First Weekend in December
Dec. 7-9, 2018
Create lasting memories during a special weekend filled with traditional holiday activities. A Small Town Christmas in Banner Elk begins Friday evening with the lighting of the town tree and a holiday play performed by Ensemble Stage at the Historic Banner Elk School.
Saturday's events begin early in the morning and stretch well into the evening. Festivities include: a 5K run, Breakfast with Santa, candy cane hunt, storytelling, ornament making, cookie decorating, Parade of Lights, train rides through luminaries in the park, visits with Santa and a synchronized light show. Shopping is available, too, and all activities are within easy walking distance in this one-stoplight resort town in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Sunday is reserved for visiting one of the many choose & cut tree farms in the surrounding countryside. Lodging packages, which include a choose & cut Christmas tree, are available.
Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July & Labor Day weekend
2018: May 26-27, July 7-8 and Sept. 1-2
Three times each summer, the green at the Historic Banner Elk School comes to life with Art on the Greene, featuring quality, hand-made arts and crafts from select regional and national artisans. Art on the Greene takes place Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend. The festivities include food vendors and other entertainment.
Proceeds from the shows are used for restoration of the historic school, built in 1939 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project during the Great Depression.
“Art on the Greene is geared toward artists who are involved in any medium in the Appalachian tradition of hand crafters,” says show director Kimberly Tufts. “We have metal artists, glass artists, potters, and high-quality jewelry from all types of makers. We have wood workers of all varieties from furniture to home decor wood items, as well as painters in a variety of mediums – watercolor, acrylic and oil.”
Thursday evenings June through August
Concerts in the Park, sponsored by the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce, are a popular summer activity in Banner Elk. Each week features live music by North Carolina and regional bands. Food, beer and wine vendors are available.
Music begins at 6:30 p.m. and attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or a blanket to enjoy the music under the stars.
The Saturday eight days before Easter
March 24, 2018; April 13, 2019; April 4, 2020
A great event the day before Easter that starts off with “Breakfast with the Easter Bunny” at Banner Elk Cafe before hopping on to Tate-Evans Park for an Easter egg hunt. Includes other activities such as face painting, music, dancing and photos with the Easter Bunny.
Monday evenings, mid June through August
FORUM is a summer series that brings stimulating cultural programs to Banner Elk. The series is a joint effort of Lees-McRae College and community residents. Programs include: speakers, vocalists, big band music, chamber ensembles, pianists, dance and drama. All performances are held in the evenings at in the Broyhill Theatre of Hayes Auditorium.
An all-American celebration takes place each Fourth of July in Banner Elk. It’s a day that makes Uncle Sam proud, starting with the Banner Elk Fourth of July Parade at 11:00 a.m. The parade begins at the Lees-McRae campus library and goes down Main Street.
The parade concludes with a “Party in the Park” in Tate-Evans Town Park, where folks enjoy lunch from several vendors and traditional lawn games like the egg-toss and sack race. Banner Elk’s Duck Race, which features hundreds of rubber ducks racing down the creek in the park, makes this an event not to be missed.
The parade and party are part of the larger Mile High Fourth of July, a multi-day celebration of our nation's independence each year in early July. Banner Elk combined with neighboring town Beech Mountain for several days of patriotic festivities, live music, fireworks and more, all culminating with the July 4th parade and party.
For more info on the Mile High Fourth, click here.
July 12-15, 2018
Founded in 1956, the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of the Scottish Clans are considered America’s grandest Scottish-themed games. The spectacular setting in MacRae Meadows at the base of historic Grandfather Mountain provides an ideal setting. The games include brawny athletes, delicate dancers, noisy bagpipe band parades, rocking Celtic music and plenty of kilts. Visit the heritage tent to research your family tree and then head to the merchant tents to find your family tartan. It’s four memorable days of Scottish heritage in the High Country of North Carolina.
Always the second weekend in October
Oct. 13-14, 2018; Oct. 12-13, 2019
Sugar Mountain Resort brings a taste of Bavaria to North Carolina's High Country each fall with its Oktoberfest celebration. This two-day, family-friendly event features Bavarian music, a Bavarian costume contest, great food, regional artists, a children's fun area and barrels of Oktoberfest beverages for partaking.
It's a weekend of beautiful fall foliage and comfortable mountain temperatures providing yodels and yodels of fun. And best of all, there is no charge for admission, parking and shuttle service.
The children's fun center includes hay rides, corn hole, pumpkin bowling, water balloon tossing, play time with Sugar and Sweetie Bear, and an array of bounce houses. Meanwhile, all members of the family can enjoy chairlift rides to the mountain's 5,300-foot summit. The resort's bike park is open for downhill mountain biking on professionally designed trails, and shopping is available at the Sugar Mountain Sports & Gift Shop and the Oktoberfest souvenir tent.
Hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. both days and the event takes place rain or shine.
Oct. 31, 2018, 5-8 p.m.
One of the most popular family Halloween events in the North Carolina High Country. Children (and adults) come dressed in costumes for a fun trick-or-treat experience from the trunks of vehicles. The festivities include a costume contest for kids, and a separate contest for four-legged friends. Be sure to check out the haunted house and hay rides. Come early for free face painting from noon to 5:00 p.m.
Always the third weekend in October
Oct. 20-21, 2018; Oct. 19-20, 2019
Since 1978, this quirky, world-famous festival has been used to predict the upcoming winter weather for the North Carolina High Country.
According to legend, the 13 bands on the woolly worm (woolly bear caterpillar) represent the 13 weeks of winter. Brown bands indicate a mild week, black bands indicate a cold, snowy week. Since every woolly worm has different colors, the Woolly Worm festival holds races to determine which worm is used to make the forecast.
Saturday's winning worm receives $1,000 and the honor of predicting the upcoming winter. Races continue on Sunday, with that day's winner receiving $500.
The Woolly Worm Festival also includes about 175 craft vendors, food, live entertainment, and rides. This two-day family event annually draws more than 20,000 attendees and takes place during the traditional peak weekend for autumn leaf viewing in Banner Elk and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
For lodging options that are either walking distance or a short drive of the festival, visit our lodging page by clicking here.
In addition to checking out our lodging page and local attractions page, you can learn more about the festivities by visiting the festival website.