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In his final 180 days, the world’s most notorious pirate ran his mighty flagship aground, secured a pardon, took a teenage wife, set up a new base, resumed his plundering ways, and lost a death match to a Royal Navy lieutenant. All those events unfolded between early June and Nov. 22, 1718, along the North Carolina coast. The tricentennial of Blackbeard's last stand makes 2018 a compelling year to visit Ocracoke, Beaufort, Bath, Greenville and other coastal destinations, where pirate celebrations and other events honor history and revel in pirate culture.Learn more with Visit NC's Blackbeard 300th media kit.
The flagship event of the Fédération Equestre Internationale will be held Sept. 10-23, 2018, at Tryon International Equestrian Center, created by Mark Bellissimo in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in 2014. In choosing the 1,800-acre site in Mill Spring for the World Equestrian Games, the FEC noted the venue’s competition facilities, including arenas, world-class cross-country course, and extensive surrounding trails. Lodging, dining, shopping, golf and other amenities also played into the selection. The Games are held every four years in the middle of the Olympic cycle. tryoncoth.com
The first large-scale exhibition of fashions from “Titanic,” the 1997 film that took home 11 Oscars, will launch at Biltmore in “Glamour on Board: Fashion from Titanic the Movie,” on view Feb. 9-May 13. The exhibition will feature 45 costumes displayed inside the 250-room home of George and Edith Vanderbilt, who canceled plans to board the Titanic a week before the voyage. Just days after "Titanic" departs, "Chihuly at Biltmore" arrives. The artist's monumental glass sculptures will be on view in Biltmore House, the Italian Garden, the Walled Garden and elsewhere on the estate from May 17 to Oct. 7. The works can be viewed after dark each Thursday-Sunday with Chihuly Nights at Biltmore. www.biltmore.com
Beginning in May , the N.C. Ferry System will add a passenger-only route from Hatteras Island to Ocracoke’s Silver Lake Harbor, giving visitors an opportunity to explore the island’s central village without having to worry about traffic and parking. The service will be an alternative to the vehicle-and-passenger ferry from Hatteras to the north end of Ocracoke, 12 miles from the village and its shops, restaurants and historic attractions. Ocracoke, the southernmost stretch of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, is known for its beach, which has topped Dr. Beach’s annual list, and its role as Blackbeard’s last hangout. www.ncdot.gov/ferry/passengerferry.html
Team USA mounts the defense of its Fed Cup title in Asheville, site of the first round of the premiere tournament for women's team tennis. Action unfolds Feb. 10-11 at the U.S. Cellular Center with a best-of-five series against the Netherlands. Explore Asheville is partnering with the U.S. Tennis Association to bring the event to Asheville. www.usta.com In May, a second prestigious international sporting event arrives. Asheville is home base for a three-day Haute Route Cycling Series stage race that scales Mount Mitchell, the loftiest point east of the Mississippi, and covers scenic ground along the French Broad River. The Haute Route rides, which began in 2011, offers three- and seven-day events through the Alps, the Rockies, the Pyrenees and other towering terrain. www.hauteroute.org
While waiting for the Mustang Owner’s Museum to open, fans of the original pony car can glimpse the Concord area's newest motorsports attraction during the National Mustang Day celebration. A preview museum will be open April 13-15 with a program that includes a parade lap around Charlotte Motor Speedway, visits to Carpenter Ford Museum and Petty's Garage, seminars and a banquet. Additional museum preview dates include June 8-10 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Mustang (Steve McQueen drove a ’68 Highland Green fastback in "Bullitt") and July 4-7 for a veterans event. www.mustangownersmuseum.com
"Dawson's Creek," "Bull Durham" and other filmed-in-North Carolina projects mark their anniversaries in 2018, inviting viewers to visit scene-stealing landmarks and scenery. Here's a rundown:
“Brainstorm” (1983): Douglas Trumbull’s film is best known for being Natalie Wood’s last. While it was in production, the actress drowned on a weekend excursion with husband Robert Wagner and co-star Christopher Walken. The science fiction film, which won a Saturn Award for Louise Fletcher, included shots of the Wright Brothers National Memorial and the Ocracoke Lighthouse as well as scenes filmed at Pinehurst and Research Triangle Park.
“Bull Durham” (1988): Producer Thomas Mount chose his hometown as the setting for the classic baseball romance, which was written and directed by Ron Shelton. Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins starred in the film, which turned the real Durham Bulls into the most famous team in Minor League baseball. Raleigh, Asheville, Burlington, Wilson and Greensboro also saw film action.
“The Fugitive” (1993): Tommy Lee Jones won an Oscar for his portrayal of the marshal tracking down Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford). Film travelers can see Cheoah Dam, where Kimble takes a giant leap, and wrecked train, which filmmakers left in place on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad’s Tuckasegee River Excursion from Bryson City to Dillsboro.
“Dawson’s Creek” (1998-2003): North Carolina native Kevin Williamson created this teen drama starring James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson and Michelle Williams. Production was based in the Wilmington area with additional shoots in Southport, Durham and Chapel Hill.
“One Tree Hill” (2003-2012): Chad Michael Murray, James Lafferty and Hilarie Burton were among the stars of the series, which also was based in Wilmington. Diehard fans won’t wait for the 15th anniversary of the series’ debut: They’ll return to see Chad Michael Murray at EyeCon’s “One Tree Hill” convention in March.
"Nights in Rodanthe" (2008): Richard Gere and Diane Lane take top billing, but the movie's real star might be the Inn at Rodanthe. And in a grand gesture worthy of North Carolina novelist Nicholas Sparks, the house was saved from the sea (plan well and you can rent it for your stay). Follow this ready-made trail from the Outer Banks to Wilmington, then continue to Southport, the setting and main location for "Safe Haven," celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2018.
Building an elevator inside a 315-foot granite peak ranks as a monumental feat of ingenuity and engineering. And fixing one is no walk in the park. But after 2½ years of repairs and restoration, the elevator should be back in operation in 2018 as an easier route to the top than the Outcroppings Trail and its 449 steps ― more than the Cape Hatteras and Bodie Island lighthouses combined. In other news, the realigned Skyline Trail opened in September to lead visitors to the top of 404-foot-high Hickory Nut Falls and views of where the last confrontation in "Last of the Mohicans" (1992) was filmed. www.chimneyrockpark.com
If the significance of the 350th anniversary of North Carolina's first counties eludes you, begin a deep dive at ncpedia.org — or opt for a pleasure cruise with three of North Carolina's most engaging storytellers. The 350th Celebration Albemarle Sound Tour, set for May 10-13, features an excursion aboard the Belle of Washington with Bland Simpson, author and member of the Tony Award-winning Red Clay Ramblers; Tom Earnhardt, host of UNC-TV's "Exploring North Carolina"; and David Celceski of Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies. Departing from Elizabeth City, the cruise departs from Elizabeth City with stops in Edenton, Hertford, Plymouth and Columbia. Other events include a May 12 celebration at the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City. www.visitedenton.com
With the March completion of a LYNX Blue Line extension, Charlotte’s NoDa area joins the list of destination neighborhoods that visitors can reach without a car. The 9 new miles connect laid-back NoDa and lively South End by way of bustling Uptown with stops near breweries, restaurants, galleries, museums and other points of interest. www.lynxcharlotte.com
Traveling to Raleigh by train becomes more amenable with the opening of the new Raleigh Union Station transportation hub in early 2018. Larger platforms, a canopy cover and dedicated tracks for passenger trains will improve the travel experience, and dining, retail and a civil hall connect travelers to lively downtown shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. The station is designed to meet future demand for intercity passenger rail, commuter rail, buses, taxis, bicycles and other forms of transportation. www.raleighnc.gov
For half a century, Interstate highway travelers have been able to find a welcome, information, assistance and bathrooms at North Carolina Welcome Centers. The first two centers, dedicated by Gov. Daniel K. Moore on Aug. 1, 1968, are just across the border from Virginia on Interstates 85 and 95. Today, nine Welcome Centers serve travelers entering North Carolina from the north, south and west on I-85, I-95, I-77, I-26 and I-40. The centers are staffed by certified travel counselors who will book reservations (at no charge) as well as provide detailed information, maps and marketing publications. Learn more at www.nccommerce.com/tourism/programs-services/welcome-centers.
The street dance tradition in Hendersonville began as a way for residents to welcome soldiers home from World War I. A hundred years later, people still take to Main Street on Monday nights in July and August for live bluegrass and square dancing. Those who have never do-si-do'd come early to learn basic steps from caller Walt Puckett. More lively action comes from area clogging teams show off their fancy doubles and rockin' chairs. www.visithendersonvillenc.org
Once housed at Talley Student Center, this N.C. State University museum reopened Aug. 26 in the Historic Chancellor’s Residence near downtown Raleigh. The Gregg also has a new 15,000-square-foot building adjacent to the Georgian-style mansion. Strengths of the collection include outsider art, textiles, ceramics, photography and modern furniture. gregg.arts.ncsu.edu
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