Since 1978, hundreds of visitors and locals alike have flocked to the Woolly Worm Festival to celebrate the coming of winter. For more than 35 years, the Woolly Worm festival has been an exciting event to signal the changing of the seasons for all ages. Photo by Ken Ketchie
In addition to the exciting woolly worm races, guests can enjoy a variety of crafts, food vendors, live entertainment and much, much more for the entire family. Photo by Ken Ketchie
Tickets for the Woolly Worm Festival are $5 for adults, $2 for children and free for kids under four. Photo by Ken Ketchie
The official procedure for determining the worm that will forecast the winter season is the Woolly Worm Races where kids of all ages race a found or purchased Woolly Worm for a chance at the $1,000 grand prize. Photo by Ken Ketchie
Photo by Ken Ketchie
Photo by Ken Ketchie


Woolly Worm Festival


Phone: 828-898-5605
Address: Azalea Cir SE Banner Elk, NC 28604

October 17th & 18th, 2015

Woolly Worm Festival

For more than 35 years, Banner Elk’s annual Woolly Worm Festival has been a yearly event that residents and visitors alike look forward to all year. Since 1978, residents of beautiful Banner Elk have celebrated the coming of winter with this highly anticipated event.

What In the World is a Woolly Worm?

A Woolly Worm is a woolly bear caterpillar, a species native to the area with 13 bands in brown and black that are said to correspond to the 13 weeks of winter. Dark bands mean that the corresponding winter week will be harsh, snowy and cold, while a lighter, brown band indicates that the corresponding week of winter will be mild with less snowfall.

How it Works

The formal procedure for determining which woolly worm is used to predict the winter weather forecast for the year has become known as the Woolly Worm Festival where kids of all ages, from 2 to 92, choose their woolly worms and race them in a series of heats up a three-foot length of string. The winning worm overall is crown the official forecasing worm of the winter season, and the worm’s “trainer” receives a $1,000 grand prize!

Contestants may choose to bring their own wild-caught worm or purchase one from the booth at the festival.

More than Just Woolly Worm Waces

Aside from the exciting races, the Woolly Worm Festival also offers crafts, food vendors, live entertainment and much more for guests to enjoy.


Tickets for the Woolly Worm festival are $5 for adults, $2 for children ages 5-2 and free for kids under four per day.