Whether it’s the NASCAR race and all the festivities surrounding it, family cookouts, local pools opening, or just a three day weekend to kick off summer, Memorial Day weekend is busy in Charlotte! Of course, with all the happenings, don’t forget to reflect on the true reason for the day: military men and women who gave their lives fighting for our freedom.
Check out some of the hot-spots this weekend:
NASCAR Coca-Cola 600
NASCAR is heavily entrenched in Charlotte, with the majority of NASCAR teams and drivers making their homes here. Two of the year’s most anticipated events always hit Charlotte around Memorial Day. Sunday, May 29 will mark the 52nd running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. There’s always a stunning pre-race tribute to the military that you absolutely don’t want to miss. The Sprint All-Star Race is always the week before, and May 21 will bring NASCAR’s best to Charlotte to race 100 laps for $1 million. This year’s all-star race will be the first one held under the track’s massive new HD screen – the largest in the world. The NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge at Time Warner Cable Arena gives the guys behind the wall a chance to shine as pit crews to head to head to see who’s the fastest.
Speed Street 600 Festival
Taking place May 26 to May 28 in the streets of Uptown, the Speed Street 600 Festival features appearances, autograph sessions and demonstrations from some of NASCAR’s best drivers and pit crews. The festival also features some great live entertainment. Rose Royce, Eddie Money, Midnight Star, Josh Turner, Everclear, Pat Green and more headline the 2011 event. Wrestler Ric Flair will even be making an appearance at this year’s event. And as with any festival, there will be hundreds of vendors with food and merchandise. If you can’t make the race, this is your next best option. Even if you’re not a NASCAR fan, you’ll enjoy Speed Street! Check out the complete Speed Street schedule of events.
Every Memorial Day weekend, Charlotte parks open up their spraygrounds. Essentially a small park with water spouts and splash areas, they’re great for kids to cool off (and they’re on soft surfaces). The spraygrounds are great for children that may be a bit too small for the pool, or those who just aren’t ready. Nevin Park, Cordelia Park, Latta Park, Veterans Park and West Charlotte Recreation Center Park all have spraygrounds.
2011 Patriot Festival
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, May 30, celebrate Memorial Day at Symphony Park at SouthPark Mall. With live music, military exhibitions, a rib burn-off competition and picnic (with backyard BBQ enthusiasts and local restaurants showing off their best ribs), local mascots Sir Purr (Carolina Panthers) and Rufus (Charlotte Bobcats) in attendance and a special tribute to the men and women from the Carolinas who have given their lives in defense of this nation, followed by an honor salute and Taps at the end of the days activities.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
Sunday, May 29, starting at 3 p.m., the USNWC kicks off your Memorial Day with a free concert from the bands Trampled by Turtles, The Apache Relay and American Aquarium. A stunning fireworks display over the man-made river (which is already pretty awesome in it’s own right) at 9 p.m. will close out the evening. The event is free, but there is a standard $5 parking fee for the center.
The Charlotte Knights will be in action May 30 against Buffalo (7:15 p.m. @ Knights Castle) and the Carolina Speed take on the Fayetteville Force (5 p.m. @ Bojangles’ Coliseum).