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

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on March 29, 2024.

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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 May Event in NC
  • May 1-10
  • May 11-20
  • May 21-31

Read More: The NC Tripping Events Calendar

Featured May Event in NC

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Family Room Fun Festival in Greensboro

2024 Event Date: May 4, 2024
Event Info

The Family Room Fun Festival will be a fun day of live, family-friendly music and entertainers, and more. Family-friendly activities, including bounce houses, visits from Tiana, face painting, and food trucks, will also be on hand. 

Monthly expenses are always a concern for families that foster, so Family Room Foster Resource Center intends to offer the majority of activities at this event at no cost to foster families. They also want the event to be cost-effective for other community families. 

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

May in North Carolina begins with food, music, art, and more!

Ham & Yam Festival in Smithfield

2024 Event Dates: May 4, 2024
Event Info

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

Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance in Pittsboro

2024 Event Dates: May 2-4, 2024
Event Info

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

Plein Air Festival in Southport

2024 Event Dates: May 2-4, 2024
Event Info

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)

BBQ Fest on the Neuse in Kinston

2024 Event Dates: May 3-4, 2024
Event Info
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 in Beaufort

2024 Event Dates: May 4, 2024
Event Info
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 48th 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

Paddle for the Border in South Mills

2024 Event Dates: May 4, 2024
Event Info
Dismal Swamp State Park Paddle for the Border Annual May Event in NC

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.

Read More: 10+ Great Places to Visit in Camden County NC

East Coast Truckers Jamboree in Kenly

2024 Dates: May 9-11, 2024
Event Info

A three-day truck and car show, featuring big rigs and muscle cars. The event also boasts live music, games, and an impressive closing fireworks display. Held at the Kenly 95 Petro travel center. 

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

Carolina Indie Fest in Sanford

2024 Event Dates: May 10-11, 2024
Event Info

Carolina Indie Fest 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: Spring in North Carolina

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

Hickory Hops Craft Beer and Music Festival in Hickory

2024 Event Date: May 11, 2024
Event Info

Things to Do in North Carolina in April Olde HIckory Craft Beer and Music Festival

50 breweries and vendors converge at Olde Hickory Brewery for the annual Hickory Hops Craft Beer and Music Festival to celebrate delicious brews for a perfect weekend.

Read More: Amazing Restaurants in Hickory

Greensboro Bound

2024 Event Dates: May 16-19, 2024
Event Info

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 in Nags Head

2024 Event Dates: May 16-19, 2024
Event Info

During the 52nd 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 $50 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!)

North Carolina Black Film Festival in Wilmington

2024 Event Dates: May 16-19, 2024
Event Info

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 in Marion

2024 Event Dates: May 18, 2024
Event Info
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

2024 Event Dates: May 17-18, 2024
Event Info

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!)

Atlantic Beach Music Festival in Atlantic Beach

2024 Event Dates: May 18, 2024
Event Info

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

2024 Event Dates: May 18, 2024
Event Info
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.

Cheerwine Festival in Salisbury

2024 Event Dates: May 18, 2024
Event Info

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!)

Read More: 25 Wonderful Wineries Near Asheville (Vineyards Within 2 Hours)

Carolina Blues Festival in Greensboro

2024 Event Dates: May 11-19, 2024
Event Info

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

Things to Do in North Carolina in May (20-31)

ACC Baseball Championship in Charlotte

2024 Event Dates: May 21-26, 2024
Event Info

For 2024, Charlotte will host the ACC Baseball Championship at Truist Field

Read More: Minor League Baseball in NC (15+ Interesting Teams to Watch)

White Squirrel Weekend in Brevard

2024 Event Dates: May 24-26, 2024
Event Info

Have you seen Brevard’s famed white squirrel? Well, even if not, you can celebrate this nutty rodent during White Squirrel Weekend.

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.

Read More: 20 Awesome Wineries near Charlotte (Vineyards Within 2 Hours)

Coca-Cola 600 in Concord

2024 Event Dates: May 26, 2024
Event Info

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 65th 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!)

We’ve covered many of these ways to enjoy May in North Carolina in our collection of travel guides. Here are a few of them.

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