Jan 2, 2024 - Food and Drink

In the spirit of giving up alcohol this month, check out the Counterculture Festival

Counterculture Festival will take place inside a new event space in Camp North End. Photo courtesy of Camp North End

Countercultural Festival, an alcohol-free event that sold out in its inaugural year last year, returns to Camp North End this month.

Why it matters: It’s an event for everyone to enjoy — regardless of their relationship with alcohol. It’s not just those who are sober/sober curious, Counterculture Club founder Molly Ruggere says.

  • “There are some people that drink in moderation or trying to cut back, or maybe they’re sober curious,” Ruggere adds.

What to expect: A beer festival without the alcohol.

  • At the Countercultural Festival on Jan. 27, there’ll be complimentary beverage tastings from more than 20 national and local brands, a wellness-focused vendor market and a pop-up bottle shop.
  • There will also be live music, DJ sets and a live podcast interview hosted by The Champagne Problems Podcast.
  • VIP tickets include access to a VIP-only lounge, one-hour early admission, a gift bag and private tarot card readings from Harvest & Moon.
  • Local vendors interested in participating can apply here

Details: Early bird tickets are on sale now starting at $37.

Last year’s festival included a panel discussion with the hosts of The Champagne Problems Podcast. Photo: Courtesy of Counterculture Club, Photography by LunahZon Photography

Zoom out: January is a popular time to give up alcohol — even if just for a little while, Ruggere notes. “We’re purposefully tying it to dry January because we want folks who wouldn’t typically attend an event like this to check it out,” she says. 

What’s next: Counterculture Club is hosting a Dry January party at Starlight on 22nd on Jan. 19 from 7-11pm.

  • Tickets to this event include one complimentary nonalcoholic drink.
  • The bar will only be serving N/A drinks all night. The event will feature a live DJ set, tarot card readings, festival tickets and giveaways.
  • Tickets can be purchased separately or as an add-on when you buy your Counterculture Festival ticket.
Last year’s event included  dozens of non-alcoholic beverage options from national breweries like Athletic Brewing Company, and local breweries like Resident CultureNoDa Brewing and Blue Blaze, to name a few. Plus, plus wine, kombucha, seltzers and mocktails. Photo: Courtesy of Counterculture Club, Photography by LunahZon Photography

Zoom in: Charlotte has established itself as a craft beer mecca, with more than 40 breweries that call the region home. New local restaurants boast high-end cocktail programs. We have a growing number of spots where you can sip spiked seltzer, share bottles of wine and enjoy margaritas with your meal.

  • Point is, alcohol is ingrained in Charlotte’s social fabric. But it’s not for everyone, and there’s a fast-growing community seeking enjoyable alternatives to booze.

Flashback: Despite the rise in breweries, there are more alcohol alternatives in Charlotte today than there were in 2020 when Ruggere founded Counterculture Club — a social group that meets regularly in a safe space where alcohol isn’t the centerpiece. 

  • “Our mission is really to just challenge that mainstream idea that alcohol is necessary for a fun full life,” Ruggere says.

Go deeper: 13 Charlotte spots with alcohol-free drinks

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in Jan. 2023 and was last updated Jan. 2024 to include new details about this year’s event. 


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