Who We Are

Origins of the North Carolina Folk Festival

The North Carolina Folk Festival (est. 2018) succeeded the National Folk Festival that was in residency for three years in Greensboro, N.C. from 2015 – 2017.  Our organization is rooted in the ethos of inclusivity that created the National Folk Festival in 1934 as one of our nation’s first multicultural celebrations to present the arts of many nations, races, and languages on the same stage on an equal footing.


We proudly carry forward this legacy to amplify the diverse voices of people and communities from all walks of life whose creative expressions are inextricably woven into the cultural fabric of our nation.

Our Mission

The North Carolina Folk Festival honors, celebrates, and shares the meaningful ways communities express their creativity and cultural traditions through music, dance, food, crafts and other folk arts to enhance appreciation of diverse traditions and contribute to community vibrancy and inclusivity.


While basketball, barbeque, and business are synonymous with Greensboro for many, there is so much more to the city—including a walkable downtown with museums, galleries, parks, music, theatres, sporting events, and recreational opportunities.

It’s hard to beat Greensboro’s unique combination of a delightful, four-season climate; its eclectic variety of restaurants; and its gracious Southern style with an urban twist.

Greensboro is centrally located in the heart of North Carolina—in the center of the historic Piedmont region. Nicknamed the “Gate City” for its early prominence as a railroad hub, today Greensboro can be reached easily by air, road, and rail. It’s strategically located at the center of more interstate highways—I-40, I-85, I-73, and I-74—than any other city in the Carolinas. Less than a day’s drive from New York City, and just five hours from Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, Greensboro is also just a few hours from the Blue Ridge Mountains and Parkway and North Carolina’s beautiful Atlantic beaches.

For more information, check out VisitGreensboroNC.com.

What is folk?

The term “folk” has come to mean different things over time. The most basic definition and origins of the word refer to “the people.” In the context of our work, the folk arts are the creative expressions of communities of people, and the ways in which their traditions are communicated and shared within (or about) their community.

In the folk arts field, a community is as a grouping of people who are connected by a common ethnic heritage, cultural mores, language, religion, occupation, or geographic region. (as defined by the National Endowment for the Arts).

We assign genres to the diverse cultural traditions we include in our Festival program each year as a way to begin to define and categorize them.  We recognize that folk traditions and the public presentation of “folklore” are constantly changing and evolving.  These genres are intended to serve as a reference point – a place around which we provide context and structure – that begins to share a story of connectivity between an artist’s work and his/her community of origin or practice.

Our Festival Family

The North Carolina Folk Festival is just one of many festivals that have sprung up in the wake of the National Folk Festival’s hugely successful rotating 3-year residencies across the U.S. Love the NC Folk Festival? Get to know our sister festivals and all the good work they are doing to help us continue the legacy of the National, spreading the celebration of the roots, richness and diversity of American culture through music, dance, traditional crafts and food at a local level!

The Richmond Folk Festival
is one of Virginia’s largest events, drawing visitors from all over the country to downtown Richmond’s historic riverfront. The Festival is a FREE three-day event that got its start as the National Council for the Traditional Arts’ National Folk Festival, held in Richmond from 2005-2007. The Richmond Folk Festival features performing groups representing a diverse array of cultural traditions on seven stages.


The Richmond Folk Festival.

The Montana Folk Festival
is the successor event to the National Folk Festival that was presented in Butte from 2008 to 2010. First presented in St. Louis in 1934, the National is the oldest, longest-running and most diverse festival of traditional arts in the nation. Championed in its early years by Eleanor Roosevelt, it was the first event of national stature to put the arts of many nations, races, and languages into the same event on an equal footing.


The Lowell Folk Festival
Following the success of hosting the National Folk Festival in Lowell for three years, 1987-1989, the producing partners and community continued the excitement with the Lowell Folk Festival in 1990. With hundreds of thousands of visitors attending annually, the experience is ever-changing. The six producing partners: The City of Lowell, the Lowell Festival Foundation, Lowell National Historical Park, the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce and the National Council for the Traditional Arts, have continued organizing and presenting the Festival annually during the last full weekend in July.


Annual Lowell Folk Festival.