Discover Autumn Magic: Annual Fall Events on the Outer Banks

Marc Basnight Bridge

As the bustling summer season wanes on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the islands reveal their more serene and colorful nature. Autumn here is a showcase of cooler temperatures, vibrant sunsets, and a calendar packed with unforgettable events. From local culinary feasts to cultural and musical gatherings, the fall months – September, October, and November – promise experiences as rich as the changing foliage. Let’s explore the annual events that define fall on the Outer Banks, offering both residents and visitors an opportunity to celebrate the season in style.




Day at the Docks


Day at the Docks


Delve into the heart and soul of Hatteras Island’s seafaring heritage with the annual Day at the Docks celebration, a homage to the enduring spirit and rich culture of the area’s working watermen. This cherished event, set against the picturesque backdrop of Hatteras Village’s waterfront adjacent to the local marinas, unfolds over two days. Offering a perfect blend of entertainment, education, and mouthwatering seafood, Day at the Docks stands as a pivotal fall gathering for both locals and visitors. From live music and kids’ activities to demonstrations by working commercial fishing boats, this event encapsulates the authentic island life that defines Hatteras.

A highlight for many attendees is the annual chowder contest that sees Hatteras Island’s finest restaurants vying for the title, serving up their best creations for all to taste and judge. But perhaps the most poignant moment is the Blessing of the Fleet. This solemn and beautiful ceremony marks the close of the Day at the Docks festivities, featuring a procession of local fishing and charter boats elegantly cruising along the Pamlico Sound. As the evening sky burns with sunset hues, the vessels receive blessings in a touching display of spoken word and song, honoring the community’s deep connections to the sea.




OBX PrideFest


OBX Pridefest


Outer Banks Pridefest is a vibrant celebration that brings together the LGBTQ community and its allies in a weeklong extravaganza full of color, joy, and inclusivity. Located in the picturesque Outer Banks of North Carolina, this festival is a highlight for both locals and visitors looking to experience a sense of community and celebration in a family-friendly atmosphere. The main event, which is free to the public, features live music, drag performances, and various vendors offering local cuisine and crafts, making it a perfect gathering for individuals of all ages to enjoy.

During the festival, a variety of events are scheduled to cater to diverse interests and provide entertainment for everyone. From spirited drag story hours that captivate both children and adults, to music bingos and sunset cruises that offer unique ways to engage with the festival and the stunning local environment. Furthermore, special themed dinners and pub crawls enhance the social experience, allowing attendees to mingle, dine, and celebrate their pride throughout the community.

Community involvement is a significant aspect of OBX Pridefest, with local businesses and venues actively participating and supporting the week’s events. Opportunities to volunteer, sponsor, or host a pride event at local establishments are openly available, fostering a collaborative spirit that underscores the festival’s importance to the area’s cultural and economic vitality. OBX Pridefest not only celebrates the rich diversity of the LGBTQ community but also fortifies the bonds within the Outer Banks community, making it a meaningful event that resonates long after the festivities conclude.





Outer Banks Seafood Festival


Outer Banks Seafood Festival


The Outer Banks Seafood Festival, held in the picturesque Nags Head, NC, is an annual event that celebrates the rich maritime heritage and vibrant fishing community of the Outer Banks. This lively festival offers a feast for the senses with a bounty of fresh, local seafood prepared in a myriad of ways, showcasing the unique flavors that make the Outer Banks a culinary destination. The festival motto, “Eat like a local, drink like a fish,” encapsulates the immersive experience that beckons seafood lovers to indulge in the finest dishes and beverages sourced directly from the waters of the OBX.

Beyond the culinary delights, the Outer Banks Seafood Festival serves as an educational platform to appreciate the journey of seafood from the ocean to the plate. Festival goers can learn about the local seafood industry and its significant role in the community through informative exhibits and demonstrations. This element not only enriches the visitor’s experience but also emphasizes the importance of supporting local fishermen and sustainable practices that help preserve the coastal seafood heritage.

Art and music are also integral components of the festival, with a vibrant lineup that transforms the event into a cultural celebration. Attendees can shop from local vendors offering everything from pottery to artisanal food products, providing a perfect opportunity to find unique gifts and souvenirs. Meanwhile, the music stage features a variety of live performances, creating a lively backdrop for the festivities. Each aspect of the festival, from the delicious food to the educational and artistic offerings, contributes to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Outer Banks’ coastal life and traditions.



Outer Banks Brewtag


OBX Brewtag


OBX Brewtag is an extraordinary celebration that combines the thrill of flight with the love for beer in a unique, annual event held in Nags Head, NC. Drawing inspiration from the playful spirit of the Red Bull Flugtag, the OBX Brewtag challenges competitors to see how far they can launch an empty 1/6 keg barrel. This inventive competition not only showcases the creativity and engineering skills of the participants but also emphasizes fun and camaraderie among competitors and spectators alike. The event takes place at the Soundside Event Site, offering a picturesque backdrop that enhances the festival’s lively atmosphere.

Aside from the main keg-flying event, the OBX Brewtag is deeply rooted in the local community, with net proceeds donated to benefit the Rogallo Foundation. This noble cause pays tribute to Francis and Gertrude Rogallo, inventors of the flexible wing, which has significantly impacted modern aeronautics, including hang gliders, paragliders, and kites. The festival not only celebrates these innovations but also supports ongoing efforts to educate the public about aerodynamics and the Rogallos’ contributions to aviation. Plans for a Rogallo Museum on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, championed by the foundation, underline the event’s commitment to preserving and sharing this legacy of free flight.

The blend of aeronautical history, inventive competition, and community engagement makes OBX Brewtag a standout event. Visitors get to experience the joy of seeing kegs take flight, indulge in local brews, and learn about the pioneering spirit of the Rogallos, all while contributing to a cause that celebrates innovation and supports educational initiatives. It is a festival where creativity soars, community thrives, and the spirit of invention is alive and well, making it a must-visit for those in the Outer Banks region.



Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival


Wings Over Water


The Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival is a cherished event that has been enlightening and entertaining wildlife enthusiasts since its inception in 1997. Originally spearheaded by then refuge manager Mike Bryant, the festival aims to offer the public immersive educational opportunities focused on wildlife and the unique landscapes of the regional national wildlife refuges. Spanning over six counties in northeast North Carolina, Wings Over Water has grown massively from its humble beginnings, now offering over 70 programs that include birding, paddling, photography, art, and natural history. These events, taking place in the picturesque refuges and also on National Park Service lands, particularly Cape Hatteras National Seashore, provide participants access to diverse wildlife habitats and experiences.

At the core of its enduring success, Wings Over Water features an array of knowledgeable activity leaders who volunteer their skills, time, and unparalleled expertise. With professionals ranging from university professors and distinguished biologists to award-winning photographers and artists, each leader ensures a rich learning environment with a personal touch, maintaining a low participant-to-leader ratio for impactful experiences. Additionally, the festival includes a special session known simply as Wings Over Water Encore, specifically focused on birding and held at different times each year, further cementing its status as a premier event on the east coast for wildlife enthusiasts.

Supporting more than just the enjoyment and education of participants, Wings Over Water also functions as a crucial fundraising initiative sponsored by the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society (CWRS). The festival’s proceeds contribute significantly to educational grants for schools and various refuge support projects, from maintaining trails and signage to overseeing visitor centers and infrastructure upkeep. One notable success enabled by the festival and CWRS funds was the elevation of the Pea Island Refuge Visitor Center, a critical initiative completed in May 2020 that aimed to protect the site from flooding and ensure its continued use by birders and nature lovers. By engaging with Wings Over Water, attendees not only revel in the beauty and diversity of wildlife but also contribute to the conservation and educational missions essential for preserving these precious ecosystems.




Outer Banks Marathon & Southern Fried Half Marathon



The OBX Towne Bank Marathon is a standout event in the Outer Banks, known for being the oldest continuously running road race in the area. This marathon not only offers a flat and fast course, ideal for setting personal bests or for first-time marathon participants, but also features breathtaking natural scenery that spans the picturesque islands of the Outer Banks. Runners are supported by enthusiastic crowds throughout the race, adding to the vibrant atmosphere and community spirit. Crossing the finish line becomes a memorable celebration with live music, southern barbecue, and a lively beer garden for adults to enjoy, ensuring that the excitement continues even after the race.

In addition to the marathon, the Outer Banks Marathon Weekend boasts a variety of racing events suitable for all ages and fitness levels, including a Half Marathon, and the Surf Pediatrics Surf & Soar 5K, 8K, and Fun Run. These events provide an opportunity for more participants to get involved in the weekend festivities. The preceding days feature a sports and fitness expo where participants can pick up their race packets, along with a race t-shirt and exclusive finisher items. The event also offers a special discount for retired and active duty military members, reinforcing its commitment to the community and appreciation for their service. Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a casual runner, the OBX Marathon promises a fun and fulfilling experience for everyone.



Currituck Heritage Bulls & BBQ


In November, the Currituck County Rural Center (CCRC) is set to host an extraordinary celebration of tradition, taste, and thrill at the annual Curritick Bulls and BBQ event. This event promises an action-packed day that marries the heart-pounding excitement of bull riding and barrel racing with the mouth-watering allure of southern barbecue. Drawing crowds to the scenic locale of 184 Milburn Sawyer Road in Powells Point, NC, this much-anticipated event features a line-up of seasoned riders ready to demonstrate their skill and courage. With tickets priced at $15 and free entry for children aged 5 and under, attendees are advised to purchase their tickets early to avoid missing out on the day’s festivities, as they are expected to sell out.

The culinary portion of the day kicks off with the People’s Choice BBQ Competition, where guests can indulge in sumptuous samples of BBQ and sides from noon to 2:30 PM. Crafted by local competitors and renowned restaurants alike, each dish represents the best of what Currituck has to offer, with the added benefit of voting for their favorite flavors. Besides offering a feast for the senses, the competition serves a noble purpose, directing proceeds to the 4-H Back Packs for Kids program. This initiative aims to support the nutritional needs of school-aged children in the community, allowing attendees to contribute to a worthy cause while enjoying some of the finest barbecue.

Ensuring there’s something for everyone, the event hosts a variety of complimentary family-friendly activities beginning at noon and running up until the rodeo commences at 3 PM. With a dynamic agenda that includes a petting zoo, live music from to-be-announced bands, axe throwing, mechanical bull rides, inflatable games, and face painting, families are guaranteed a memorable experience. A cornhole tournament also features as part of the day’s free offerings, with registration open on the day. Various food vendors will be present to cater to all tastes, ensuring that the culinary delights continue well into the evening until the rodeo finishes at 5:30 PM. 



Experience the Enchantment of the Outer Banks with Beach Retreats


Opting for a vacation at Beach Retreats on the Outer Banks during the fall gives you the perfect setting to enjoy a more tranquil, reflective ambiance as the lively summer mood gracefully yields to the beauty of autumn. This season not only showcases the rich array of local festivals and stunning natural environments but also offers a unique blend of warmth and community spirit across the islands.

Beach Retreats provides a collection of distinct properties from cozy inns to luxurious villas across the prime locations of Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills. Each location has its unique charm and amenities, ensuring that every guest’s experience is personalized and satisfying. Whether your fall getaway is motivated by a desire to reconnect with nature, explore new landscapes, savor the local seafood, or participate in the OBX Marathon, Beach Retreats offers the perfect base for all your activities. Enjoy clean and comfortable accommodations, excellent daily housekeeping, free WiFi, swimming pools, and the warmth of a daily hot breakfast at select B&B locations. Numerous properties are also pet-friendly, so even your furry family members can enjoy the retreat. With the added ability to borrow bikes for sightseeing, your vacation with us at Beach Retreats promises to be both relaxing and memorable, capturing the true essence of an Outer Banks autumn.