By Jimese Orange
As springtime brings longer days with lots of sunshine, a festive life is here for the taking. There’s no shortage of outdoor entertainment going on just about every weekend throughout the spring, summer and fall. You might not be able to do them all, but this list will help you get started.
Biltmore Festival of Flowers
March 18 – May 25
With the blessings of Mother Nature, you’ll get to take in a spectacular display of spring flowers.
Why this festival is a must: The Great Wall of Flowers (aka the walled garden) typically displays more than 50,000 tulips, 14,000 daffodils, nearly 1,000 hyacinths and a plethora of other colorful blooms.
Known as “The World’s Only Mindful Triathlon,” this festival not only challenges your body but also your mind with a 5K run, yoga and meditation. MC Yogi puts on a massive festival party DJ party too.
Why this festival is a must: Zen, bliss and dance your heart out at this marathon of good vibes for the soul! wanderlust.com
Charlotte Jazz Festival
April 20 – 22
This three-day festival sold out last year for good reason. Expect intimate club performances, jazz brunches, dinners and happy hours, a youth jazz competition, a second line parade and more.
Why this festival is a must: Last year, the great Wynton Marsalis headlined, leading the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. This year is sure to raise the bar even higher.
Art of Cool Festival
April 28 – 30
AOC brings more than 50 artists and bands performing over three days, some legendary, others up-and-coming. It’s sure to expand your musical palate, with alternative soul, progressive jazz and mature hip-hop.
Why this festival is a must: The Godfather of Funk, George Clinton, is headlining, plus legendary emcee Rakim is hitting the stage with a full band this year. That’s only two of at least 50 dope artists sure to elevate your art of cool.
North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival
May 6 – 7
Charlotte has become a craft beer lover’s haven, with mini craft beer fests and events popping up all over the city. This festival is the crown jewel of them all.
Why this festival is a must: The two-day event features the area’s most cheers-worthy microbrewers and live music, plus camping for a completely immersive experience. www.ncbrewsmusic.com
May 18 – 21
Moogfest, named after Robert “Bob” Moog, creator of the Moog synthesizer and founding father of electronic music, uniquely merges cutting-edge music, art and technology through interactive experiences, visual art exhibitions, installations, film screenings, artist Q&A sessions and panel discussions, workshops and of course live music: electronic, pop and experimentalist.
Why this festival is a must: Moogfest transcends the usual festival experience, with intellectual musical flare in an eclectic synthesis of progressive thinkers, musicians, inventors and producers.
Carolina Blues Festival
The 31st annual Carolina Blues Festival is the longest-running blues festival in the Southeast.
Why this festival is a must: An extensive lineup of international, national and locally renowned musicians, coming together less than two hours from Charlotte. ‘Nuff said. fest.piedmontblues.org
Annual Rogallo Kite Festival
June 10 – 11
This festival showcases amazing 30- 100-foot kites atop Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Fly a kite of your own, take part in stunt kite lessons or just relax and enjoy the spectacular kites.
Why this festival is a must: Witness a whimsical parade in the sky, as a variety of colorful animals and shapes in oversized kite form ride the winds.
National Black Theatre Festival
July 31 – August 5
This international media event right in Winston-Salem has been a success for more than 12 years, showcasing the very best in black theater. Other festivities, such as the Opening Night Gala, the International Vendor’s Market, a poetry slam and more top it off.
Why this festival is a must: Imagine if Off-Broadway had a festival. This event attracts more than 60,000 visitors, and features more than 100 hundred theatrical performances by celebrities, local and regional thespians.
Charlotte Bachata & Salsa Festival
August 17 – 20
This exciting festival showcases local and national dance troupes, with performances that will bring talent and showmanship likened to the popular TV show “Dancing with the Stars”.
Why this festival is a must: The three-day event is packed with high-energy showcases, dance parties and workshops led by world-renowned dancers, choreographers and DJs charlottebachata.com
August 5 – 6
A fantastic cultural arts extravaganza in the heart of downtown Asheville.
Why this festival is a must: The location is lit on a regular weekend. This will be massive, with live soul, funk and R&B music on three stages, loads of culinary and craft vendors and street performers.
www.theleaf.org and www.romanticasheville.com/
The African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County
September 2 – 3
A celebration of African-American culture, expressed through art, music, food and community.
Why this festival is a must: It’s become the region’s premier festival for sharing and celebrating the distinctive folk and cultural traditions of African Americans here in North Carolina and from around the world.
The John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival
September 2 – 3
This festival honors great jazz icon John Coltrane, who was born in Hamlet. High Point considers Coltrane a native son, since he learned to play the saxophone while attending public school there.
Why this festival is a must: This year’s lineup has not been released yet, but last year featured big names such as Kenny G, Esperanza Spalding, Gregory Porter, Eric Gales and more.
Hopscotch Music Festival
September 7 – 10
This four day festival presents more than 140 national and international bands, from hip-hop, punk, rock, electronic, folk, country and experimental music, art exhibitions, photography exhibits, day parties and after parties throughout the city.
Why this festival is a must: The eclectic mix and breadth of music genres represented ensures unique experiences. Plus, the likes of Erykah Badu and Gary Clark Jr. were in last year’s impressive lineup.
October 20 – 22
This festival is a fun-filled weekend of outstanding visual entertainment in the form of huge colorful hot air balloons, family activities, wine and beer gardens, food and more.
Why this festival is a must: Why this festival is a must: Take in the spectacular sight of more than 50 hot air balloons in synchronized mass ascensions, balloon competitions, or take a ride of your own. Past years’ sightings included Darth Vader and Yoda in “Star Wars”- themed hot air balloons taking flight. www.carolinaballoonfest.com
North Carolina Seafood Festival
October 6 – 8
Experience the best seafood the shores of North Carolina have to offer at this festival on the waterfront of Morehead City.
Why this festival is a must: Seafood lovers can sample a variety of seafood indigenous to North Carolina Supporting local food has delicious rewards, as every food vendor is asked to purchase all seafood from local fishermen and retailers.
Please note festival information is subject to change. Visit websites to confirm up-to-date information.