Oyster and Seafood Festivals

Oyster and Seafood Festivals

The North Carolina Seafood Festival, in Morehead City, is one of the largest festivals in the state

As fall approaches, so does oyster festival season in the Tar Heel State. Though each oyster-oriented festival has its own character, they all typically offer music, contests involving oysters, food and beverage vendors, and lots of oysters for sale in various forms. Steaming buckets of the tasty bivalves are the most typical festival fare, but the oyster is often celebrated raw, fried and in rich stews as well.

Considered the mollusk mother lode, with more than 30,000 fans of the almighty oyster typically in attendance, the North Carolina Oyster Festival on Ocean Isle Beach has something for everyone. Celebrating 37 years of bivalve heaven, this mid-October festival (Oct. 21-22, 2017) includes the North Carolina Oyster Shucking Championships (an official route to the national tournament), an oyster stew cook-off, live entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, a bustling kids' area, lots of varied food and beverage booths, shag competition, and – of course – lots of freshly steamed oysters for sale.

There are several other oyster festivals in the state, with the possibilities including: the First Flight Rotary Oink & Oyster Roast (Oct. 7, 2017, Kitty Hawk); the Airlie Gardens Oyster Roast (Oct. 20, 2017, Wilmington); the Burke Arts Council Oyster and Shrimp Festival (Oct. 28, 2017, Morganton); and the Sound Rivers 32nd Annual Oyster Roast (Nov. 11, 2017, Washington). Though these options may not boast the sheer size of the North Carolina Oyster Festival, the oysters will most assuredly taste just as good raw, steamed, fried or however you like your ode to oysters.

Of course, the abundance of seafood in North Carolina leads to festivals celebrating more than just oysters. For instance, there’s the huge North Carolina Seafood Festival (Oct. 6-8, 2017, Morehead City), commemorating its 30th anniversary this year. It's one of the largest festivals in the state and celebrates the bounty of the state’s natural resource with fishing tournaments, sailing regatta, a boat show and outdoor expo, live entertainment, tons of fresh seafood prepared any way you can imagine and the not-to-be-missed Flounder Fling. The event also honors those who have lost their lives in the fishing industry with the Blessing of the Fleet.

And seafood is what it’s all about at Day at the Docks (Sept. 15-16, 2017, Hatteras) as locals celebrate the spirit of Hatteras as a community anchored by the commercial and charter fisherman by hosting competitions, demonstrations, children’s activities and lots of seafood. There's also the Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival (Oct. 14-15, 2017, Kure Beach), which celebrates more than two decades of blues, jazz and coastal cuisine. At the Outer Banks Seafood Festival (Oct. 21, 2017, Nags Head), you'll see local commercial fishermen showcasing their fishing boats and live cooking demonstrations from Outer Banks Catch member restaurants.

Foodies who see beyond strictly seafood will want to take a bigger bite out of North Carolina with peach parties, watermelon festivals, sweet potato soirees, pig pickings, catfish fries and many more tasty possibilities in all four seasons.

Lynn and Cele Seldon are Oak Island-based travel writers who love covering their home state.


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

Raise a Pint to Fall Beer Festivals

Raise a Pint to Fall Beer Festivals

Tip a pint at Charlotte’s Mecktoberfest; pair beer and bluegrass in Asheville; toast the Lighthouse Beer and Wine Festival in Wilmington and more.

Grape Stomps and Harvest Festivals

Grape Stomps and Harvest Festivals

Celebrate the fall grape harvest at Childress, Raffaldini and Shelton vineyards and wine-tasting events from Charlotte to Bald Head Island.

Request your Travel Guide

Download or order FREE guides and maps

Discover Project Project 543

Explore unique spots across North Carolina