It is almost impossible to set forth a schedule of year round festivals, fairs, and events because they are always popping up in Asheville and surrounding towns. Despite the difficulty of the task and because Applewood Manor guests deserve it, I have done it anyway. Here is my list (compiled from internet sources) of regularly scheduled annual events.
Asheville Art in the Park (www.ashevilleartinthepark.com) has booths featuring handcrafted art including glass, ceramics, wood, jewelry, and metal. It takes place on three consecutive Saturdays in the last half of June and three consecutive Saturdays in the early half of October in Pack Square Park.
Asheville Fringe Arts Festival (www.ashevillefringe.org) in mid-January focuses on unusual and alternative expressions of dance, performing arts, puppetry, and music. A pass for the festival will cost you $65.
Banner Elk’s Small Town Christmas (https://www.bannerelk.com/latest-news/a-small-town-christmas) is held in the first week of December. The three day event starts on Friday with tree lighting, variety shows, farm tours, rides, etc.
Big Crafty (www.thebigcrafty.com) is a twice-yearly craft bazaar, with music and beer, held in early July at Pack Square Park and early December in the Civic Center. Admission is around $5 for adults.
Brevard Music Festival (www.brevardmusic.org) in the Brevard Music Center in Brevard from mid-June to early August present symphony concerts, chamber music and operas. Some events free, others various admission costs.
Brewgrass Festival (www.brewgrassfestival.com) is held at Salvage Station (468 Riverside Dr.) in early October. Featuring music and craft beers. Admission is $35.
Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest Asheville is held on The Meadow of Highland Brewing (12 Old Charlotte Hwy, Asheville) in April. The festival spotlights more than 20 local food businesses representing cheese, charcuterie, crackers, bread, chocolate, and more. Featured cheesemakers from the WNC Cheese Trail. For a small additional cost, enjoy pairings cheese with beer, wine, and hard cider.
Chow Chow Festival (http://www.chowchowasheville.com) is a culinary event series in August and September to celebrate the food of our Southern Appalachian region in in Pack Place Park and other venues around town.
Christmas at Biltmore from the last week of November through the first week of January you can see America’s largest home decked out in all its festive finery. Evening’s candlelight cast an almost magical experience.
Concerts on the Quad (www.unca.edu) held at University of North Carolina-Asheville, are a “bring lawn chairs or blankets and picnics” free concerts on several Mondays in June and July.
Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands (www.southernhighlandhandicraftguild,org) fills the Civic Center with more than 200 talented craftspeople, members of the Southern Highland Crafts Guild. It is held twice yearly, in mid-July and mid-October.
Dirty Dancing Festival (www.dirtdancingfestival.com) it is a two-day weekend festival in mid-September. It is held at the site used for the movie, 2948 Memorial Hwy, Lake Lure, NC 28746.
Downtown After Five (www.ashevilledowntown.org), draws a big crowd for free local music. Takes place from 5-9 pm the third Friday of the month from May to September at the foot of North Lexington Avenue near the I-240 Overpass.
Downtown Asheville Art District Art Walks (www.ashevilledowntowngalleries.org) are held from 5 to 8 pm the first Friday of the month from April through December.
Drumming Circle (www.ashevilledowntown.org), occurs every Friday night from about 7-10 pm April-October (weather permitting) at Pritchard Park downtown on Patton Avenue, is an authentic Asheville experience, with drumming and dancing.
Festival of Flowers at Biltmore Estate (www.biltmore.com), takes place in late March to mid-May. The event showcases tulips, azaleas, and other flowers in the Biltmore Estate formal gardens and on the grounds.
Fly Fishing Festival (www.greatsmokies.com) is held on a Saturday in early November in Bryson City. Hosted by Tuckaseegee Fly Shop, there are usually more than 20 vendors showing the latest in rods and other fly fishing gear.
Folkmoot USA (www.folkmootusa.org) features dance and folk music groups from different countries. It is held in downtown Waynesville during the last two weeks of July. Various admission fees.
French Broad River Festival (https://frenchbroadriverfestival.com) is an all-weekend festival featuring some of the best music in the area and a number of outdoor events in celebration of French Broad River. The festival takes place on the first Friday through Sunday in October at the Hot Springs Campground & Spa, just 45 minutes north of Asheville
WNC Garlic Fest (www.wncgarlicfest.com) is usually held the first Saturday in October. It features different varieties of garlic from various local farms. The venue is the So True Seed store at 243 Haywood Street, Downtown Asheville. Free.
Goombay Festival is an annual celebration of African and Caribbean culture. The weekend festival in at Pack Place Park.
Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of the Clans (www.gmhg.org) is held annually in mid-July. The event continues over four days on Grandfather Mountain with traditional Scottish Highlands music and Gaelic culture–dancing, piping, fiddling, drumming, athletic events, and sheep herding.
Greek Festival (www.holytrinityasheville.com) is held the last weekend in September to celebrate Greek culture, music, and food. The venue is the grounds of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on Cumberland Avenue in the Montford Historic District of Asheville.
Golden Nugget Drop on New Years Eve is held on Main Street in downtown Marion to watch the giant golden nugget drop into the 10-foot wide eatable donut that you get to sample after midnight. Many activities.
HardLox (www.hardloxjewishfestival.org) focusing on the Jewish culture and food is a one-day festival held on a Sunday in mid-October in Pack Square Park in Downtown Asheville.
Holiday Parade downtown Asheville usually on a Saturday in mid-November kicks off Asheville’s holiday season with marching bands, floats, dance, and theater troupes, walking groups and Santa Claus himself.
Halloween Tours are the perfect way to explore Asheville’s ghostly side. LaZoom Haunted Comedy Tour (https://www.lazoomtours.com/ghost-tours-asheville) will have you laughing and screaming! More serious are tours by paranormal expert and TV personality Joshua P. Warren (http://www.hauntedasheville.com). Haunted History and Murder Mystery Trolley Ghost Tour by Gray Line (https://graylineasheville.com/tours/ghost-tour) provides more than an hour of ghoulish delights across Asheville.
Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF) (www.theleaf.com) occurs twice a year on a weekend in mid-May and mid-October, on 600 acres at the former site of Black Mountain College near Black Mountain. In the tradition of Woodstock, the event usually attracts 12,000 attendees and features more than 50 musicians and musical groups, plus arts, crafts, and poetry. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Single-day adult passes are in the $60-$70 range and weekend adult passes are near $200.
LoveShinePlay Yoga Festival (www.ashevilleyogafestival.com) is held over four days in late July at Pack Square Park in Downtown Asheville. A pass to all events is $250 to $350.
Montford Park Players Shakespeare Festival (www.montfordparkplayers.org) produces six to seven different Bard’s plays per season in Montford Park in North Asheville. Donations are welcomed. The season runs from April through September.
Mountain Dance and Folk Festival (www.folkheritage.org) is the longest-running folk festival in America, having begun in 1928. The three-day event featuring traditional Appalachian music, dance teams and storytelling is held the first weekend in August. The performances are indoors on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Mountain Sports Festival (www.mountainsportsfestival.com) features sports and music. Usually held on Memorial Day weekend in late May. Activity involves martial arts, disk golf, motocross, triathlon, kayaking, bike racing and 5K run.
National Gingerbread House Competition displays amazing gingerbread houses open for view at the Omni Grove Park Inn Wednesday through Sundays from Thanksgiving to early January.
North Carolina Arboretum Festivals (www.ncarboreturm.org) has a variety of events throughout the year, including a weekend show on orchids in late March, a bonsai expo (mid-October), and Winter Lights Festival, in November and December with some 500,000 holiday lights.
NC Mountain State Fair (www.mountainfair.org) continues for 10 days in early September at the WNC Agricultural Center at 1301 Fanning Bridge Road in Fletcher off I-26 near the Asheville Regional Airport.
North Carolina Apple Festival (www.ncapplefestival.org) celebrates Henderson County’s position as the leading apple producer in the state. Held on Labor Day weekend in early September, the Apple Festival takes over Main Street in downtown Hendersonville, with music, craft booths, freshly picked apples, and cooked products like cider and apple pies.
Organicfest (www.organicfest.org) celebrates everything organic. It takes place in Pack Square Park on a Saturday in late August.
Polar Express Train (https://www.gsmr.com/events/polar-express/) of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad runs from mid-November through December. The 1.25-hour round-trip excursion departs the Bryson City depot for a journey over the river and through the woods to the North Pole to pick up Santa.
Ramp Festival is one of the oldest festivals in Western North Carolina and exists for no other reason than to celebrate the odiferous mountain wild onion. But you will find plenty of food, as well as blue-grass and mountain music. It is held the first Sunday in May at American Legion Field, 171 Legion Drive, near downtown Waynesville.
River Arts District Studio Stroll (www.riverartsdistrict.com) is held the second weekend in November. The event includes some 300 artists and craftspeople in dozens of studios and galleries.
River Music & Riverfest (www.riverlink.org) The festival is held in July at New Belgium Brewing at 21 Craven Street in West Asheville. Attendees celebrate the French Broad with local music, river rafting, an “anything-that-floats” parade on the river.
Santa on the Chimney (https://www.romanticasheville.com/chimney_rock_santa.htm) usually held on the first two Saturdays in December has Santa Claus readying himself for clambering down chimneys across the world by practicing on one of the biggest chimneys of all, Chimney Rock! Watch him scale the 315-foot monolith and enjoy other festivities.
Shindig on the Green (www.folkheritage.org) brings traditional mountain music and dancing to Pack Square Park in most Saturdays in July and August. Stage Performance start at 7 pm, weather permitting, but people start jamming an hour earlier. Bring a lawn chair or blanket.
Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest (www.sierranevada.com/oktoberfestnc) takes place on a Saturday in mid-October at the Sierra Nevada craft brewery site in Mills River near the Asheville Regional Airport.
Village Art & Craft Fair (www.biltmorevillage.com) is held the first weekend in August on the grounds of Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore Village.
White Squirrel Festival (www.whitesquirrelfestival.com) is held Memorial Day weekend in Brevard to celebrates the town’s population of white squirrels. It has live music and a soapbox derby.
Woolly Worm Festival (www.woollyworm.com) is held the third weekend in October in the town of Banner Elk.