9 North Carolina Festivals to Watch for This Summer

A young feminine-presenting person in a rainbow cape and yellow goggles holds a hand out in invitation to the viewer. Crowds in the background appear to be celebrating.

From LGBTQ+ pride to music to food and crafts, there is a festival for North Carolinians of every interest this summer. Cardinal & Pine captured a small slice of the diversity of events with this compilation from around the state.

A young feminine-presenting person in a rainbow cape and yellow goggles holds a hand out in invitation to the viewer. Crowds in the background appear to be celebrating.

By Emiene Wright

June 16, 2021

With COVID-19 waning (thanks vaccines!), North Carolina festivals are booking in 2021. Here are the ones to catch.

The weather is heating up and so is festival season. North Carolinians have been cooped inside for over a year and we’re all ready for some outdoor, socially distanced fun in the sun. Events focusing on music, art and culture abound, and here are nine of our favorites. Mark your calendars and see you there!

River Jams: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights through September, US National Whitewater Center, Charlotte. Free ($6 to park) / 6:30. Enjoy live rock, Americana, bluegrass, folk, and funk.

Greensboro Summer Solstice Festival, June 19, 2021, Greensboro. The 16th annual celebration will take place at the Greensboro Arboretum and Lindley Park. Expect musical performances, face painting, hooping, drums,, and dancing, starting at 2 p…m. 

An Appalachian Summer Festival, July 2-31, Boone. Appalachian State University’s annual arts festival features live and streaming performances of music, dance, theater, film and visual arts programming. 

Boone Concerts on the Lawn, every Friday at 5pm July 9 – Sept. 3, Boone. Free summer concerts are held on the Jones House Cultural and Community Centerlawn.

Carolina BBQ Music Festival, July 10, Greensboro. Named in the manner of Philadelphia’s annual Roots Picnic, the Carolina BBQ Music Festival is not so much about building food as community. Its purpose is to show appreciation for homegrown artists before they blow up nationally, and attendees can look forward to live performances, visual arts, food trucks and small business vendors. 

Image via Getty

Firecracker Festival, July 10, Winston-Salem. Come see all the handmade crafts you can shake a stick at, from knitted to leather to carved goods. The Cricket’s Nest Craft Shop sponsors the festival, which fills South Fork Park, and every piece is unique. 

Charlotte Black Pride, July 11-18, Charlotte. This year’s theme is “We The People,” and the family is coming for everything with a celebratory mix of performances, pageantry and politics. Come ready for fitness events, business workshops, a town hall meeting, brunches and of course, legendary parties.

Queen City Anime Convention, Aug 20-22, Charlotte. Fan out to Japanese animation, manga, comics, video gaming, cosplay, and performance arts at this annual, eye-popping event.

NC Azalea Festival Waterfront Street Fair, Aug. 20-22, Wilmington. The Waterfront Street Fair is part of the Azalea Festival’s switch to a year of celebration. Besides shopping and food, there will be over 250 vendors along the streets of historic downtown and stages such as the Children’s Area, Multicultural Area, and the Wilmington Grill Music & Beer Garden.


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