If you want to really experience a city, rather than merely visiting it, then you should go to their festivals. Going to a festival is the best way to truly engross yourself in a city. You will see the residents in masse, taste their signature dishes, take part in their traditions, and immerse yourself in their culture.
People fly around the world for festivals and the experiences that they offer. And America’s Hometown is no exception when it comes to fun celebrations! Fayetteville has festivities for every season, including one year-round celebration. Here are 13 Fayetteville Festivals that you don’t want to miss!
In the early 80s, Fayetteville’s mayor dubbed his hometown the ‘City of Dogwoods’ and he wasn’t wrong. Every spring, the city blooms pink and white with multitudes of the symbolic flower. Though his nickname for his city didn’t stick, the Dogwood Festival remains.
As one of five Dogwood Festivals in the state of North Carolina, dare I say that they Fayetteville Dogwood Festival is the best? It’s awards and accolades speak louder than my humble opinion, as it has won awards from the Southeast Tourism Society and International Festival and Events Association….that’s right – INTERNATIONAL. It’s kind of a big deal
From the Beauty Pageant to the carnival rides to the Cornhole Tournament, Fayetteville’s Dogwood Festival truly has something for everyone. If you can only make it to one of the Fayetteville Festivals then mark your calendar for the fourth week of April, because this is the one!
(This image is courtesy of www.faydogwoodfestival.com.)
All American Week
All American Week is an annual celebration of paratroopers, past and present. The week kicks off with a four-mile division run and is followed with multiple sporting events, family activities, and of course a chance to see paratroopers in action. While All American Week is fun and family-filled event, it also involves a solemn memorial and wreath-laying ceremony to honor fallen troopers.
Veterans and their families travel from far and wide to experience All-American Week, reunite with old friends, and impart their wisdom on young paratroopers. This special week in the month of May is truly a celebration and memorial unlike any other.
(This image is courtesy of the All American Division. Check the website for this year’s dates.)
Although it’s not technically a festival, I must admit that this event has piqued my interest. Benefiting the Children’ Advocacy Center in Fayetteville, the Duck Derby is a bonafide rubber duck race! Patrons donate money in order to ‘adopt a duck’. If your duck is first to cross the finish line, you win the grand prize!
In addition to the rubber ducky race, there is a human race – a 5K, food trucks, live entertainment, and other vendors. The event is free to the public and is sure to be fun for all!
(This image is courtesy of Fayetteville Urban Ministry.)
Blues ‘n Brews
Brought to the city of Fayetteville by Cape Fear Regional Theater, the Blues ‘n Brews Festival is a one day event where more than 100 beers flow through Festival Park! Sample the finest beers North Carolina has to offer while listening to some of the hottest blues bands around.
Beer samples, great music, and games are included in the price of admission along with a souvenir beer sampling glass. Food and merchandise can be purchased separately, so the only thing you should bring with you is a designated driver.
While this event is primarily for adults, parents shouldn’t be discouraged, children are welcome for the price of a non-drinking ticket. Beer enthusiasts and blues lovers rejoice because out of all the Fayetteville Festivals, this one is just for you!
(This image is courtesy of Cape Fear Regional Theatre. Check the website for this year’s date.)
Umoja Group Inc. is a local organization that is proud to promote the history, arts, and culture of Africans, African-Americans, and Caribbeans. In Swahili, umoja means unity. The Umoja Festival strives to share the rich African heritage with others in hopes of enhancing respect, cooperation, and promoting unity within the community.
This Fayetteville festival celebrates African and Caribbean traditions with music, dancing, story tellers, drummers, and food. Festival-goers and vendors can be seen sporting traditional African garb. There are also activities for kids, such as a rock wall, bouncy houses, and arts and crafts. The Umoja Festival is a fun and unique experience that you don’t want to miss!
(This image is courtesy of Cape Fear Valley Health. Check the website for this year’s date)
International Folk Festival
Presented by the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County, the International Folk Festival allows festival goers to tour the world in a weekend! From the Parade of Nations to the live performances to the authentic cuisine, the International Folk Festival is the perfect opportunity to learn about and celebrate the diverse cultures of Cumberland County’s residents.
There is something for everyone at the International Folk Festival! People of all ages will find something interesting at this festival whether it be the food, the beautiful clothes, or the fun performances, the whole family is sure to have a good time!
(This image is courtesy of the Arts Council.)
When Pigs Fly: All American BBQ Festival
Hosted by the Communities in Schools of Cumberland County, the All American BBQ Festival features a mouth-watering BBQ competition, live music, and a 5K run. (Gotta sweat off some of those BBQ calories, right?)
Award-winning pitmasters from across the Carolinas fire up their grills on Friday and open the event to the public on Saturday at noon. The low admission price includes a BBQ camp tour, access to the Kid Zone, and the musical entertainment. This BBQ Festival will leave no doubt in your mind that Fayetteville is for foodies!
(This image is courtesy of When Pigs Fly: An All American BBQ Festival.)
Dogwood Fall Festival
Fayetteville’s Dogwood Festival is so good that residents just can’t wait an entire year to go again. Cue the Dogwood Fall Festival. Hayrides, spooky history tours, live music, a haunted house, plenty of beer and all of Fay’s best food trucks make this festival a hit for the whole family!
If you can’t get enough of the Dogwood Festival in the spring, then make sure you mark your calendar for the fourth weekend in October when it returns for tons of fall fun!
(This image is courtesy of the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival. Check the website for this year’s date.)
Fayetteville State University’s Homecoming
While it’s technically not a festival, Fayetteville State University’s Homecoming is a week full of excitement that can be felt throughout the whole city! The parade, the parties, the campus tours, and the tailgating, all lead up to the big game.
All week, students, alumni, and fans can be seen sporting their blue and white attire going from one event to the next. The Bronco spirit is more than a little contagious and you can’t help but join in the fun!
(This image is courtesy of Fayetteville State University.)
Taste of Fayetteville
Each year, local businesses come together at Taste of Fayetteville to offer sample-sized servings of their signature dishes. Entry to the festival is free, but you have to buy tickets to sample the food. Taste of Fayetteville is the perfect way to finally sample that restaurant that you’ve been meaning to go to or try new foods that you may be afraid to pay full price for in case you don’t like it.
The food is definitely the star of the show, but there are other are other attractions including live performances and a Kids Zone. Follow your nose to the delicious smells wafting out of Festival Park to Fayetteville’s most delicious festival.
(This image is courtesy of the Taste of Fayetteville Facebook page. Check the website for this year’s date.)
Holly Day Fair
Want to give your friends and family homemade gifts this Christmas, but don’t have the skills or time to create them? Let the Holly Day Fair vendors lend you a hand!
For more than 50 years, Fayetteville has been home to the Holly Day Fair – the largest gift and craft show in Eastern North Carolina! More than 200 vendors set up shop at the Crown Expo Center for your one-stop holiday shopping. Peruse aisles upon aisles of unique hand-crafted holiday decorations, jewelry, clothes, toys, candles, specialty food items, and so much more!
(This image is courtesy of HollyDayFair.com.)
A Dickens Holiday
The nerdy book-lover in me couldn’t wait for a chance to attend this festival. I adore Charles Dickens and the Christmas season, so it’s no wonder that this festival made my Fort Bragg and North Carolina Bucket List.
The day after Thanksgiving, Hay Street comes to life with horse-drawn carriages, local businesses are decorated with Victorian-style Christmas decorations, and the townspeople can be seen sporting their 19th century finest. Vendors and artisans are available for your holiday shopping needs and there’s a firework show after dark. A Dickens Holiday is the perfect kick off to your Christmas season!
(This image is courtesy of The Arts Council.)
Experience some of Fayetteville’s best art on the 4th Friday of every month while enjoying downtown’s shops, galleries, and cafes. Artists and street musicians of all types come together to provide people of all ages a good time. Each month’s celebration boasts a unique theme complete with activities tailored to that theme. The event is free and covers more than four blocks in downtown Fayetteville!
Enjoy Fayetteville Festivals all year long at the 4th Friday Celebration!
(This image is courtesy of VisitDowntownFayetteville.com.)
There are enough Fayetteville festivals to keep you entertained all year long. From the Dogwood Festival in the spring to the Dickens Holiday during the Christmas season, there is sure to be an event for you!