With the Appalachian Mountains framing a jubilant regional spirit, festivals bubble up year-round.
Mark your calendars for these five must-do celebrations in Asheville:
For Peace and Love All Around: LEAF
The LEAF Festival encapsulates and amplifies the mission of its founding nonprofit, LEAF Community Arts, uniting visitors under the premise of openness, authenticity, expression, and diversity. The family-friendly festival beckons the socially conscious, modern-day hippies and creatives to enjoy the vibe of acts like India Arie, nosh on world-inspired cuisine and snag pieces by local artists.
For Cheers: Brewgrass Festival
The Brewgrass Festival has been satiating beer lovers since 1996:
As Asheville’s original brew fest, it’s amassed a loyal following from the four-time “Beer City USA.â€ The downtown celebration presented over 35 breweries in 2018. The festival sips aren’t the only things with hop – the all-day musical jam presents acoustic acts, roots bands and rockers.
For a Dazzling Display: Winter Lights
Holiday season nights bring magic with their sunsets, when over half a million lights transform The North Carolina Arboretum into an enchanting, twinkling Eden for the arboretum’s signature event. The illuminated magic lasts for two months, dazzling visitors with projected animations, winding toy trains, live music and activities, and sprawling lit landscapes.
For a New Kid on the Block: Chow Chow
There’s a new food festival in town! Come September 2019, Chow Chow – named after the traditional Appalachian relish – hits the circuit with a focus on Appalachian fare. The three-day event puts mountain cuisine on the center table, celebrating its history while also welcoming chefs and collaborators catalyzing its future interpretations. Expect a grand tasting, chef demos and immersive dinners.
For a Stinky Good Time: Garlic Fest
Seeking a PDA-free first date? The annual WNC Garlic Fest bands together regional garlic purveyors to reinvent the way you see – and taste – the pungent bulb. The festival tastings include everything from culinarily sound garlic salts to mind-bending garlic kombuchas and sprinkles. And the best part: You can learn a thing or two through free classes and sit-downs with local agricultural experts, cooks, enthusiasts and more.