49 Things to Do in North Carolina in September (Updated for 2021)

Last Updated on December 15, 2021

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Summer and fall converge and the result of some amazing things to do in North Carolina in September. Maybe that’s why it’s our busiest month so far, based on the sheer number we uncovered when putting this together.

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

Many of these things to do in North Carolina in September (along with October and November) are also mentioned in our guide that covers fall things to do in North Carolina.

Things to Do in North Carolina in September

Note that many September events in NC may make the decision 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.

Take the Lake, Lake Waccamaw (August 23-September 6)

Things to Do in North Carolina in September

2021’s version of Take the Lake is virtual, but participants are still welcome to run, bike, swim, and paddle Lake Waccamaw. There will also be music, fundraising events for mission projects, and more family-friendly fun. 

Hickory American Legion Fair, Newton (September 1-6)

Another great entry in our things to do in North Carolina in September 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 3-6)

The North Carolina Apple Festival is a huge Labor Day tradition in Henderson County.

It’s still 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

If you can’t make this festival, check out the area’s fun things to do and restaurants throughout the year. Don’t forget about the amazing apple orchards in Hendersonville great hiking in the area.

Happy Valley Fiddler’s Convention, Lenoir (September 3-5)

Labor Day on the Yadkin River means the Happy Valley Fiddler’s Convention will be back in Lenoir. Join the convention for food, dancing, amid gorgeous scenery and awesome mountain music in Caldwell County.

Historic Morganton Festival, Morganton (September 3-4 and 10-11)

The annual Historic Morganton Festival kicked off its weekends of fun in August, but the awesome food, rides, arts and crafts, and music continue in September.

This awesome Burke County event will also bring back two fitness events—the Sunrise Run on the Greenway and Student Fitness Challenge and Morganton Monster Crossfit Competition. 

Art on the Island, Marshall (September 4)

Blannahassett Island in the middle of the French Broad River comes alive with art and you’re welcome to join the fun. Art on the Island will also have food and music to join the vendors who’ll be there showing off their goods.

Labor Day Surf-Off, Oak Island (September 4)

Even if you can’t participate, one of the most fun things to do in North Carolina in September is to watch the Oak Island Labor Day Surf Off. Competitions are open for all levels of surfers and there will also be races for paddleboarders and bodyboarders.

Harvest Wine Adventure, Rose Hill (September 8-11)

Things to Do in North Carolina in September Duplin Winery

For over 40 years, friends and family have been stomping grapes at Duplin Winery! During the Harvest Fest Wine Adventure, you can expect live music, exclusive wine tastings, and a chance to stomp some grapes.

Tastings fill up quickly, so purchase in advance!

In case you can’t make this event, we think a visit to Duplin Winery is one of the best things to do in Duplin County throughout the year!

American Dance Festival, Raleigh (September 9-16)

The North Carolina Museum of Art and the Durham-based American Dance Festival have partnered to present “Together We Dance.” It will be an outdoor festival in the Joseph M Bryan, Jr, Theater in the Museum Park.
Eight performances by some of the finest dance companies will bring art, nature, and people together through dance.

Full Bloom Film Festival, Statesville (September 9-11)

The fifth 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.

Greek Festival, Raleigh (September 10-12)

For a truly festive time this September, head to the Jim Graham Building at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds for the Raleigh Greek Festival. Live Greek music and traditional dance will accompany tasty food prepared by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. 

Autumn at Oz Festival, Beech Mountain (September 10-11, 17-18 and 25-26)

Oz opens its doors for two weekends in September to celebrate the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz.

During Autumn at Oz, you can skip down the yellow brick road with the Scarecrow, TinMan, and ToTo with craft vendors, petting zoo, face painting, and the Land of Oz Exhibit featuring original props and costumes.

We included Autumn at Oz in our comprehensive guide to kid-friendly events in North Carolina, too!

Mountain Song Festival, Brevard (September 10-11)

The three-day Mountain Song Festival returns to Brevard. Names like Steep Canyon Rangers, Mavis Staples, and Charley Crocket will take the stage during this family-friendly event in Transylvania County. 

NC Mountain State Fair, Fletcher (September 10-19)

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

North Carolina Folk Festival, Greensboro (September 10-12)

Over in Greensboro, the free-to-attend North Carolina Folk Festival will have music, food, crafts, and more fun happening downtown. Performers include Alsarah & The Nubatones, Dewey & Leslie Brown and the Carolina Gentlemen, and Molly Tuttle.  

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

Thunder in the Smokies, Maggie Valley (September 10-12)

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, but this is typically the busiest motorcycle weekend of the year.

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

Four Oaks Acorn Festival, Four Oaks (September 11)

The Johnston County town of Four Oaks looks forward to its annual Acorn Festival. From 10:00 am to 3:30 pm, there will be 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. This year, new rides have been added, including “Pirates Revenge” and “Ninja Extreme.”

The Amazing Maize Maze, Huntersville (September 11-November 7)

On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays starting September 7, visitors can get lost or find their way through the Amazing Maize Maze at Historic Rural Hill. The seven-acre maze is made entirely of corn, with two miles of possible paths to explore. 

The Autolawn Party, Hickory (September 11)

Hickory’s Museum of Art SALT Block Lawn will celebrate the European car and more during the Autolawn Party. Beyond the car show, there will be food, a beer garden, kids activities, and music during the event. 

Sculpture Celebration, Lenoir (September 11)

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 11)

Get hot and fired up in Historic Oxford with the North Carolina Hot Sauce Contest! Over 200 vendors will be in attendance to sell, sample, and enter their special sauces in the competition.

This contest should bring in thousands of people. Will you be one of them this year?

BugFest, Raleigh (September 13-19)

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. Bees will be the featured arthropod of this event that’s aptly named “Plan Bee.”

A Pollination Celebration will be held on Saturday and Sunday, families are invited to visit for a Bee Afternoon Tea!

This event is one of many reasons why this is one of the best museums in Raleigh!

City of Oaks Pirate Fest, Raleigh (September 14)

Come aboard and learn more about the history of pirates in North Carolina at the City of Oaks Pirate Fest. Held at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh, you can chow down with local food trucks, take home first prize in the costume contest, meet Captain Blackbeard, or take off in a might sword fight!

There’s plenty of fun for all you salty sea dogs and scalawags!

Summer Harvest Festival, Wilmington (September 14-15)

Celebrate the end of summer with over 90 heritage arts and crafts vendors, food trucks, and farmers at the Summer Harvest Festival. There are plenty of events for the kids at this event.

Your $5 entry fee goes to the conservation, education, and preservation of historic Poplar Grove Plantation.

Lee Regional Fair, Sanford (September 15-19)

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, antique tractor show, and demolition derby, this is truly a family fun event!

NHRA Carolina Nationals, Concord (September 17-19)

Things to Do in North Carolina zMax Dragway Carolina Nationals

Having attended this event, I can vouch for the excitement 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.

Day at the Docks, Hatteras (September 17-18)

Commemorating community and strength, Day at the Docks was started after the Outer Banks village recovered from Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

During the event, you can compete in the Fishy 5 Fun Run, have your spoon ready for the Chowder Cook-Off, and dig into the Seafood Throwdown!

Olde Time Antiques and Collectibles Fair, West Jefferson (September 17)

Head out to West Jefferson for a trip back in time at the Olde Time Antiques and Collectibles Fair.

The Farmers Market and local businesses will be involved, too, but the main draw will be all the booths set up to showcase antiques, collectibles, and more items. 

Blue Ridge Conservancy 5K, Blowing Rock (September 18)

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? 

Greensboro Pride Festival, Greensboro (September 19)

Celebrate universal love at the Greensboro Pride Festival! Hosted by the Alternative Resources of the Triad (ART), this year’s festival will include music and entertainment, vendors, and a KidZone.

The Festival runs along South Elm to East Market Street and will be a great time rejoicing in love for everyone!

Mayberry Days, Mount Airy (September 21-26)

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 simpler days of Andy Griffith’s time.

Footcandle Film Festival, Hickory (September 22-26)

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

Mule Days, Benson (September 23-26)

Held on the fourth Saturday every year, Benson Mule Days is more than a Johnston County tradition. It’s a really fun time, with rodeos, a mule pulling contest, parades, rides, and so much more. 

Tweetsie Ghost Train, Blowing Rock (Friday & Saturday nights, September 24-October 30)

Grab your tickets in advance for the Tweetsie Ghost Train because you won’t be alone in flocking to Blowing Rock 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. 

Guest Appreciation Festival, Bryson City (September 24-26)

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.

Dirty Dancing Festival Fundraiser, Lake Lure (September 24-25)

The Dirty Dancing Festival is probably the most Hollywood of our things to do in North Carolina in September.

Unfortunately, it has been postponed for 2021 but we thought you should know about a series of fundraisers being held in its place. The event’s website will have more details about ways you can support them, the local chamber, PanCan, and more.

When the Dirty Dancing Festival returns, we know you’ll have the time of your life. Please remember that no one puts Baby in a corner!

Experience movie-inspired dance, music, arts, and attempt the famous lake lift at Lake Lure’s Dirty Dancing Festival.

Swing by the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge while you’re in town!

Prohibition Hot Rod and Moonshine Festival, North Wilkesboro (September 24-25)

Things to do in North Carolina in September North Wilkesboro Prohibition Festival

North Wilkesboro’s Prohibition Hot Rod and Moonshine Festival commemorates the relationship between fast cars and alcohol during an era when the latter was illegal. The event features live music, food, and classic cars built before 1989. 

Explore the rest of Wilkes County while you’re in the area for this most interesting of things to do in North Carolina in September.

Harvest Folk Festival, Catawba (September 25-26)

Catawba County’s agricultural heritage gets a big nod during the Murray’s Mill Harvest Folk Festival. You’ll find tons of family-friendly fun here, including petting zoos and pony rides.

Murray’s Mill Amphitheater will host music throughout the event, too! 

Dupont Forest Festival, Cedar Mountain (September 25)

Things to Do in North Carolina in September Dupont Forest Festival

On National Public Lands Day, you can celebrate one of our most beautiful mountain spots during the Dupont Forest Festival.

Hands-on activities throughout the day will focus on trail etiquette, Leave No Trace, and other ways to educate all ages about how to responsibly utilize our public spaces. 

After enjoying this fun September event at Cedar Mountain, check out the rest of DuPont State Forest!

Mountain Heritage Day, Cullowhee (September 25)

Head out to Western Carolina University’s main campus for music, food, and a kids area during Mountain Heritage Day.

This unique event brings thousands to Cullowhee to celebrate Southern Appalachian mountain culture and we think this is one not to miss this September! 

Fayetteville Taco & Beer Festival, Fayetteville (September 25)

The Fayetteville Taco & Beer Festival combines two of our favorites into one of the best things to do in North Carolina in September. At this event, you can devour traditional and uncommon varieties.

These delicious eats accompany local Fayetteville breweries, fun events, and more. 

Art on Main, Hendersonville (September 25-26)

For the 61st year, Hendersonville’s Art on Main returns and will 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. 

North Carolina Muscadine Festival, Kenansville (September 25)

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!

The Lost Colony Wine & Culinary Festival, Manteo (September 25)

On Roanoke Island, the Lost Colony Wine & Culinary Festival will deliver amazing food and drink to folks from all over. The event is for a good cause, too, as it raises funds for the well-known Lost Colony production.

Harborfest for HeartWorks, Oriental (September 25)

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. 

Art on the Mountain, West Jefferson (September 25)

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. 

Bright Leaf Hoedown, Yanceyville (September 25)

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 28-October 2)

World of Bluegrass is a conference, awards ceremony, talent showcase, and bluegrass festival all in one.

Bluegrass Live! takes over Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh for two days of music on eight stages. Del McCoury Band, Bela Fleck’s My Bluegrass Heart, and Yonder Mountain String Band are just a few of the big names you’ll see here.

Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair, Dudley (September 30-October 9)

Dudley’s Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair is the last of our things to do in North Carolina in September and it stretches into October. 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. 

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 going on throughout the month and we can’t wait to enjoy it along with you.

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

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 “49 Things to Do in North Carolina in September (Updated for 2021)”

  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.

    • 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.


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