It's about that time of year again. Charlotte's maples and oaks have fully unfurled their leaves for the summertime, the humidity in the air has been steadily rising, and Memorial Day weekend is already upon us. That means it's time for the city to celebrate the unofficial beginning of summer with all things NASCAR at uptown Charlotte's Circle K Speed Street Festival.
If you're one of the thousands of people who moved to Charlotte this past year, do yourself a favor and check this three-day festival out. It's one of our city's largest and longest-running events (celebrating 25 years this year!) and features food, drink, live entertainment, kid's activities, NASCAR meet-and-greets, and alcoholic beverages for adults 21 and up.
If you're a Charlotte old-timer, you already know the drill. Grab a pair of cut-off jorts and get ready for another fun-filled festival weekend, followed by Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Before you head out, here's a few things you should know:
This year's street festival runs Thursday through Saturday (May 23 - 25) on Tryon Street in uptown Charlotte. The festival operates each day from noon until 8 p.m. Admission is free, though you'll want to bring some cash/cards for food and other activities.
Beginning at 6:30 p.m. each day, the festival will host local, regional, and national musical acts on the Coca-Cola stage at Romare Bearden Park. Tickets to the Friday and Saturday night concerts are $20 in advance, or $25 the day of the show. The Thursday night performance is free — though you still need to get a ticket from a participating Circle K store. (Click here for a full list.)
At the top of the marquee this year are singer-songwriter Corey Smith, county-duo Brothers Osborne, and legendary classic rock band STYX (you know, 'Come Sail Away' and 'Mr. Roboto'?)
Each night will also feature two opening acts. Here's the lineup:
- Thursday night (free concert): Headliner — Corey Smith. Openers — Kameron Marlowe, Abby Anderson
- Friday night: Headliner — Brothers Osborne. Openers — Caylee Hammack, Tyler Rich
- Saturday night: Headliner — STYX. Openers — Charity Case, Sugarcreek
The gates at Romare Bearden Park open at 6 p.m. every night with music beginning at 6:30 p.m. Purchase tickets here.
Festival Map/Street Closures
Plan to wear comfortable shoes to this year's festival, which will span six city blocks.
Similar to past years, the street festival will feature lots of giveaways, food and drink vendors, live music, racecar photo-ops, and driver appearances/autograph sessions.
Among the drivers who will be meeting fans on Friday are NASCAR powerhouses Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney — but you'll want to get there early and get a wristband in order to see those two.
Click here for a full schedule of driver appearances and free daytime musical acts.
Meanwhile, the festival will result in many street closures, causing headaches for local commuters. Beginning Wednesday, the city will begin closing down parts of Tryon Street and surrounding cross streets for the festival. The city will also close down parts of Third Street and Mint Street that border Romare Bearden Park.
Cross streets between Church Street and College Street will reopen Friday from 6 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. to help allieviate the morning rush. All roads will reopen by Sunday at noon.
Don't Forget The Coca-Cola 600!
Once the festival has wrapped up and the streets are swept clean, don't forget to check out Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
This year, the historic race is celebrating its 60th anniversary, and will feature fan-friendly entertainment and military tributes, including Lee Greenwood singing his iconic rendition of "God Bless the USA."
Tickets prices range from around $50 to $200. Special ticket pricing for kids is available. Purchase tickets here.
If you're planning to attend the Coca-Cola 600, but don't want to deal with parking, the city will offer a free "Speedway Shuttle" on Sunday from the LYNX Blue Line's JW Clay Boulevard Station to the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The shuttle will run every 20 minutes, beginning Sunday at noon and ending an hour after the checkered flag.
Solid Waste Services will also have crews operating around the clock this weekend to clean up after festival-goers. A spokesperson says they're prepared to collect up to 10 tons of trash (!) from the festival over the course of the weekend.
Corrected on May 25: A previous version of this story incorrectly gave the number of blocks the festival encompasses. It stretches six city blocks, not seven.