Things to Do in October in Charlotte

Balloons, Bloody Marys, Chili and Chinese Lanterns Make Fun Month

The gorgeous fall colors of October in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area provide a spectacular backdrop for a handful of interesting festivals and events that include balloons, Chinese lanterns, bloody marys, delicious chili, historic houses, and Charlotte's own take on the Renaissance. So check them out and take your pick for some seasonal fun in the Charlotte area in October 2017.

  • 01 of 06
    Jousters perform at the Maryland Renaissance Festival
    Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

    The annual Renaissance Festival holds court on Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. 30 to Nov. 19. 2017, which means every weekend in October. It's held in Huntersville, North Carolina, about 15 miles from Charlotte. The festival re-creates a 16th-century European festival and includes entertainment, arts and crafts, and tons of tasty food. You'll see jousting tournaments, falconry, and 500 characters in costumes of the period. If that's not enough, music and comedy shows strive to entertain you on 12 stages on the festival grounds. It's an eat, drink, and be merry kind of event.

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    Courtesy Light Flight Hot Air Balloons and Barnstormer Aero.

    Take a ride to Statesville, North Carolina, 41 miles from Charlotte, for the Carolina Balloon Fest, taking place from Oct. 20 through 22, 2017. You'll be on hand to watch the glorious sight of 50 hot-air balloons launching high into the blue October sky, rising over beautiful fall foliage. Besides the launch, there will be flyovers, a balloon glow on Saturday, Oct. 21, a wine and beer garden, and an artisan market. So it's a full day of fall fun.


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    Chinese Lantern Festival

    Chinese lanterns Moon Festival
    Chinese lanterns during the Moon Festival. Photo by Greg Rodgers

    The Chinese Lantern Festival at Charlotte's Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is a premier October event. On Wednesday through Sunday evenings from Sept. 7 through Oct. 29. 2017, the garden will be aglow with more than 800 handmade, authentic Chinese lanterns spread out over 12 acres. Some are large representations in the shapes of pandas and flamingoes, while others are made of tiny medicine bottles. Besides the lanterns, you'll get a glimpse of Chinese culture through kung fu shows, shadow plays, and a market with Chinese folk art and crafts.

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    Dr Josephus Hall Hosue Salisbury NC; on the National Register as McNeely-Strachan House.JPG

    The Historic Salisbury October Tour is one of the South's oldest annual house tours, and it's a must-see for history and architecture buffs. It's worth the 43-mile drive from Charlotte to Salisbury, North Carolina, to see examples of Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, Arts and Crafts, Romanesque, Greek Revival, and Italian Renaissance that are on the tour. You'll also get a peek inside a chateau-style mansion and what was once a one-room school for African-Americans. October Tour takes place on Oct. 14 and 15, 2017. 



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  • 05 of 06
    Bowl of Chili
    Bowl of Chili. Rocketroom/Photolibrary/Getty Images

     If you're looking for some absolutely great eats that are seasonally appropriate, head on out to the Dilworth-South End Chili Cook-Off on Oct. 15, 2017. The event, which includes local restaurants and individual cooking teams, opens at 11 a.m., with judging starting at noon. You can hang around until 3 p.m. and indulge in as many bites of chili as you can handle, along with hearing local bands and checking out the big bake sale. For the kids there will be pumpkin painting and big fire trucks to climb on. 

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    michelada bloody mary
    Leah Maroney

    Here's another event that is in the eat, drink, and be merry category. Charlotte's Bloody Mary Festival, on Oct. 15 from noon until 4:30 p.m., pits Charlotte's bartenders from bars and restaurants in the city against one another to see who makes the best bloody mary. And you get to taste them all and make your own choice. Along with a huge variety of bloody marys, you can sample food trucks' offerings that will be on the scene and hear live music at this super fun fest for adults.