Woolly Worm Festival

Woolly Worm Festival, Banner Elk NC

October 19-20, 2024
Yes, we race woolly worms up here in the mountains. Yes, you can join in the fun at one of the biggest events of the year: the Woolly Worm Festival. The winning worm gets the honor of predicting the upcoming winter weather. In addition to the races, browse almost 150 vendors with crafts and food and enjoy plenty of entertainment. It’s held in Banner Elk – just 2.5 miles from the entrance of Sugar Mountain. Find places to stay on Sugar.

Woolly Worm Festival near Sugar Mountain

The festival is a great way to celebrate our upcoming ski season (with a view of Sugar Mountain’s summit). It’s always held the third weekend of October. In addition to the many vendors with fun things to see and buy, the younger family members enjoy the kiddie games and putt-putt.

Woolly Worm Racing

The main event is the many races of woolly worms up a 3-foot string. No experience needed – buy a worm and register at the stage. Each caterpillar has 13 brown and black segments that correspond to the 13 weeks of winter. The lighter brown a segment is, the milder that week of winter will be. The darker black a segment is, the colder and snowier the corresponding week will be. More than 1,000 racers vie for the top spot plus prize money.

The Woolly Worm races begin around 10 AM on Saturday, and each heat consists of 25 worms. Races continue all day until the grand final around 4 PM. The winning worm on Saturday is declared the official winter forecasting agent. The Sunday worm races are for prestige, fun and small prizes. Worm Races are limited so please arrive early to the festival and register your worms.

Woolly Worm Festival, Banner Elk NC

Grab lunch from a food truck while enjoying live music. The festival takes place in the front of the historic Banner Elk School. Pets are not allowed at the festival due to the crowds.

The Woolly Worm Festival is sponsored by Banner Elk Kiwanis and the Avery County Chamber of Commerce and all proceeds are given back to the community to enhance our schools, children’s programs, and to promote local businesses in Avery County.

This weekend is typically peak fall color for the valley. Return to Sugar Mountain for a scenic lift ride to the summit for a unique way to enjoy fall beauty. Sugar’s Bike Park will also be open.

Woolly Worm Festival NC

Address: 185 Azalea Cir SE, Banner Elk, NC 28604

Parking: Find plenty of parking within a short walking distance. Many community groups raise money by offering paid parking spots, usually $5-$10/car. Expect traffic jams in the area since we only have a few roads in and out. Come early!

Hours: Saturday 9-5, Sunday 9-4

Admission: $8 for Adults, $5 for Children 6-12, Free for 5 and under. Buy tickets at the gate or online. Go to the Woolly Worm Festival Website for more details.

Stay on Sugar: For super easy access, stay in a vacation rental on Sugar Mountain!

More fun: Go to the nearby Valle Country Fair on Saturday. Oktoberfest on Sugar is another great festival in October. See our Fall Color Guide for more things to do.