Charlotte and the surrounding area plays host to a varied assortment of festivals which attract hundreds of thousands of people annually from across the entire East Coast. The area’s cultural, music, and entertainment festivals come in all shapes and sizes, and offer something for every taste and interest.
Music and Arts Festivals
If you are looking to rock on, the Carolina Rebellion hard rock and heavy metal music festival certainly fits the bill. The 3-day festival is held at the iconic Charlotte Motor Speedway each May and draws around 100,000 rockers annually. The festival offers live music on three stages and over fifty bands which have included ZZ Top, Candlebox, Rob Zombie, Korn, and Alice in Chains.
A more laid-back, family-friendly alternative is the 3-day Festival in the Park, held in Charlotte’s Freedom Park in late September for over 50 consecutive years. The festival features area artisans; a variety of live country, rock, bluegrass, big band, and jazz music on multiple stages; clown and circus performances; and a magician’s stage. The Festival in the Park is free to attend and draws over 120,000 visitors each year.
Jazz fans will want to get to the Old Town Cornelius Jazz Festival. Held in Smithville Park in nearby Cornelius, N.C. in August, the festival features a variety of jazz styles from the region’s finest jazz and blues musicians.
The Foothills Folk Art Festival (formally the Lake Norman Folk Art Festival) is held in October in neighboring Newton, N.C. Featuring contemporary folk art works from local and contemporary artists, the festival has two stages of live music and art-based activities for children.
Charlotte celebrates its diversity with a variety of cultural festivals spread throughout the year. The Yiasou Greek Festival is one of Charlotte’s largest cultural festivals and features Greek music, dance, food, and art exhibits. Usually held in late August, the one day festival draws thousands of visitors each year.
The annual Latin American Festival is held in Symphony Park, and draws over 20,000 visitors each year. The festival features two stages and performers from all across Latin America, as well as traditional foods, and arts and crafts.
The Japanese Bon Odori Fest, held in August in the Uptown section, features traditional Japanese music and dance performances, martial arts exhibitions, traditional drum circle performances, and tea ceremonies.
The UNC International Festival has been held on the UNC campus every fall since 1975. One of the best attended festivals in the city, it features the music, dance, food, and crafts of over 50 diverse cultures from around the world.
The Carolina Renaissance Festival is one of the largest Ren-Fests in the United States, attracting around 200,000 visitors annually. Held on weekends throughout October and November just north of the city, the festival features a 20-acre village marketplace, a jousting tournament, an interactive circus, a variety of entertainment on 11 stages, and a feast.
The Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade, held in the Uptown section every August, has grown in recent years to be one of the largest LGBTQ events in the south. The 2-day event attracts over 120,000 people annually and includes live entertainment, art exhibits and displays, educational events, and a family-friendly zone.
Music, culture, the past, and the present are all causes for celebration in Charlotte, and the city has the festivals to prove it. So, what do you feel like celebrating?