Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on November 6, 2023.
May is a beautiful time to explore and celebrate North Carolina, and one way is through these awesome local events scattered around the state. From the mountains to the sea, there’s plenty to do every weekend this month.
In this guide, we’re going to share events you should check out throughout the month. Here are 20-plus bucket-list-worthy things to do in North Carolina in May, ordered by the starting date and alphabetized by the city when local events simultaneously occur.
Here’s how you can easily jump around to the date that you’re looking for.
- Featured Listing
- May 1-10
- May 11-20
- May 21-31
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Read More: Spring in North Carolina
Featured Events in May
Carolina Indie Fest in Sanford
Carolina Indie Fest (May 12-13) is an annual music festival held in Sanford. 10 Indie bands play over two days and that’s not the only fun found here.
The festival also features a food truck rodeo, new beer releases, dozens of crafty vendors, and much more!
Read More: The NC Tripping Events Calendar
Things to Do in North Carolina in May (1-10)
- Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance in Pittsboro (May 4-7)
- BBQ Fest on the Neuse in Kinston (May 5-6)
- North Carolina Maritime Museum Wooden Boat Show in Beaufort (May 6)
- Ham & Yam Festival in Smithfield (May 6)
- Paddle for the Border in South Mills (May 6)
- Pig in the Park in Goldsboro (May 12-13)
Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance in Pittsboro (May 4-7)
This year marks the 19th year of the Spring Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance, a family-friendly event featuring an eclectic lineup of bands and singer-songwriters, plus crafts, dance workshops, kids activities and food vendors.
BBQ Fest on the Neuse in Kinston (May 5-6)
North Carolina Maritime Museum Wooden Boat Show in Beaufort (May 6)
The longest ongoing wooden boat show in the Southeast occurs every year along the shores of beautiful and historic Beaufort. The 49th annual Wooden Boat Show features small wooden boats, historic vessels, nautical crafts, and demonstrations.
This free event is great for all ages and levels of interest.
Read More: The Best Things to Do in Beaufort
Ham & Yam Festival in Smithfield (May 6)
This event is filled with fun and entertainment for the whole family.
Read More: The Best Day Trips from Raleigh
Paddle for the Border in South Mills (May 6)
If you’re having some watery fun, join everyone else at Dismal Swamp State Park‘s annual Paddle for the Border. Boaters from all over North Carolina and Virginia convene in South Mills to follow the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail.
You can canoe or kayak from South Mills, NC to Chesapeake, VA and enjoy the scenic waterways.
Things to Do in North Carolina in May (11-20)
- Pig in the Park in Goldsboro (May 12-13)
- North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival in Huntersville (May 12-13)
- Greensboro Bound (May 18-21)
- Hang Gliding Spectacular in Nags Head (May 18-21)
- Plein Air Festival in Southport (May 18)
- North Carolina Black Film Festival in Wilmington (May 18-21)
- WNC Bigfoot Festival (May 19-20)
- Beaufort Music Festival (May 19-20)
- North Carolina Spring Home Expo in Fayetteville (May 19-21)
Pig in the Park in Goldsboro (May 12-13)
The annual whole hog barbecue competition is a family-friendly event highlighting the history and barbeque traditions of Wayne County. 15 teams will face off in two divisions and the attendees get to taste the results. Pig in the Park feeds over 5,000 festival-goers each year!
North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival in Huntersville (May 12-13)
Read More: The Best Day Trips from Charlotte
Greensboro Bound (May 18-20)
Greensboro Bound gives back to the community in a variety of ways throughout the year, but its annual festival in May is where everything comes together. This is when you’ll find 60+ authors, poets, and spoken word artists in Gate City for a true celebration of literature.
Hang Gliding Spectacular in Nags Head (May 18-21)
During the 51st annual Hang Gliding Spectacular, professionals and spectators will be at Jockey’s Ridge State Park for four days of competition fun. Admission is free for spectators and prices for competitors range from $60 to $100 for single or combo.
Plein Air Festival in Southport (May 18-20)
Festivities during Southport’s Plein Air Festival include a painting workshop and art auction. Visits to local galleries, supervised Plein Air for kids (supplies included), and multiple other events headline this festival that’s open to all painters, regardless of level and age.
North Carolina Black Film Festival in Wilmington (May 18-21)
The North Carolina Black Film Festival (NCBFF) celebrates independent films by African American filmmakers. The four-day event is packed with screenings of feature films, shorts, and documentaries at two venues in Wilmington.
Read More: 50+ Awesome Things to Do in Wilmington
Lake James Bigfoot Conference (May 19)
WNC Bigfoot Festival in Marion (May 20)
Marion’s annual WNC Bigfoot Festival is all about the legendary creature that may or may not wander the Northeast US and Marion’s surroundings. This fun festival includes Bigfoot-themed food and souvenirs and an indoor expo area.
The Lake James Bigfoot Conference starts convincing skeptics on May 19.
Read More: Day Trips from Asheville
Beaufort Music Festival (May 19-20)
The Beaufort Music Festival is a coastal tradition, entertaining people for over 30 years. A variety of vendors, including food and drink, will join the bands playing at Gallants Channel.
North Carolina Spring Home Expo in Fayetteville (May 19-21)
Getting ready to make improvements to your home? The North Carolina Spring Home Expo is the best place for you to get inspiration and meet with the best local and national vendors to make your vision a reality.
Whether it’s landscaping, home décor, or remodeling you’re seeking, there will be vendors to assist you! Parking and admission is free!
Read More: Outstanding Things to Do in Fayetteville
Things to Do in North Carolina in May (20-31)
- Atlantic Beach Music Festival in Atlantic Beach (May 20)
- Yadkin Valley Wine Festival in Elkin (May 20)
- Cheerwine Festival in Salisbury (May 20)
- Carolina Blues Festival in Greensboro (May 20)
- ACC Baseball Championship in Durham (May 23-28)
- White Squirrel Weekend in Brevard (May 26-28)
- APS Walk for the Animals in Durham (May 27)
- Coca-Cola 600 in Concord (May 28)
Atlantic Beach Music Festival in Atlantic Beach (May 20)
Kick off the Atlantic Beach Music Festival with bands, music, and a day of fun! They’ll keep things rolling until just after 6:00 pm along the Boardwalk at the Circle.
Admission to this event is free, but pets and glass containers are prohibited.
Read More: Atlantis Lodge in Atlantic Beach
Yadkin Valley Wine Festival in Elkin (May 20)
Or, you can be extra ambitious and participate in the Yadkin Valley Tour De Vino. Rides measure 30, 31, 52, 71, and 100 miles.
Cheerwine Festival in Salisbury (May 20)
Take in all things cherry-flavored in Salisbury during the annual Cheerwine Festival. Local arts and craft vendors pair up with Cheerwine-inspired food and beer and family-friendly activities galore during this very popular day-long festival.
Carolina Blues Festival in Greensboro (May 20)
Greensboro’s LeBauer Park hosts this year’s Carolina Blues Festival, the longest-running of its kind in the Southeast. Local blues acts will share the stage with bands from around the US and beyond during this rain-or-shine event!
Read More: Awesome Things to Do in Greensboro
ACC Baseball Championship in Durham (May 23-28)
White Squirrel Weekend in Brevard (May 26-28)
There’ll be tons of live music, food and drink from local restaurants and breweries, craft and retail vendors, and much more!
Together, those fun events should keep you more than entertained while spending time in Transylvania County.
APS Walk for the Animals in Durham (May 27)
Support our best friends at the Animal Protection Society of Durham’s annual Walk for the Animals. You can participate by fundraising—on your own or with your team—for the roughly 4,000 homeless, abandoned, neglected, or abused animals that APS of Durham cares for each year.
A 1.5-mile walk will commence at Duke University’s East Campus, with festivities including pet contests, raffles, entertainment, food, a kids zone, and more.
Read More: 50+ Awesome Things to Do in Durham
Coca-Cola 600 in Concord (May 28)
Ready for These Fun Things to Do in North Carolina in May?
Thanks to all these things to do in North Carolina in May, you’ve got tons of ways to enjoy the state before the heat and humidity of summer truly kicks in.
Is there something we should add to this list? Let us know about it here or via email and we’ll gladly take a look!
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