Hot Headlines

Suffrage Centennial Inspires Celebration of Women

From Penelope Barker and Tiny Broadwick to Vivian Howard and Christina Koch, North Carolina has nurtured a long line of women achievers and role models. With centennial of the 19th Amendment’s ratification in 1920, travelers are invited to connect with the legacies of pioneers and be inspired by modern dynamos from the mountains to the coast. Start with the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ She Changed the World website to meet extraordinary artisans, activists and others whose influence endures. Then continue the journey here with immersive experiences that reflect why these are women you want to know.

New ‘Outlander’ Season to Draw on NC Settings

As an alternative to dying of anticipation, “Outlander” fans can wait out the February release of season five and the arrival of the ninth novel by traveling across North Carolina with Diana Gabaldon’s characters. Based on “The Fiery Cross,” the fifth season finds Claire and Jamie at Fraser’s Ridge, covers the 1771 Battle of Alamance, and includes a trip to Wilmington. Based on excerpts from the new novel, "Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone" (Penguin Random House), readers can expect to find Claire and Jamie in North Carolina as well. Travelers can pinpoint locations at and other online guides. "Outlander Season 5" premieres Feb. 12 on Starz and Amazon Prime Video.

Period-Perfect Biltmore to Host 'Downton Abbey: The Exhibition'

More than 50 costumes plus set re-creations and artifacts from the addictive series "Downton Abbey" go on view in November at Biltmore, George W. Vanderbilt's 8,000-acre Asheville estate. "Downton Abbey: The Exhibition" offers an immersion in the post-Edwardian world of the Crowley family and insight into the eventful era of World War I. The exhibit will be staged in two estate properties: Amherst at Deerpark, where multimedia elements, sets and artifacts will create a sweeping view of social history, culture and the series; and the Legacy in Antler Hill Village, displaying costumes worn by Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith and others. "Downton Abbey" aired on PBS's "Masterpiece" from 2011 to 2016 and yielded a "Dressing Downton" costume exhibit mounted inside Biltmore House in 2015. The new exhibit, running Nov. 8-April 7, follows the Sept. 20 release of Carnival Film's big-screen series follow-up.

Asheville Museum to Return With Historic Face, New Space

Nearly four years after the scaffolding went up, the Asheville Art Museum will reopen Nov. 14 in a transformed space that honors its landmark building and welcomes the future with new light-bathed galleries, theater space, and a rooftop sculpture terrace and café. Blending historic and contemporary elements, the $24 million project restores the 1926 Pack Memorial Library while addressing the museum's role as a centerpiece of Asheville culture. Among the eye-catching features in the design by Ennead Architects are north-facing window with intriguing inside/outside views and punctured metal panels that will allow light to spill onto the plaza. The inaugural exhibition in the 68,000-square-foot building will be “Appalachia Now! An Interdisciplinary Survey of Contemporary Art in Southern Appalachia.”

Civil Rights Center to Observe Landmark Anniversaries in 2020

On Feb. 1, the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro marks the 10th anniversary of its opening in the F.W. Woolworth Building, where the sit-in movement took root 50 years before. Anchored by 14 signature exhibits, the center preserves the legacy of the four N.C. A&T College freshmen who sat at the racially segregated lunch counter, where service was denied. The nonviolent protest continued until July 25, when the store relented. Dedicated to the idea that in oppression has no place in the human race, the center embraces two other landmark anniversaries in 2020. The 15th Amendment, which promised the right to vote regardless of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude," hits its 150th anniversary on Feb. 3. The right to vote was extended to women with ratification of the 19th Amendment, which marks its centennial on July 19.

Pauli Murray Center in Durham to Open to the Public

The name Pauli Murray has been rising on the radar. In 2017, Pauli Murray College opened at Yale.  In 2018, the centennial of Murray's birth, the Episcopal Church added her permanently to its Calendar of Saints. She was portrayed in the film "On the Basis of Sex," and the bio-drama "To Buy the Sun" toured the East Coast.  The play was an initiative of the Pauli Murray Project, created in 2009 to further the legacy of the civil and human rights activist by working toward fairness and justice across lines of race, class, gender and spiritual practice. This year the Duke University-based project will achieve a milestone with the opening of the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice in the house where Murray grew up. The center, which will include interactive exhibits, adds to Murray's presence in Durham, where five murals chart her story.

Greensboro Property Restores Its 'Green Book'-Era Glory

Jackie Robinson slept here. So did James Baldwin, James Brown, Gladys Knight, Ike and Tina Turner, and other African American travelers who needed a place to stay in the Jim Crow South. The Magnolia House, whose listing in "The Negro Motorist Green Book" was starred as a recommended Greensboro site, faded after the motel closed in the 1970s. But steady progress on restoring the 1914 structure has been made since Sam Pass bought it in 1996 and created the Magnolia House Foundation. From hosting weddings and other private events, use of the Magnolia House has grown to include Sunday jazz brunches, weeknight suppers, concerts, and "Table Talks" connected to history and heritage. Late 2019 is the target for completing a museum, and the foundation foresees hosting overnight stays as a 14-room B&B.

Planetarium Expansion to Amplify NASA Connection

Morehead Planetarium & Science Center, where 11 of NASA's 12 moon-walkers were trained in celestial navigation, has targeted fall for completion of a $5.2 million expansion of its home on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus. The project reimagines the center as a modern-day, technology-advanced science hub with an exhibit hall that pays tribute to UNC’s pioneering work in space exploration. Other new features include an interactive “maker space,” an updated science demonstration stage, upgrades to the fulldome theater, and expanded galleries showcasing research advances in science, health and technology.

Crest of the Blue Ridge Wine Area Established

Wineries and vineyards in a 215-square-mile area of southwestern North Carolina have claimed a new appelation, the state's sixth. Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County, approved in July by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, encompasses four wineries and more than a dozen vineyards in a scenic stretch along the Eastern Continental Divide. Factors that distinguish the area include a 200-220-day growing season and conditions that work well for varietals such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc. The new American Viticultural Area joins Yadkin Valley, Swan Creek, Haw River Valley, Upper Hiwassee Highlands and Appalachian High Country on the North Carolina wine landscape.

Cast of 2,500 to Stage Epic Reenactment of Civil War Battle

More than 2,500 reenactors from around the country are expected in Four Oaks for the March 21-22 reenactment of the Battle of Bentonville. Staged every five years, the event includes daily battles, lectures, 19th-century medical displays, period music, and dozens of sutlers selling Civil War-related items. About 64,000 people attended the 2015 reenactment of the battle, which was fought March 19-21, 1865, with Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s army defeating the forces of Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. It was the war’s last full-scale action with a Confederate army mounting a tactical offensive.

Carowinds to Debut Mat-Racing Water Slide, Nighttime Festival

Theme park lovers will find a new mat-racing water slide and an international festival next summer at Carowinds. At the Carolina Harbor waterpark, the six-lane Boogie Board Racer will take riders through tubes, high-speed chutes and a 360-degree loop before a final drop propels them to maximum acceleration. Designed by Vancouver-based White Water West, Boogie Board Racer will be near Copperhead Strike, the double-launch roller coaster that debuted in 2019 and raised the park's coaster count to 14. Also new for 2020, the Grand Carnivale festival will celebrate global culture with a full-scale Spectacle of Color parade, lavishly costumed street performers, lively music, signature beverages and a special menu. The festival will run nightly June 13-July 5, 2020. Carowinds, a Cedar Fair park, is off Interstate 77 in south Charlotte. 

‘Phenomenal Maya’ to Premiere in Winston-Salem

In April, the N.C. Black Repertory Company will premiere Nambi E. Kelley's play about Maya Angelou, who helped the Winston-Salem company launch the biennial National Black Theatre Festival in 1989. NC Black Rep commmisioned the play from Kelley and produced a staged reading with Tony Award winner Tanya Pinkins at the 2019 festival. "Phenomenal Maya," which spirals out of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination on Angelou's 40th birthday, runs April 30-May 17.

North Carolina Celebrates the 'Year of Music'

A wealth of sounds from a deep musical lineage rises across North Carolina as the state celebrates the Year of Music through the end of 2019. With leadership from the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and N.C. Humanities Council, Come Hear NC includes performances, song-sharing sessions, live streaming events, artist interviews and special projects. Oxford American magazine’s North Carolina Music Issue (you can order it online) serves as an introduction to a long list of groundbreaking artists that runs from Nina Simone and John Coltrane to Earl Scruggs, James Taylor, Link Wray and Rhiannon Giddens. Learn more at

Tryon Adds Tour, Kiosk to Enhance Nina Simone’s Presence

Until recently, an 8-foot sculpture by Zenos Frudakis was the most visible connection between Nina Simone and her hometown of Tryon. With restoration of her childhood home under way, Tryon is deepening the relationship. The town has developed the Nina Simone Hometown Tour to guide visitors to places relevant in the life of Eunice Kathleen Waymon (the singer-civil rights activist’s birth name), and it plans to add an interactive kiosk at the plaza where the bronze Simone presides. Less than a mile away, her family’s clapboard house has undergone an exterior facelift since its designation as a National Treasure in 2018. Fund-raising continues to complete the restoration under the auspices of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which is working on a restoration plan and models for the home’s future use.

Food Halls Take Root Across the State

In the space of two years (give or take), North Carolina’s food hall count will have risen from one to seven as part of an indie food movement packed with culinary diversity. Here’s a newest-to-oldest rundown:

  • Old North State Food Hall, Selma (opening 2020): Developers of a live-work-play development on Interstate 95 southeast of Raleigh have begun converting a retail outlet into a food hall offering globally diverse, freshly prepared, authentic food and drink. Smithfield-based Double Barley Brewing will operate the North Carolina Craft House, a full-service bar featuring North Carolina craft beer, cider, wine and spirits.
  • Durham Food Hall (opening late 2019): In the 12,000-squre-foot food hall at Liberty Warehouse Apartments, visitors can choose from 10 vendors including Locals Seafood Market & Oyster Bar, Napoli Pizza and Gelato, Lula & Sadie’s (seasonal-Southern), Old North Meats and Provisions, Liturgy Beverage and Ex-Voto Cocina Nixtamal. The location is in Durham's Central Park neighborhood, home of the Durham Farmers Market and other spots of culinary interest.
  • Optimist Food Hall, Charlotte (opened in August): Part of a retail, restaurant and office space development, the food hall features  about 15 vendors in 20,000 square feet. The lineup includes Aix Rotisserie, Under Current Coffee, Papi Queso, Bao & Broth (ramen and buns), and a tasting room for Morganton-based Fonta Flora Brewery. Just north of the City Center, Optimist Hall can be reached by LYNX Light Rail. 
  • Transfer Co. Food Hall, Raleigh (opened spring 2019): With 43,000 square feet, the downtown development will include about 20 vendors, including Che Empanadas, Chhote's (Mumbai street food), Bul Box (Asian), a second location for Asheville's Burial Beer, Sweet Peas Urban Gardens, and the collaborative Locals Oyster Bar and Benchwarmers Bagels. Still to come: Saxapahaw General Store (a grocery oasis) and other vendors.
  • Morgan Street Food Hall & Market, Raleigh (opened August 2018): The 22,000-square-foot space downtown includes 20 culinary concepts such as Cousins Maine Lobster, Cow Bar (artisan burgers), Carroll’s Kitchen (non-profit dedicated to fighting homelessness for women through culinary training) and Hook & Cleaver (boutique butcher/fresh food market) as well as two bars, including one with landscaped patio space. 
  • Blue Dogwood Public Market, Chapel Hill (opened June 2018). The 4,000-square-foot space in the heart of the college town hosts 12 permanent food vendors including Pizelle Bakery (gluten-free sweets and savories), Soul Cocina (Latin American-inspired, plant-based fare), Left Bank Butchery (whole animal butcher shop), Rumi Persian Café and Chocolatay Confections. 
  • 7th Street Public Market, Charlotte (opened 2012): Nonprofit market with a mission to promote local and regional farmers, food artisans, and entrepreneurs. Vendors at the Uptown market include Pure Pizza, Not Just Coffee, Tanks Tap, Bonsai Fusion and Rico's Acai.
Fast-Growing RDU to Open Four More Gates

In response to rapid growth, Raleigh-Durham International Airport is accelerating expansion plans by activating four more gates by April 2020. Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit will move into Terminal 1 with fellow low-fare carrier Southwest, which uses the terminal’s other five gates. The airport’s Terminal 1 has 36 gates. In 2018, RDU saw a 9.7 increase in passengers to 12.8 million. In May, Spirit became the 10th airline operating at RDU, which offers nonstop service to 66 cities. 

Eleanor Talley
Public Relations Manager
Kelly Renz
J Public Relations


Sign up to receive news from Visit NC
* Required Fields