Dig your toes in the sand and immerse yourself in the music and dancing that define free-spirited Carolina Beach. Read on for a guide to the annual Carolina Beach Music Festival, a truly original tradition hailed as "the biggest and only beach music festival actually held on the beach on the North Carolina coast.”

A Full Day of Festival Fun

The Carolina Beach Music Festival draws visitors from all over and celebrates the beginning of summer the first Saturday of each June. Gates open at 10 a.m. and the first band takes the stage at 11 a.m., kicking off a lineup of the South’s premier beach music groups. The bands’ renditions of classics and contemporary hits provide a lively soundtrack for oceanfront fun, including Carolina shag dancing in the sand, until around 5 p.m.


Attendees are welcome to bring their own coolers, beverages and food. Tickets go on sale early spring each year, and additional details including the lineup and more are announced closer to the event on the festival’s webpage.

Along the Vintage Boardwalk

Access the festival via the seaside Carolina Beach Boardwalk, where nostalgic charm meets modern-day excitement amidst summertime carnival games and amusement rides. Arrive a few days early to catch the free Fireworks by the Sea & Boardwalk Blast Thursday evening, featuring live music at 6:30 p.m. and a stunning fireworks display launching at 9 p.m.


Festival attendees can conveniently explore the Boardwalk's array of nightlife and dining, including spots with rooftop ocean views: Hurricane Alley’s, offering light snacks, local craft beers and beachy beverages, and Carolina Smokehouse, serving delicious barbeque from family recipes (perfect for picking up a festival picnic to-go.) Savor sweet treats from The Fudgeboat/Krazy Kones or the famous Britt’s Donut Shop.

Amenities like public restrooms, outdoor showers, foot rinse stations and ATMs throughout the Boardwalk area ensure a hassle-free experience for all festivalgoers.

Authentic Local Roots

The festival, one of the longest running of its kind, honors the birthplace and legacy of beach music. Today’s Freeman Park at the north end of Carolina Beach was once home to the community of Seabreeze, a popular resort founded by and for African Americans. Seabreeze’s music venues buzzed with swing, soul and rhythm and blues tunes, sparking dance crazes like the iconic Carolina shag. Malcolm Ray "Chicken" Hicks and other local 1940s dance pioneers helped popularize the shag and beach music in dance halls near the Boardwalk.


For more than 35 years, the Carolina Beach Music Festival has invited guests to celebrate in the spirit of those who shaped beach music and the shag style of dance. Delve deeper into fascinating local history by visiting the Carolina Beach Mural Project’s “Tribute to Carolina Shag.” You can also step back in time by taking a Tasting History Tour, or Historic Boardwalk Tour (held weekly on Tuesdays seasonally), ahead of the festival.

Plan a Festival Vacation

Choose the perfect lodging option to enhance your Carolina Beach Music Festival experience. For convenient Boardwalk and event access, consider the Courtyard Marriott Carolina Beach Oceanfront or Hampton Inn & Suites Carolina Beach Oceanfront, both full-service oceanfront hotels. A variety of other waterfront accommodations, including vacation rentals, are within a short drive, bike ride or walk from the event.


Secure your tickets and prepare for an only-in-Carolina Beach event and vacation, filled with seaside music and dancing that will inspire good times and lasting memories.