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Grandfather Mountain Highland Games
One of the biggest Scottish Games in the United States, with plenty of live music (bagpipes to rock), athletic competitions, dancing, food, heritage vendors, and more.
Mountain Life Festival Great Smoky Mtns
Experience the traditional fall activities that were an important part of rural life in the Great Smoky Mountains, including hearth cooking, apple butter and apple cider making, blacksmithing, lye soap making, food preservation, broom making and quilting - at the Mountain Farm Museum. 10AM-3:30PM
Asheville Orchid Festival
The Western NC Orchid Society hosts a big show and competition at the North Carolina Arboretum. Hundreds of orchids will be on display and vendors will be selling them with plenty of advice.
This free festival in downtown Asheville is a celebration of African-Caribbean culture with music, craft market, food vendors, dance performances and competitions, a special area with activities for kids and much more!
Saluda Arts Festival
Outstanding festival with 100% hand-picked regional artists along Saluda's historic Main Street. See a big diversity of art media and enjoy music representing Americana, blues, folk and contemporary. Watch artist demonstrations. Free. 10 AM-4 PM.
Two Rhododendron Festivals (North Carolina and Tennessee versions) are held in the Roan Mountain area! The one in Bakersville NC is Friday & Saturday. In TN, it's Saturday & Sunday.
Parade of Nations
Folkmoot, an international music and dance festival, has its Parade of Nations down Main Street in Waynesville at 10 AM with elaborate costumes. Free to attend.
NOC's Guest Appreciation Weekend
This longtime favorite weekend at Nantahala Outdoor Center main campus near Bryson City features free attractions, live music and entertainment - along with great end-of-season deals.
A sandy oasis of rosebay rhododendron, laurel, and white pine, this waterfall features a small island at the downstream end of its pool—perfect for just the right photo angle. While there are no boulders to lounge on, throw down a towel for some sunbathing in this picturesque spot. Or, go for a swim in the large pool at the bottom of the long, steep slide from the Tuckasegee River, surrounded by dense underbrush.
National Gingerbread House Competition
Sip hot cocoa and stroll through the amazing gingerbread house displays at The National Gingerbread Competition at The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville!
Montford Arts and Music Festival
One of the largest one day free music and arts festivals in Asheville, held on Montford and Soco near downtown, with 100+ vendors of art, crafts and food. Live music. 10 AM-7 PM.
Carolina Bonsai Expo at NC Arboretum
As the premier annual bonsai event of the Southeast, the Expo offers programs for both the bonsai community and general public. It features a juried display of bonsai, a renowned bonsai marketplace, workshops, free demonstrations and more. Free event admission, parking fee.
Apple Butter Festival, Bakersville
Enjoy the sights, smells, and tastes of autumn on the Creekwalk with music, crafts, and homemade apple butter making during peak fall color. Free admission. 92 Crimson Laurel Way. 10 AM-4 PM
Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries
Experience the magic as the charming village is transformed into a winter wonderland of lights, candles, laughter, and song! Shopkeepers provide live music and serve holiday treats with hot cider and cocoa.
Top 50 Summer Festivals & Events
See our list of the best festivals and summer events in Asheville and the surrounding towns and mountains during June-August.
Bluff Mountain Festival
This free, family-friendly festival in Hot Springs (at the spa) features great old-time and bluegrass music, ballads, clogging, square dancing, as well as a silent auction and raffle of regional artwork, local crafts, vacation packages and more. 10 AM to 5 PM. Offers an array of delicious foods, too.
July 4th Week Festivals, Parades, Fireworks
Much is happening throughout the Week of July 4th with many parades and fireworks on Independence Day - in Asheville and many small towns in western North Carolina mountains.
Bridal Veil Falls
While its upper slide and 40-foot free fall may slow to a trickle during the summer, freezing winter temperatures transform it into a curtain of icicles each year, with a mountain of ice forming at the base. This makes for great cold-weather sightseeing, but be sure to proceed with caution along US 64.
Church Street Art & Craft Show
Main Street in Waynesville transforms into an arts & crafts marketplace, one of the finest juried art shows in NC. Also enjoy live mountain music, clogging, entertainment and food. Browse many downtown galleries. Free. 10 AM-5 PM.
Tryon Block House Steeplechase
A festive day with picnics, sundresses, elegant hats, tailgating and the sights & sounds of thoroughbreds thundering past in Tryon, at the longest running steeplechase in North Carolina. The National Steeplechase Association sanctions four of the races.
Toe River Studio Tour
Drive scenic mountain roads to find 100 fine artists and crafts people in every medium at their studios for a free, self-guided cultural adventure in the Penland, Spruce Pine and Burnsville area.
Madison Potters Market
Meet 20+ of the finest potters from Madison County and beyond at Marshall High Studios. This historic high school turned artist studios is on a small island in the French Broad River in downtown Marshall, 25 miles north of Asheville. Enjoy artisan coffee and pastries from a local baker and delicious lunches from one of Asheville's favorite food trucks. 9 AM-4 PM. Free admission.
Dirty Dancing Festival
Fans of the cult-classic Dirty Dancing will relive memories of Baby's first dance in the film’s original, breathtaking backdrop of Lake Lure.
Mountain Dance & Folk Festival
A favorite showcase since 1928, mountain fiddlers, banjo pickers, dulcimer sweepers, dancers, balladeers, and others come together for a showcase of authentic bluegrass music and dancing in Asheville.
New Year's Eve
Head to downtown Asheville for many dining and entertainment choices or go to celebrations throughout WNC. Special events on Jan 1st too. See our top New Year Celebrations and Things to Do.
This festival of flowers celebrates two months of spring blooms that include 75,000+ tulips, orchids, azaleas, and elaborate floral displays inside Biltmore House.
Hendersonville Home for the Holidays
Main Street twinkles with thousands of lights with many festive events including hayrides, tours, ice skating, and fantastic shopping.
Spring Events & Festivals: Top 40
Check out our calendar of the best festival and events in Asheville and western North Carolina in April and May.
Lake Julian Festival of Lights
This drive-thru light show in south Asheville features 50 animated light displays and thousands of colored lights in a lakeside park. $10 per car. 6-9 PM. Tickets must be purchased online.
At this festival, hosted by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Asheville, you can sample some of the traditional foods and pastries (such as lamb shank, pastichio, spanakopita, gyro, souvlaki, and baklava), watch traditional dancing and enjoy the authentic Greek music.
Small Town Christmas, Rutherfordton
Many events along Main Street throughout the day 1-9 PM. Shop sidewalk vendors at the Christmas Market from 1-5 PM and stroll by the storefront windows featuring live interactive displays 2-4 PM. Christmas Parade at 5 PM. Tree lighting at 6:30 PM at Courthouse. All free to attend.
We are one stop shop for family fun in the sun.
Shindig on the Green
Musicians and dancers from across Western North Carolina gather to share the region's Southern Appalachian mountain culture and traditions in downtown Asheville in Pack Square Park. Bring a lawn chair or blanket for the "green."
Thanksgiving Day & Weekend
See things to do on the holiday weekend, including the best restaurants open on Thanksgiving Day. Kick off the holiday season in style!
Art on Main, Hendersonville
Buy from juried fine artists with paintings, clay, metal, wood, fiber, jewelry, glass, and more. The main event is Sat & Sun, 10 AM-5 PM
Blue Ridge Heritage Weekend
Held on the spacious farm grounds of the historic Shelton House and Museum of NC Handicrafts in Waynesville, enjoy a craft fair, Appalachian dancing, tours, music, barn exhibits, food trucks, farmers market, and theatre.
Woolly Worm Festival
Celebrate the coming of the snow season with woolly worm races, live entertainment and lots of food and craft vendors in downtown Banner Elk during peak fall color. Highly popular!
Chow Chow Food Festival
Savor Asheville's creative culinary scene with many events, chef demos, and hands-on experiences. Meet and connect with the makers and collaborators who nourish, nurture and create in our Appalachian Mountains.
There's always plenty to see and do at this free street festival in quaint downtown Black Mountain to celebrate sourwood honey! 200 vendors, crafts, live music, kids' activities and food. Saturday 9 AM-8 PM and Sunday 9 AM-5 PM.
Pow Wow at Cherokee
Experience authentic Indian dancing, drumming and tribal regalia. Dance competitions kick the excitement up even higher. Enjoy crafts, food and fireworks, too.
Liver Mush Festival
Line up for your free Hunter's liver mush sandwich while enjoying live music, hog calling, eating contest, and more in downtown Marion, 5-9 PM.
Pinnacle Park, home of little-known Gina Falls, is just five minutes from the nearest urban area, making it a perfect destination for those who aren’t inclined to go deep into the wilderness, or who simply want a peaceful lunch break. The park’s eponymous natural feature, about a mile and a quarter up from Gina Falls, is well known among frequent travelers of US 23 and US 74. Fed by West Fork Fisher Creek, it features a 35-foot upper drop with cascades below.
Fed by Greenland Creek, this falls features multiple sections of sliding cascades, totaling 45 feet in height. The waterfall’s namesake, Carlton McNeill died at age 86 in 2007 after years of living in and caring for the hiking trails and scenery of Panthertown Valley. It’s hard to find a veteran hiker of the area who doesn’t have a memory of McNeill stumbling out of the woods to give them a hand with their expedition.
Asheville Art in the Park
See and buy fine arts and crafts from dozens of local artists at Pack Square Park in downtown. 10 AM-5 PM.
Downtown After Five
Enjoy live music, food and beer at this big outdoor concert in downtown Asheville. Free admission, 5-9 PM.
Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum
Returning to the gardens this year, the popular show will return to the traditional outdoor walk-through open-air format with glowing landscapes and plenty of new displays. The show will include the 50ft lighted tree, Quilt Garden, many of your favorite lighted designs, and new ones for 2021! We are delighted to be a sponsor of this festive event.
Wood Day at Folk Art Center
Join Guild woodworkers for an exciting day exploring various forms of woodcraft. Featuring the Annual Carve Off Competition. 10 AM –4 PM.
Fire On the Mountain
Come to downtown Spruce Pine to see and buy works from Penland School and nationally-renowned blacksmiths demonstrating their skills. Iron & metal art exhibit, tool and gear vendors, forge-off, food trucks. Free admission. No pets.
Craftspeople at the Folk Art Center share their inspiration and expertise in a variety of textile arts. Saturday demos include quilting and appliqué, doll making, weaving, mixed media fiber arts, clothing, printing design, tapestry weaving and natural dyeing. Two fashion shows on Sunday (Mother's Day)! Free admission.
Odyssey Teen Adventure Camp, Asheville
Get your teens outdoors with activities like rock climbing, paddling, rafting, hiking, mountain biking, and caving at Odyssey Teen Adventure Camp! This teen day camp is designed specifically for rising 9th–12th-grade students who are seeking outdoor adventure, team building, and leadership opportunities. OTAC seeks to nurture a love of the outdoors in high school age campers, as well as help build confidence, strength, skills, and social intelligence. Teen Adventure Camp runs for three weeks from July 11th to July 30th.
Asheville Salt Cave & Spa
Experience a unique oasis in downtown, a salt-enriched microclimate that allows the body and mind to gain relaxation and balance. The power of salt therapy has been known for centuries. Plus, get a hot salt stone massage and other spa treatments. Read more in our full-page feature on the Salt Cave.
Isa's French Bistro
Executive Chef Peter Crockett brings culinary finesse to the table, preparing innovative, seasonally-inspired French cuisine with a local twist. Menu favorites include Escargot & Bone Marrow, Steak Tartare, Scallops Au Poivre, Steak Frites, Lamb Chop, Cedar Salmon Niçoise and Duck A L’Orange. Located downtown, the covered sidewalk patio is great for outdoor dining. Friendly bar and large wine selection. Private dining in The Cellar for groups of 8-120. Complimentary Valet Parking at Haywood Park Hotel next door. Serving Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Weekend Brunch. Sun-Thurs 7 AM-9 PM, Fri/Sat 7 AM-10 PM. 1 Battery Park Avenue.
Tryon Foothills Wine Country
Visit five wineries in the prime isothermal wine growing area in the beautiful foothills near Columbus and Tryon: Parker-Binns Vineyard, Overmountain Vineyards, Russian Chapel Hills Winery, Mountain Brook Vineyard and Green Creek Winery. It's an easy 45-mile drive from Asheville via I-26 East (near SC line).
Give the Gift of Museum-Quality Art, Momentum Gallery
Gift a piece of art, to treasure for a lifetime. Momentum Gallery presents museum-quality works that celebrate material-based traditions rich in our area. The gallery’s collection moves gracefully between style and medium to tell a story of the creative human spirit and reverence for nature. At once diverse and cohesive, everything at Momentum is designed to pique curiosity or challenge perception.
Bryson City, Hometown to Polar Express
Bryson City is extra magical during the holiday season! Each November and December, 90,000 people climb aboard the Polar Express at the Depot and travel to the North Pole. Before or after your train ride, find many nearby shops and restaurants - see why it’s one of our Top Christmas Towns. The town is decked out with garland and holiday lights, with a 50 ft Christmas tree in the town square. At the Visitor Center (255 Main St) kids can enjoy cookies and hot cocoa while they write letters to Santa.
The Omni Grove Park Inn Dining
Asheville is recognized as having one of the strongest most innovative culinary scenes in the country. At The Omni Grove Park Inn, you will find some of the finest, locally-sourced restaurants in town that will delight the foodie in your family. From restaurants to bars to terraces with breathtaking mountain views, there are so many ways to please your palate at this resort. Find an updated list of dining options on their website. 290 Macon Avenue
Huli Sue’s BBQ
Located in Asheville’s historic Grove Arcade, this mouth-watering BBQ & Grill serves up a Hawaiian spin on Texas BBQ. Dine on island time enjoying Hawaiian flavors, fresh fish, Texas BBQ, signature island cocktails, and big country cakes.
Forest City, Hometown Holidays
Our top pick for Christmas towns decks out Main Street with a million lights! The lighting ceremony is on Thanksgiving night (just like those Hallmark movies!). Ride horse-drawn carriages down the street on Friday and Saturday nights. Come for lunch and step back in time with hand-patted hamburgers, cherry Cokes, and milkshakes at the old-fashion soda fountain at Smith's Drugs. Plus, see an impressive classic car collection.
Nantahala Outdoor Center
Nantahala Outdoor Center offers whitewater rafting trips on the French Broad River just outside of Asheville, or just a short drive is 500-acres of family-friendly adventure near Bryson City with over 100 itineraries of river and land-based activities like rafting, kayaking, zip lines, ropes courses, mountain biking, hiking and more. Enjoy riverside dining at two restaurants, shopping at the Outfitter’s Store, and live music all in the Nantahala Gorge.
Book directly through the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association to receive the best rates for unique Inns in Asheville and surrounding countryside and mountains. Stays include historic homes on the National Register of Historic Places, quaint cottages, cabins, rustic lodges, and more.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Take a scenic train ride on excursions along the Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, over the mountains, across valleys, and through tunnels. Choose from a variety of train adventures departing from Bryson City. Many special event train rides including beer, wine, and Polar Express.
The largest downtown in western North Carolina outside of Asheville is filled with historic buildings and updated streetscapes with flowers and art. Find many spots for outdoor dining and a big variety of quality shops and galleries along a six-block stretch of Main Street. Don't miss two street festivals, the Garden Jubilee and the huge NC Apple Festival.
Still Point Wellness Massage & Float Spa
Their unique combination of world-class services, including Salt Water Floatation (sensory deprivation), Esalen Massage®, Cranial Sacral Therapy, and Somatic (body) Psychology, is designed to encourage effortless relaxation and an opportunity to reconnect to your body’s wisdom.
The Spa At The Omni Grove Park Inn
Revitalize your body and rejuvenate your senses at The Spa at The Omni Grove Park Inn. Built into the side of the mountain, this award-winning subterranean Spa brings the outdoors in with breathtaking natural light and stunning rock formations. Whether enjoying a soak in the restorative mineral pools, a transformative full-body massage, or dining at Sunset Terrace, you’ll soon understand why The Spa at The Omni Grove Park Inn is consistently voted as one of the top resort spas in the world.
Still Point Wellness Couples Packages
Experience the benefits of a side-by-side world-class massage with someone you love! Choose from a variety of couples massage services and packages for a unique relaxation experience together. Packages include saltwater floats, world-class Esalen® Massages, massage tutorials, and more.