Over the past few years, the September and October months have become popular times to visit the Outer Banks.
There are so many great events during these months—even extending into November—that it’s almost difficult to know where to start! Great weather, great music, and great festivals. Plus, the water is still warm enough to go swimming and both the water and air temperatures can stay moderate well into October.
Music lovers mark Columbus Day on their calendar, as two great back-to-back festivals highlight the music scene over that three day weekend. The Mustang Music Festival at the Whalehead Club in Corolla headlines Friday and Saturday, with its eclectic blend of rock, blues and avant garde bluegrass. Sunday it’s the Duck Jazz Festival on the Duck Town Green, where impressive national and regional jazz artists perform in a near perfect outdoor setting.
The great music starts even earlier in the season. Two weeks earlier in late September, the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival brings some of the top names in bluegrass music to the Outer Banks for a four-day event, from Sept 20-24.
Then, a week after the Mustang Music and Duck Jazz Festivals wrap up, the Outer Banks Seafood Festival takes over at the Nags Head event site for an extraordinary day celebrating the history and heritage of the Outer Banks watermen.
But there’s more to the Outer Banks during the shoulder season than music and festivals.
This strip of sand by the sea is one of the most beautiful places imaginable. The splendor of nature surrounds us, and there are some surprising nuggets of fall beauty on the Outer Banks. Fall colors? The change of foliage from summer green to warm autumn colors is not going to match the ridges of iridescent reds, yellows and orange that you see in the Piedmont and mountain regions of NC, but some places on our sand bar do light up with changing leaves.
In late October to about the first week in November, the Woods Road in Kitty Hawk is ablaze with autumn colors. With the trees arching overhead, a drive, a walk or a bike ride—there is a wonderful multi-use path along the road—is a reminder of how spectacular fall can be.
Or, check out Nags Head Woods. With its surprisingly rugged terrain and elevations that bring tree roots well above the water table, hardwood trees thrive, and the change to autumn colors invites an hour or two exploring the trails.
There are a number of parks and sites worth checking out, but two in particular should not be missed in the fall.
There is so much to see and do at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge in south Nags Head and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, a few miles west of the bridge con-necting Roanoke Island to the mainland. Both protected areas are part of US Fish and Wildlife Service, and are administered from offices on the western side of Roanoke Is-land. The offices are just past the turnoff for The Lost Colony, and the visitor’s center is a wealth of information about things to do in both locations.
Things to Do
Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival
Roanoke Island Festival Park, Manteo
Mustang Music Festival
Whalehead Club, Corolla
Hatterasity – Bluegrass Festival
Hatteras Village Civic Center, Hatteras
Duck Jazz Festival
Town Green, Duck
Rec Park, Kill Devil Hills
Outer Banks Seafood Festival
Soundside Event Site, Nags Head
Outer Banks Brewtäg
The Soundside Event Site, Nags Head
Races & Competitions:
ESA Easterns Surfing Championships
September 18 – 24
Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head
Annual Outer Banks Stunt Kite Competition
Soundside Event Site, Nags Head
Outer Banks Marathon & Southern Fried Half Marathon
Kitty Hawk or Nags Head
Outer Banks Parade of Homes
October 6 -9
Throughout the Outer Banks
Harvest HayDay Elizabethan Gardens
Elizabethan Gardens, Manteo
Outer Banks Halloween Parade of Costumes
Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern, Nags Head