Things to Do in North Carolina in September

Last Updated on April 19, 2021

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September in North Carolina is where the fall fun gets started but don’t forget about the fun carrying over from summer, too. Maybe that’s why it’s our busiest month so far, based on the sheer number we uncovered when putting this together.

And that’s a big reason you’re going to love traveling around our state during this time of year. We hope you enjoy reading through these things to do in North Carolina in September and pick a few to enjoy yourself.

They include local festivals and big-time events, 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 September events (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

Hickory American Legion Fair, Newton (August 28-September 3)

We mentioned Newton’s Hickory American Legion Fair for August and won’t forget about it for September, and not just because it straddles both months. The 106th edition of this Catawba County event includes tons of rides, various daily events, food, and much more. 

North Carolina Apple Festival, Hendersonville (August 30-September 2)

September Events in North Carolina Apples Image

Since Labor Day arrived a little early this year, events like Hendersonville’s North Carolina Apple Festival got their start in August. Of course, we can’t leave it out for September, as it’s still one of the best for loading up on freshly picked apples and festival food in one of North Carolina’s finest small towns

Happy Valley Fiddler’s Convention, Lenoir (August 30-September 1)

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.  

Anniversary of the Battle of Charlotte, Huntersville (August 31-Sept 1)

To commemorate the 239th Anniversary of the Battle of Charlotte, there will be two days of events at Historic Latta Plantation in Huntersville. You can learn more about Charlotte’s notoriety as the “Hornet’s Nest of Rebellion,” and check out the oldest log cabin in Mecklenburg County, too! 

Take the Lake, Lake Waccamaw (August 31-September 2)

In Columbus County, Take the Lake participants will join the area’s largest fitness event and run, bike, swim, and paddle. There will also be music, fundraising events for mission projects, and more family-friendly fun. 

If you can’t make this awesome event, Lake Waccamaw State Park is one of our favorite places to visit throughout the year!

2019 USPA National Parachuting Championships, Raeford (September 2-27)

Skydive Paraclete XP in Raeford will host this year’s USPA National Parachuting Championships, with nearly an entire month of events. Members of the US Parachute Team will also be there, testing themselves one last time before the 2019 World Cup in October. 

Labor Day Picnic, Spruce Pine (September 2)

The Orchards at Altapass NC Image

The Orchard at Altapass, one of our favorite Blue Ridge Parkway stops, is holding its annual Labor Day Picnic on September 2 from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm. For admission, you can either donate a covered dish to share or pay $15. 

Greek Festival, Raleigh (September 6-8)

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. 

Historic Morganton Festival, Morganton (September 6-7)

The 38th annual Historic Morganton Festival’s awesome food, rides, arts and crafts, and music are just a part of why you should attend. 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. 

Mountain Song Festival, Brevard (September 6-8)

The three-day Mountain Song Festival will take over Brevard for its 14th year. Names like Steep Canyon Rangers, Del McCoury & David Grisman (Del & Dawg), and Chatham County Line will take the stage during this family-friendly event in Transylvania County. 

North Carolina Folk Festival, Greensboro (September 6-8)

Over in Greensboro, the free-to-attend North Carolina Folk Festival will have music, food, crafts, and more fun happening downtown. And a couple of days before, NC Folk A’Fare (September 4) brings together 15-plus restaurants in Greensboro to raise funds for the NC Folk Festival. 

NC Mountain State Fair, Fletcher (September 6-15)

The WNC Agricultural Center will host its 26th 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. 

Wilmington Boat Show, Wilmington (September 6-8)

The Wilmington Boat Show will take over Port City Marina and the Convention Center with shows and displays during this fun-filled three-day event. There will also be multiple displays at Pier 33, with music and food there, too.  

Tour De Cashiers, Cashiers (September 7)

Cyclists who enter the Tour De Cashiers can ride up through up to 100 miles of mountain byways. There’s even a 5K running event in case you don’t want to bring your bicycle and riders over 21 years old will receive a free beer from event sponsors. 

The Amazing Maize Maze, Huntersville (September 7-November 3)

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 7)

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. 

Autumn at Oz Festival, Beech Mountain (September 6-8 and September 13-15)

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!

Sculpture Celebration, Lenoir (September 7)

Hillsborough NC Patrick Dougherty Stick Art Image
Can someone tell Patrick Dougherty we miss his stick art in Hillsborough?

The Caldwell Arts Council will host its 34th annual Sculpture Celebration in Lenoir, with $11,000 in prizes up for grabs. Famed stick artist Patrick Dougherty will judge the event and participants are welcome to bring up to three sculptures. 

Festival of Yesteryear: Revolution on the Cape Fear, Fayetteville (September 7)

The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex will celebrate Lafayette’s birthday in grand style with its annual Festival of Yesteryear: Revolution on the Cape Fear. Professional actor Stephen Seals will portray James Armistead Lafayette and costumed re-enactors will demonstrate daily life activities. There will also be musical and artistic performances and a “Lafayette Birthday Celebration.”

Lee Regional Fair, Sanford (September 10-15)

Hosted by the Sandford Lions Club, the six-day Lee Regional Fair brings in 28,000 people and provides over $7k in annual scholarships. Complete with a midway, agricultural exhibits, antique tractor show, and demolition derby, this is truly a family fun event!

Day at the Docks, Hatteras (September 13-14)

Commemorating community and strength, Day at the Docks was started after the 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!

Note: Due to the impact of Hurricane Dorian, this year’s event has been canceled.

Dirty Dancing Festival, Lake Lure (September 13-14)

Have the time of your life and 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.

Smoky Mountain Elk Fest, Maggie Valley (September 13-15)

Once upon a time, the western North Carolina mountains were filled with happy healthy Elk. But by the mid-1800s, the elk population was wiped out due to overhunting and habitat loss.

Elk Fest is a family-friendly event in Maggie Valley that’s full of music, entertainment, craft vendors, and great food where all the proceeds go to fund habitat maintenance and happy elk.

Music Festival, Blowing Rock (September 14)

Get your toes ready for tapping! The sixth annual Blowing Rock Music Festival takes place September 14. Musical acts include Americana, Folk, Blues, Rock, Jazz, and Soul and the performance goes on rain or shine!

Hickory Gun & Knife Show, Hickory (September 14-15)

Deemed as one of the most professional, safest, and ethical gun shows in the country, the Hickory Gun & Knife Show has the best selection of rifles, ammo, holsters, swords, knives, militaria, and coins with knowledgeable and extraordinary dealers.

Outer Banks Triathlon, Manteo (September 14-15)

Athletes train for months, even years for events like the Outer Banks Triathlon. September 14 includes the Olympic and Half Distances and September 15 are sprint distance races. Compete with some of the best in one of the most beautiful coastal locations.

NC Hot Sauce Contest, Oxford (September 14)

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. Last year’s contest brought more than 18,000 people. Will you be one of them this year?

Duplin Winery’s Grape Stomp, Rose Hill (September 14)

For over 40 years, friends and family have been stomping grape at Duplin Winery! During the 43rd annual 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!

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. 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. Plenty of events for the kids, your $5 entry fee goes to the conservation, education, and preservation of historic Poplar Grove Plantation.

Greensboro Pride Festival, Greensboro (September 15)

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

Downtown Hickory Art Crawl, Hickory (September 19)

Browse local artists as they showcase their talent in downtown Hickory for the annual Downtown Hickory Art Crawl. More than 20 businesses host the artist so townspeople can meet the artists and purchase pieces.

The Outbound’s Pursuit Series, Cedar Mountain (September 19-22)

The Pursuit Series is summer camp, but for adults! Imagine camping in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with expert guides, with nightly happy hours, live music, and classes. Classes include photography, kayaking, fly casting, rock climbing, and hammock yoga.

Full Bloom Film Festival, Statesville (September 19-22)

The fifth annual Full Bloom Film Festival brings quality, diverse, cinema to Statesville. The art-conscious city just north of Charlotte will host films in the animated, documentary, narrative genres in a mission to support and advance the arts and culture of Iredell County.

Island Jeep Weekend, Topsail Beach (September 20-22)

September Events in North Carolina Topsail Island Image

At the Island Jeep Weekend, hang out in your Jeep and jam, go on a beach ride, and hit the obstacle course! Complete with a pancake breakfast, swag bags, and exclusive Jeep Week discounts, this weekend at Topsail Beach is for any Jeep lover!

Olde Time Antiques and Collectibles Fair, West Jefferson (September 20-21)

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. 

Tweetsie Ghost Train, Blowing Rock (Friday & Saturday nights, September 20-October 26)

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. 

Carolina in the Fall Music and Food Festival, Wilkesboro (September 20-21)

The Wilkesboro-based Kruger Brothers are bringing back more bands to this year’s Carolina in the Fall. Along with the awesome music, there will be a songwriting competition, a trail run and ride, and food trucks galore. 

Blue Ridge Conservancy 5K, Blowing Rock (September 21)

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? 

“Stand Together” Music Festival, China Grove (September 21)

China Grove will host the free-to-attend “Stand Together” Music Festival in Hanna Park. Food, beer, and a Kidz Zone will accompany the tunes at this event. Donations will be accepted, too, and they will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. 

Creedmoor Music Festival, Creedmoor (September 21)

Over 100 local craft and food vendors and two local breweries will complement eight bands on two stages during the Creedmoor Music Festival. The Creedmoor Volunteer Fire Department will also be there and plan to demonstrate using the “Jaws of Life” to cut apart a demo car. 

Centerfest Arts Festival, Durham (September 21-22)

Centerfest returns to Downtown Durham with ceramics, paintings, and more art from Triangle-based creators. A variety of musicians, singers, and dancers will keep everyone’s toes tapping and the Creative Kids Zone and food should keep everyone happy and full. 

Fayetteville Taco Festival, Fayetteville (September 21)

During the Fayetteville Taco Festival, you can devour traditional and uncommon varieties. These delicious eats accompany a chili pepper eating contest, Tiny Two Beauty Pageant, and more. 

Cherokee Heritage Festival, Hayesville (September 21)

During the Cherokee Heritage Festival in Hayesville, you’ll find traditional dance, cultural demonstrations, flutists, and delicious fry bread. Walk along the two-mile Cherokee History Trail and you’ll find multiple attractions along the way during the event. 

BugFest, Raleigh (September 21)

The NC Museum of Natural Sciences will host BugFest with 100-plus exhibits, games, and more fun. Beetles will be the featured arthropod and if you’re feeling extra adventurous, stop by Cafe Insecta for a creepy crawler-featured dish. 

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

New Fort Dobbs Grand Opening, Statesville (September 21-22)

The full-size replica of Fort Dobbs will reopen to the public after a three-year reconstruction project. During this two-day event, you can see what life was like 250 years ago, living history displays, weapons demonstrations, and enjoy a tour of the fort. 

Green Energy Park Youth Arts Festival, Sylva (September 21)

Celebrate music, green energy, and the community at Sylva’s Green Energy Park Youth Arts Festival. A variety of fun will be in store, including face painting, jewelry making, demonstrations, food, and more. 

Francisco FarmFest, Westfield (September 21)

Not far from Hanging Rock State Park and Pilot Mountain, Francisco FarmFest is an old-timey country fair with music, tractor parades, games and more. There will also be demos, various competitions, and tons of food throughout the day. 

Bright Leaf Hoedown, Yanceyville (September 21)

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. 

Mayberry Days, Mount Airy (September 23-29)

Mount Airy’s weeklong Mayberry Days might be the most interesting of all our September events. Here, you can take yourself back to simpler days of Andy Griffith’s time.

Mule Days, Benson (September 26-29)

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. 

Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair, Dudley (September 26-October 5)

As we mentioned in our fall roundup, Dudley’s Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair is a nice, long celebration to start North Carolina’s harvest festivals. This year’s “Best 10 Days of Fall” will have 48 rides and games, tons of amazing food, and more. 

Madison County Fair, Marshall (September 26-28)

The Madison County Fair returns to Marshall for three days of food competitions, special contests, and livestock shows. Of course, you’ll find a variety of carnival rides here, as well as crafts and lots of food. 

Guest Appreciation Festival, Bryson City (September 27-29)

The Nantahala Outdoor Center outside 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. 

Art of Cool Festival, Durham (September 27-29)

Durham’s Art of Cool Festival returns for its sixth year with more forward-thinking R&B, Neo Soul, Jazz, Spoken Word, and more exciting genres. Names stopping by Bull City for this event include Run DMC, Jill Scott, and special guest host Rasheed Wallace. 

Footcandle Film Festival, Hickory (September 27-29)

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

North Carolina Muscadine Festival, Kenansville (September 27-28)

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 27-28)

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 27-29)

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. 

Wide Open Bluegrass Festival, Raleigh (September 27-28)

The FREE Wide Open Bluegrass Festival takes over Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh for two days of music on eight stages. Del McCoury Band and I’m With Her are just a couple of the big names you’ll see here. Also, premium seating is available at a cost. 

Mountains to Coast Ride, Blowing Rock to Atlantic Beach (September 28-October 5)

Greenville NC Bs Barbecue Image
The ride runs through Greenville, which is dangerous because B’s Barbecue and other amazing restaurants are also there.

Another race takes off from Blowing Rock, but this one is a little bit longer. Registration options for the Mountains to Coast Ride range from one-day to full-week and those who go all the way will end up at Atlantic Beach on the coast.

Harvest Folk Festival, Catawba (September 28-29)

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 28)

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!

Drive for the Cure 250, Concord (September 28)

NASCAR championship contenders will race on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL during the Drive for the Cure 250. You’ll also get a chance to witness two NASCAR Cup Series practice sessions, which many times involve changes that will be reflected the next day during the Bank of America Royal 400

Charlotte Motor Speedway prominently features in our guide to a weekend in Concord and Cabarrus County, too!

Mountain Heritage Day, Cullowhee (September 28)

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! 

Pride Parade and Festival, Durham (September 28)

We bring things back east to Duke University’s East Campus for Pride, where a prayer and opening ceremony starts things at 11:00 am. The parade starts early in the afternoon and at 2:00 pm, live performances kick off on the main stage. 

Beach Music Festival, Emerald Isle (September 28)

Band of Oz kicks off the Beach Music Festival in Emerald Isle, which is free to enjoy. Food trucks will join music from more bands, including The Embers and The Tams. For this BYOB event, beer and wine are permitted only on the beach strand. 

Art on Main, Hendersonville (September 28-29)

For the 60th 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. 

Annual Sunlight Farms Corn Maze, Kenly (September 28-October 26)

Sunlight Farms Corn Maze in Johnston County opens up on the final Saturday of September and is open to exploration until the last one of October. They’ll also have hayrides, a giant slide, and plenty of space for a picnic.

Art on the Island, Marshall (September 28)

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.

Prohibition Hot Rod and Moonshine Festival, North Wilkesboro (September 28)

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 1980. 

NC Bacon Festival, Rocky Point (September 28-29)

The NC Bacon Festival is back for its second year and looks forward to sharing more deliciousness with those who attend. Honestly, thousands of pounds of bacon alone would convince me to visit, but there are also pig races, helicopter rides, and live music to join the fun. 

Hands-On Arts Festival, Washington (September 28)

The third annual Hands-On Arts Festival returns to Washington but in a new setting at Historic Turnage Theatre. The free festival will have art, music, and a drum circle to keep the fun going from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. 

Art on the Mountain, West Jefferson (September 28)

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. 

Bank of America ROVAL 400, Concord (September 29)

September in North Carolina goes out with a pretty big race that NASCAR fans know as the Bank of America ROVAL 400. And to make things even more interesting, this will be the first road course race in NASCAR Playoffs history.

Add in Mario Andretti serving as the honorary pace car and I think this might be the hottest race of the year. 

Got Something 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! 


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