Summer in North Carolina (and 50+ Great Events!)

Last Updated on November 26, 2022

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Summer in North Carolina is busy, and not just with folks coming in from everywhere. Our state’s residents are joining them, using this time to enjoy our awesome state.

People from all regions of North Carolina have come together in summer to host some of the state’s best events. We’ve uncovered quite a few and want to share them with you, in this guide that covers summer things to do in North Carolina.

Read More: 100+ Unique Things to Do in North Carolina

Summer in North Carolina (Specific Months)

This post is a part of our seasonal guide series, where we’ve also covered events in spring, winter, and fall! Many of these events also appear in our monthly event guides.

For info about dates, please check the following:

Commemorate Summer in North Carolina

Summer might not officially start until a bit later, but the Washington Summer Festival is a great way to kick things off. There’ll be fireworks, food, music, and more fun in this awesome small town.

If you want to keep things by the book, check out the Summer Solstice Festival in Greensboro. A drum circle, parade, and “Fire Finale” headline this annual showcase of Gate City. 

Read More: Fun Museums in Greensboro (Kid-Friendly, Contemporary Art, and More!)

Enjoy the Water

Throughout summer in North Carolina, you’ll likely find us at the beach, searching for waterfalls, or paddling rivers and lakes. We have a hard time picking just one activity for the summer!

What do you think? Do you prefer one particular watery spot in North Carolina? Let us know about it in the comments or by email.

Read More: 20+ Kid-Friendly Waterfalls In NC (Easy Hikes And Swimming Holes!)

Fireworks Galore

NC Local Events in Summer Fireworks Image

You’ll find Fourth of July fireworks events throughout the state, as far west as Bryson City and all the way to the Outer Banks.

Read More: Carolina Beach State Park (and 7 Great Things to Do There!)

Food Festivals and Events

North Carolina hosts some pretty impressive food festivals. Here’s a breakdown of some of those food festivals hosted in the summer:

Also, don’t forget that summer in North Carolina is a great time to join a Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tour! We had a great experience with it and can’t wait to join the next one!

Read More: Portsmouth Island (How to See this Beautiful Uninhabited Place)

Flower Celebrations During Summer in North Carolina

Things to Do in North Carolina in July Dorothea Dix Sunflowers Raleigh Image

Summer in North Carolina is also a time of flower celebrations. Here are a few of them:

Read More: Hiking Roan Mountain from Carvers Gap (near Bakersville)

‘Cue and Trains

Bryson City Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

BBQ & Brew Train departs from Bryson City a few times throughout the summer.

Its arrival at the Fontana Lake Trestle for the sunset will leave riders awestruck each time. Enjoy the ride while munching on barbecue and sampling local beers, while the kids can have a yummy root beer.

Read More: Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City (Everything You Need to Know to Have a Great Time!)

Run, Hike, and Bike

Things to Do in Elkin NC Carter Falls

Things heat up during summer in North Carolina but there are still plenty of opportunities to get outside and explore!

Head over to Elkin for its Trail Days Festival, with a race, guided hikes, paddling events, and more happening over the first weekend in June. Stick around for a meal at one of the town’s awesome restaurants!

And finally, Race to the Rock gives entrants the option of a 5k run or 25-mile bike to the base of Chimney Rock. The path guarantees a beautiful panoramic view of Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge

Read More: Chimney Rock State Park (How to Enjoy an NC Icon)

Hang Out with Bears and Other Wildlife

Plymouth’s North Carolina Black Bear Festival is back in June with award-winning fun. Over 30 bear-themed activities celebrate the world’s largest black bears, which can be found along the NC coast.

Sapphire Valley Resort’s Mountain Wildlife Days in mid-July features hikes, field trips, and close-up opportunities with live animals.

Read More: 25 of the Most Amazing Winter Hikes in North Carolina

Heat Up with the Arts

There are some interesting arts festivals happening during summer in North Carolina, too!

Read More: Christmas in North Carolina (the Best Holiday Events)

Music Festivals

Summer is a big time for concerts and we can’t cover them all here. However, we will share a few interesting music festivals happening:

  • The State Annual Singing Convention in Downtown Benson remains one of the largest and oldest gospel sings in the US. Thousands of people attend each year, so bring a lawn chair to guarantee a seat.
  • For laid-back fun in the place where the shag was born, check out the Carolina Beach Music Festival.
  • The Grooves Music Festival in Greenville commemorates African-American Music Appreciation Month with Carroll Dashiell, more R&B music, and great food.
  • Forest City’s Cherry Bounce Festival in June is named for the corn-based whiskey “Cherry Bounce.” The festival consists of live bluegrass music, art vendors, food trucks, and lots of cherry-inspired memorabilia.

Read More: 50+ Easy Day Trips from Fayetteville (Great Getaways!)

Celebrate History and Heritage

Kid Friendly Events in NC Tweetsie2

Our state’s history is rich—both culturally and physically—and you can celebrate this throughout summer in North Carolina.

Read More: 125+ Facts About North Carolina That You Should Know

Outdoor and Indoor Sports

Summer in North Carolina Charlotte Knights Minor League Baseball Image

Minor League Baseball starts in April but it’s in full swing by the time we get to summer in North Carolina.

In addition to fun times at the ballpark, check out these sports events, too. The Big Rock Tournament comes back to take over Morehead City in June. Boats will descend upon the Crystal Coast town to catch blue marlin and then hook that huge prize.

Read More: 30+ Amazing NC Coastal Towns (+ Things to Do in Each One!)

Labor Day Apple Picking

Apple Picking in NC Flat Rock Sky Top Orchards

And just as summer’s end approaches, you can get a sneak peak into fall at the North Carolina Apple Festival in Henderson County. Known as one of the best Street Fairs in the Carolinas, there’ll be a parade, arts and crafts, festival food, and of course, tons of apples from local orchards.

There are also plenty of places to go apple picking here and elsewhere throughout the state. We think this is a fitting way to close out summer. 

Whether or not you’re able to make the NC Apple Festival, we think you should know about these great restaurants and fun things to do in Hendersonville!

Read More: Colorful Fall Hikes in North Carolina (+ 20 Beautiful Places to Explore!)

What are Your Favorite Things to Do During Summer in North Carolina?

Wow! So much going on in our state really makes this the hottest and best time of year. With all these fun summer things to do in North Carolina, we’re having a hard time choosing which one to visit first.

If it were up to you, which of these fun events would you start with? Is there something we missed? Let us know in the comments or by email.

Don’t forget to share your summer in North Carolina adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group.

More Things to Do in North Carolina

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