Annual Events

There is always something fun going on in Orange County. Plan your visit around these major events happening this Fall!


September 18- December 9.  Sculpture in the Garden. Preview party September 17. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill. Annual display of nearly 50 one-of-a kind sculptures placed amid the native wildflowers and shrubs to delight garden visitors.  (919) 962-0522. 

September 30 - October 1  23rd Annual Efland Ruritan Rodeo. Ticket booth and gates open at 6 pm rodeo begins at 8 pm. Featuring all the classic events of rodeo such as Bullriding, bareback bronc riding/saddlebronc riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, girls break-away roping, calf roping, mechanical bull, pony rides, clowns, special entertainment, good food and more.  (919) 971-1129. 3009 Hwy 70 W,  I-40/85 Exit 160.  Adults  $14, children 5-12  $7, under 5 free. No pets, coolers or smoking allowed inside the gate. 


October 1. 10th Annual Celebration of the Automobile Racers Reunion and Car Show on Saturday at the historic Occoneechee – Orange Speedway on 320 Elizabeth Brady Road.  Free Admission. 7 am – 4 pm., hosted by the Historic Speedway Group. Proceeds from items at the show will be used to restore and preserve the Occoneechee-Orange Speedway. Event features Parade laps of classic race cars around the historic dirt track, VIPs include celebrated drivers, mechanics, crew members, family members, Classic Car Show, Food & Souvenirs, 50/50 Drawing, Autographs & More.  Event is rain or shine. New this year - Trading Paint/Occoneechee Banquet  honoring Curtis Turner and Ned Jarrett. From 6pm - 10pm (after the Car Show) at The Big Barn - 388 Ja-Max Dr - Hillsborough, NC 27278.  (919) 779-7820. 

October 2.  Festifall  Street fair with music, arts and crafts, children’s area and food. West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill; Chapel Hill Parks & Recreation Department (919) 968-2784.  Noon-6 pm. Free.  

October 14-15.  West End Poetry Festival.  Friday, 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill.  An opening reception and readings by five poets.  Saturday, noon to 8:30 pm at the Century Center in Carrboro. Poetry readings, Panel sessions, an open workshop, an open mic, evening reception, and a final reading. Sponsored by the Town of Carrboro. Free. Schedule on website. (919) 918-7364.

October 15.  The popular Hillsborough Handmade Parade returns this fall at 2:30 pm through downtown Churton Street. Presented by the Hillsborough Arts Council.

TBA. "Spirits of Hillsborough" will appear during the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough's annual ghost walks through the historic district.  Along the "Spirits of Hillsborough" tour route, visitors will come face-to-face with Hillsborough's past. Portrayed by the Orange Community Players, the ghosts of Edmund Fanning, William Hooper, Mary Goddard Kollock Nash, and other spirits will both frighten and delight!  Tours are appropriate for all ages and last approximately one hour. Tickets are timed and groups depart from the Hillsborough Visitors Center (150 E. King St.) every twenty minutes from 5 pm to 9 pm.$5 for children 12 and under; $10 for adults.  Rain date: Thursday, October 29. Call (919) 732-7741 or

October 21. Voices from the Grave. 6 PM – 9 PM. Haunted Tours of the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by candlelight and be visited by spirits from beyond the grave! General Admission $15 per person. Reservations required. Flashlight and walking shoes recommended. Presented by the Preservation Society of Chapel Hill.(919) 942-7818 for tickets.

October 31  Halloween Carnival. Carnival games for all agesCarrboro Town Commons. 6 pm – 8:30 pm.  (919) 918-7364.

October 31.  Homegrown Halloween, Chapel Hill.  (919) 968-2760. (25,000 people in Halloween costumes flock to downtown Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street.)


November 5-6 & 12-13. 22nd Annual Orange County Open Studio Tour.   Orange County; Over 70 artists invite you into their studios to see where and how they work.  Sponsor: Orange County Artists Guild (919) 933-7880. 


2016 Major Annual Events