state’s coast. Experience the influence millennial artists are having in traditional music, craft, storytelling and performance poetry with the “Generation Now!” program. Plus, sample North Carolina wines and craft brews, including some specifically concocted for the festival.

If you’re planning your trip for festival weekend (or any time of year), there are plenty of family-friendly attractions in Greensboro to round out your itinerary.

The Greensboro Science Center is a lot more than its name lets on – it’s home to a museum, zoo and aquarium. You can stand with dinosaurs, and grab a Category 5 hurricane in the interactive museum. Get close to animals at the zoo and even more so when you schedule a penguin encounter, where you can pet and play with these Antarctic natives. Travel into space or history at the OmniSphere Theater, which presents full-dome and 3-D movies and laser shows. Go under the waves at the Carolina SciQuarium and watch the watery world of otters, sharks, turtles and other creatures.

Carolina SciQuarium at Greensboro Science Center

Greensboro Area CVB

Carolina SciQuarium provides an immersion experience to learn about different species of animals and fish

You’ll also gain access to the science center with your admission to SKYWILD, the treetop adventure park that’s strung above the zoo. The 60 rope challenges, which include zip lines, are open to thrill seekers ages 8 and older. You’re allowed two hours on the course and can expect to mimic the movements of the animals nearby.

SKYWILD at Greensboro Science Center

Greensboro Area CVB

SKYWILD offers 60 challenges at heights of up to 45 feet

One of Greensboro’s newest family destinations, Carolyn and Maurice LeBauer Park, opened in August 2016. It includes play areas for children and dogs, a performance pavilion, putting green, garden and the Southeast’s largest public art instillation. “Where We Meet,” created by renowned artist Janet Echelman, is a colorful net hung above the park that celebrates the city’s textile ties, which bind generations of residents.

Turn young children loose on 20 interactive exhibits at Greensboro Children’s Museum, which is next to the park. They can use real stethoscopes and heal pretend patients in The Health Center. Visit The Transportation Center, and pretend to fly an actual DC-9 or climb into a racecar from NASCAR’s most famous family, the Pettys, whose own museum is a few miles south in Randleman. Get your hands dirty in the edible schoolyard. Interactive lessons for all ages are held year-round in the half-acre garden and classroom, covering fresh foods, wellness and cooking.

Award-winning chef Kris Fuller — once a contestant on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen — puts a unique spin on fresh, local food at her two downtown restaurants. Grab a seat at a family-style table at Crafted – The Art of Street Food and munch on complimentary popcorn while you set your culinary itinerary. Dishes include Canadian poutine, Vietnamese pho and Cuban sandwiches. There’s even an American corn dog. Vegan dishes are available, along with enough choices to satisfy your family’s pickiest eater.

Crafted the Art of Street Food

Greensboro Area CVB

Crafted – The Art of Street Food brings the flair of the world's street vendors under one roof

Crafted – The Art of the Taco was Fuller’s first restaurant. The tacos here are filled with an eclectic array of ingredients. Sink your teeth into a comforting combination of mac ‘n cheese, pulled pork and barbecue sauce in the Big Truck. The burgers are delicious, too. Seating is limited and first served, so come early or budget time to wait.

Make plans to attend the National Folk Festival in September, and follow the anticipation with the #NCFolkFest hashtag on social media. And don’t worry, Greensboro’s folk music scene won’t go quiet when the national festival moves on after 2017 – plans are in motion for a permanent North Carolina Folk Festival, beginning in 2018.

Written by Pete M. Anderson for VisitNC.com, in partnership with Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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