No matter what the season - or reason! - events in Rutherford county make every occasion special. From arts, crafts, and history, to holidays and hikes; the opportunities for making memories are endless. If you're looking for a unique way to celebrate a holiday, or simply something fun to do on a weekend outing, read on to journey through all the seasons of possibilities.
As the days and nights grow cooler and the vibrant colors of fall begin to emerge, there’s no better place than Rutherford county to enjoy the beauty of autumn. Get down and dirty in September at Lake Lure’s annual Dirty Dancing Festival. It’s a weekend of movie-inspired dance, music, entertainment, and the arts; and even includes a lake lift contest and a lakeside screening of the film. For anyone who’s a fan, this is the ultimate fall weekend getaway. The area keeps the fun going in October with the annual fall Lake Lure Arts & Crafts Festival, filled with local artisans, food vendors, and continuous live entertainment. It’s a weekend of creativity and craftsmanship that should not be missed.
But October isn’t just about the lakeside. Rutherfordton’s Annual Hilltop Fall Festival is a full weekend of live music, great food, local vendors, a 5K run, the Tour de Pumpkin cycle event, and historical booths and exhibits from Daughters of the Revolution. It is truly an event with something for everyone. As the month of October draws to a close, small town, spooky, family fun can be found in the towns of Rutherfordton and Forest City at their annual Trick-or-Treat On Main Street events. It’s always a fantastic time for kids and parents alike. Enjoy the final vestiges of autumn in November with one of Chimney Rock’s Naturalist Niche events. They have different classes like Eye for Color iPhone Photography, and interesting guided hikes like Top of the Mountain Trek that will leave you breathless and inspired. As a thank you to our American heroes, Chimney Rock Park even offers free admission to all active and former military throughout the November Veterans Day weekend. Then welcome the beginning of the holiday season in a healthy way with the town of Spindale’s Elves & Bells 5K. It’s a fun, family-friendly run, and all proceeds go to support children in need during the holidays. Now that’s definitely a positive start to your holiday season!
Winter officially begins in December, and there's nothing like ringing in the holiday season Rutherford county style! The festivities kick off on Thanksgiving night in Forest City with their annual tree lighting that includes live music, an ice skating rink, and even cookies and hot cocoa at the Santa House; then continue every weekend through the month of December with holiday hayrides, ice skating, Santa Claus, and even his buddy Santa Paws for fur baby photo ops! While you're visiting, don't forget to stroll through and admire the Forest City holiday lights; they're rated one of the best holiday light displays in North Carolina! Hands down, this quaint little town knows how to do the holiday season right.
Looking for the salve to your post holiday blues? Start your year off with a bracing jolt at Lake Lure's annual New Year's Day Polar Plunge. It's an annual event that's not only a way to start the year off in a wild and crazy fashion, this event also raises money to support the first responders of Hickory Nut Gorge. If fearless icy plunges sound like the perfect way to start your year off right, you'll find this event to be freeze-tastic!
Not into winter water sports but still love the frosty outdoors? Chimney Rock has just the thing. Their annual First Day Hike is great way to actively bring in the new year. This 3 mile hike is led by a park ranger along the main road from the park entrance to the base of Chimney Rock. Participants will have the unique opportunity to learn about the park's history, get a day pass to continue their New Year's Day explorations, and shuttle service is provided back to the main gate at the end of the hike if desired. It's a fantastic family-friendly opportunity for outdoor lovers of any age.
There's nothing like brushing away the winter blues with some foothills fun, and Rutherford county is just the place for it! The Chimney Rock Easter Sunrise Service is a breathtaking annual event. Watching the sun rise while overlooking the tranquility of Lake Lure is an inspirational experience not to be missed. In Forest City, the Easter Eggstravaganza is a free festival of egg hunts, bunny photo ops, and family friendly activities appropriate for kids of all ages. For those that aren't into the Easter holiday but still want to herald the start of spring, a visit to the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is a perfect way to appreciate the beauty of the burgeoning season that will be appealing to nature lovers of every age.
As spring begins to warm into full bloom, be sure to check out one of the longest running festivals in North Carolina; Rutherfordton's annual Mayfest celebration. Held each year on the first Saturday in May, this event is full of hundreds of incredible vendors, games, exhibitions, and performances. Looking for something a bit more adventurous? The Gears and Gables Cycling Event partners with Rutherfordton's Mayfest celebration. This race of 24, 41, and 62 mile route rides around Rutherford county is held each year to raise money for the Rutherford Housing Partnership; a group that provides urgent repairs for low income homeowners to alleviate health and safety threats.
Ahh, summer! From lakes, to hikes, to small town celebrations, the options for seasonal fun foothills style are seemingly endless. Kick the summer off with Memorial Day weekend festivities at Lake Lure's Arts and Crafts Festival presented by Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach. Once you've had your fill of local creative vendors, trek the short distance over to Chimney Rock and take advantage of their Memorial Day Weekend Family Fun special that includes access to all the park's trails and Animal Discovery Den.
July brings all sorts of opportunities for patriotic summer fun. There's nothing quite like a small town fireworks display, and the annual 4th of July Freedomfest celebrations in the towns of Forest City and Rutherfordton are fantastic events with parades, contests, and live music. In Forest City you can catch a Forest City Owls baseball game, and in Rutherfordton you can take part in their annual Race for the Gold Soapbox Derby. Either way, it's small town Americana at its best.
Anyone who's into fitness will love the Lake Lure Olympiad in August. It's an annual 3 day event full of multiple races and challenge courses, including a triathlon, and their well-known Race to the Rock event which can be done as a 5K run or a 25 mile bike ride. The Hot Nights Cool Rides event takes place on the 3rd weekend of August every year in downtown Forest City. It’s an incredible event full of cars, trucks and even motorcycles from every era. Pair that with great food and fun music and you’ve got a seriously fun summer Saturday.
Celebration Throughout the Year
There you have it. A full year of events, activities, and festivities for every reason. We’ve highlighted some incredible options, but we’ve only scratched the surface. Come to Rutherford county and see for yourself. We guarantee you’ll find a celebration reason, no matter what the season!