Festival Information

Whether you are a first timer or have been here for the previous 32 festivals, arriving at a huge music festival can be intimidating. Below is some information and helpful hints that will help in planning a great weekend.

  • Parking is free and free shuttle service is provided to and from the lots directly to the front gates of the festival.
  • No alcohol, smoking, vaping, or drug use is permitted.
  • No personal tents, canopies, or chairs that block the view for other attendees. Small infant domes are allowed provided they do not obstruct the view of others.
  • Large umbrellas including beach or patio umbrellas are not allowed.
  • No pets (unless you have an approved ADA service animal).
  • Chairs and/or blankets can help with seating.
  • We are in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and April is a tricky month. Bring clothes for all seasons…and raingear just in case.
  • We have 13 stages and 4 days of music. Pace yourself!
  • We have ATM machines and some of our vendors offer charging stations for your phones.
  • The MerleFest app will help you plan your entire 4 days of music. Download it before you get here. It will be available in your App Store by March.

Directions

Our Address:
1328 S. Collegiate Drive, Wilkesboro, NC 28697

Take Exit 286B (Wilkes Community College exit) off US 421. Take right off exit and follow festival signs for parking.

Drive Time: ~ 40 minutes. Take US 421 South for 31 miles. Take Exit 286B (Wilkes Community College exit). Take right off exit and follow signs for festival parking.

Drive Time: ~ 45 minutes. Take NC 18 North until it intersects with NC Hwy 16. Turn left at intersection. Go approximately 5 miles and get on US 421 North towards Boone. Take Exit 286B (Wilkes Community College exit). Take left off exit and follow signs for festival parking.

Drive Time: ~ 1 hour. Take Hwy 421 North toward Wilkesboro. Go approximately 50 miles and take Exit 286B (Wilkes Community College exit) off US 421. Take left off exit and follow festival signs for parking.

Drive Time: ~ 2 hours. Take Interstate 77 North for 72 miles, take Exit 73B onto US 421 North for 23 miles, take Exit 286B (Wilkes Community College exit) off US 421. Take left off exit and follow festival signs for parking.

Take I-40 East until you get to Morganton. Take the Hwy. 64 exit.Take a Left on to 64 and follow the Hwy. 64 East truck route signs around Morganton. Highway 64 turns into 18 North. Follow 18 North through Lenoir. Take NC 18 North until it intersects with NC Hwy 16. Turn left at intersection. Go approximately 5 miles and get on US 421 North towards Boone. Take Exit 286B (Wilkes Community College exit). Take left off exit and follow signs for festival parking.

Take US 77 South to US Hwy 421 North toward Wilkesboro. Go approximately 23 miles and take Exit 286B (Wilkes Community College exit) off US 421, take left off exit and follow festival signs for parking.

Drive Time: ~ 4 hours. Take I-85 South. Take the I-40 West towards Greensboro. Take Hwy 421 North toward Wilkesboro. Go approximately 50 miles and take Exit 286B (Wilkes Community College exit) off US 421. Take left off exit and follow festival signs for parking.

FAQs

Yes! Tickets are available at the box office (located at the main festival entrance) or they can be purchased online at any time. We advise that you take advantage of our Early Bird pricing and get your tickets before the festival gates open!

Box Office Hours:

  • Thursday – 1:30 to 10:00 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday – 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Sunday – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Thursday – 1:30 to 10:00 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday – 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Sunday – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Our MerleFest programs are located throughout the festival. We have them at the front gates, the Visitor’s Center across from the Americana Stage, at our Information Booth in the Shoppes at MerleFest, at Flattop’s Getaway which is in front of Hayes Hall, and at the VIP/Backstage checkpoints.

The festival map is included in the official MerleFest Program booklet as well as the MerleFest app. Maps are also available at the Information Booth in the Shoppes of MerleFest and at the Visitors Center.

  • Gates open on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.
  • Gates open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 a.m.

Of course! You may come and go as you please but your bag(s) are subject to search each time upon re-entry. Do not remove your wristband. You must have your wristband on to get back into the festival.

Shuttle buses run from all festival parking lots beginning one hour before gates open and will continue throughout the day.

SEATING – FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF ALL, FESTIVAL POLICY IS:

  1. BEFORE 5 p.m. reserved seats may be used by anyone until the owner returns.
  2. AFTER 5 p.m. reserved seating wristbands must be shown to ushers upon entry to the reserved seating area.
  3. GENERAL ADMISSION SEATING is on a first-come, first-served basis. Chair height should not block visibility of stage for others.

Children 12 and under will be admitted FREE to general admission seating areas (accompanied by a paying adult); however, tickets are required for all seats in the reserved seating area and for Late Night Jam. Children 12 and under are allowed front-of-house seating at the Little Picker’s Stage.

Chairs are provided at some of the other stages, or you may bring your own chairs or blankets. Convenient on-site, overnight storage is available at no charge. ALL CHAIRS/BLANKETS MUST BE REMOVED DAILY.  Items left are taken to Lost & Found.

  • Personal tents or canopies cannot be set-up on festival grounds, except in designated camping areas. Only tents installed by the festival tent supplier will be allowed.  Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by Festival Management.  Small infant dome tents are allowed provided they do not obstruct the view of others.
  • Large umbrellas including beach or patio umbrellas are not allowed. Normal size golf umbrellas and small personal umbrellas are allowed as long as they do not obstruct the view of others or dump water onto a neighbor during a rain event.
  • Folding chairs are allowed at the festival at all outdoor stages provided they do not obstruct the view of others. Tall canopy chairs do not meet these requirements and will not be allowed.
  • Personal grills, charcoal or gas, are not allowed on festival grounds at any time, except in designated camping areas. Only approved food vendors are allowed to operate grills.

Persons with Disabilities: Reasonable accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities. Requests for special accommodations should be made as soon as possible, but not less than two weeks in advance, by calling (336) 838-6260 or 1-800-343-7857.

Festival is rain or shine.

***** No alcohol/drugs, tobacco products, firearms, pets/animals (unless certified as medically necessary), unauthorized video or audio recording, glass containers, tents/umbrellas/canopies/hammocks, drones, segways or hover boards in concert areas. All coolers/backpacks will be checked.*****

Don’t worry, Wilkes EMS is on site to provide first aid to anyone who needs it.

Credit and debit cards can be used at certain locations during the festival. ATMs are also located throughout the festival grounds for your convenience.

Of course! You will find water fountains in every campus building. Also, the college student clubs will be selling bottled water for $2.00 at various locations throughout the festival. Proceeds from the sales of bottled water (and other sodas) fund student club events and programming throughout the school year.

Springtime in the foothills can vary from a high in the low 80s to a low at night in the 40s. We recommend layers of clothing and raingear just in case.

Our Information Booth is located in The Shoppes at MerleFest on aisle 1.  You can obtain information about the festival and the area from our wonderful volunteers at this location. This is also where you will find the official MerleFest Program booklet.

You can find the programming schedule in our official MerleFest Program booklet, within our MerleFest app, and on our website. We will publish the schedule as soon as possible – late March is a safe bet.

Please visit the Volunteer page for more information.

You should contact the area Chamber of Commerce offices and Visitor’s Center in Wilkesboro: Northwest NC Visitor CenterWilkes Chamber of CommerceAshe County Chamber of CommerceBoone Chamber of CommerceAlleghany Chamber of CommerceYadkin Valley Chamber of CommerceCaldwell Chamber of CommerceCatawba Chamber of Commerce, and Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce. These friendly folks will be able to supply you with a list of area hotels and private homes & cabins accommodations for rent during MerleFest.

The RV campground is for self-contained RVs with hard-shell exteriors only. (Pop-ups are allowed.) Tents are prohibited.

  • RV camping spaces must be purchased with a four-day pass. If you have questions about your order or the sales process, please contact us at 1-800-343-7857.
  • If you complete your order online, you may choose PRINT AT HOME or we will mail your festival and RV tickets to you.
  • Your RV camping purchase includes space and parking for one RV and one vehicle.
  • Campers must be able to fit the RV as well as any additional features in the reserved space.
  • All entry and exit for the RV campground is via NC Hwy 268, Meadowview Lane, and Stevens Lane.
  • The RV lot will open at 12 noon on Tuesday of MerleFest week. Please do not plan to arrive earlier than 12 noon.
  • At the security check point on Stevens Lane, present the pre-purchased RV tickets that have been mailed to you or that you have printed at home. Proceed to the RV Lot. The RV attendant will check you in, assist in parking your RV, and then instruct you to go to Festival Check in to claim your wristbands and credentials. Festival Check-In opens at 2 p.m. on Tuesday of MerleFest week. (Note: parking stickers will not be mailed).
  • RVs will be parked based on order of arrival. No spaces may be held. If you plan to camp beside another group, you should arrive together. Site selection is not guaranteed.
  • Coolers, backpacks and wristbands will be checked at the campground for festival entry.
  • There are no electrical, sewer, or water hookups. A dump station is located on Stevens Lane and portable toilets are available.
  • All vehicles must observe the campus speed limit. During the first few days, Wilkes Community College classes may be in session. Please be respectful of our students.
  • Drugs, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and animals are prohibited. Glass containers are not allowed on festival grounds.
  • Firearms, fireworks, BBQ grills or open fires are not permitted.
  • Talking, singing, radios, televisions, etc. must be kept at a volume that will not disturb other guests. “Quiet Time” is from midnight to 7 a.m. Generators should be turned off to observe “Quiet Time.”
  • Generators are permitted (note “Quiet Time” rule above). Gas and fuel must be in approved containers and kept inside.
  • All RV campers must have a fire extinguisher easily visible from the outside or readily available from the door of the RV.
  • Children are to be supervised at all times.
  • Please put trash in properly labeled containers.
  • Wilkes Community College Foundation is not responsible or liable for accidents, loss, or theft occurring in the RV camping area at MerleFest.
  • MerleFest reserves the right to refuse service to any one at any time.
  • The RV Campground Manager has the authority to enforce these rules throughout the event. By purchasing your tickets, you agree to abide by these rules.
  • The rules and regulations outlined are intended to keep the RV camping area safe and orderly and to ensure a pleasant experience for everyone.
  • All festival rules apply in the RV Campground.

No. This includes bicycles, Segways, and motorized carts. For safety concerns, only approved festival vehicles are allowed on festival grounds.

Tickets are non-refundable.

MerleFest provides free parking, free shuttle service to the front entrance gate, free overnight storage, programming on 13 stages and a free official MerleFest Program booklet!  And for your Little Picker, we offer free kids crafts, activities and playgrounds.

Always! Children 12 years and younger are admitted free to general admission seating areas when they enter with a properly credentialed adult; however, tickets are required for all seats in the reserved seating area and for the Late Night Jam.

We have lots of fun activities and crafts for your Little Picker. Please visit the Things To Do page to learn all about the things we offer. We are one of the most family friendly festivals you will ever attend!

Yes we do! At Shade Tent #1 in the Little Pickers Area, MerleFest offers a private area for nursing mothers, baby changing stations, small cots for naptime and specialized port-a-potty’s for small children. We also have a private room located in Hayes Hall (room 316) that is compete with a baby changing, chairs, and outlets for nursing mothers with pumps. Please note – this room does not have a sink or cold storage.

Parking is free and plentiful. You will see signs when you arrive that say Festival Parking. Follow the signs. A volunteer will help you find a parking space. They will also point you to a shuttle stop where you can ride directly to the front entrance gates. Don’t forget to note the lot you parked in. When you are ready to return to your vehicle, you will need to get in the correct shuttle bus exit line.Handicapped parking is available at shuttle stop ‘H’. Read our Arrival Brochure for additional information.

Shuttle buses continuously make their rounds throughout the upper parking lots. There is no shuttle service for the Gray Lot or for the Pre-Paid Parking Beige Lot.

MerleFest will take place rain or shine. The only delay is for lightning or severe weather. However, the festival will resume when it is deemed safe to do so.

Our vendors offer everything from turkey legs to tofu. You can find a complete list of food vendors and menus on our mobile app and in our official program guide. Some vendors do take credit cards. We do have ATM’s on-site if a food vendor requires cash.

Yes. You can bring your cooler onto festival grounds. All coolers are checked at the main gate as a safety precaution. But remember… MerleFest is alcohol free and we ask that no beverage or food be brought in glass containers.

We suggest planning for hot weather during the day and cool weather at night. It may rain so don’t forget your poncho. We don’t want you to get sunburned either, so please bring your sunscreen! A blanket or lawn chair will be useful as you visit our 13 stages. However, if you want, you can purchase a MerleFest blanket or festival chair at our official MerleFest Gift Shop located in The Shoppes at MerleFest area. Band-aids, aspirin, sunscreen, snacks, etc. are for sale in our WCC bookstore, which is located in Thompson Hall.  And don’t forget your camera to record the MerleFest Music, Moments, and Memories!

Charging stations are available for cell phones throughout the campus.

Yes. Please contact the MerleFest Ticket Office in advance to learn more: 800-343-7857. You may also download our MerleFest ADA Guest Information flyer for FAQs on ADA parking, seating, restrooms, and service animal information.

Only certified assistance dogs are allowed with proper credentials. No other pets are allowed at the festival.

MerleFest and Wilkes Community College are 100% tobacco free.

The River’s Edge Campground is available for MerleFest ticket holders and for our official MerleFest volunteers. Click here to learn more and to register.

For more information, please call the Wilkes YMCA at 336-838-3991.

We are here to help! Call or email us anytime you have questions.

MerleFest Box Office
Phone: 800-343-7857 or 336-838-6260
Email: merlefest@wilkescc.edu

Box Office Hours:

  • Monday – Thursday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Friday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.