As summer drifts into fall, it’s time to gear up for a new season of festivals and events in eastern North Carolina.
While there is still time for that beach trip, area residents may want to switch from swimsuit to costumes and dancing shoes when they head out to upcoming events around the area.
The events begin with the The Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival, which closes out the month on Sept. 30, with a lineup of beach music greats performing on an ocean-side stage, and will be followed by an October packed with festivals across the area, Halloween fun, and a visit by a cycling event. For those looking for a sweet festival, check out the Muscadine Festival Sept. 29-30 in Kenansville.
And for many, the mild eastern North Carolina weather makes fall the perfect time to be outside.
“There is always something going on somewhere, and with the weather cooling off, it is a nice time to be outside,” said Swansboro Parks and Recreation Director Brittany Shipp.
Swansboro is home to the annual Mullet Festival, one of the state’s longest-running festivals at 63 years old, and this year will host the final stop for the annual Cycle NC Mountains to the Coast Ride, which also goes through Jones County and includes a stop in Kinston.
More than 1,000 bicyclists are expected to participate and the town of Swansboro will be hosting a welcome reception for them on Oct. 7. The Mullet Festival follows the weekend of Oct. 14-15.
Onslow Oktoberfest is Oct. 26-28 and those wanting to hit nearby events, there is MumFest in New Bern Oct. 13-15 and the North Carolina Seafood Festival along the Morehead City waterfront Oct. 6-8. And don't forget the Havelock Chili Festival on Oct. 20-21.
For those needing to work off all the extra calories eaten during the festivals, the Mother Earth Brewing Ironclad Half-Marathon and 5K is set for Oct. 21 in Kinston.
There are any number of other activities to fill your fall calendar, from hayrides at Mike’s Farm or marsh cruises at Hammocks Beach State Park. Pumpkin patches and haunted houses and events such as Swansboro’s Halloweenie Roast add to the Halloween fun as do the various trunk-or-treat events. And New Bern's GhostWalk Oct. 26 to 28 is a fall tradition that draws big crowds.
Once October ends, holiday activities will swing into high gear.
Though many may think coastal tourism ends on Labor Day as the children go back to school, officials tout these events as well as the area's relatively mild fall temperatures to encourage travelers to visit the area.
“It is a busy time of year on the coast in the fall — it doesn’t really slow down but it does kick off a different demographic of people coming to the area as well as give local residents a new season of activities,” said Donna Hammonds, the Swansboro Area Chamber of Commerce executive director.
Specific information on all the fall events can be found online through each event's website.