25+ Great Things to Do in North Carolina in May (Events)

Last Updated on January 25, 2023

Disclaimer: This site uses demographic data, email opt-ins, display advertising, and affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure and Privacy Policy pages for further explanation.

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.

  • Things to Do in North Carolina in May (TBD)
  • May 1-10
  • May 11-20
  • May 21-30

Read More: Spring in North Carolina

Things to Do in North Carolina in May 2022 (TBD)

Note: If you represent a tourism bureau, destination marketing organization, or PR agency and want placement here, please visit this page for more info.

Read More: March in North Carolina and April in North Carolina

APS Walk for the Animals, Durham (May TBD)

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

Lil John’s Mountain Music Festival, Snow Camp (May TBD)

In Alamance County, Lil John’s Mountain Music Festival promises three days of amazing bluegrass music in a peaceful farm setting. Held at Cane Creek Campground and RV Park, this late-May event should be a nice Memorial Day weekend getaway.

Hook, Line, & Drinker Festival, Sylva (TBD)

Celebrate North Carolina’s trout fishing capital at the third annual Hook, Line & Drinker Festival! Along the Fly Fishing Trail in Sylva, festival-goers can learn more about the craft, talk to vendors, listen to great music, and eat some delicious food.

Read More: Silver Run Falls in Jackson County (How to Reach this Gorgeous Waterfall!)

Things to Do in North Carolina in May (1-10)

Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance, 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.

Read More: 25 of the Best Things to Do in Chapel Hill and Orange County

BBQ Fest on the Neuse, Kinston (May 5-6)

Things to Do in North Carolina in May
Save some room for a “Pig in a Puppy” (left) from King’s.

At the annual BBQ Fest on the Neuse, you can celebrate Eastern North Carolina barbecue and more! In addition to the delicious food and competitions, check out the shopping and arts & crafts.

Get ready to explore the best of Kinston during this family-friendly (and kid-friendly) showcase.

While you’re in Kinston, check out the town’s restaurant scene. You’ll quickly find out that there’s more beyond Chef and the Farmer!

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

North Carolina Maritime Museum Wooden Boat Show, Beaufort (May 6)

What to Do in North Carolina in May Maritime Museum Beaufort Image

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

North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival, Huntersville (May 6-7)

If you love incredible beer and rocking good music, the 10th Annual NC Brewers and Music Festival in Huntersville is the place for you to jam out.

There, you can try new and favorite beers (including Charlotte‘s Birdsong and Asheville‘s Bhramari) and an incredible lineup of bands at the beautiful Historic Rural Hill.

Read More: The Best Day Trips from Charlotte

Ham & Yam Festival, Smithfield (May 6)

It’s off the races for the little piggies in Johnston County during the Ham & Yam Festival. Head out to Downtown Smithfield for pig races, vendors, and of course, ham and yams.

This event is filled with fun and entertainment for the whole family.

Read More: The Best Day Trips from Raleigh

Paddle for the Border, South Mills (May 6)

If you’re feeling some watery fun, join up with everyone else who’ll be at the 18th 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 your way from South Mills, NC to Chesapeake, VA and enjoy the scenic waterways along the way.

Pig in the Park, 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!

Read More: 21 Amazing Things to Do in Goldsboro and Wayne County

Things to Do in North Carolina in May (11-20)

Greensboro Bound (May 18-21)

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.

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

Hang Gliding Spectacular, 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.

Read More: 40+ of the Best Things to Do in The Outer Banks (Food, Where to Stay, and More!)

Plein Air Festival, Southport (May 18)

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.

Read More: 80+ Great Small Towns in North Carolina (+ Our Top 10 Picks)

North Carolina Black Film Festival, 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 

WNC Bigfoot Festival (May 19-20)

Things to do in Marion NC big foot

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.

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.

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

North Carolina Spring Home Expo, 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, 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, Elkin (May 20)

Things to Do in North Carolina in May Yadkin Valley Wine Festival

Elkin, in the heart of North Carolina’s wine country, will be hosting the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival. Visitors can sample creations from more than 16 local vineyards or stomp some grapes.

Or, you can be extra ambitious and participate in the Yadkin Valley Tour De Vino. Rides measure 30, 31, 52, 71, and 100 miles.

Read More: The Best Yadkin Valley Wineries to Sip and Savor Now

Cheerwine Festival, 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.

Read More: The NC Transportation Museum in Spencer (and 3 Reasons to Go Now!)

Carolina Blues Festival, 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, Durham (May 23-28)

Things to Do with Kids in Durham NC Durham Bulls Athletic Park

For 2023, Durham will host Minor League Baseball’s ACC Baseball Championship at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

White Squirrel Festival, Brevard (May 26-28)

Have you seen Brevard’s famed white squirrel? Well, even if not, you can celebrate this nutty rodent at the White Squirrel Festival. There’ll be white squirrel tours, live music, and the Squirrel Box Derby.

Together, those fun events should keep you more than entertained while spending time in Transylvania County.

Coca-Cola 600, Concord (May 28)

Kick-off Memorial Day with the rip of an engine at the Coca-Cola 600 in Concord. Watch the checkered flag drop at this historic 64th running at America’s Home for Racing, Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Read More: Restaurants in Concord and Breweries in Concord

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!

Note: If you’re reaching out on behalf of a business, PR agency, or DMO, please visit this page.

More Things to Do in North Carolina in May (and Beyond!)

Leave a Comment