Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on June 9, 2023.
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)
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Commemorate Summer in North Carolina
Enjoy the Water
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.
- Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock will host their annual Fireworks Extravaganza.
- Fort Bragg hosts a lively Fourth of July event with parachute free-fall demonstrations, a flag ceremony, and music headlined by Sheryl Crow.
- The fun continues beyond Independence Day, with celebrations in Cashiers and Canton lighting up the sky.
- Minor League Baseball games will also hold fireworks after games throughout summer if you’re looking for constantly lit skies.
- Throughout the summer, head to Carolina Beach and enjoy the Fireworks by the Sea and Boardwalk Blast. The fun kicks off every Thursday during the summer.
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:
- The newly-named Butner Summer Festival, formerly the Butner’s Chicken Pickin’, kicks off a pretty hot schedule of NC food events during the first weekend of June.
- Of course, you have to visit Cary in June for their Pimento Cheese Festival.
- The beaches of Topsail Island (and their restaurants) aren’t the only thing bringing people to Pender County. Burgaw’s NC Blueberry Festival attracts thousands of visitors during this June event.
- Tons of foodies will converge at Franklin’s mid-June Taste of Scotland Festival.
- Cool off in the August heat at Fair Bluff’s North Carolina Watermelon Festival.
- And finally, end the summer at the Ocracoke Fig Festival. Come celebrate the fruit’s history on our coast with a bake-off, tastings, and more.
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!
Flower Celebrations During Summer in North Carolina
Summer in North Carolina is also a time of flower celebrations. Here are a few of them:
- Enjoy the natural beauty of the azalea flowers at the Graham County Native Azalea Festival in Robbinsville. Hike up Hooper Bald for a look at a species you won’t see anywhere else. Historic Tapoco Lodge is the perfect base for this wonderful summer event!
- Also in the mountains is Bakersville’s Rhododendron Festival in June, which brings together a craft fair, car show, and 10k run with its long-standing pageant.
- One of our favorite free summer events in Raleigh is the amazing sunflower field at Dorothea Dix Park.
‘Cue and Trains
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.
Run, Hike, and Bike
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!
Hang Out with Bears and Other Wildlife
Sapphire Valley Resort’s Mountain Wildlife Days in mid-July features hikes, field trips, and close-up opportunities with live animals.
Heat Up with the Arts
There are some interesting arts festivals happening during summer in North Carolina, too!
- Easels on the Green in Cashiers will celebrate Western North Carolina’s pottery heritage with featured artisans, demonstrations, and talks.
- The Backwoods Beat Music & Art Festival in Sparta honors the memory of local polymath TJ Worthington with music, a songwriting competition, and a workshop.
- Mr. and Mrs. Claus usually appear in Seagrove for Christmas in July, which features hand-made pottery demos, weaving, and knitting.
- And a couple of times this summer, you can head to Banner Elk for their Fine Arts and Master Crafts Festival which takes place in both July and August. There, a number of vendors will be selling jewelry, sculptures, glass art, pottery, and more. Don’t forget to check out one of the many great restaurants in Banner Elk, too!
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.
Celebrate History and Heritage
Our state’s history is rich—both culturally and physically—and you can celebrate this throughout summer in North Carolina.
- At Vein Mountain’s NC Gold Festival, learn about our “first in gold mining” heritage and try panning for some yourself.
- Commemorate a key Revolutionary War event with the 241st-anniversary reenactment of the Battle at House in the Horseshoe. It takes place in July at the Sanford site.
- We can’t talk history without mentioning the steam-powered celebration at Tweetsie’s Railroad Heritage Weekend in Blowing Rock. Also, keep an eye out for Tweetsie Christmas during the holidays.
- End a fruitful summer in Macon County with the Franklin Folk Festival. Come out for music, an antique car show, and plenty more entertainment.
Outdoor and Indoor Sports
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.
Labor Day Apple Picking
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.
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.