The gorgeous fall colors of October in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area provide a spectacular backdrop for a collection of interesting festivals and events that include hot air balloons, Chinese lanterns, Bloody Marys, historic houses, and Charlotte's own take on the Renaissance. So check them out and take your pick for some fall fun in the Charlotte area in October.
The annual Renaissance Festival holds court on Saturdays and Sundays from selected dates in October through November, which usually 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 village celebration and includes entertainment, arts and crafts, and tons of tasty food (smoked turkey legs, anyone?). You'll see live jousting tournaments, falconry, and 500 characters in costumes of the period. If that's not enough, music and comedy shows entertain you on 12 stages throughout the festival grounds. So dress up and spend the day—it's an eat, drink, and be merry kind of event.
Take a ride to Statesville, North Carolina, 41 miles from Charlotte, for the Carolina Balloon Fest, held over three days in mid-October. Be on hand to watch the glorious early-morning sight of 50 hot-air balloons launching high into the blue October sky, rising over beautiful fall foliage.
Besides the mass ascension launch, there will be aircraft flyovers, special shapes balloons, a balloon glow on Saturday evening (get up close and personal with the balloons and their pilots), a wine and beer garden to refresh you, and an artisan market to pick up a special souvenir or gift.
The Chinese Lantern Festival at Charlotte's Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is an eagerly anticipated October event. On Wednesday through Sunday evenings on selected September and October dates, the garden will be aglow with more than 800 handmade, authentic Chinese lanterns spread out over 12 acres.
Some of these lighted designs 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.
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. The annual cafe and festivities will feature food, beer and wine, crafts, live musical entertainment, and activities for the entire family Saturday and Sunday during tour hours. Ticket holders can take advantage of a trolley that will transport visitors from house to house.
Plein Air Artists will be painting in the historic neighborhoods throughout the event and will display their finished work at the Artists Reception from 5—7 p.m. Saturday on the Hall House Lawn.
The October Tour takes place annually on a selected Saturday and Sunday in mid-October.
Here's another event that is in the eat, drink, and be merry category. Charlotte's Bloody Mary Festival, held on a selected date in late September or October, 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 truck offerings that will be on the scene and hear live music at this super fun fest for adults.