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40+ Things to Do in North Carolina in September 2023

Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on February 26, 2024.

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As summer and fall converge, there are some pretty great things to do in North Carolina in September. The changing of the seasons and cooler air make this one of our busiest months, based on the sheer number of events we uncovered when putting this guide together.

Some of the biggest local festivals and events are held during this month, spanning from west to east and nearly everywhere in between. Just like with other monthly guides, we’ve ordered these September events in North Carolina by starting date and alphabetized by city.

NC Mountain State Fair from ferris wheel

Here’s how you can easily jump around to the date that you’re looking for.

  • Featured NC Events in September
  • Things to Do in North Carolina in September (1-10)
  • September 11-20
  • September 21-30

Read More: 100+ Unique Things to Do in North Carolina (Your NC Bucket List)

Grape Stomp 2023 at Burntshirt Vineyards in Hendersonville (September 2)

North Carolina Wineries Burntshirt Vineyards Hendersonville NC

Join Burntshirt Vineyards Tasting Room and Winery in Hendersonville on Saturday, September 2 for Grape Stomp 2023. This annual all-day harvest celebration includes live music, wine tasting, winery tours, their famous Lucy Look-Alike contest, and some good old-fashioned grape stomping!

American blues, soul, and rock-n-roll artists Roots and Dore will be playing from 1-3 PM on the Terrace, followed by some island vibes from Steve Weams and the Caribbean Cowboys from 4-7 PM.

Skull Campout in Mount Airy (September 9-10)

To You Tents/Charlotte Glamping has collaborated with Round Peak Vineyards for their bi-annual Skull Camp event to offer full-service overnight glamping packages on the vineyard’s property. In addition, you’ll have access to their event.

The Skull Camp event includes live music from local musicians, drink tickets, catered dinner, s’mores by the bonfire, and a continental breakfast in the morning.

NC Hot Sauce Contest in Oxford (September 9)

Get hot and fired up in Historic Oxford with the 17th annual North Carolina Hot Sauce Contest and festival! Join thousands of other visitors in sampling the food and sauces, participating in pepper-eating contests, and looking at car shows.

This year the stakes are turning up a notch with the addition of live music, a wee pepper’s place, and sensory tents.

Carolina in the Fall, Wilkesboro (September 22-23)

Carolina in the Fall Music and Food Festival will be held entirely in the Carolina West Wireless Community Commons in Historic Downtown Wilkesboro. The event will be free to attend, but a limited number of Reserved Seats will be on sale to help fund the festival and keep the rest free to the public. 

Host band The Kruger Brothers will be joined by a handful of other great musicians for a great weekend of free music in Wilkesboro.

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

Note that many September events in NC may decide to cancel or alter times/dates, sometimes at the last minute. Please visit the links we’ve provided to each individual event to confirm details and also, to lend your support in cases of cancellation.

Hickory American Legion Fair, Newton (Aug 30- Sept 4)

The first entry in our things to do in North Carolina in September starts in August but spills over into this month.

It is the annual Hickory American Legion Fair in Newton. Rides galore, daily events, food, and much more will keep the fun going through September at this Catawba County extravaganza. 

Read More: Great Things to Do in Hickory

North Carolina Apple Festival, Hendersonville
(September 1-4)

Celebrate Labor Day weekend in Hendersonville at the North Carolina Apple Festival. This festival is a huge Labor Day tradition for apple orchards in and around Henderson County.

Apple Picking in Hendersonville orchards

It’s one of the best things to do in North Carolina in September, especially if you like loading up on freshly picked apples and festival food in one of North Carolina’s finest small towns. It’s finally time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Read More: 10 Great Hendersonville Restaurants (+ Where to Eat and Drink!)

Happy Valley Fiddler’s Convention, Lenoir (September 1-3)

Labor Day on the Yadkin River means the Happy Valley Fiddler’s Convention will be back in Lenoir. Join the convention for food and dancing amid gorgeous scenery and awesome mountain music in Caldwell County. The 2023 event will be their last after 17 years, so don’t miss it.

Full Bloom Film Festival, Statesville (September 7-9)

The seventh annual Full Bloom Film Festival brings quality, diverse cinema to Statesville. The town will host films in the animated, documentary, narrative, and additional genres to support and advance the arts and culture of Iredell County.

Read More: 30+ Awesome Things to Do in Statesville

Autumn at Oz Festival, Beech Mountain (September 8-10, 15-17, and 22-24)

Oz opens its doors for three weekends in September to celebrate over 50 years of magic in the Land of Oz.

Land of Oz Beech Mountain 9

During Autumn at Oz, you can skip down the yellow brick road with the Scarecrow, TinMan, and ToTo with craft vendors, a petting zoo, face painting, and the Land of Oz Exhibit featuring original props and costumes. This event in Beech Mountain is a magical and transformative experience!

Read More: 60+ Kid-Friendly Events in North Carolina for the Whole Year

Mountain Song Festival, Brevard (September 8-9)

The two-day Mountain Song Festival returns to Brevard. Names like Steep Canyon Rangers, Shannon Whitworth, and Sam Bush will take the stage during this family-friendly event in Transylvania County. 

Read More: 25+ Beautiful Waterfalls near Brevard (Within 1 Hour)

NC Mountain State Fair, Fletcher (September 8-17)

NC Mountain State Fair ground

The WNC Agricultural Center (near Asheville) will host its annual NC Mountain State Fair to celebrate our mountains and their heritage. Arts and crafts, rides, and various dedications to agriculture highlight this awesome family-friendly festival. 

Read More: 30+ Great Things to Do in Downtown Asheville

North Carolina Folk Festival, Greensboro (September 8-10)

Over in Greensboro, the free-to-attend North Carolina Folk Festival will have music, food, crafts, and more fun happening downtown. Performers include Sam Bush, Karan Casey, Big Bang Boom, and Jeff Little Trio.

Read More: 7 Fun Museums in Greensboro (Kid-Friendly, Contemporary Art, and More!)

Thunder in the Smokies, Maggie Valley (September 8-10)

The fall version of Thunder in the Smokies returns to Maggie Valley, with thousands of bikers expected to roll into the Great Smoky Mountains. You’ll likely see a lot of bikers throughout the year (especially at the Wheels Through Time Museum), but this is typically the busiest motorcycle weekend of the year.

Highlights include an impressive tour ride and Bike Games, where a $1,000 cash prize goes to the winners.

Read More: 20+ Amazing Things to Do in Maggie Valley

Historic Morganton Festival, Morganton (September 8-9)

The annual Historic Morganton Festival will kick off the second weekend in September. Live music, rides, food, games, and a Kids Zone come together for a successful event.

This Burke County event also brings back two fitness events—the Sunrise Run on the Greenway and Student Fitness Challenge.

Read More: Colorful Fall Hikes in North Carolina (+ 20 Beautiful Places to Explore!)

Four Oaks Acorn Festival, Four Oaks (September 9)

The Johnston County town of Four Oaks looks forward to its annual Acorn Festival. Come out for a day of live music, children’s activities, food trucks, antique cars, tractors, and great local shopping. 

The Kids Zone is a big hit with all the families who visit. Popular rides include “Pirates Revenge” and “Ninja Extreme.”

Read More: 50+ of the Best Day Trips from Raleigh

Sculpture Celebration, Lenoir (September 9)

The Caldwell Arts Council will host its annual Sculpture Celebration in Lenoir, with $11,000 in prizes up for grabs.

Famed blacksmith and teacher Elizabeth Brim will judge the event and participants are welcome to bring up to three sculptures. 

NC Hot Sauce Contest, Oxford (September 9)

Get hot and fired up in Historic Oxford with the 17th annual North Carolina Hot Sauce Contest and festival! Join thousands of other visitors in sampling the food and sauces, participating in pepper-eating contests, and looking at car shows. This year the stakes are turning up a notch with the addition of live music, a wee pepper’s place, and sensory tents.

Place your bets on which sauce will be crowned in 2023!

Read More: 50+ Day Trips from Durham

Grape Stomp, Rose Hill (September 9)

Things to Do in North Carolina in September Duplin Winery

For nearly 50 years, friends and family have been stomping grapes at Duplin Winery! During the Rose Hill Grape Stomp, you can expect live music, exclusive wine tastings, and a chance to stomp some grapes.

Tastings fill up quickly, so purchase in advance!

Read More: The Best Things to Do in Duplin County (Duplin Winery and Even More!

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

Lee Regional Fair, Sanford (September 13-17)

Hosted by the Sanford Lions Club, the five-day Lee Regional Fair brings in thousands of people and provides thousands of dollars in annual scholarships.

Complete with a midway, agricultural exhibits, an antique tractor show, and a demolition derby, this is truly a family fun event!

Read More: 50+ Easy Day Trips from Fayetteville

Day at the Docks, Hatteras (September 15-16)

Day at the Docks commemorates the resilience of this Outer Banks community as it was recovering from Hurricane Isabel in 2003. This event has become a tradition for locals and tourists alike.

Enjoy fresh seafood, watch live demonstrations, participate in the chowder contest, and close the event out with the Blessing of the Fleet, a slow parade of boats.

Read More: 40+ Things to Do in the Outer Banks

Footcandle Film Festival, Hickory (September 15-24)

Fall is also for film festivals and things start with Hickory’s Footcandle Film Festival. The Catawba County city will screen unique, challenging, and entertaining feature-length and short films throughout the event. 

Olde Time Antiques and Collectibles Fair, West Jefferson (September 15-16)

Head out to West Jefferson for a trip back in time at the Olde Time Antiques and Collectibles Fair. The event features booths selling various antiques and collectibles as well as the Farmers Market and local businesses.

Read More: 20 Day Trips from Boone

Blue Ridge Conservancy 5K, Blowing Rock (September 16)

Sticky buns, coffee, and beer await those who complete the Blue Ridge Conservancy 5K in Blowing Rock. The only catch is that you have to climb up Wonderland Trail Road for a little more than three miles, but doesn’t that reward sound so good? 

Read More: 14 Delicious Blowing Rock Restaurants for High Country Travelers

Creedmoor Music Festival, Creedmoor (September 16)

The Creedmoor Music Festival returns with performers on two stages and more than 100 food and craft vendors! Check the website for updates on performers for this annual event.

Lake Lure Dance Festival, Lake Lure (September 16)

Formerly known as the Dirty Dancing Festival, the one-day event has expanded and renamed itself to the Lake Lure Dance Festival, where they will celebrate all types of dance styles, including ballet and salsa, to keep guests on their toes.

The festival includes live music and entertainment, food and art vendors.

Read More: 75+ Fun Day Trips from Asheville

BugFest, Raleigh (September 16)

NC Museum of Natural Sciences Bug Fest in September

One of the most family-friendly things to do in North Carolina in September is BugFest, hosted by The NC Museum of Natural Sciences. 2023’s featured insects are spiders. As the largest bug-centered event of its kind in the nation, BugFest embodies the Museum’s values of engagement and education.

Participate in over 100 exhibits, booths, games, crafts, and more!

Read More: 11 of the Best Museums in Raleigh (Downtown and Beyond)

Festa Italiana, Ronda (September 16-17)

Raffaldini drone

Festa Italiana returns to Raffaldini Vineyards with food vendors, music, arts, and crafts this September. Come and enjoy a truly festive atmosphere in the Yadkin Valley or join one of the event’s breakout sessions for in-depth discussions with Jay Raffaldini and his team on winemaking, the vineyard, Italian trivia, and more!

Read More: 25 of the Best North Carolina Wineries and Vineyards

The Amazing Maize Maze, Huntersville (September 17-November 5)

Amazing Maze in Rural Hill

On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays starting September 17, visitors can get lost in the Amazing Maize Maze at Historic Rural Hill. The seven-acre maze is made entirely of corn and is one of the largest mazes in the Southeast, with two miles of possible paths to explore. 

Read More: 25+ Best Day Trips from Charlotte (Within a 90-Minute Drive)

Mayberry Days, Mount Airy (September 18-24)

Mount Airy’s weeklong Mayberry Days might be the most interesting of all our September events. In this Surry County town, you can take yourself back to the simpler days of Andy Griffith’s time. Each day is rich with history and culture.

Read More: The 9 Best Things to Do at Stone Mountain State Park

Things to Do in North Carolina in September (21-30)

Mule Days, Benson (September 21-24)

Held on the last weekend in September, Benson Mule Days is more than a Johnston County tradition. It’s a really fun time, complete with rodeos, a mule-pulling contest, parades, and rides.

Read More: The NC Museum of History in Raleigh (+7 Things We Love About It!)

The Beaufort Pirate Invasion, Beaufort (September 22-24)

Mark yer calendar for the Beaufort Pirate Invasion! The popular event is perfect for all ages, with activities like sword fighting, cannons firing, and a Captain’s Masquerade Ball. 

Beaufort is a wonderful coastal town. If you find yourself hungry in Beaufort, Moonrakers offers great food and beautiful seaside views.

Read More: The Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort (Come for Wild Horses, Stay for More)

Tweetsie Ghost Train, Blowing Rock (Friday & Saturday nights, September 22-October 28)

Tweetsie Railroad smoke

Grab your tickets in advance for the Ghost Train at Tweetsie Railroad, because you won’t be alone in flocking to Blowing Rock and Boone for this! Along with the creepy Ghost Train, there will be Halloween shows, trick-or-treating, and a haunted house for those brave enough to enter. 

Read More: Tweetsie Christmas (How to Visit and 5 Important Tips!)

Guest Appreciation Festival, Bryson City (September 22-24)

Things to Do in North Carolina in September Nanatahala Outdoor Center Guest Appreciation Day

The Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) outside downtown Bryson City wants to say “thank you” with its Guest Appreciation Festival. They’ll have sales on gear and apparel, riverside games, music, and so much more. 

You can drive to the NOC or hop off the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad halfway through their Nantahala Gorge Excursion.

Read More: Deep Creek Trail (3 Beautiful Waterfalls, 1 Hike)

NHRA Carolina Nationals, Concord (September 22-24)

Things to Do in North Carolina zMax Dragway Carolina Nationals

Having attended this event, I can vouch for the excitement and electricity that surrounds the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord.

The fun kicks off on Friday as all the teams show up and put together their racers in anticipation of qualifying, with the elimination rounds finishing things off on Sunday. 

If you’re traveling to the area, check out these awesome local restaurants and breweries.

Read More: How to See Speedway Christmas (Sparkling Lights, Movies, and More!)

Art on Main, Hendersonville (September 23-24)

Hendersonville’s Art on Main returns for its 61st year to showcase 100-plus artists in a variety of mediums. Artists who apply will be juried and those who attend are welcome to purchase any art that catches their eye, as long as it’s for sale. 

Read More: Hiking in Hendersonville (30+ Great Trails Within 1 Hour)

Art on the Island, Marshall (September 23)

Blannahassett Island, in the middle of the French Broad River, comes alive with art during Art on the Island. In addition to featured artists and their artwork, the event will also have food and music.

Read More: The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge (and Why You’ll Love It!)

Art on the Mountain, West Jefferson (September 23)

The Ashe Arts Center will host Art on the Mountain, where more than 30 artists and makers will be waiting for you. Items for sale include holiday- and fall-themed pieces, and a few of the artists there will be demonstrating how they create their work. 

Read More: 25+ Beautiful Waterfalls near Boone (within 2 Hours)

Bright Leaf Hoedown, Yanceyville (September 23)

Downtown Yanceyville’s Bright Leaf Hoedown offers crafts, educational booths, kids’ rides and games, and more fun during this big day in Caswell County. The fun will go on all day long, and over 20,000 people are expected to drop by. 

World of Bluegrass, Raleigh (September 26-30)

World of Bluegrass is a conference, awards ceremony, talent showcase, and bluegrass festival all in one. The festival takes over downtown Raleigh to celebrate the bluegrass music community.

Read More: Restaurants in Raleigh

Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair, Dudley (September 28-October 7)

Dudley’s Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair stretches into October, but we still consider it to be one of the best things to do in North Carolina in September. It’s a nice, long celebration to start North Carolina’s harvest festivals.

This year’s “Best 10 Days of Fall” will have rides and games, tons of amazing food, and more. 

Read More: Things to Do in Goldsboro

Carolina Classic Fair, Winston-Salem (September 29-October 8)

The Carolina Classic Fair is back in Winston-Salem for 10 days of rides, games, food, and so much more. It’s the second-largest agricultural fair in the state and a Camel City tradition, so don’t miss out on it! 

Mountain Heritage Day Festival, Cullowhee (September 30)

The annual Mountain Heritage Day hosted by Western Carolina University is a family-friendly event that celebrates Southern Appalachian mountain culture with food, craft vendors, and an interactive kids area. The day of events includes musical performances, a chainsaw competition and a classic car show.

North Carolina Muscadine Festival, Kenansville (September 30)

Things to do in North Carolina Duplin Winery Duplin County

The NC Muscadine Festival brings wineries, food, arts and crafts vendors, and music to the Duplin County Events Center. Admission gives you unlimited tasting from more than 20 area wineries and a commemorative wine glass. 

If you want more muscadine grapes in your life, we created a map of where to pick them throughout NC!

Read More: The NC Tripping North Carolina Travel Map

Harborfest for HeartWorks, Oriental (September 30)

Harborfest for HeartWorks in Oriental benefits over 450 at-risk kids in Pamlico and neighboring counties with amazing food and music. It’s hosted by River Dunes, a waterfront community just outside Oriental. 

Got Any Things to Do in North Carolina in September to Add?

I knew September in North Carolina was going to be a busy time but wow! There’s so much fun throughout the month, and we can’t wait to enjoy it with you.

As fall continues through October and November, we can’t wait to share all the events in our state. However, before we look ahead, we want to know which events and festivals you’ll attend.

Also, are there more things to do in North Carolina in September you think we should add to this list? Let us know about it here or via email and we’ll gladly take a look! 

More Things to Do in North Carolina in September (and Beyond)

 

2 thoughts on “40+ Things to Do in North Carolina in September 2023”

  1. I wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoy reading your newsletter every time it lands in my mail. I miss being in North Carolina & hope to be moving to New Bern in the next couple of years. Thanks for your efforts to provide us with things to do & sight see there.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for the kind words, Bobbie. I hope you can move to New Bern and enjoy that wonderful small town and its surroundings.

      Reply

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