This article was updated September 2018.
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 events, festivals and seasonal experiences to keep on your radar.
Fall Festivals & Events
Eat a baklava sundae at the Yiasou Greek Festival. 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. But the cult favorite is definitely the baklava sundae — a mound of vanilla ice cream topped with a generous scoop of crumbled baklava.
Yiasou Greek Festival | September 6-9 | Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church | $3 admission
Drink your way through samples from 60+ regional and national brewers at Charlotte Oktoberfest. The 19th annual event introduces you to tons of craft beer and ciders for a cause. This year they’re raising funds to benefit local nonprofits Bravo Alpha Foundation, Dark Lite Initiative and North Carolina Homebrewers Association.
Ride haunted rollercoasters at SCarowinds. 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 and 16 haunted attractions and shows. Not feeling it? Buy a “No Boo” necklace for $12 and the monsters won’t approach you. (Check out The Great Pumpkin Fest below for fright-free, kid-friendly fall Carowinds entertainment.)
Travel back in time at the Carolina Renaissance Festival. 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.
Celebrate seasonal beers at Sycamore Brewing’s Pumpkin Fest. Welcome the coming fall with a tap lineup featuring seasonal beers, including Sycamore’s Gourd Have Mercy!
Sycamore Pumpkin Fest | September 15 | Sycamore Brewing | Free entry
Cheers to Mecktoberfest at OMB. Celebrate the return of OMB’s popular fall beer, Mecktoberfest, with traditional food, live music by German bands and authentic food such as Pork Schnitzel and Currywurst. Kids and dogs welcome.
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery Mecktoberfest |September 21-23 | Free entry
Buy art at the 53rd annual Festival in the Park. The classic Charlotte arts festival features 150+ artisans selling everything from paintings and photography to sculptures, jewelry, woodworkings and glass.
Festival in the Park | September 21-23 | Freedom Park | Free to enter
Bid farewell to summer and usher in the fall season at USNWC’s Fall Festival. They’ll have cider sampling, a Build Your Own Boat competition, live music, yoga and more.
Fall Festival | October 6 | Tickets: Free to enter; fees to participate
Join 60,000+ attendees in celebrating Hispanic heritage at the Hola Charlotte Festival. The 7th annual event features authentic food and beverage, cultural dance performances, vendors and more.
Hola Charlotte Festival | October 6 | N. Tryon Street | Free
Watch 50+ hot air balloons take to the sky at the 45th Annual Carolina Balloonfest. It’s the second-oldest balloon festival in the country.
Carolina Balloonfest | October 19-21 | Tickets; $5-$35
Sip on unlimited samples from 25 vineyards at the South End Wine Festival. Four hours of all-you-can-drink wine plus an approachable price point and central location make this event, now in its fourth year, a wildly popular occasion. It gets packed so plan on arriving early.
Watch insanely talented pumpkin carvers battle it out at GUTS. When local creatives compete for bragging rights, you end up with over-the-top pumpkin creations. Come from 2:30 – 4 p.m. to watch the carving in action (it’s worth it for the mad scramble at the end) before winners are announced at 4:40 p.m. This community-wide event benefits Make-A-Wish of Central and Western NC.
Dress up to drink your way through Uptown at Rich & Bennett’s Halloween Bar Crawl. The 18th annual event is the largest Halloween bar crawl in the Southeast.
Cheer on runners at the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon. Or run it! If the full 26.2 isn’t for you, they also have a half, a 5K and a kids’ 1-mile fun run.
Eat your way through unlimited samples at the Dilworth South End Chili Cook Off. The event features 4 categories — red, vegetarian, “The Other Ones” and People’s Choice.
Dilworth South End Chili Cook Off | November 11 | $12 adults, free for kids
Kick off the holiday season at the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade has been a Charlotte tradition since 1947.
Drink hard cider and pick apples at Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill. The closest orchard to Charlotte is less than an hour outside the city. The orchards open September 7, but they’ve got a hard cider bar and farm stand that make it worth a visit in the meantime even without the apple experience. Get a hard cider flight and fresh fried apple cider doughnuts.
Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill | 1860 Black Highway, York SC 29745
Eat pizza and pick pumpkins at Wise Acres Organic Farm. The USDA organic farm harvests strawberries in the spring and pumpkins in the fall. They also have a rustic outdoor kitchen cranking out pizzas cooked in a 900-degree wood-fired oven. The fall season runs September 21 – November 4.
Wise Acres Organic Farm | 4701 Hartis Road, Indian Trail NC 28079
Navigate your way out of a corn maze. Here are 5 within 30 miles of Charlotte.
Work your way through Charlotte’s local fall seasonal craft beers. See all 24 Charlotte breweries here and keep an eye out of their seasonal releases.
Visit the Great Elizabeth Pumpkin Wall. 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.
Visit a local pumpkin patch. Here are 13 area farms along with their 2017 season opening dates.
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.
Go apple picking. Here’s our guide to 7 pick-your-own orchards within 2 hours of Charlotte.
More for the kids
In addition to a number of kid-friendly activities above, these fall events are designed with little Charlotteans in mind.
The Great Pumpkin Fest at Carowinds – Saturdays and Sundays September 15 – October 28 – The family-friendly daytime version of Carowinds’ haunted SCarowinds seasonal attraction with costume contests, mazes and more.
Fall Frolic at Anne Springs Close Greenway – Saturdays and Sundays beginning October 13 – Horse rides, hay bale mazes, pumpkins, a kiddie corn maze and more.