Looking for the best North Carolina Music Festivals!? Well, you’ve come to the right place, and I’ve learned that the festivals in NC are as unique as the state itself! Diverse, fun and inclusive, the annual festival calendar is jam-packed year-round and will take you all over.
From the cities of Charlotte and Raleigh, to the woods of Boone and the waves of Carolina Beach, the settings of North Carolina’s music festivals is what really sets them apart from the rest!
While slim on the big name rock, pop and electronic festivals that often crop up on my festival lists, North Carolina is all about comfortable, down to earth entertainment where everyone is welcome. Oh, and these folks LOVE bluegrass, folk, and family fun!
So without further ado, please enjoy what I think are…
When: April 25-28, 2019
Genre: Electronic / Synth
“By day, Moogfest is a platform for conversation and experimentation. This mind-expanding conference attracts creative and technology professionals for three days of participatory programming in Durham, North Carolina. Each evening, Moogfest presents cutting edge music in venues throughout the city. Performing artists include early pioneers in electronic music, alongside pop and avant garde experimentalists of today. Moogfest is a tribute to Dr. Robert Moog and the profound influence his inventions have had on how we hear the world. Over the last sixty years, Bob Moog and Moog Music have pioneered the analog synthesizer and other technology tools for artists. This exchange between engineer and musician is celebrated with a unique festival format where the creative process is understood as a collaboration among many people, across time and space, in commerce and culture.”
2) Epicenter Festival
When: May 10-12, 2019
“The inaugural 2019 Epicenter Festival is taking North Carolina by storm on May 10th, 11th & 12th! The first-ever Epicenter lineup features Foo Fighters, Tool, Korn, Judas Priest, Rob Zombie, Bring Me The Horizon, and many, many more! Rock out with your favorite bands and enjoy elevated VIP experiences, along with specially-curated food + beverage options.”
3) Hopscotch Music Festival
“Hopscotch Music Festival is an annual three-day music festival in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, United States. With more than 120 bands, Hopscotch is known for adventurous lineups, memorable performances, and a fan-friendly atmosphere. From large outdoor main stages in Raleigh City Plaza and Red Hat Amphitheater to intimate club shows, the festival features music in almost every genre imaginable—rock, hip-hop, metal, folk, electronic, experimental, and more—and its schedule highlights this diversity each year.”
Genre: Roots / Americana / Blues
“MerleFest, considered one of the premier music festivals in the country, serves as an annual homecoming for musicians and music fans. Held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the late Eddy Merle Watson, son of American music legend Doc Watson. MerleFest is a celebration of ‘traditional plus’ music, a unique mix of music based on the traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, and expanded to include Americana, country, blues, rock and many other styles. The festival hosts numerous artists, performing on 13 stages during the course of the four-day event. The annual event has become the primary fundraiser for the WCC Foundation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs.”
5) Carolina Beach Music Festival
Where: Carolina Beach
“Here is your chance to dance barefoot on the sand or just sway to the Beach Music Beat while standing in the surf. Held the first Saturday in June, the Beach Music Festival hosted by the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce is billed as “the biggest and only beach music festival actually held on the beach on the North Carolina coast” and one of the longest running beach music festivals in the United States. Come out and enjoy a full day of live entertainment with the hottest beach music bands in the south!”
6) Dreamville Festival
When: April 6, 2019
“Dreamville Festival will be the first event of its kind for the region as it looks to provide a thoughtfully-curated, multi-stage music event from J. Cole, who himself was raised in nearby Fayetteville, North Carolina. The festival offers an opportunity for J. Cole to give back to his home state that has helped shape the artist he has become with a one-of-a-kind celebration of local culture, food and art that also features a curated selection of music performers blending together some of today’s biggest national acts with exciting up-and-comers.”
7) The Shindig
“The Shindig, formerly known as the Clayton Shindig, is a single-day show on downtown Clayton’s Town Square, an empty block that also hosts a monthly music series from May through September and other events. The event has changed repeatedly as it has grown to a two-stage show hosting about 10 bands. The day also includes contests, like a wing-eating competition that has been held each year, and a beard contest held in 2017.”
8) Digital Gardens Music & Arts Festival
When: April 19-20, 2019
Where: Charlotte, NC
Genre: Electronic / EDM
“Digital Gardens is North Carolina’s newest two day Music & Arts Festival located in Charlotte, NC. The event will host 1 Main Stage and 1 Silent Disco Stage with an Artistic Expression Area. Featuring notable names in Electronic Dance Music, the event will feature a unique design, art installments, and more.”
9) Wide Open Bluegrass
“PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass, a one-of-a-kind urban bluegrass festival! Featuring IBMA and Grammy Award winners, top-notch emerging acts, traditional bluegrass, and acts that stretch the boundaries across eight stages in downtown Raleigh, NC. The Main Stage at Red Hat Amphitheater is a fundraiser for the Bluegrass Trust Fund, a 501c(3) that provides emergency support for bluegrass music professionals.”
10) North Carolina Folk Festival
“The NC Folk Fest is a FREE, 3-day outdoor celebration of cultural roots and heritage held annually in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. The North Carolina Folk Festival features performances and demonstrations by the finest musicians, dancers, and craftspeople – with performing groups on multiple stages including a dance pavilion dedicated to non-stop participatory dancing, and a family stage with performances appealing to both the young and young-at-heart. A mix of open air and tented sites will provide a variety of performance venues ranging from intimate stages to amphitheater size. In addition to the performance stages, the Festival also hosts a Family Activities Area, the North Carolina Arts Marketplace, and the Festival Food Courts.”
11) Boom Charlotte
Genre: Various / Cultural
Three days of art, performance and the unexpected.
“The BOOM festival is Charlotte’s annual showcase of contemporary and experimental art created on the fringes of popular culture. We’ve gathered a unique coalition of artists, volunteers, nonprofits, local businesses and neighborhood organizations to transform the way art is made and shared in the Queen City.”
12) Music Fest at Blue Bear Mountain
“Blue Bear Mountain Campground in Todd is bringing the Music Fest at Blue Bear Mountain back to the High Country for its fifth year on Sept. 7-9 for an enjoyable, clean and relaxed music festival for people of all ages.
Blue Bear Mountain Campground consists of 155 acres of land on which people can camp and enjoy the upcoming music festival. “The music festival is right on the mountain at around 4,000 feet. There’s a great big stage and people can set up camps,” Kevin Quick, Promoter of the Music Fest at Blue Bear Mountain, said. “It’s just beautiful up here. It’s very clean, very green, very well-maintained property.””
13) Mountain Song Festival
Genre: Acoustic / Bluegrass / Traditional Mountain Music / Folk
“The Brevard Music Center’s Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium serves as the main stage for Mountain Song Festival. There are 1,800 permanent seats under the covered section with ample lawn seating on both sides of the open air venue. Nestled into a beautiful cove with Pisgah National Forest as a backdrop it is an inspiring location for a great musical experience. Mountain Song Festival supports The Cindy Platt Boys and Girls Club of Transylvania County.”
14) Earth Day Jam
When: April 19-20, 2019
“Earth Day Jam is a music & arts festival and Earth Day celebration benefiting local nonprofit Happy Roots. With over 15 bands on two stages, 40 arts & craft vendors and environmental educators… Earth Day Jam hosts fun for the whole family while raising funds to support Happy Roots programs. Join us this spring for Earth Day Jam!”
15) Breakaway Music Festival
“If you are ready to breakaway from reality and enjoy a rad weekend filled with great music, then head down to Charlotte, North Carolina on October 4 – 5th. The festival will take place in Uptown Charlotte at the Avidxchange Music Factory, enjoy an unlimited amount of live music, and get ready for a spectacular weekend filled with live performances from well known artists, and dank food. You don’t want to miss out! Previous Breakaway – Charlotte 2018 Lineup: GRiZ, Wiz Khalifa, Juice Wrld, Lil Pump, Louis The Child, Machine Gun Kelly, Nghtmre, 3LAU, Hoodie Allen, Frank Walker, Lil Skies, Lost Kings, Carter Cruise, Styles&Complete, Frealy, Harley Boys.”
“CHICKWEED. Celebrating Indestructible Women is non-profit organization that hosts an annual indoor/outdoor concert and mini-arts-festival featuring women artists and performers, raising funds and awareness our local shelters for victims of violence. Empowering victims of violence through the Arts.”
17) Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival
Where: Carolina & Kure Beach
Genre: Blues / Jazz
“Enjoy “The Year of the Woman” featuring International Blues Recording Artist Ana Popovic, Kansas City’s Danielle Nicole and the incredible Heather Gillis Band. Spend a weekend filled with blues and jazz from two stages of performers paired with locally prepared seafood. Bring your chairs, towels and blankets, and spend some time browsing at the Arts & Wine Garden, shopping for crafts, and fine wine tasting. Children will stay entertained for hours as they enjoy the performers, face painting, educational exhibits, inflatables and much more in the Kidz Zone.”
18) Tuck Fest
When: April 25-28, 2019
“Tuck Fest is a multi-day festival that celebrates the outdoor lifestyle through competitions, exhibitions, demos, and live music at the U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC), located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The festival features a variety of outdoor competitions that include trail running, kayaking, biking, climbing, stand-up paddleboarding, obstacle, and adventure racing. In six years, Tuck Fest has grown from 14,000 attendees in 2013 to over 55,000 attendees in 2018. The name “Tuck Fest” comes from the Tuckaseegee Ford and Trail, a historical landmark located at the USNWC.”
19) Carolina Bohemian Jam
When: August 16-18, 2019
Genre: Rock / Tribute / 60’s
The Ultimate Hippie Tribute
“This must-see festival is the Carolinas’ celebration to commemorate the era of music that would influence generations to come. Don’t miss the most cosmic event of the year at the Rowan County Fairgrounds in Salisbury, North Carolina. There will be live music on multiple stages featuring tribute bands from the 1960s and 1970s, such as The Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and more. We will also feature local musicians.”
20) Carolina in the Fall
When: September 20-21, 2019
Genre: Folk / Roots
“The fifth annual Carolina in the Fall Music and Food Festival, winner of the coveted IBMA Momentum Event of the Year Award, continues its’ tradition of celebrating the heritage of western North Carolina.
Over 100 musicians, chefs, vintners and craft beer brewers from the region will gather on Main Street in Wilkesboro, NC to engage audiences with the best of their craft. Wilkes County’s own The Kruger Brothers will once again be the Festival hosts and welcome some of North Carolina’s best Folk/ Roots music bands. They will be joined by bands from other regions that tip their hats to the rich musical history of Wilkes, the Heart of American Folk Music™.”
When: January (2020 Dates TBA)
Where: Chapel Hill
Genre: Tribute / Rock ‘n’ Roll
“Come join us for the 19th Elvisfest! Elvisfest is an annual event celebrating the musical legacy of Elvis Presley which happens every year on or near the birthday of the King of Rock and Roll (January 8th, 1935). 19 bands wil play 2 different stages over 2 nights of fun, fun, fun!”
22) Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival
“Music lovers from all over the world flock to the Outer Banks for this tradition that adds a roster of acclaimed bands with one of the most beautiful venues anywhere. The Outer Banks Bluegrass Island Festival has quickly become one of the most highly anticipated events of the year, and this year’s event is no exception, with a number of regionally and nationally famous bands set to take the stage. The festival is held at the stunning Roanoke Island Festival Park, which overlooks miles of pristine sound waters.
This unique 22 acre island becomes Bluegrass Island each year to host the event. Attendees are encouraged to purchase tickets and lodging well in advance, and despite its off-season timing, this event tends to fill up fast year after year. If your dream vacation involves laying back in your most comfortable beach chair and taking in the best bluegrass acts the country has to offer, then you’ll definitely want to set this long weekend aside for the Outer Banks most popular festival!”
23) The Art of Cool Festival
Genre: Jazz / Soul / Hip Hop
A COLLISION OF JAZZ, R&B, HIP-HOP & SOUL.
“The Art of Cool Festival is celebrating its 5th year anniversary this September 28-29th in downtown Durham, North Carolina. A remix of a Black American Music festival, AOCFEST 2018 fuses forward-thinking Jazz, alternative Soul and Hip Hop greats over the course of a dope, culture-filled weekend.”
“Reevestock offers something for everyone in the family and looks to benefit the community in every way possible. Great music for all ages, food and drinks made available by your favorite restaurants, and even activities for the kids. Music helps to bring us all together and that’s what Reevestock is all about.”
25) Prime Music Festival
When: May 17-18, 2019
Where: Raleigh, North Carolina
Genre: Trap, EDM, Bass
“PRIME Social Group has announced the return to Raleigh, North Carolina in May! The festival will feature some of electronic and urban music’s most buzzed names including WeDidIt label founder RL Grime, know for his studio work with the likes of Chief Keef and Miguel plus explosive solo productions that helped revolutionize the trap sound. Top tier billing continues with live-electronic leader Gryffin and one of house music’s most celebrated producers Chris Lake, who’s hook driven tunes have dominated the charts in recent years.
Am I Missing Any Epic Music Festivals in North Carolina?
There were an extremely surprising amount of festivals in NC to choose from, so please do reach out to me if you think I’m missing any really amazing music festivals in this beautiful state! I’ve never been myself, but I’ve already added several of these to my ridiculously large music festival bucket list!
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