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Top Charlotte Festivals for Arts and Culture

posted by Amanda Lea August 4, 2017

There’s no need to board a plane to expand your cultural horizons. The sounds of laughter and music reverberate across these Queen City cultural festivals as the aroma of exotic cuisine drifts through the air. Gather your friends and family and join in on these Charlotte festivities.

Bon Odori Japanese Festival

Saturday, August 5 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Uptown Charlotte (Wells Fargo Atrium and Plaza)
Cost: Free

Photo by Charlotte Five

This year’s marks the 33th anniversary of the Bon Odori Japanese Festival hosted by the Japanese Association in Charlotte and the Japanese Language School in Charlotte. Highlights include Japanese food and crafts, a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, yukata fittings and a performance by students of E.E. Waddell Language Academy. You won’t want to miss the performance by MATSURIZA Japanese traditional Taiko drummers, who perform with synchronized movements.

Puerto Rican Festival  

Sunday, August 27 from 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Symphony Park
Cost: $5, Free for PRCSC members


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Presented by the Puerto Rican Cultural Society of Charlotte, this festival invites you to enjoy traditional Puerto Rican music, food and dance at the beautiful venue of Symphony Park. This year, there will be a Home Run Derby completion, car show, drum circle, Health Fair, children’s area and cultural exhibit. Special guests El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico and Trio Los Condes will provide live entertainment, while contests and performances will have you and your friends showing off your salsa or merengue skills.

Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade

Saturday, August 26 from noon – 10 p.m.
Sunday, August 27 from noon – 6 p.m.
Uptown Charlotte (Tryon Street, Levine Avenue of the Arts)
Cost: Free

Photo by Charlotte Pride

This two-day cultural experience is the culmination of a week-long slate of events highlighting the social, cultural, ethnic, artistic and civic diversity of the metro Charlotte area’s LGBTQ community. Live entertainment, vendors and a parade help celebrate the vibrant LBGTQ community in the Carolinas. Since its founding in 2000, Charlotte Pride has expanded its year-round programming and partnerships to better connect community members with its mission, vision and values.

Yiasou Greek Festival

Thursday, September 7 from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, September 8-9 from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday, September 10 from noon – 8 p.m.
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Cost: $3, Free for children under 12

Photo by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Head to the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Dilworth to experience the sights and sounds of Greece at the 40th anniversary of one of Charlotte’s largest cultural events. The Yiasou (the Greek word for Hello, Goodbye and Cheers) Greek Festival features Hellenic cultural exhibits, authentic Greek cuisine and homemade pastries, entertainment, live music and dancing, wine tastings, art, shopping and more. Opa!

Chinese Lantern Festival

Thursday, September 7 – Sunday, October 29 from 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Cost: $24.95 Adults, $21.95 Seniors, $15.95 Children, Free for children under 2

Photo by Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Enter “The Wild,” a world of life-size illuminated panda bears, lions, flamingos and fauna from the world’s seven continents. Each of the lanterns is made by artisans from Zigong, China. This is Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden’s largest exhibition to date with over 800 handmade lanterns that will fill more than 12 acres. Guests will marvel at Kung Fu shows followed by coaching by master Martial Arts Champions. You can also savor Asian food and browse the marketplace with authentic Chinese folk art and handmade crafts. Discounted prices are available for garden members and tickets purchased in advance.

Arts and Science Council Culture Feast

Friday, September 8 at 7 p.m.
NASCAR Hall of Fame plaza and Downtown Cornelius
Cost: $35 single or $60 for two tickets with promo code “CultureForAll”

Photo by The Charlotte Observer

Two dinners. One great cause. Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents and visitors are invited to share a community table in streets of either Uptown Charlotte or downtown Cornelius while enjoying arts and cultural performances at the third annual event ASC’s Culture Feast. Immediately after the dinner, a free community dance party will take place featuring music by RevelWood Mission (Uptown Charlotte location) or the Lake Norman Big Band (downtown Cornelius).

Festival of India

Saturday, September 9 from noon – 8 p.m.
Sunday, September 10 from noon – 7 p.m.
Blumenthal Performing Arts Center (Belk Theater)
Cost: $6 Online, $7 Day of, Free for children under 10

Photo by Festival of India

Celebrate Indian culture with a lively mosaic of art, cuisine and music from various regions of India at this family-friendly festival. The Festival brings the best talent within the community to highlight a fusion of popular modern Bollywood and classical Indian dance forms, in captivating performances that educate and enthrall people of all ages. An Indian art gallery will display paintings, pottery and handicrafts by local Indian American artists. Other highlights include food vendors, an Indian Bazaar, yoga demonstrations and henna tattoos. In its 23rd year, the annual Festival of India is organized by the India Association of Charlotte.

Southeast Asian Street Food Festival

Saturday, September 17 from noon – 6 p.m.
Midwood International and Cultural Center
Cost: Free

Photo by CLTure

Venture through the food vendors that will serve dishes from various Southeast Asian countries. If you are up for some friendly competition, we dare you to compete in the Pho eating contest. All proceeds from the silent auction and raffles benefit the Southeast Asian Coalition youth program to serves Charlotte youth, immigrants and refugees.

Carolina Renaissance Festival

Saturday, September 30 – Sunday, November 19 from 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Cost: $24 Adults, $14 for children ages 5 -12, Free for children under 5

When friends ask if Opening Weekend will be LIT 🔥 | #carrenfest #fbf • • 📸: @champagneterranova

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Huzzah! Built into the woodlands of North Carolina, the Carolina Renaissance Festival brings history to life with jousting knights on horseback, non-stop entertainment and food fit for a king. With turkey leg in hand, bid good morrow to blacksmiths, candle makers and glass blowers as you meander through the merchants market and revel in the pageantry of the 16th-century European-style celebration.

Written by Amanda Lea | Updates by Chelsea Galusky

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