26 must-do fall activities in Charlotte

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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 7-10 | Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church | $3 admission

Drink your way through samples from 60+ regional and national brewers at Charlotte Oktoberfest. The 18th annual event introduces you to tons of craft beer and ciders for a cause. This year they’re raising funds to benefit local nonprofits Charlotte Family Housing, RescuedMe and On Eagle’s Wings.

Charlotte Oktoberfest | September 9 | Symphony Park | Tickets: $45 general admission, $65 VIP

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.)

SCarowinds | Fridays and Saturdays starting 9/15; Fri-Sun starting 10/6-29 (excluding 10/21 and 10/28) | Tickets

scarowinds

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.

Carolina Renaissance Festival | Saturdays and Sundays September 30 – November 19 | Tickets: $24 adults, $14 kids 5-12

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 16 | Sycamore Brewing | 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 22-24 | Freedom Park | Free to enter

Sample hard ciders at the 4th Annual Charlotte Cider Fest. Enjoy the (hopefully) cooler fall temperatures on the open-air patio at Rooftop 210 as you work your way through 8 different hard cider samples. VIP tickets include a mixology class and 2 additional hard cider cocktails.

Charlotte Cider Fest | October 6 | Rooftop 210 | Tickets: $15 – $20

Bid farewell to summer and usher in the fall season at USNWC’s Fall Finale. They’ll have cider sampling, a Build Your Own Boat competition, a Deep Water Solo competition, live music, yoga and more.

Fall Finale | October 6-7 | Tickets: Free to enter; cider $6 per 4 4-oz samples

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 third year, a wildly popular occasion. It gets packed so plan on arriving early.

South End Wine Festival | October 21 | 308 W. Carson Boulevard | Tickets: $35

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 4:30 p.m. This community-wide event benefits Make-A-Wish of Central and Western NC.

GUTS Pumpkin Carving Contest | October 21 | BB&T Ballpark | Tickets: $10 general admission, free for kids under 12

GUTS Charlotte

Party at Kiss 95.1’s Grave Digger’s Ball. The city’s largest costume party features Macklemore as the headlining act this year. Don’t phone it in on your costume — they’ve got $10,000 up for grabs in cash and prizes.

Grave Digger’s Ball | October 28 | Tickets: $20- $80

Dress up to drink your way through Uptown at Rich & Bennett’s Halloween Bar Crawl. The 17th annual event is the largest Halloween bar crawl in the Southeast.

Rich & Bennett’s Halloween Bar Crawl | October 28 | Tickets: $10 – $25

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.

Novant Health Charlotte Marathon | November 11 | Registration: $15 – $115

Photo courtesy of Novant Health Charlotte Marathon

Kick off the holiday season at the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade has been a Charlotte tradition since 1947.

Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade | November 23 | Free; reserved seating also available and on sale 10/1

balloon-at-thanksgiving-day-parade-uptown-charlotte

Seasonal Experiences

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. Although they’re expecting another very short picking season, they’ve got a hard cider bar and farm stand that make it worth a visit 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 opens September 23.

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.

hall-family-farm-corn-maze

Photo via Facebook

Work your way through Charlotte’s local fall seasonal craft beers. See all 21 Charlotte breweries here and keep an eye out of their seasonal releases.

NoDa Brewing’s Gordgeous via Facebook

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.

pumpkin-wall-lit

Tailgate a Panthers game. Obviously. See our Beginner’s Guide to Panthers Tailgating and 8 tailgate spreads worth copying.

Visit a local pumpkin patch. Here are 13 area farms along with their 2017 season opening dates.

wise-acres-pumpkins

Photo via Facebook

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 16 – October 29 – 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 September 30 – October 29 – Horse rides, hay bale mazes, pumpkins, a kiddie corn maze and more.

All Hallows Eve Family Day at Latta Plantation – Saturday, October 21 – Dress up and trick-or-treat at Latta Plantation. They’ll also have historical demonstrations, crafts and games.

Boo Bash at SouthPark Mall – Sunday, October 22 – Trick-or-treat at Symphony Park, including a costume parade, costume contest, arts/crafts, face painting and more.

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Katie Levans Loveluck
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Co-Founder and Creative Director