Aug 19, 2022 - Things to Do

Annual festival featuring art, music and food returns to Freedom Park

Festival in the park

Festival in the park. Photo courtesy of Lily Hitch

Festival in the Park runs from Friday, Sept. 16, through Sunday, Sept. 18, in Freedom Park.

Why it matters: It’s one of Charlotte’s longest-standing traditions, featuring art, music, food and family activities. The festival is still run by the same family who came up with the idea in 1964.

Flashback: The idea originated when John Belk, the former president of the Chamber of Commerce, approached his friend Grant Whitney, an insurance executive with Belk Stores Services. “One day he said ‘let’s do an art festival in Charlotte,'” Lily Hitch, Whitney’s granddaughter, tells Axios. “My mom runs the show now,” she said.

  • They agreed to hold the festival in September, when the weather is cooler and there’s less chance of rain.
Festival in the park
Festival in the park in the 1960s. Photo courtesy of: Lily Hitch

Details: The free event is expected to attract 85,000 people throughout the weekend. In years past as many as 140,000 people have attended the festival.

  • It’ll feature 200 artists and craft exhibitors and nearly 1,000 entertainers.
  • Plus, there’ll be food vendors, a kid zone, a merry go round and more.
  • Of note: The festival was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic, as WFAE reported. It was held in a smaller, scaled-back form in 2021.

Dates: Friday, Sept. 16, from 4-9pm.

  • Saturday, Sept. 17, from 10am-9pm. 
  • Sunday, Sept. 18, from 10am-5pm. 
festival in the park map
Festival in the Park map. Courtesy of Lily Hitch

Parking: Visitors are encouraged to ride share and get dropped off at 2435 Cumberland Avenue or 1600 Princeton Avenue.

Editor’s note: We’ve updated this story with the correct name of Grant Whitney. Also, Hitch is Whitney’s granddaughter, not Belk’s.


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