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Find out everything you need to know as you plan your MerleFest experience!

Need to know what you can bring, what time to get here, or where to find that lost item? Check out the links here and throughout the site. If you still have questions, contact us at MerleFest@wilkescc.edu and we’ll be happy to help.

MerleFest is held rain or shine - we recommend bringing clothes for all seasons!


For your safety and the consideration of all guests and our campus, the following are restricted from MerleFest:

  • All tobacco products
  • All electronic oral devices (e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipe, etc.)
  • Alcoholic beverages and illegal drugs
  • Weapons
  • Pets
  • Unauthorized ATVs, golf carts, Segways® (or similar vehicles) on campus and campgrounds
  • Glass containers
  • Tents, canopies, chairs or hammocks that block the view for other fans
  • Unauthorized video recording, audio recording or flash photography (at the artists' request)

No one is permitted backstage without proper credentials. 

Festival Hours

MerleFest gates open on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. and Friday through Sunday at 9:00 a.m.  Check stage schedules for estimated performance start and end times each day.

Access and Parking

Free parking and shuttle service is available! When you arrive, follow the signs for festival parking at the Blue Lot. Our local Boy Scout Troops run shuttle services throughout the festival and ensure a safe, quick, and fun ride to the main festival grounds.

Handicapped Parking

All public parking for persons with a disability and appropriate state-issued handicap parking credentials will be located at Shuttle Stop H in the Blue Lot. MerleFest has designated the entire north paved area (turn right at the end of Stokes Street onto Industrial Drive) for handicapped parking only and has designated shuttles for this area that include wheelchair accessible vans to transport guests to the main festival entrance.

Volunteer Parking

MerleFest organizers have designated Shuttle Stop D which is ½ mile west from the entrance to the Blue Lot for all individual and group volunteers. Shuttle Stop D is located on the west side of Key City Furniture on NC Hwy. 268 West (continue past the Blue Lot entrance to Ithaca Drive and turn right). Designated shuttles for volunteers will begin their routes starting at 7:00 a.m. and will run continuously to the festival main entrance.


Four-day reserved seats are located in front of the Watson Stage (chairs provided and set up in advance by the festival). For the convenience of all, festival policy is that unoccupied chairs, including "reserved seats", may be used by anyone before 5:00 p.m. or until the owner returns. Special wristbands are required for admission or re-admission into the reserved seating area after 5:00 p.m.

General admission seating is on a first-come, first-served basis and is located immediately behind the reserved seating area at the Watson Stage. Children 12 years of age and younger are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult except in the reserved seating area where a 4 day reserved seat wristband is required regardless of age.

Limited seating is provided at most of the other stages, or you may bring your own. Seating is first come, first serve.  Convenient on-site, over-night storage is available at overnight storage free of charge. Children 12 and under will be allowed front of house seating at the Little Pickers Stage.

To protect the campus grounds, all chairs and blankets must be removed daily except "reserved seats" at the Watson Stage.  

Cooler and Bag Check

All coolers, backpacks, etc. are subject to being checked at each festival entrance. Our friendly volunteers will help you with this process.

Items Left Overnight

All chairs and blankets are removed daily. We have a great overnight storage area located in The Shoppes at MerleFest and staffed by a local civic group who will be happy to help you!