This weekend: Memorable bashes in Asheville, Charlotte

Memorial Day offers no shortage of ways to celebrate the free, active life in North Carolina. In Asheville, the Mountain Sports Festival kicks off Friday and runs through Sunday, while the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte starts the day running on Sunday and never slows up.

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park is named for the river, but it also has a nifty pond.


Memorial Day Weekend marks the impending end of school and the often daunting task of figuring out how to keep the kids occupied for the summer. That shouldn’t be a problem Sunday, at least, thanks to the Funyaking program at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park in Seven Springs. Targeted to the 10-to-17-year-old set, kids will get to take to their Funyaks (a rubberized kayak) and play a variety of games, most of which, we imagine, will require the use of a towel afterward.

Logistics: Sunday, May 26, 2 p.m. Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, Seven Springs. Free, but pre-registration a good idea, by calling 919.778.6234.

Sunday forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 77.


Come to the National Whitewater Center for the trail race, then hang around for the live music and fireworks. Photo courtesy

Worry that you’re not going to get your long run in Sunday morning before settling down to enjoy Memorial Day? Sign up for the Memorial Day Festival Trail Race at the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte and your problem is solved. Both the 5- and 8-mile races on the NWC’s 18-mile trail network begin at 9 a.m., meaning that by 11 a.m. at the latest you’ll be free to take in the center’s live music and fireworks display.

But wait, another dilemma: Live music (Jesse Dee, Bonerama, Marc Broussard) doesn’t start until 4 p.m., and the fireworks, of course, don’t happen ‘til dark. How to pass the time until then? Well, you could go white water rafting. Or rock climbing. Or zip lining. Or stand-up paddleboarding. Or any number of other activities at the Southeast’s favorite outdoor playground.

Logistics: Sunday, May 26, 9 a.m. Admission to the Memorial Day celebration is free; race fee is $27 through May 23, $37 race day. Additional fees to paddle, climb, zip, etc. Race information here, information about the NWC here.

Sunday forecast: Overcast early, then clearing. High of 79.

The start of last year's MSF cyclocross race. Photo courtesy Asheville Citizen-Times.


The Mountain Sports Festival in Asheville doesn’t mince words in getting to the point at the top of its website: “SPORTS – Triathlon, 5K, Rock2Rock, Disc Golf, Ultimate [Frisbee], Yoga, Cyclocross.” If that’s not enough, it adds, “Music – Jazz, Blues, Bluegrass, Rock, Funk and more!” And finally, the deal-maker, “BEER – In cooperation with Highland Brewing Co. & Oskar Blues.”

Drill down and you discover a variety of clinics (tandem bike, off-road Segway, fly tying and casting, roller girls, ninja … ) and more on the aforementioned sports (Friday’s cyclocross race and Rock2Rock Trail run, Saturday’s stand-up paddleboard events, a dodgeball tournament …) all mixed in with a mix of live music and local beer. All in Asheville, in the mountains. Pretty decent way to kick off the summer.

Logistics: Friday thru Sunday, May 24-26. Fees for some activities, most are free. Get the full scoop here.

Weekend forecast: A chance of rain early Friday, gradual warming, from a high of 63 on Friday to 75 on Sunday.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below.


Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

Coastal Guide
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).


Asheville Citizen-Times
From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

Blue Ridge Outdoors
Searchable calendar lets you extend your reach to events throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (or you can just limit it to North Carolina). Also lets you search a boatload of categories, ranging from Hiking, Mountain Biking and Climbing to Trail Running, Triathlon and Road Walking.

The Mountain Times
From the main page, click on “Calendars,” then Main Events.

Todd’s Calendar



Charlotte Observer events calendar
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including Nature, Recreation, Recreation & Wellness, Running

Charlotte Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Comprehensive calendar includes a Sports & Recreation category.

Piedmont Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including: Birding, Boating, Cycling, Nature, Rec & Wellness, Recreation, Running, Swimming, Tennis, Yoga.

Carolina Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.


Office of Environmental Education
One calendar for the numerous Environmental Education Centers statewide.

North Carolina State Parks
Lets you search for programs at the state’s parks, recreation areas and natural areas by location, by month, by topic. To reach the calendar from the home page, click on “Education,” then “Fun & Free Programs at Parks.”

National Forests in North Carolina
From the home page, click on Carolina Connections for news updates on the state’s four national forests as well as hints on recreational opportunities and a detailed rundown of recreation areas and the amenities at each.

U.S. National Wildlife Refuges
Rundown, by month, of regular activities at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuges in North Carolina.

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