It’s official! Fall has finally arrived in the Carolinas! Not only does the autumn bring much-needed relief from the Carolina August heat, but it also ushers in a cornucopia of events for inhabitants of all ages. We’ve compiled a list of both free and paid experiences fun for the whole family in and around Charlotte.
Whether you’re visiting the Greater Charlotte Area for one short weekend, just moved to the area, or have been here for years and want to explore beyond your neighborhood, you’re sure to find something that sparks your interest. From the Renaissance Fair and Halloween events at Carowinds to food and wine festivals and Oktoberfests, with corn mazes and pumpkin picking in between, keep reading to discover some of our favorite fall happenings in and around Charlotte.
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SouthPark After 5 is a FREE concert series that runs every Thursday from September 7 to October 12. What time? Well, 5 o’clock, of course. Great for the entire family, head to Symphony Park behind SouthPark Mall to spend a beautiful fall evening listening to tribute bands to Chicago and Van Morrison, among others. See the full lineup and more details here.
All Day and All Night Fall Family Fun
Hear ye, hear ye! Journey back to the days of yore at the Carolina Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace. Located just north of Charlotte in Huntersville, endless adventures are waiting for you in the fictional storybook village of “Fairhaven”, a 25-acre renaissance-themed amusement park surrounded by 325 acres of autumn woodlands. As one of the largest Renaissance Fairs in the country, it boasts over 140 merchants in the open-air Artisan Marketplace, and features jousting knights in 3 epic shows daily, birds of prey in “The Ancient Art of Falconry”, and swimming mermaids in “Sea Fairies!” Plus, there are 16 stages of all kinds of continuous entertainment, over 300 wandering costumed villagers, additional pay-to-play games and rides, a petting farm, and so much more – you might just have to spend more than one day here to see and do it all. Plan your visit on Saturdays and Sundays from September 30th to November 19th. Parking is free and you can buy your date-specific tickets or season passes online. Grab a pint of ale, feast on turkey legs, and celebrate 30 years of the Carolina Renaissance Festival with those you love. Huzzah!
The Great Pumpkin Fest within Camp Snoopy @ Carowinds offers trick-or-treating and all kinds of family-friendly fun leading up to Halloween. Dress up in costume and navigate Woodstock’s Kookie Corn Maze and Peppermint Patty’s Hay Bale Maze, visit Linus’ Pumpkin Patch, and more. Buy your tickets online for weekends in September and October from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For those who love scary, haunted night-time escapades, visit Carowinds’ Halloween event SCarowinds Friday and Saturday nights in September and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights in October from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. Be haunted, chase thrills, and escape zombies at this popular Halloween experience in two states. Recommended for ages 12 and up, you can buy tickets online in advance.
Fall Family Farms - Pick Pumpkins and Explore Corn Mazes in and around Charlotte
Pumpkin picking season begins on September 23rd at Bush-N-Vine Farm in York, SC. Take the family to pick your own pumpkin straight from the vine, then bring them home to decorate and get into spooky season. The pumpkin patch is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Take a scenic drive down to the Hall Family Farm in Lancaster, SC for the fall season starting September 22nd. Although this is a new location, the Hall family’s original homestead is steeped in history dating back to the late 1800s. Now in Lancaster, you can enjoy a day on the farm for free and see the goats, pigs, and chickens, pay $4 per person for a musical hayride, grab something to eat at Hall’s Kitchen, drool over an apple cider donut at the Bakery, pay to pick your pumpkin, and try your luck in the 7-acre corn maze. Check out operating hours and prices on their website.
Rock Hill, SC is home to Cherry Place Farm, open for the Fall 2023 season on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. beginning September 30th. Not only can you pet and feed the animals and take a hayride, but they have a 2-acre corn maze for the whole family to get lost in! Admission is $10 per person for ages 2 and up and includes everything listed above, in addition to free popcorn! If you just want to purchase a pumpkin, you don’t have to pay the admission fee - you can grab a carving-size pumpkin for $9 or a baby pumpkin for $1.
Carrigan Farms in Mooresville, NC is another local family farm dating back to the early 1900s. The farm is open now until September 30th for apple picking and opens for pumpkin picking on September 30th. For a hayride to the apple orchard and a half-peck bag of pick-your-own apples, pay $15 per person aged 2 and up. Your visit to the pumpkin patch to cut your pumpkin right off the vine includes a hayride to the petting zoo and pumpkin field. Oh, and looking for a spooky time? The farm transforms into a 275-acre haunted walking trail they call “Scarrigan Farms” for ages 12 and up. Advanced reservations are required for all of the above.
Want to stay closer to Charlotte? Hodges Family Farm in East Charlotte is opening for the fall season on September 23rd and will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Free to enter on weekdays, you can say hi to the barnyard animals, jump on hay bales, find plenty of photo ops, and of course, pick your own pumpkin in their pumpkin patch. On the weekends, you can also take a hayride for a fee and expect to pay $5 for parking.
The Charlotte Knights 4th Annual Pumpkin Patch and 1st Annual Mecklenburg Oktoberfest on Saturday, October 7th starting at 11 a.m. will be held at Truist Field in Uptown Charlotte. Visit the ballpark for free, enjoy the rare sight of thousands of pumpkins in the outfield, grab a large pumpkin for $20 or a small pumpkin for $10, and enjoy all-day entertainment at the Mecklenburg Oktoberfest featuring local craft beer, music, activities, and more!
Food & Wine
Sip and savor over 100 local, national, and international wines, plus sample beer and spirits, while you enjoy live music in Symphony Park at the 18th Annual Wine & Food Festival in SouthPark on Saturday, September 30th from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Charlotte Pop-Ups and Food Trucks will be on-site for you to grab a bite to eat, too. Want to enjoy an additional hour of savoring all there is to offer? Make sure you grab tickets for the VIP Experience so you can get a head start at noon. General and VIP Admission tickets are still available but they’re going fast! Find out more and buy tickets here.
For the foodies out there, save the date for Saturday, October 14th from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. You’ll want to head to Huntersville for Taste of Birkdale Village, where you can savor bites from participating Birkdale Village restaurants, enjoy live music, drink to your heart’s content at an open bar, and more. Tickets to this adult-only event (21+) are all-inclusive (yes, that includes the open bar) and all proceeds go to Community Culinary School of Charlotte. Head to their website for a list of participating restaurants and to buy tickets.
For a unique food shopping experience, visit the South End Farmers Market on Saturday mornings at Atherton Mill. From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., local vendors from across the state come together to sell their sustainable and responsibly raised protein and produce, as well as locally sourced artisanal foodstuffs and crafts. From B-Well Farm & Bakery in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to Windy Hill Farm in New London, NC there’s a vendor from A to Z offering something for everyone.
Here we’ve gathered a bunch of free Oktoberfest events in and around the Greater Charlotte area, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. Some events are also hosting Stein-holding and keg-rolling contests, so be sure to check out all of the events happening at each Oktoberfest. Please check their respective websites and Facebook event pages for details and up-to-date information.
October 6, 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. / October 7, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. / October 8, 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.: 4th Annual Cannon Ballers Oktoberfest at Atrium Health Ballpark | Kannapolis, NC
October 7, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.: Mecklenburg Oktoberfest | Truist Field, Uptown