Plan your 2024 with North State Journal’s can’t miss events

A statue of Andy and Opie Taylor is shown outside the Andy Griffith Playhouse in Mount Airy. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

In our annual look ahead at the year, mark your calendar with a month-by-month look at these can’t miss events from Murphy to Manteo.

January: Ski season

North Carolina’s mountains feature many ski and snowboarding options for individuals to get a taste of winter weather such as Appalachian Ski Mountain, which opened in 1962, featuring ten slopes and two terrain parks.

Burrowed in the Blue Ridge mountains lies Beech Mountain Ski Resort features skiing and snowboarding on some of the highest elevated slopes in the region.

February: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day often sends couples away from their usual haunts (and barbecue joints) in search of white tablecloths, beautiful views and elevated menus.

Renowned restaurants such as the Angus Barn in Raleigh, Pittsboro’s Fearrington House and Print Works Bistro in Greensboro have all shown up on OpenTable’s 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in the past five years.

March: NCAA Tournament action returns to Charlotte

First and second round action in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament returns to the Queen City March 21-23.

Games will be played at the Spectrum Center in uptown Charlotte as fans from around the country will follow their programs to the Tarheel State for the chance to advance to the regional finals.

April: Azalea Festival in Wilmington

Spring in Wilmington means the return of the annual celebration of the Azalea. Each year, colorful parades, home tours and nationally known music build to the crowning of the Azalea Queen.

The annual “garden party” at the festival is one of the most sought-after tickets in the state each year.

May: Two weeks of NASCAR action

The stars of the NASCAR Cup Series come home to North Carolina for back-to-back weekends beginning with the All-Star race at North Wilkesboro with $1 million on the line.

A week later, the series comes to Charlotte Motor Speedway for Memorial Day in the Coca-Cola 600, the series’ longest race of the season.

June: U.S. Open returns to Pinehurst

The stars of professional golf come to the Sandhills for the 2024 U.S. Men’s Open at the venerable Pinehurst #2 course.

The USGA awarded four of the next 25 championships to Pinehurst, more than any other course in that time.

Golf fans from all over the world will descend on Moore County to watch stars from the PGA and LIV Golf tours battle for one of the sport’s four major titles.

July: Go to the beach!

When the temperatures heat up and the humidity rises, it’s time for summer vacation.

North Carolina’s coast comprises 300 miles of barrier-island beaches, each with its own unique vibe and variety of things to do, according to Visit North Carolina.

The most recent data compiled by state officials show that more than $33 billion is spent annually on trips to and within North Carolina, making it the fifth-largest industry in the state.

August: Back to school

If July is the time for summer vacation, the countdown when the calendar flips to August means it’s time for back to school.

One recent development around schools has been a number of districts defying a state law mandating start and end calendar dates.

In an interview with North State Journal last year, Senate Leader Phil Berger said, “I don’t think there’s a need to change it. If I thought there was a chance that changing it would improve outcomes as far as kids are concerned as far as school is concerned. I would certainly consider that.”

September: Mayberry Days

Picturesque Mount Airy, known as Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show, steps back in time with the annual Mayberry Days festival.

The celebration for the whole family comes with activities and events for fans of The Andy Griffith Show such as a checkers tournament, pork chop-eating and apple-peeling contests, trivia competitions and horseshoes plus entertainment and a parade.

October: Visit the State Fair

The N.C. State Fair returns after a successful 2023 in which crowds came in large numbers for the food, livestock, shows and celebration of all things North Carolina.

Figures released by the Department of Agriculture show that over 926,000 attended last year’s fair.

“It is a celebration of the best of North Carolina and feels like an annual reunion that brings together everything that makes North Carolina a great place to live,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

The N.C. State Fair Livestock Sale of Champions drew a record $217,850 in bids, breaking the previous record by $5,350. Monies from the sale go into a scholarship fund.

November: 2024 general election

North Carolina voters will go to the polls on Nov. 5 to make their voices heard in races from president to county-level positions.

On the ballot will be races for governor, state Supreme Court justice, all 14 Congressional seats, and all 170 General Assembly seats.

North Carolina’s 16 electoral votes will be up for grabs and both Republicans and Democrats think they will have the advantage. In 2020, Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden by just 1.3% in the state.

December: Tweetsie Christmas

The most wonderful time of the year the chance to indulge in holiday nostalgia with friends and family.

Catch the arrival of Santa Claus as he enters on the train or take a nighttime ride about the historic steam locomotive through a park transformed into a dazzling wonderland with thousands of sparkling lights.

After the train ride visitors can roast s’mores over cozy outdoor fire pits.