Labor Day Weekend (and Beyond) in North Carolina

Labor Day Weekend (and Beyond) in North Carolina

Hendersonville hosts the North Carolina Apple Festival and is a great home base to a weekend in the mountains

You may not want to think about summer drawing to a close, but Labor Day (Sept. 4, 2017) is considered the end to the summer travel season. In North Carolina, you'll find plenty of popular festivals and signature events taking place during the long holiday weekend – from the Mile High Kite Festival in the mountains to the Oak Island Labor Day Surf Off on the coast. Plus, the weekend after offers some of our state's largest annual music festivals.

End your summer on a high note by making plans to attend one (or more) of the events below.

Labor Day Weekend

Fireworks by the Sea & Boardwalk Blast
Sept. 1 , Carolina Beach
The summer-long, weekly series is wrapping up. So get in your chance to enjoy live music from the gazebo stage, the sun setting over the beach, and fireworks on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk after dark. Admission: free.

46th Annual Smoky Mountain Folk Festival
Sept. 1-2, Lake Junaluska
Enjoy two nights of the music and dance of the Southern Appalachian region, including fiddlers, banjo players, string bands, ballad singers, buck dancers and square dance teams. The grand stage of the auditorium overlooks beautiful Lake Junaluska. Admission: free-$12.

Labor Day Celebration at U.S. National Whitewater Center
Sept. 1-3, Charlotte
Friday evening features a film showcase outdoors; Saturday begins with a triathlon and ends with the River Jam concert; and Sunday offers a full day of events, beginning with a trail race, followed by yoga, a cornhole tournament, live bands and concludes with fireworks. Plus, all the activities will be open, including rafting, zip lining, rock climbing, and the restaurants and beer garden. Admission: free; parking: $5; cost varies to participate in activities such as races and rafting.

U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte

Experience outdoor adventures at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

Matthews Alive Festival
Sept. 1-4, Matthews
Enjoy your time off in this town just outside of Charlotte. The four-day festival, celebrating its 25th anniversary, features amusement rides, games, live concerts, food, arts and crafts, a petting zoo and more. Plus, for the first time, a fireworks show will take place Saturday night. Admission: free; ticket fee for rides.

71st Annual North Carolina Apple Festival
Sept. 1-4, Hendersonville
This long-running festival features a street fair on historic Main Street, with live music, arts and crafts, apple growers, kids' activities, special exhibits, food and more. Plus, the King Apple Parade takes place on Labor Day. Admission: free.

BBQ & Brews Fontana Trestle Train
Sept. 2, Bryson City
Departing from Bryson City, the BBQ & Brew train will travel to the Fontana Lake Trestle and arrive just around sunset for a spectacular view. A Southern-style barbecue meal will be served, paired with beer from local breweries. Admission: $82.

Belk College Kickoff: NC State vs. South Carolina
Sept. 2, Charlotte
Experience big-time college football at Bank of America Stadium in the heart of Uptown Charlotte. The Wolfpack and Gamecocks face off during this opening weekend of the season, pitting the ACC against the SEC. You can make a full day of it by also attending the Belk College Kickoff FanFest. Admission: FanFest, free; football game, $55 and up.

28th Annual Oak Island Art Guild Arts & Crafts Festival
Sept. 2, Oak Island
More than 140 artists and craft vendors who will show and sell their handmade wares, including fine art, pottery, stained glass, needlecraft, ornaments, photography, jewelry, toys and more. Food vendors will be on site as well. Admission: free.

Brunswick Islands - Oak Island kayaking

Brunswick County Tourism Development Authority

Enjoy one last weekend of summer on Oak Island

Oak Island Labor Day Surf Off
Sept. 2, Oak Island
All levels of surfers and stand-up paddle boarders are invited to Ocean Crest Pier to compete in this annual event, which you'll also enjoy as a spectator. A cornhole tournament with prizes takes place at the 16th Street beach access.

7th Annual John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival
Sept. 2-3, High Point
On Saturday, you can enjoy the music of Gerald Albright, Jonathan Butler, Matthew Whitaker, Robert Randolph and Eddie Palmieri. On Sunday, listen to the sounds of Special EFX, Branford Marsalis with Joey Calderazzo, Spyro Gyra and Alexis Morrast. Admission: $65 and up.

Mile High Kite & Craft Festival
Sept. 2-3, Beech Mountain
Located at more than 5,000 feet in elevation, the town meadow makes it easy to sail kites. The festival weekend features open kite flying Saturday afternoon and an all-ages street dance that evening. On Sunday, prizes will be awarded for the biggest kite, smallest kite and best decorated kite. Other activities include races with kids pulling parachute kites, face painting and a variety of craft and food vendors. Admission: free.

Emerald Village's RockFest
Sept. 2-3, Little Switzerland
Celebrate the end of summer at historic mines. There will be live bands performing mountain bluegrass, acoustic, country and gospel. You'll also learn the geologic history of the mines and enjoy a guided hike to a hidden mine, as well as the special underground Black Light Mine Tour at night. Admission: free; additional cost for mine tour.

Black Light Mine Tour at Emerald Village

The Black Light Mine Tour takes place Saturday night during Labor Day weekend

African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County
Sept. 2-3, Raleigh
This annual celebration of African American culture is expressed through art, music, food and community. Local, national and international artists, performers, food vendors and area business owners will be a part of the showcases. Admission: free.

Inaugural Tema Festival
Sept. 2-3, Laurinburg
It's a two-day cultural arts celebration highlighting African American history and heritage through exhibitions, music, food and dance. This festival serves to empower and educate while promoting community, unity and healthy living. Admission: cost varies.

111th Canton Labor Day Celebration
Sept. 3-4, Canton
Twenty bands will perform across three days, along with a kids' village, handmade crafts, a car show, farmers market, food trucks, clogging and more. Admission: Sunday, $10; Monday, free.

Labor Day - Music, Gelato and Food Truck at Raffaldini Vineyards
Sept. 4, Ronda
Enjoy your holiday with an afternoon of live music, a refreshing glass of wine from the award-winning selection, and even make a day of it with a picnic.

After Labor Day

Hopscotch Music Festival
Sept. 7-10, Raleigh
This annual festival has been called "America's (Secretly) Best Festival" and "the premier experimental and underground festival in America." More than 120 bands will perform over four days, including Solange, Run the Jewels, Future Islands, Big Boi (of Outkast), Angel Olsen and Margo Price. The Hopscotch Design Festival is also held in conjunction during the first two days. Admission: $125-$349.

Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh

Hopscotch Music Festival's main stage at Raleigh City Plaza

Ayden Collard Festival
Sept. 7-10, Ayden
Find lots of food and fun at the "the Official Collard Festival of North Carolina." The itinerary includes a pageant, parade, road race, art show, live entertainment, carnival rides, games and collard cooking and eating contests. Admission: cost varies.

The 77th National Folk Festival
Sept. 8-10, Greensboro
This national festival concludes its three-year run in Greensboro year, displaying the roots, richness and variety of American culture through music, dance, crafts, storytelling and food. The three-day event features more than 300 performers and craftspeople, seven stages, craft exhibits and demonstrations and parades. Read more about family fun at the National Folk Festival. Admission: free.

12th Annual Mountain Song Festival
Sept. 8-10, 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 include Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Hot Rize, Steep Canyon Rangers, Sierra Hull, Mipso and more. There will be plenty of food, local artists, children’s activities and nature displays. Admission: $35 and up.

Autumn at Oz
Sept. 8-10, Beech Mountain
While it isn't quite fall yet, get excited about the upcoming season with this annual event, which sells out every year. Travel back in time to 1939 to the world of "Oz" high atop Beech Mountain at the Land of Oz theme park. Children and adults alike will be enchanted as they experience the re-creation of Dorothy’s trip from her farm home in Kansas through the twister and down the yellow brick road to the "Land of Oz." Admission: $40.

11th Annual North Carolina Hot Sauce Contest and Festival
Sept. 9, Oxford
North Carolina’s finest hot sauces and barbecue sauces, along with local craft breweries and wineries, and live bands spice up the blends and texture of historic downtown. Enter the main event of the day, the pepper eating contest, for your chance to grab the hottest title in the state. There will also be kids' activities and an antique car show. Admission: free.

Run and Ride at Carowinds
Sept. 9-10, Charlotte
Get your heart pounding during one of the running events through the amusement park, and then your lungs screaming as you take on some of the best roller coasters in the country, including Fury 325. Choose from a half-marathon, quarter-marathon, 5K and 1-mile fun run. Admission: $35-$110; entry fees for marathons and 5K include one-day pass to Carowinds.

Run and Ride at Carowinds


Run and Ride features runs ranging from one mile to a half marathon

End of Summer Baseball

North Carolina is home to 11 minor league baseball teams, and their regular seasons end in early September. Spend an evening at the ballpark - good hot dogs, beer, post-game fireworks - before summer's over. Check out some of our teams below.

Asheville Tourists
McCormick Field, Asheville

Carolina Mudcats
Five County Stadium, Zebulon (near Raleigh)

Charlotte Knights
BB&T Ballpark, Charlotte

Durham Bulls
Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham

Greensboro Grasshoppers
NewBridge Bank Park, Greensboro

Hickory Crawdads
L.P. Frans Stadium, Hickory

Winston-Salem Dash
BB&T Ballpark, Winston-Salem


There’s much to see and do in North Carolina, so read on.

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