From the beaches of the coastline, to historic towns like Edenton, to Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mt. Airy, North Carolina offers a host of festivals and events to draw you to the Tar Heel State for a fall getaway.
Michele Ellis, who promotes Currituck County and the northern Outer Banks actually prefers the fall. “After Labor Day the rates go down about 30%. Fewer crowds are on the beaches as well as in the restaurants. My favorite time of year to go the beach is the middle to end of September into the middle of October,” she said.
Insider tip: Check out the additional discounts at the Inn at Corolla Light this fall.
Farther south on the Outer Banks, the Lost Colony Wine Festival takes place Sept. 29, in Manteo, pouring Old World and New World wines from around the globe against the backdrop of breathtaking coastal views and music. “You’ll find local cuisine by the best Outer Banks restaurants, wines, and beers by local breweries, some only found on the OBX,” said the festival’s Crystal Bryan. (tlcwinefest.com)
Music is the focus of the free Duck Jazz Festival from Oct. 12-13 in the Duck Town Park. It’s a rain or shine event with food available from town eateries, or you can bring your own. There are jazz-themed promotions and events taking place throughout town to enjoy as well. (townofduck.com/special-events/duck-jazz-festival)
Whether you’re a serious birder or just enjoy being outdoors, the Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival, Oct. 15-20 in the Hatteras area, is a great experience. There are dozens of birding, paddling, photography, art and natural history trips, tours and programs. People come from around the world to enjoy the scenery and amazing wildlife. (wingsoverwater.org)
More than a dozen restaurants provide the food for the Outer Banks Seafood Festival, Oct. 19 in Nags Head. While there’s plenty of seafood to enjoy, the festival also offers music, an arts and crafts village and the opportunity to actually meet Outer Banks watermen and see the tools of their trade. (outerbanksseafoodfestival.org)
The Currituck Heritage Festival on Nov. 2 at Powell’s Point is a fun family day that includes both People’s Choice and Kansas City BBQ competitions. Local restaurants vie to be the People’s Choice while the professionals compete under Kansas City Barbeque Society rules. There’s a Fun Zone for the kids and an annual rodeo, too. (visitcurrituck.com/events)
Should you want to check out the beach, Currituck’s Ellis notes, “No parking permit is needed after Labor Day for our 4x4 beach, so you can stay and play all day long and you may even see one of our beautiful Wild Spanish Mustangs roaming around.”
Oak Island’s food and art
Along North Carolina’s southeast coast, Oak Island is one of the beach islands of Brunswick County. There’s a Farmers and Artisans Market each Monday through the summer and Nov. 1-2 the 25th annual Arts by the Shore exhibits creations by locals in a variety of mediums. (oakislandnc.com)
Edenton welcomes the holidays on Dec. 6 with a Christmas tree lighting and flotilla of boats decorated with holiday lights. The next day brings the annual Christmas parade with floats, boats, horses and holiday cheer. The next weekend, Dec. 13-14, the 38th annual Christmas Candlelight Tour opens the doors of private homes decorated for the season. Among the many activities during the weekend is the annual open house at the historic Cupola House, complete with Christmas decorations, hot wassail, cookies and Renaissance music. The James Iredell House hosts a “groaning board” of cookies, while costumed interpreters cook in the Bandon Kitchen. The Arts Council Gallery provides holiday confections to keep up your holiday spirits. (visitedenton.com/calendar)
Mount Airy’s fall festivals
Andy Griffith’s hometown embraces its reputation as the inspiration for the fictional TV town of Mayberry. Mayberry Days is a festival for the whole family with activities and events for the fans who long for the days when life was simple and the sheriff didn’t carry a gun. The Surry Arts Council and City of Mount Airy welcome fans of all ages and from all around the world to Mayberry Days with its parade of familiar characters, famous guests, musical entertainers, contests and games. Most Mayberry Days events take place at the Andy Griffith Playhouse, Historic Earle Theatre, Andy Griffith Museum Theatre or Blackmon Amphitheatre. They’re all within walking distance, so bring comfortable shoes. (visitmayberry.com)
The Autumn Leaves Festival, brings a mix of music, arts and crafts and delicious food to the streets of Mount Airy. You’ll find one-of-a-kind items, great musicians entertaining, and the iconic attractions available only in Andy Griffith’s hometown like the Andy Griffith Museum and the historic Earle Theatre. (autumnleavesfestival.com)