With the end of summertime on the horizon, it’s time to celebrate the symbolic close of the season: Labor Day. And though I think we’re all looking forward to fall temperatures (or at least a few days below 90 degrees), it’s hard to say goodbye to the outdoor-centric summer functions we all know and love.
Here are 10 of the best Charlotte-area happenings to close out the season.
Dedicated to the support of local non-profit organizations, this year’s Matthews Alive Festival will be held from Friday to Monday. Festival-goers will enjoy the best in fair food and area entertainment, including a parade, local arts vendors and classic rides. Tickets for rides and games are $1 for one ticket or $15 for a sheet of 20.
When: 6 p.m., Aug. 31 to 5 p.m., Sept. 3 (see website for full hours)
Where: 104 E. John St., Matthews
To honor Charlotte native Romare Bearden’s 107th birthday, saxophonist Shableek and violinist Ken Ford are performing at Romare Bearden Park for a swank evening. Jazz lovers (or anyone who appreciates soul-stirring tunes) won’t want to miss this free event.
When: 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Sept. 1
Where: Romare Bearden Park, 300 S. Church St.
It’s the obligatory end-of-summer/fall event. Football is back, and Tennessee will be the home team for this college kickoff game. Tickets start at $55 and can be purchased here.
When: 3:30 p.m., Sept. 1
Where: Bank of American Stadium, 800 S. Mint St.
Hosted by promoter Sport E. Odie, this white and black bash is the last rooftop day party of the summer at Rooftop 210. If you’re looking for a sleek, polished soiree to round out the solstice, look no further. Tickets start at $33 for what’s sure to be a fabulous five hours.
When: 4 p.m.-9 p.m., Sept. 2
Where: Rooftop 210, 210 E. Trade St.
A veritable three-day bash that kicks off on Friday at 5 p.m., the USNWC is offering a number of activities throughout the weekend. Events include the Aqua Rock Deep Water Solo Climbing Competition, Labor Day 5K and 15K Trail Race, and a finale firework show after sundown on Sunday.
When: 5 p.m., Aug. 31- 10 p.m., Sept. 2 (see website for full hours)
Where: U.S. National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway
So, Front Porch Sundays is an ongoing event, but if you’re looking for a laid-back Labor Day weekend, it’s perfect. More than 70 local vendors come together, offering an afternoon of good food and shopping. Plus puppies and beer—who can resist? Admission is free, though vendor prices vary.
When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Sept. 2.
Where: Historic South End, 2151 Hawkins St.
Hosted by Seoul Food, this scavenger hunt features local businesses in the gold district. Learn about the neighborhood and enjoy amazing local fare at the same time. An after party at 6 p.m. with prizes, raffles and live music, close this event, with proceeds going to the Humane Society of Charlotte. Pre-register for the scavenger hunt here.
When: 11:30 a.m., Sept. 2
Where: Seoul Food, 1400 S. Church St.
Tailor-made for the barbecue enthusiast, the fifth annual Charlotte Kosher BBQ Championship is back and their official pitmaster is Sauceman’s (oft described as the best BBQ in Charlotte). Delicious eats plus live music and entertainment, including mechanical bull riding and a pickle-eating contest, round out this daytime party, with free admission and limited tasting tickets for purchase.
When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Sept. 3
Where: Levine Jewish Community Center, 5007 Providence Road
A true Labor Day parade organized by local unions and labor organizations, this 19th annual celebration is one of the largest in the Southeast. It begins promptly at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 3 and is a must-attend for history buffs.
When: 11 a.m., Sept. 3
Where: Starts at Hal Marshall Services Center, 700 N. Tryon St.
Kick your feet up and grab a beer at this second annual celebration at Blue Blaze. Pitchers of your fave Blue Blaze beer are $12 all day, and free hot dogs and other fresh fare, right off the grill, are available starting at noon.
When: 2-8 p.m., Sept. 3
Where: Blue Blaze Brewing, 528 S. Turner Ave.