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

Last Updated on September 21, 2022

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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 25-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.

Read More: Spring in North Carolina

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

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

Carolina Blues Festival, Greensboro (May TBD)

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

Crystal Coast Boat Show, Morehead City (May TBD)

With over 100 in-water and on-land boats, the Crystal Coast Boat Show has tons of fun in store for boat enthusiasts. Organizers have arranged for top boating vendors to set up, and there’ll be free sailing rides and a scavenger hunt for the kiddos available.

Along with the annual Antique Auto Show, this is a fun time for the whole family!

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

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

BBQ Fest on the Neuse, Kinston (May 6-7)

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 7)

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

Ham & Yam Festival, Smithfield (May 7)

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 7)

If you’re feeling some watery fun, join up with everyone else who’ll be at the 17th 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.

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

Plein Air Festival, Southport (May 13-14)

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.

Hook, Line, & Drinker Festival, Sylva (May 14)

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.

Last of the Mohicans 30th Anniversary and Reunion, Morganton (May 14)

On May 14, the Historic Courthouse Square in Morganton will host a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the filming.

Festival gates will open at 10:00 am for a day full of fun. Live music, heritage craft vendors, reenactors, food trucks, the Catawba Valley Beer Festival (3:00 pm to 6:00 pm), and more will be waiting.

In case you didn’t know, multiple spots in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina served as film locations for the award-winning Last of the Mohicans. A few prominent locations include Biltmore Estate in Asheville, Triple Falls in DuPont State Recreational Forest, and Lake James near Morganton.

Read More: Movies Filmed in North Carolina

Greensboro Bound (May 19-22)

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 19-22)

During the 50th 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.

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

Beaufort Music Festival (May 20-21)

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 20-22)

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

Jimmy-June Music and Arts Festival, Asheboro (May 21)

The Jimmy-June Music and Arts Festival celebrates the people of the South who “make the world more special through their music, visual art, and creations of all kinds.” Featured shows include American Aquarium, Time Sawyer, and Sam Foster and the Obsolete.

Read More: Things to Do in Asheboro and Randolph County

Atlantic Beach Music Festival, Atlantic Beach (May 21)

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.

Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival, Durham (May 21)

The Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival is a wonderful gathering for African and African American history, culture, arts, and traditions. This free festival is held in Durham’s Rock Quarry Park and is free to the public. 

Read More: Places to Learn Black History in North Carolina

Yadkin Valley Wine Festival, Elkin (May 21)

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

Play in the Pasture: A Spring Outdoor Concert, Hillsborough (May 21)

Play in the Pasture is a benefit for Chapel Hill’s Kidzu Children’s Museum. This event at Coon Rock Farm in Hillsborough brings together local music, food trucks, and craft brewers in a special “on-the-farm” celebration.

There will also be tons of hands-on activities waiting, fun for all in the family!

Read More: 20+ Amazing Children’s Museums in North Carolina for All

Cheerwine Festival, Salisbury (May 21)

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!)

ACC Baseball Championship, Charlotte (May 24-29)

Things to Do in Charlotte NC BBT Baseball Stadium Image

In conjunction with Minor League Baseball’s Charlotte Knights, the ACC will host its annual Baseball Championship at BB&T Ballpark in Queen City for the second year. With the Charlotte Skyline sitting in the background, it’s hard to top this venue.

Of course, it’s fitting for one of college baseball’s most exciting conference tournaments.

Lil John’s Mountain Music Festival, Snow Camp (May 26-28)

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.

White Squirrel Festival, Brevard (May 27-29)

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.

APS Walk for the Animals, Durham (May 28)

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, Concord (May 29)

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 63rd running at America’s Home for Racing, Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Read More: Restaurants in Concord and Breweries in Concord

Battleship North Carolina Memorial Day Observance, Wilmington (Canceled for 2022)

Things to Do in North Carolina Battleship NC Wilmington

During the Memorial Day Observance aboard the Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington, attendees can honor those who gave their lives by honoring veterans. Events include an all-service Color Guard, a 21-gun salute by Marine Corps Honor Guard, a military guest speaker, and more.

Read More: The Best Things to Do in Wilmington

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

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