Fun Fall Festivals

It's festival season and some of the best are just an easy ride from the city

September marks the beginning of fall, which is synonymous with festival season for many areas across the Southeast. Cities and small towns gear up for crowds who are ready to celebrate art, music, apples, seafood, and more. Some of the best events are just an easy drive from Charlotte.


Aug. 31-Sept. 3- North Carolina Apple Festival
Hendersonville | 100 miles, 2 hours

More than 200 vendors will line Hendersonville’s Main Street with arts, crafts, and of course, apples. Fourteen local growers offer North Carolina’s finest fruit in all forms including apple butter, pies, cakes, and cider. Daily live entertainment will create a bustling atmosphere throughout the weekend. The festival culminates on Labor Day with the King Apple Parade, which attracts more than 60,000 people each year. Free,

Sept. 1-2- Lexington Avenue Fun and Arts Festival
Asheville | 130 miles, 2.25 hours

Over two days, three blocks of Lexington Avenue in downtown Asheville transform into a haven for local art, food, beer, music, and spontaneous creativity. Locals and out-of-towners of all ages enjoy everything from face-painting and hula-hooping to local beer and, yes, bicycle jousting. Free,

Sept. 6-8- Hopscotch Music Festival
Raleigh | 167 miles, 3 hours

If you want to skirt the political throngs of the DNC and join in with a crowd looking to simply enjoy a weekend of fantastic music, cruise on up I-85 to take it all in. For three days, fifteen venues across the capital will host 175 acts. Headliners include The Roots, Jesus and the Mary Chain, Yo La Tengo, and Built to Spill. Three-day pass: $110; one-day pass: $55-$75,

Sept. 13-16, Sept. 20-Oct. 28 Oktoberfest
Helen, GA | 197 miles, 3.5 hours
It’s only fitting that an architectural replica of a quaint Bavarian village would host one of the Southeast’s largest Oktoberfest celebrations. German dance, food, music, and of course, beer, will be the subjects of celebration at this event. Grab a beer and a brat and join in the longest-running Oktoberfest in the country. $8, Mon-Fri; $9, Sat; free, Sun,

Sept. 14-16- Yemassee Shrimp Festival
Yemassee, SC (35 min. from Beaufort, SC) 205 miles, 3.25 hours
This annual festival celebrates the town’s role in the evolving shrimp industry. Festivalgoers can browse arts and crafts and sample shrimp from concession vendors. Feeling confident? Enter the beauty pageant or talent show, or make a float for Saturday’s big parade. Free,

Sept. 22- French Broad Fall Fest
Hot Springs | 165 miles, 3 hours

During French Broad Fall Fest, the festival grounds at the intersection of the French Broad River and Appalachian Trail are hopping with music, craft beer, and food. A stellar brewery lineup including local favorite Pisgah mixes with steady live entertainment all day and night. Those with a love for the outdoors can also enjoy the many opportunities for hiking, fishing, and biking in the area. Unlimited beer sampling is included with ticket. $75, alcohol included; $60, alcohol-free,

Sept. 22-25- Benson Mule Days
Benson | 200 miles, 3.5 hours

Drawing nearly 50,000 people each year, Benson Mule Days is one of the biggest festivals in North Carolina. Festivalgoers can see a mule race, mule judging competition, mule pulling, and a variety of rodeos. A massive parade winds through downtown Benson on Saturday. Throughout the weekend, enjoy arts and crafts, vendors, street dances, carnival rides, camping, bluegrass shows, and more. Free,

Sept. 23-30- Savannah Jazz Festival
Savannah, GA | 253 miles, 4 hours

This free, weeklong celebration of America’s original art form features local, national, and international musicians. The variety of jazz styles represented by these artists makes this a well-rounded event for intense and casual fans of the genre. The Coastal Jazz Association also hosts a golf tournament on Sept. 24. Free,

Sept. 27-30- Mayberry Days
Mount Airy | 100 miles, 1.75 hours

This Andy Griffith–centric event celebrates simpler times in a family-friendly atmosphere. Not just for the beloved show’s biggest fans, festivalgoers can participate in a variety of activities like a pie-eating contest, Mayberry Days golf tournament, or Mrs. Wiley’s tea party. See how you stack up at Mayberry “Idle,” a much slower-paced talent contest. Or, in the spirit of the event, just sit back and enjoy a game of checkers while listening to some great local tunes. Also this year, the Surry Arts Council will host a special tribute in honor of the late Andy Griffith. Free,

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