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 in which 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.

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.

Sheila Kay Adams cradling her banjo.
Sheila Kay Adams- ballad singer, storyteller, and musician from Madison County, NC - and bearer of an unbroken regional and family singing tradition that dates back to the Scots/Irish and English settlers who came to America in the mid-17th Century.
📷 Photo Credit: Garius Hill

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!

State of Virginia with a dot over Richmond.

The Richmond Folk Festival

The Richmond Folk Festival.
State of Montana with a dot over Butte.

The Montana Folk Festival

The Montana Folk Festival.
State of Massachusette with a dot over Lowell.

The Lowell Folk Festival

Annual Lowell Folk Festival.