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, homemade boats, 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.
Many events and activities have been condensed or canceled in 2020. Be sure to check in with individual businesses and locales in order to confirm the most up-to-date information.
Historic Salisbury October Tour
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 homes 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. Ticket holders can take advantage of a trolley that will transport visitors from house to house.
In 2020, the October Tour isn't taking place physically at any of these historic houses, but you can take a virtual tour for free of several of the local buildings. Each house has its own tour page online, so log on and check out these elaborate architectural styles from the comfort of your own home.
Queen City OktoberFest
Shop 'til you drop at the Queen City OktoberFest, the biggest arts and crafts festival of the year in the Charlotte area. You'll find homemade crafts, food, live performances by music and dance teams, games for the kids like laser tag and corn hole, kite flying, family photos in costume, and the Trick or Treat Safely Campaign, all taking place at the Funtasticks theme park in the nearby suburb of Pineville.
The festival takes place on October 31, 2020, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and there is no charge to attend, but guests must register for a free ticket online before arriving because the maximum capacity is limited. In 2020, face masks must be worn by all attendees.
Carolina Renaissance Festival
The Carolina Renaissance Festival is canceled in 2020.
The annual Carolina Renaissance Festival holds court on weekends in the fall, in Huntersville, North Carolina, about 15 miles from Charlotte. The festival recreates 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 visitors 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.
Build Your Own Boat
The Build Your Own Boat competition and race are canceled in 2020.
Head to the Whitewater River for this free fall festival with a full day of races, fall-themed yoga sessions, seasonal cider sampling, and the signature Build Your Own Boat competition. Set up your blanket or lawn chair and cheer on your favorite homemade boat. Teams must make it through the challenging whitewater rapids and win over the crowd with their costumes and creative boat designs. The U.S. National Whitewater Center is the world's premier outdoor facility featuring seasonal whitewater rafting, biking, zip lines, and more.
Carolina Balloon Fest
The Carolina Balloon Fest is canceled in 2020 but returns from October 15–17, 2021.
Take a ride to Statesville, North Carolina, 41 miles from Charlotte, for the Carolina Balloon Fest. 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 shaped 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.