North Carolina has more craft breweries and brewpubs than any other state in the American South—380, to be exact. Plus, it ranks 10th in the country for wine production, housing a whopping 200 wineries and 400 vineyards.
Suffice it to say, North Carolinians like their booze—especially when it’s paired with live music, scrumptious bites, specialty vendors, live performances, and more.
Here are 14 beer and wine festivals across the state to check out in 2023.
When: August 26
At the 6th annual High Country Beer Fest, 42 breweries from all over the state will pour 2-ounce cold ones all day long. In addition to beer sampling, there will be live music, fermentation seminars, and food for purchase. To make transportation easy, shuttles will transport festival-goers to and from the ASU campus parking and the fairgrounds.
Note: This event is just for folks 21 and older, so leave your kids and dogs at home.
When: September 15-17 and 22-24
Every autumn, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery goes all out for Oktoberfest. The award-winning, Charlotte-based brewery and biergarten serves authentic German food, hosts live outdoor music, and puts on stein-holding contests. The party takes place over two different weekends, from 11 a.m. on Friday to 10 p.m. on Sunday.
When: September 23
There’s no better way to get into the fall spirit than sipping wine in the midst of a vast, color-shifting vineyard. From 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sept. 23, the stunning WoodMill Winery will have 60 craft vendors, several food trucks, and complimentary wine samples for attendees. Plus, the winery is offering some wicked deals on bottles just for the occasion.
When: September 30
The annual Wine & Food Festival is all about drinking, eating, and relaxing with family and friends. This year, there will be more than 100 international wines, beers, and spirits in addition to local food trucks and live music. If you want to take the experience up a notch and snag a VIP ticket, you’ll get access to the Champagne Lounge, a bottle of wine from the event’s curated selection, an extra hour of sampling, a souvenir glass and bag, free water, and special washrooms. Fancy.
When: September 30
Cost: Children 6-20, $5; adults, $20-$25
Muscadine is a grapevine that’s native to the southeastern United States—particularly the coastal plains of North Carolina. The North Carolina Muscadine Festival, held at the Duplin County Events Center in Kenansville, celebrates the area’s rich muscadine history. There will be local wines, live music, delicious food, and two interesting contests: tailgate decorating and amateur wine-making. Do you have what it takes to win?
When: October 6-7
Cost: $25; kids 15 and under are free
Although the 2022 Triangle Oktoberfest got canceled due to Hurricane Ian, the event is back with a bang in 2023. Purposefully sandwiched between Raleigh’s Bluegrass Festival and the state fair, North Carolina’s biggest Oktoberfest celebration is sure to draw in thousands of visitors from the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area.
Some of the contests will include stein holding, yodeling, hammer strikes, and wiener dog races All proceeds from the family-friendly event benefit Meg Smile Foundation and other charities.
When: October 7
If beer and bikes are two of your favorite things, Asheville’s annual Tour De Fat is the event for you. Classified as the “world’s greatest costumed bike parade,” the event—which originated at the original New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado—will be held on Oct. 7. Following the leisurely ride around town, festivalgoers head back to the brewery to enjoy live music (Pimps of Joytime is headlining), food trucks, and beer aplenty.
Don’t forget to bring your bike lock and wear a wacky outfit.
When: October 21
Cost: Free admission; wine tasting, $20-$25
The 19th annual Yadkin Valley Grape Festival is an all-day event that features wine from more than a dozen Yadkin Valley vineyards, live entertainment, food, and more. If you purchase your wine-tasting ticket (which, by the way, will get you unlimited samples) in advance, you’ll get a $5 discount.
When: October 21
Head on over to Raleigh’s City Plaza from noon-8:00 pm on Oct. 21 for beer, vendors, performances, wine pairing, and more.
A whopping 25 international wine suppliers from more than 17 countries will be in attendance. There will also be an LED dance party, which will be especially fun for those who purchased and made good use of their wine-tasting punch cards … hint, hint.
When: October 27
The Voracious & Rare Beer and Wine Festival acts as a precursor to the next event on the list. While the Carousel Center Beer and Wine Festival is for anyone, this evening event is particularly for the beverage explorers and aficionados—though designated drivers still get discounted tickets.
Tickets—which are very limited—include appetizers, samples, and live music. It’s the ideal date night, if you ask us.
When: October 28
Described as North Carolina’s “beer event of the year,” this annual festival benefits the local Carousel Child Advocacy Center. The 2023 event will take place at the Live Oak Pavilion in Wilmington’s Riverfront Park and will include live music, tasty treats, and tons of breweries.
Unless you’re underage and/or opt for the designated driver ticket option, you will receive a cup upon entry, which you can use for unlimited samples.
When: October 28
The North Carolina Wine Festival is one of the longest-running events on this list, as it’s been happening annually for more than 20 years. While a general admission ticket gets you access to vendors, live music, food, and samples, VIP ticket holders will also have more space, a special luncheon, and premier wines and cocktails.
Where: Nags Head
When: October 28
This is a far cry from your average beer festival. It’s loosely modeled after the global Red Bull event called “Flugtag,” which means “flying day” in German and involves contestants building human-powered airborne machines. At OBX Brewtag, however, contestants compete against one another to find out who can launch an empty keg the farthest. A wee bit different, but still massively fun.
In addition to the competition, there will be live music, a beer garden, and a kids’ zone.
When: November 9-12
The last big North Carolina beer and wine event of the 2023 calendar year is Highlands Food and Wine, which the event website describes as “an Elevation Celebration with 4 days of culinary delights paired with delectable wines, spirits, craft beers, and exciting alcohol-free beverages, all to the tune of world-renowned musical performers.”
This premier, multi-location event has quite the price tag, but tickets come with tons of perks—especially when it comes to food and wine (shocker). It’s time to bring out your bougie side.