The spring festival season is starting up in Charlotte, and the good news is that many of them are free to attend. Here are a few to put on your spring schedule.
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Saturday, March 11th, 2017, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
U.S. National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at this free festival at the Whitewater Center. The river will turn green for the occasion. There will be live music and the Color Me Green 5K. There’s a charge for the 5K, for parking, and for any outdoor activities, like rafting, climbing or zip-lining.
Saturday, March 18th, 2017, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Charlotte’s St. Patrick’s Day tradition includes a parade that steps off Tryon and 9th Street at 11 a.m. and heads south to 3rd Street before turning left at Caldwell. Before, during and after the parade, the Charlotte Goes Green Festival will be taking place on South Tryon Street, between 3rd and Stonewall Streets.
March 15 – April 7
UNC Charlotte Main Campus and Center City Campus
The UNCC Department of Languages and Culture Studies presents the UNCC International Film Festival from now through April 7th, 2017. The films are all open to the public and free to attend. All films will be shown with English subtitles.
Friday, March 24
UNCC’s Department of Meteorology puts on this annual weather festival, featuring kids’ activities, local meteorologists and lectures on weather topics.
NoDa Brewing Company, 2921 North Tryon Street
Presented by Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in partnership with CLTure. This is a free, family-friendly event but you need to reserve your ticket. It will showcase jazz culture and all of its influences in the Charlotte community, with a headlining performance by the Harvey Cummings Project.
March 31st to April 2nd
Carole Hoefener Center, 610 East Seventh Street
This three-day festival celebrates Charlotte’s rich African-American tradition with music, dance, and historical activities.
March 31 – April 9
Various locations on CPCC campuses
Sensoria is CPCC’s annual celebration of the arts. A few events are ticketed, but most are free. Check out films, concerts, poetry readings, an Edible Book Fest, literary discussions, photography exhibits, gardening workshops and much more.
Saturday, April 8th
Reid home, 134 West John Street, Matthews
Go back in time and experience a Victorian lawn party. Enjoy games, crafts, a cakewalk, tours of the home, vintage cars and more.
U.S. National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway
This popular festival celebrates the outdoor lifestyle with competitions, exhibitions, demos and live music. It’s free to attend, listen to the music, watch demos, do Yoga, participate in workshops and watch the competitions. There’s a parking charge and a cost to participate in the competitions. The festival features ten live bands, including Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, and The Revivalists.
Saturday, April 22nd, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Hodges Family Farm and Pumpkin Patch, 3900 Rocky River Road
Hippie Fest is a free festival that promises the grooviest vibes of the spring festival season. There will be live music, magic shows, vendors of all kinds and lots and lots of tie-dye.
Levine Center for the Arts and Romare Bearden Park
The Charlotte Jazz Festival is a ticketed event. However, it includes many free events. There’s no cost to enjoy Lunch Hour Jazz, Happy Hour Jazz, Late Night Jams, Junior Jazz Club, the Loonis McGlohon Young Jazz Artist Competition or Jazz Picnic in the Park.
North Carolina Science Festival, a statewide collection of events that take place over several weeks, is intended to ignite an interest in science in both kids and adults. Events take place at a number of venues in the Charlotte area, including Discovery Place, UNCC, CPCC, libraries, schools, and ImaginOn. Past activities have included demonstrations, lectures, hands-on experiments, kids’ engineering competitions and much more. Most of the activities are free.
Saturday, April 22nd, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Union County Agricultural Center, 3230 Presson Drive, Monroe
Held each April in Monroe, NC, at the Union County Agricultural Center, the Union County Heritage Festival celebrates the natural, cultural and historical heritage of Union County. The Union County Extension Master Gardeners are hosts of this event and are planning loads of entertainment for every member of the family, as well as inspiration for attaining and sustaining a healthy lifestyle, community and environment.
The atmosphere is lively with locally known bluegrass musicians, nature and garden speakers, over 70 vendors and exhibitors, the Master gardeners spring plant sale, an interactive Community Mural, cooking demonstrations, heritage arts and crafts demonstrations, educational and creative activities for children, carnival games, and scrumptious food from vendors.
Saturday, April 29th, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Park Expo and Conference Center, 800 Brier Creek Road
Charlotte VegFest is a celebration of healthy, sustainable, and compassionate eating, and explores the benefits of vegetarian living. There will be cooking demos, a kids’ area, Yoga classes, speakers and more. All food will be vegan.
Saturday, April 29th, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Aldersgate, 3800 Shamrock Drive
Come hungry and enjoy sandwiches from around the world for purchase from a variety of food trucks and vendors. There will be international entertainment all day too, as well as kids’ activities like face-painting, a bounce house and a make-your-own-sandwich station.
Venues in Plaza Midwood
BOOM is an artist-led showcase of experimental and contemporary visual and performance art and is described as a weekend of art, performance and the unexpected. There are some family activities. The performances in venues like Petra’s, The Rabbit Hole and Snug Harbor are ticketed, but there are free performances all weekend at the Intersection Stage, across the street from Petra’s, as well as free performances and events on Saturday at International House.
Saturday, May 6th, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
President James K. Polk Historic Site, 12031 Lancaster Hwy, Pineville
Kick off the Spring with our 2nd Annual Music, Dance ‘n Que Fest! Kick back as artists dance, sing and play their way through historic tunes, folk songs and bluegrass music. Bring a chair or a blanket to lounge on, or snag a bale of hay to sit on. The entertainment will come at no cost, but folks can enjoy a North Carolina barbecue meal for a small fee.
Saturday, May 6th, 11 a.m. to Sunday, May 7th, 8 p.m.
Charlotte Open Air Market, 5471 Central Avenue
Charlotte’s 2nd Hippie Festival of the spring. Live music, vendors, fire performers, hula hoopers. Kid-friendly and dog-friendly. Free admission.