photographs by Baxter Miller, Geoff Wood, Emily Chaplin & Chris Council

Every year, it happens all at once: The azaleas pop, the hills green, and, suddenly, porch swings and outdoor grills are back in business. Indoor life turns to outdoor fun, sometimes even before the calendar makes it official. That’s because, in North Carolina, springtime comes early and stays, well, if not late, then just long enough for us to celebrate it properly — with festivals! From banjo pickers to pickle lovers, gatherings abound that pay tribute to the places and people that make your heart sing. (Yep, there’s a festival for that, too.)


 

Mighty MerleFest

WRITTEN BY TONY REHAGEN   |  PHOTOGRAPH BY REVIVAL PHOTOGRAPHY

What began as a one-off fund-raiser for a college garden has grown into North Carolina’s biggest, most beloved music festival. Each year, plenty of famous folk, plain folk, and a bit of folklore converge to bring Doc Watson’s dream to life.

 


 

North Carolina Azalea Festival

WRITTEN BY WENDY BRENNER   |  PHOTOGRAPH BY BAXTER MILLER & RYAN STANCIL

Imagine 2,000 strangers wandering through your living room and scrutinizing your flower beds. Every year, just as the North Carolina Azalea Festival bursts into bloom, Wilmington’s bravest homeowners welcome the intrusion with a smile.

 


 

Queen’s Cup Steeplechase in Style

WRITTEN BY ELIZABETH LELAND   |  PHOTOGRAPH BY EMILY CHAPLIN & CHRIS COUNCIL

At the annual Queen’s Cup Steeplechase outside Charlotte, spectators gather for the thunder of hooves — and for the pageantry and promenade of the well-heeled, too.

 


 

Songsmith Gathering

WRITTEN BY WILEY CASH   |  PHOTOGRAPH BY TIM ROBISON

In Brevard, a gathering devoted to singer-songwriters and their fans keeps a mother’s wisdom and wishes alive.

 


 

Grifton Shad Festival

WRITTEN BY JEREMY MARKOVICH   |  PHOTOGRAPH BY GEOFF WOOD

In the creeks and rivers of the Coastal Plain, shad are harbingers of spring. For the folks in one tiny town, their annual Shad Festival also heralds a renewed spirit of resilience.

 


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Since 1933, Our State has shared stories about North Carolina with readers both in state and around the world. We celebrate the people and places that make this state great. From the mountains to the coast, we feature North Carolina travel, history, food, and beautiful scenic photography.

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