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Fall, or autumn if you prefer, is one of my favorite times of year. Especially in a state like North Carolina. Where I live, as far south and east as you can get, stays warm right into November some years. However, in the mountains, it can start getting chilly in mid-September. So, Fall can really bring three seasons worth of weather to our state. This is perfect in combination with changing leaves, harvest time and holidays, to bring some of the best activities to the state. This year, I decided to comprise a Fall Bucket List full of things to do in North Carolina (and one from out of state, because I couldn’t resist. You’ll understand when you see it.)
Places to Go:
Hubb’s Corn Maze, Clinton NC
Hubb’s corn maze is really everything you need in Fall. 2017 marks their 10 year anniversary, and they have clearly surpassed “neighborhood corn maze”. It sports a new theme every year (2017 is the North Carolina Gold Rush) with a professionally cut maze, and a pumpkin patch to get your Halloween gourds. Featuring toddler town, a jumping pillow, giant slides and Hubb’s express, there really is something for everyone. Plan to come for the day and enjoy food from the concession area, or reserve a picnic area to bring in outside food. They even have fire pits available for rent, with a fire ready for you when you get there.
2019 update: Fall festival starts Sept 21st. Click here for the schedule of events.
Autumn at Oz, Land of Oz, Beech Mountain
I doubt this event needs much talking up. Getting a chance to go to The Land of Oz only comes around once in a lifetime. (Ok, once in a year… but still) Every Fall, for the past 24 years, this family owned property opens for one weekend to celebrate Autumn at Oz.
Experience the Gales’ family farm, a twister and finally the land of Oz, complete with a yellow brick road. According to the website, along the way you will meet Toto, survive encountering the flying monkeys and even see the munchkins.
Get to the Land of Oz Sept 8th, 9th and 10th (2017) to experience Autumn like you never have before.
2019 Dates: Sept 6th-8th and Sept 13th-15th
Carolina Renaissance Festival, Huntersville NC
Across the country throughout fall (and sometimes summer), renaissance festivals are in full gear. Festival employees and visitors alike, dress in renaissance garb and enjoy the spirit, events and drink of yesteryear. Ok, it’s probably much more fun than having lived through that era, as these festivals take the party and leave the work in the past.
The Carolina Renaissance Festival is no different. A party it is, with jousting, feasting, rides and games. Artisan shops featuring 100+ vendors, offer unique and handmade items. The website suggests visiting the marketplace for glass blowing, cobblers, blacksmiths, candle makers, jewelry, sculptors and much more.
2019 dates: Saturdays and Sundays starting Oct 5
Cape Fear Highland Games, Wilmington NC
I enjoyed the Cape Fear Highland Games last year, when they came through in the spring. This year it has been moved to fall (Sept 30, 2017). The event features athletes competing in historical Highland games, with activities, food, drink and shopping available. That’s if you can walk away from the log (ahem… tree) toss. Kids under 10 are free to get in, making this much more reasonable than many events, if you have young children. Get tickets ahead of time to save an extra $5 per person. (At the door, tickets are $15)
The Cape Fear Highland Games helps provide support to the MARSOC foundation (Also called the Marine Raider Foundation) which helps support active and medically retired MARSOC (Marine Special Operations Command) personnel and their families.
2019 Highland games will be September 28th
The Brushy Mountain Apple Festival, Wilkesboro NC
Maybe its coming from NY, where we spend our falls doing hayrides in Apple orchards instead of next to corn mazes, but I was excited about The Brushy Mountain Apple Festival just from the name. Once I actually looked it up though? Well, there was no doubt it was being added to my Fall Bucket list. Full of rich Appalachian Heritage, the Apple festival has 400+ arts and crafts vendors, and 100 food concessions. Highlighted throughout the festival are Appalachian crafts such as quilting, wood carving and soap making. There are four stages featuring several different types of music, and to add to the entertainment, there will be cloggers, rope skippers, square dancers and more. All of this alongside locally grown apples, apple cider and dried apples.
The 2019 Apple Festival will be held Oct 5th
The Harry Potter Festival, Philadelphia PA
Ok, this is the one event that is not located in North Carolina. I could not have a Fall Bucket list without this though. I can’t imagine you won’t come to find out that I am a big Harry Potter fan. In the grand scheme of things, I am a newbie fan. My husband introduced me just a few years ago because he couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it. Fast forward 3 years and I have seen all of the movies several times through and read all of the books. I escape to Hogwarts through HP marathons whenever I need some magic in my life.
Last year, I came across an event on Facebook. The Harry Potter Festival in Chestnut Hill, a neighborhood in North Philly. This year I researched it some more, because it is calling even louder after having read all of the books to my daughter through her NICU stay.
The Festival last year included a Quidditch match, a butterbeer Pub Crawl and a tri-wizard maze. This year, you will be able to ride Hogwarts Express straight to Hogsmeade to enjoy the festival. The only thing that makes me wary, are the reviews from last year expressing how overly crowded and unorganized it was. However, with all the amazing events and shopping, I may have to overlook that and hope for the best. Check out last years event info here to see if you want to be in the loop for this year! Info for this year is not abundant yet, but here is an overview of the October event.
Staring in 2018 the Harry Potter festival was renamed to “The Witches and Wizards Festival”. The 2019 festival info can be found here. It will take place the weekend of Oct 19th.
Other North Carolina Fall Festivals (with 2019 dates)
Festival in the Park (Charlotte)- September 20th-22nd
Wide Open Bluegrass Festival (Raleigh)- September 27th-28th
Wilmington Riverfest– October 5th-6th
Asheboro Fall Festival– October 5th-6th
CiderFest NC 2019 October 12th
Carolina Balloon Festival– October 18th-20th
Celtic Music Weekend@ the Carolina Renaissance Festival– November 2nd-3rd
Things to do:
Even if you can’t make it to any of these events this year, don’t forget the wonderful things you can do without tons of travel!
- Jump in piles of leaves
- Paint leaves
- warm some apple cider and enjoy the brisk fall breeze (or if it’s too warm where you are, bump down the temp in your house and throw on a sweater)
- Go pumpkin picking
- Carve pumpkins for Halloween
- Fall crafts
- Make your house smell like fall with Apple, Pumpkin and Caramel candles
- Go to a corn maze/apple orchard
- go on a hayride
- find a fall festival in your town
- dress in fall colors, do your nails with Fall prints/colors (Check out ColorStreet for easily applied designs.)
- eat pie
- make costumes for Halloween
- Have a Harry Potter marathon (or any movie that make you think Fall or halloween)
Whatever you do this fall, enjoy every minute!
Have you been to any of these festivals and events? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!
For NC fun any time of year, check out: