You’ve still got a couple weeks of summer left, but it doesn’t hurt to start planning ahead for the fall. Here are the top events, festivals and seasonal experiences in Charlotte to keep on your radar.
(1) Eat a baklava sundae at the Yiasou Greek Festival.
Date: September 5-8
Details: Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral’s annual festival features cathedral tours, live entertainment, shopping and loads of food. Traditional Greek pastries and full meals are available on site, to go or in the drive thru pick-up lane.
Must-try: The festival’s most popular treat is definitely the baklava sundae — a mound of vanilla ice cream topped with a generous scoop of crumbled baklava.
Yiasou Greek Festival | 600 East Boulevard | $3 admission
(2) Drink hard cider and pick apples at Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill.
Details: You don’t have to head to the mountains to pick apples. The closest orchard to Charlotte is less than an hour outside the city and features live music, hayrides, a hard cider bar and, of course, fresh fried apple cider doughnuts.
Pick your own: The orchards open for picking on Sept. 6 this season. Hours are 1-6 p.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m on Sundays (subject to weather and crop conditions).
Cider bar: Head to the hard cider bar for a $13 flight featuring six flavors — usually five mainstays and one specialty rotation. If you find something you love you can buy it by the bottle at the farm stand.
Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill | 1860 Black Highway, York SC 29745
(3) Wander the yellow brick road at the Land of Oz.
Date: Sept. 6-8, 13-15
Details: The unique Wizard of Oz them park opened at Beech Mountain 1970 and attracted 400,000 visitors in its first year. After closing in the 80s, it began to attract curious visitors desperate to catch a glimpse of Dorothy’s “abandoned” world. Now it operates an extremely limited event schedule, including just two weekends this fall, to appease eager fans.
Land of Oz | 1007 Beech Mountain Pkwy | Tickets start at $45
(4) Get your fill of vegan food at the 8th annual Charlotte VegFest.
Date: Sept. 7
Details: This year’s event will feature a huge vegan food court, expert presentations and panels, chef demos, local and national vendors, dog adoptions and more.
Charlotte VegFest | Park Expo and Conference Center | Parking is $5 cash only
(5) Tailgate a Panthers game.
Schedule: The regular season kicks off against the Rams on Sunday, Sept. 8. See the full schedule.
Mobile ticketing: Don’t forget, as part of a league-wide initiative, the Panthers are shifting to mobile ticketing only at the gates. PDF tickets are no longer valid for entry. Download the Panthers mobile app to manage your tickets. More details.
Tailgate tips: See our Beginner’s Guide to Panthers Tailgating and 8 tailgate spreads worth copying. Better yet, join the Roaring Riot to participate in home game tailgates for members.
Overseas: The Panthers will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 13. Lots of fans will be heading across the pond for the game and you can book official travel packages here.
(6) Shop truckloads of discounted kitchenware at Le Creuset’s Factory-to-Table Sale.
Date: Sept. 12-15
How it works: The sale kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 12 with two ticketed VIP sessions (3:30-6 p.m.and 6:30-9 p.m.) which allow you to shop for longer and get the first pass. VIP tickets cost $30 and include parking and snacks, and you can snag a $50 mystery box with $200-plus worth of Le Creuset items. The sale is open to the public Sept. 13-15, and your $10 ticket gets you two hours of shopping. You can register here.
Pricing: Everything will be marked down 40 to 70 percent. To give you a frame of reference, their least expensive regular-priced skillet starts at $120, their most expensive skillet starts at $275, and tons of gadgets are regularly priced under $50 — so you can expect to find some high-quality kitchen items under $100 at the pop-up sale.
Factory-to-Table Sale | Park Expo & Conference Center | $10-$30
(7) Ride haunted rollercoasters at SCarowinds.
Date: Select days Sept. 13 – Oct. 27
Details: Carowinds transforms from “theme park” to “scream park” for its annual SCarowinds Halloween attraction. The event features 500+ monsters, ghosts and goblins roaming the grounds plus haunted attractions and shows.
Fright-Free: Not feeling it? Buy a “No Boo” necklace for $12 and the monsters won’t approach you. And check out The Great Pumpkin Fest for kid-friendly fall entertainment.
SCarowinds | Buy tickets $32+
(8) Celebrate seasonal beers at Sycamore Brewing’s Pumpkin Fest.
Date: Sept. 14, noon to 11 p.m.
Details: Sycamore is welcoming the coming fall with live music on two stages, outdoor pouring stations, food trucks, local vendors and special edition gear.
Sycamore Pumpkin Fest | 2161 Hawkins Street | Free entry
(9) Take advantage of car-free streets during the eighth installment of Open Streets 704.
Date: Sept 15, 1-5 p.m.
Details: The event turns designated streets into a pedestrian-only route filled with activity and entertainment zones.
Route: The latest route will cover four miles from West End to Dilworth traveling along Fourth Street, Mint Street and Park Avenue. It runs from Seversville park to Latta Park.
Open Streets 704 | Free | Map
(10) Go apple picking.
Here’s our guide to 7 pick-your-own orchards within 2 hours of Charlotte.
(11) Drink beer, eat pretzels and challenge your stein hoisting skills at OMB’s three-day German-style Mecktoberfest.
Date: Sept. 20-22
Entertainment: They’ve got a stacked lineup of entertainment including live music, beer stein races, stein hoisting competitions, beard and mustache competitions and even hammerschlagen, a German game where you race to drive nails into a wooden beam.
Das Boot: Their popular 1-liter souvenir glass boot is back for $19.99 and includes your first beer fill up.
11th Annual Mecktoberfest |4150 Yancey Road | Free entry
(12) Buy art at the 54th annual Festival in the Park.
Date: Sept. 20-22
Details: The classic Charlotte arts festival features 150+ artisans selling everything from paintings and photography to sculptures, jewelry, woodworkings and glass.
Festival in the Park | Freedom Park | Free to enter
(13) Eat pizza and pick pumpkins at Wise Acres Organic Farm.
Season opening: Sept. 20
Details: The USDA organic farm harvests strawberries in the spring and pumpkins in the fall. The property features wagon rides, farm animals, a recycled tire playground and an outdoor pizza kitchen.
Wise Pie: The farm’s rustic outdoor pizza kitchen cranks out artisan pies cooked in a 900-degree wood-fired oven.
Wise Acres Organic Farm | 4701 Hartis Road, Indian Trail NC 28079
(14) Eat an apple cider doughnut sundae and pick pumpkins at Hall Family Farm.
Season opening: Sept. 27
Details: They’ve got musical hayrides, a five-acre corn maze and a pick-your-own pumpkin patch.There’s also a children’s play area with rubber ducky races, a kid’s corn maze, firetruck and fun slide. And you’ll find farm animals (goat and pig) to feed and seasonal treats like apple cider slushies.
Must try: Apple cider doughnut sundae — a warm apple cider doughnut topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and caramel sauce. Pair it with an apple cider slushie for the peak fall experience.
Final season: Hall Family Farm sold for $21 million, property to become Novant hospital
Hall Family Farm | 10713 Providence Road West
(15) Cheer on the U.S. National Women’s Team as they take on Korea Republic at Bank of America Stadium.
Date: Oct. 3, 8 p.m.
Details: The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions’ Victory Tour will make a stop in Charlotte on Thursday, Oct. 3. The team hasn’t played in Charlotte in 19 years.
USNWT vs. Korea Republic | Bank of America Stadium | Buy tickets $36+
(16) Dine in the middle of Tryon Street at Culture Feast.
Date: Oct. 4, 6-9 p.m.
Details: Long community tables fill the street for a night of live entertainment and a family-style dinner al fresco.
Culture Feast | South Tryon at Levine Avenue of the Arts | Buy tickets $50
(17) Bid farewell to summer and usher in the fall season at USNWC’s Fall Festival.
Date: Oct. 5
Details: They’ll have cider sampling, a Build Your Own Boat competition, live music, a trail race, yoga and more.
Build Your Own Boat: Put your own handmade vessel to the test on the whitewater rapids in the event’s signature Build Your Own Boat Competition. Registration is $40.
Fall Festival | Free to enter; fees to participate in some events
(18) Travel back in time at the Carolina Renaissance Festival.
Date: Saturdays and Sundays Oct. 5 – Nov. 24
Details: Hundreds of costumed characters bring 16th century history to life with performances, games, demonstrations and more. We’re talking jousting matches, falconry, artisan vendors, hands-on activities and more.
Carolina Renaissance Festival | 16445 Poplar Tent Road, Huntersville | Tickets: $25 adults, $14 kids 5-12
(19) Join 60,000+ attendees in celebrating Hispanic heritage at the Hola Charlotte Festival.
Date: Oct. 12
Details: The 8th annual event features authentic food and beverage, cultural dance performances, vendors and more.
Hola Charlotte Festival | North Tryon Street | Free
(20) Head to Raleigh for the N.C. State Fair and all the fried food your body can handle.
Date: Oct. 17-27
Details: The event is ranked among the top 25 fairs in the country and features live music, carnival games, rides, agricultural exhibitors and competitions.
Sky Gazer: This year they’re debuting a new 155-foot ferris wheel called the Sky Gazer. Tickets to ride are $6-$7 and do not include admission.
Food: New foods that debuted last year included an arepa burger, bacon on a stick dipped in nacho cheese and crumbled Cheetos, brownie funnel cake, a mac and cheese waffle cone topped with turkey barbecue and cracklins, chocolate chip hushpuppies and more. Stay tuned for the 2019 vendor lineup.
N.C. State Fair | 1025 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh | Tickets $10-$13 for adults
(21) Watch 50+ hot air balloons take to the sky at the 45th Annual Carolina Balloonfest.
Date: Oct. 18-20
Details: The second-oldest balloon festival in the country is a sight to behold as dozens of colorful balloons take to the sky. You can even book a ride for about $250/person.
Carolina BalloonFest | Troutman, NC | Tickets $10-$35
(22) Sip on unlimited samples from 25 vineyards at the South End Wine Festival.
Date: Oct. 19
Details: Enjoy four hours of all-you-can-drink wine, beer and cider samples plus live music and food from Papi Queso, Tin Kitchen and King of Pops.
VIP: There are two ways to upgrade your experience. Single VIP tickets are $50 and get you in an hour early to get a head start on sampling and beat the crowd. VIP tables are $600 and include 10 tickets, reserved table and chairs and four bottles of wine in addition to five hours of unlimited samples.
Agenda guide: 5 coolest wine bars in Charlotte
South End Wine Festival | 308 W. Carson Boulevard | Tickets $40 general admission
(23) Watch insanely talented pumpkin carvers battle it out at GUTS.
Date: CANCELED. The GUTS carving competition is taking a break for the 2019 season.
Details: When local creatives compete for bragging rights, you end up with over-the-top pumpkin creations. Come early to watch the carving in action (it’s worth it for the mad scramble at the end) before winners are announced. This community-wide event benefits Make-A-Wish of Central and Western NC.
GUTS Pumpkin Carving Contest | BB&T Ballpark
(24) Dress up to drink your way through Uptown at Rich & Bennett’s Halloween Bar Crawl.
Date: Oct. 26, 1-10 p.m.
Details: The 19th annual event is the largest Halloween bar crawl in the Southeast. Last year’s event featured 20+ participating bars. Stay tuned for this year’s lineup.
Rich & Bennett’s Halloween Bar Crawl | Uptown | Tickets $10 – $25
(25) Run alongside planes at the airport’s Runway 5K.
Date: Oct. 26, 8 a.m.
Details: The unique race puts runners and walkers on the runway at one of the country’s busiest airports where they’ll get an up close view of planes queuing and taking off. This year’s event will fund an Airport Opportunity Scholarship with Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) created to promote careers in aviation.
Runway 5K | Charlotte Douglas International Airport | Registration $35
(26) Visit the Great Elizabeth Pumpkin Wall.
Date: This year’s event hasn’t been announced yet but it’s usually a few days before Halloween.
Details: Each year, Elizabeth neighbors construct a giant 60-foot-long wall lined end to end and top to bottom with jack o’lanterns. You can join in the community carving event or just stop by to see it lit up. Learn more about the tradition here.
(27) Take a road trip to Asheville to see the leaves changing color in the mountains.
See our guide to 28 things to see, do and eat in Asheville.
(28) Eat your weight in mac and cheese at the CLT s’MACdown.
Date: Nov. 9, 1-5 p.m.
Details: The mac and cheese competition and craft beer tasting features four hours of all-you-can-eat samples plus live entertainment, games, a commemorative glass and raffle prizes.
CLT s’MACdown | 2530 Whitehall Park Drive | Tickets $30-$45
(29) Tackle 26.2 miles at the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon.
Date: Nov. 16
Details: If the full 26.2 isn’t for you, they also have a half, a 5K and a kids’ 1-mile fun run. Not into running? Make a sign and head out to cheer on the participants.
Novant Health Charlotte Marathon | Registration $40 – $125
(30) Kick off the holiday season at the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Date: Nov. 28
Details: The parade has been a Charlotte tradition since 1947.
Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade | Free; reserved seating also available
Looking for more seasonal events? Check out our Events Board and keep an eye out every Thursday for The Weekender, a roundup of the weekend’s top events.