Western North Carolina is rich in beauty, culture, history, and festivals that happen to celebrate all of those things. Whether you’re looking for music, great beer, dancing, crafts, or any array of things, your festival needs will be met. Check out this list of 2013 festivals conveniently located within 45 minutes of Asheville, and find which one (or three) fulfills your heart’s desires.
June 14-15: WNC Highlands Celtic Festival This festival celebrates all things Celtic with live Celtic music, dance, vendors, Highland Brewing beer, and camping. The festival will be held at the Asheville Outdoor Center on Amboy Road. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate. Children 12 and under get in free.
June 15: Bluff Mountain Festival Come out to enjoy live music, dance, art, raffles, food and a silent auction at Hot Springs Resort and Spa for the annual Bluff Mountain Festival. Admission is free and the event is alcohol-free and family friendly. The fun begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 7 p.m.
June 15: AVL Father’s Fest 2 This Father’s Day festival honors the relationship between fathers and their children from noon to 6 p.m. It will be held at Highland Brewing on Old Charlotte Highway. Advanced tickets are $12.50 per family of four and $18 per family of four at the door. Children under three get in free.
June 23: Bearwallow Beast 5K and Festival Come out and run for a good cause or just enjoy live music from Brushfire Stankgrass, good beer, and tasty food in a family-friendly atmosphere less than 30 minutes away in Gerton. Register to participate in the trail run until June 20.
July 6: Coon Dog Day Festival The 50th celebration of dogs and their people starts with a 5K run through downtown Saluda, located 40 minutes from Asheville. The rest of the day will feature local food and craft vendors, live music, dance, and a parade. The only cost is $10 for parking per car with shuttles going to and from the festival.
July 13-14: Bamboo Festival This two-day festival located at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville features educational and fun workshops, lectures, and demonstrations about the functional and artistic value of bamboo. Vendors will also sell bamboo crafts and products. Admission is free for Arboretum Society members and $8 for parking per car for nonmembers.
July 17-28: Folkmoot USA
Celebrated annually since 1984, the name Folkmoot, an Old English word meaning “meeting of the people,” was borrowed from a folk festival that was once held in England. Today it is known as the international festival of North Carolina and celebrates the world’s cultural heritage through folk music and dance. Performance groups for 2013 will come from France, Martinique, Thailand, Japan, Slovakia, Mexico, Canada, and Paraguay. Schedules and ticket information can be found online.
July 26-28: Bele Chere The Southeast’s largest free music and arts festival is, in fact, returning this summer for the 35th year. Come out to enjoy a wide range of music, art, food, and shopping, all while supporting local businesses in downtown Asheville.
August 1-3: Mountain Dance and Folk Festival Celebrate this 86th annual festival featuring some of the area’s best folk musicians and dancers. Performances are Thursday through Saturday at Diana Wortham Theatre at Pack Place in downtown Asheville. Tickets are $20 per day for adults and $10 per day for children 12 and under. Ticket packages for all three nights are $54 for adults and $24 for children.
August 8-11: Wild Goose Festival Only 2,000 tickets are available for this festival located 45 minutes away at Hot Springs Resort and Spa. The Wild Goose community encourages creative and religious expression with great music and inspiring educational speakers. Tickets can be purchased on its website at wildgoosefestival.org/tickets.
August 10-11: Sourwood Festival Located in downtown Black Mountain, this alcohol-free festival features music, dancing, food, arts, and crafts all in a family-friendly environment. To top it all off, the 36th annual edition of this festival is free.
August 13-17: Laugh Your Asheville Off Comedy Festival This seventh-annual stand-up comedy event has grown dramatically since its beginning and attracts many top comedy talent scouts. The festival, located in various locations in downtown Asheville, encourages a noncompetitive nature, as the producers believe comedy shouldn’t be judged but purely enjoyed. Come to the largest comedy festival in the Southeast for entertainment and laughs. Tickets will be available soon.
August 22-24: Asheville Wine and Food Festival Enjoy Asheville’s renowned culinary culture and witness some friendly competition between the best chefs in the area. The festival begins on Thursday with Elixir, where attendees can sample unique cocktails created by local bartenders. On Friday, attendees can sample desserts and all things sweet that Asheville offers. The festival ends on Saturday with the Grand Tasting at the U.S. Cellular Center. Tickets are available on the website.
August 22-25: Founders Celebration Taking the place of Goombay, the annual African-Carribean street festival sponsored by the YMI Cultural Center, the first Founders Celebration will commemorate the 120th anniversary of the YMI. Taking place in and around the historic cultural center at 39 South Market Street, the celebration will offer a block party, history program, 5K run, and a gospel concert. YMI Chair Sharon West says a music and arts festival will return in 2014, although it may not carry the Goombay name.
September 1: Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival This free street fair commonly known as LAAFF showcases all things Asheville from local art, food, music, and performance all in one day on one street in downtown Asheville. This will be the 12th year for the festival, which has grown into the largest independent street fair in Asheville.
September 20-23: Equinox The 10th annual T.O.U.C.H. Samadhi Psychedelic Music and Arts Festival will be held again at Deerfields, a 940-acre retreat 15 minutes from Asheville. The festival showcases the thriving psychedelic music scene in the area with three days of live music, camping, workshops, food, and fun. Tickets are currently $75 until Sept. 1 and will be $85 at the gate.
September 21: Brewgrass Festival From 1 to 7 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Asheville, come out to enjoy the best pairing since peanut butter and jelly: beer and bluegrass. Tickets will go on sale June 15 at 10 a.m. More than 40 breweries will showcase their beers and some of the best bluegrass musicians in the area will perform.
October 10-13: Three Days of Light This festival, located at Hot Springs Resort and Spa, encourages a focus on sustainability, co-creation, creativity and representation of multiple cultures all in the name of creating a better world. More than 50 live bands, DJs, and performances and more than 50 workshops of all shapes and sizes are included in the price of admission. Pre-launch tickets are currently $75 for general camping and $55 for volunteers who commit to 24 hours of service to the festival.
October 12: Oktoberfest The Asheville Downtown Association’s fourth-annual Oktoberfest will be held on Wall Street and will feature beer tastings from some of the city’s favorite breweries. Live music, a costume contest, and German cuisine will accompany the beer tastings from noon to 6 p.m. Tickets for the festival are $25 in advance and $35 the day of the event.
October 17-20: Lake Eden Arts Festival More commonly known as LEAF, this biannual festival, begun in 1996, is held each spring and autumn at Camp Rockmont in Black Mountain. With a limit of 6,000 people on the grounds this four-day festival of music and arts is recognized across the country as being a top small festival. The idyllic surroundings make it perfect for families. From poetry slams to top-notch musical acts to arts, crafts, food, and dancing, this event offers something for everyone.
October 25-27: Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit With a solid and eclectic music lineup from some of the most innovative musicians in the world, Mountain Oasis promises not to disappoint. The festival will be held in multiple venues in downtown Asheville within walking distance of one another, and is produced by the same AC Entertainment responsible for Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and Moogfest. Tickets are available online at mountainoasisfestival.com/tickets.
November 7-10: Asheville Cinema Festival The mission of this festival is to bring independent and lesser-known films that many theaters will likely not show. Attendees can come out and enjoy award-winning films they might not otherwise see in an educational and enriching environment with workshops from film industry experts.