North Carolina is home to some of the best music festivals in the country! Here’s a list of long-standing festivals for the music-enthusiasts and travelers looking for quality music experiences. Many festivals listed are supported by the North Carolina Arts Council or featured on the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina. This is an evolving list that the Come Hear North Carolina team will continue to update throughout 2019.
Friday, Feb. 22 to Saturday, Feb. 23, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Presented by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the 40-year-old festival includes public performances by touring bands, artists in residence, faculty and students.
Thursday, Jan. 31 to Saturday, Feb. 2, Wilmington, N.C.
For 39 years the North Carolina Jazz Festival has offered live jazz performances, free workshops, and master classes to preserve traditional American Jazz. Expect to witness world-class musicians and the beauty of Wilmington during your visit.
Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23, Asheville, N.C.
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center presents We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite, a seminal recording from the civil rights era. The piece will be performed by the NYC / Philadelphia-based ensemble Fresh Cut Orchestra with vocalist Melanie Charles. Recorded in the fall of 1960, the Freedom Now Suite was the most openly political jazz recording ever made, combining musical prowess with political dialogue. Nearly 60 years later, the issues posed by We Insist! are still relevant to our current political moment.
Friday, Feb. 22 to Sunday, Feb. 24, Asheville, N.C.
The 24th Annual Bluegrass First Class festival is the place to enjoy wintertime bluegrass listening! Every year, nationally known performers take the stage with the finest area musicians and up-and-coming new bands. In addition to excellent programming, visitors can expect plenty of jamming and beginning and intermediate workshops in banjo, mandolin, fiddle and guitar.
April 5 to April 7, Asheville, N.C.
Music (song), film (screen), and storytelling (page) comprise Connect Beyond Festival, exploring how collaboration and adaptation create a narrative that can influence social change. Using Asheville, NC. .as a creative hub, panels, performances, and screenings will take place in unique settings around the city. The event brings together youthful ideology and well-worn experience to create a diverse demographic of men and women who are pioneers in their field.
Saturday, April 6, Raleigh, N.C.
Hip-hop superstar J. Cole’s inaugural music festival Dreamville will activate Raleigh’s Dorothea Dix Park in an unprecedented way. Rescheduled from last fall due to Hurricane Florence, we anticipate a dynamic lineup of some of hip-hop and R&B’s biggest stars, including of course, Fayetteville, N.C. native J. Cole. A portion of proceeds will benefit the Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy and Cole's Dreamville Foundation.
Friday, April 5 to Saturday, April 6, Dobson, N.C.
The Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention is an annual event that includes two days of activities celebrating Surry County's rich heritage of Old Time Music. Held at Surry Community College, festivities begin Friday night with the popular square dance and cakewalk. Saturday features youth competitions in guitar, folk song, banjo, fiddle and dance, as well as a category for bands and adult competitions.
April 12 to April 14, Ashe Civic Center, West Jefferson, N.C.
The North Carolina Department of Natural & Cultural Resources is supporting the celebration of the work of Ola Belle Reed with the Song Writer’s Retreat presented by the Ashe County Arts Council. The weekend retreat welcomes songwriters and music makers.
Scheduled at the Ashe Civic Center Friday, April 12 through Sunday, April 14, 2019 the retreat is open to songwriters of all genres and styles, and all accompaniment instruments are welcomed. The instructors include Cathy Fink, Alice Gerrard, Sam Gleaves, Claire Lynch and Marcy Marxer.
Workshop space is limited so register early. Cost is $250 adults and $150 students. Tuition assistance and limited partial scholarships available.
For more information visit: http://ashecountyarts.org/events/ola-belle-reed-song-school-a-songwriting-retreat/
Thursday, April 25 to Sunday, April 28, Wilkesboro, N.C.
Founded in 1988 in memory of Eddy Merle Watson, son of Doc Watson, MerleFest is considered a premier Americana music festival. Held on the campus of Wilkes Community College, the event serves as an annual homecoming for musicians and music fans. Every year, MerleFest curates a lineup of ‘traditional plus’ music, a unique mix of the traditional sounds of the Appalachian bluegrass and old-time music and country, blues, rock and Americana. Of special note for 2019, is a Come Hear North Carolina Musicians Stage sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.
Thursday, April 25 to Sunday, April 28, Durham, N.C.
Now in its 15th year, Moogfest is a celebration for conversation and experimentation, attracting creative and tech enthusiasts for four days of participatory programming. Moogfest presents cutting-edge performances by early pioneers in electronic music, contemporary pop innovators, and avant-garde experimentalists in venues throughout the city. The festival pays tribute to analog synthesizer pioneer Dr. Robert Moog and the profound influence his inventions have had on how we hear the world over the last 60 years. Moog Music is based in Asheville N.C.
Friday, April 26 to Sunday, April 28, Charlotte, N.C.
The BOOM festival is Charlotte’s annual showcase of contemporary and experimental art created on the fringes of popular culture. A unique coalition of artists, volunteers, nonprofits, local businesses and neighborhood organizations gather to transform the way art is made and shared in Charlotte, and throughout the weekend music and performance artists bring to life the Intersection, the festival main stage.
Late April, Durham N.C.
Check back for details!
September 7 to 9, 2019, Downtown Greensboro
The North Carolina Folk Festival is a free outdoor celebration of our state's cultural roots and heritage. The festival will feature performances and demonstrations by musicians, dancers, and craftspeople.
September 27 to 28, 2019, Downtown Raleigh
Wide Open Bluegrass will once again feature a North Carolina musicians stage, sponsored by the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources. The free street festival features IBMA and Grammy Award winners, top-notch emerging acts, traditional bluegrass, and acts that stretch the boundaries across eight stages in downtown Raleigh.