Woolly Worm Festival

Yes, we race woolly worms up here in the mountains.

Yes, you can join in the fun at our county’s biggest event 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.

The festival is a great way to celebrate our upcoming ski season. It’s always held the third weekend of October. Visitors have the option to purchase a worm to race up a 3-foot string. 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.

In addition to the many vendors with fun things to see and buy, the younger family members enjoy the kiddie rides. Grab lunch from a food truck while enjoying live music. The festival takes place in the front of the historic Banner Elk School, home to a art gallery and more to visit. Dogs 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.

Date: October 21-22, 2023

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/car. Expect traffic jams in the area since we only have a few roads in and out. Come early!

Admission: $6 for Adults, $4 for Children 6-12, Free for 5 and under. Buy tickets at the gate. Go to the Woolly Worm Festival Website for more details.


Oct 21 - 22 2023


All Day

More Info



Banner Elk Elementary School
185 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, 28604