We’re still a few weeks away from the sun’s highest excursion above the equator as Earth makes its slow wobble around our star. But for many, the summer celebrations (and the ice cream cones!) cannot wait for the solstice—they begin this weekend, in celebration of Memorial Day.
Communities across WNC are holding art tours, beer festivals, concerts, and citywide celebrations. Whether you’re looking for a lazy afternoon on the lake or a pre-cookout activity for the family, there is an event for you. Stay close to home or venture further afield to enjoy at least one of these WNC Memorial Day events.
Asheville Beer Week
WHEN: Tues.–Mon., May 24–30, different events each day
Asheville’s annual celebration of craft beer officially kicks off on Highland Brewing Company’s new rooftop patio on Friday, May 27 at 4:00 pm. Events continue through Monday at breweries across the city, including Asheville Brewing Company, Wicked Weed Brewing, Green Man Brewery, Pisgah Brewing Company, and more. Join fellow beer lovers Saturday from 1:00–6:00 pm on Roger McGuire Green on Pack Square for the 7th annual Beer City Festival, presented by the Asheville Brewers Alliance. Asheville Beer Week also comes to the Thirsty Monk in Biltmore Park on Sunday, May 29 at noon for a special Beer & Brunch featuring Sierra Nevada beers.
Learn more: http://avlbeerweek.com/
Mountain Sports Festival, Carrier Park, Asheville
WHEN: Fri.–Sun., May 27–29
Now in its 16th year, the annual Mountain Sports Festival is a weekend of music and sports that celebrates community, athletics, and local business. The free festival showcases Asheville’s unique terrain, environment, and culture. This year’s event includes an array of musical talent, including the Marcus King Band, who will perform Friday, May 27, at 7:30 pm, as well as local beer and food vendors.
Learn more: http://mountainsportsfestival.com/
White Squirrel Festival, Brevard
WHEN: Fri.–Sun., May 27–29
Brevard loves its white squirrel population! The annual White Squirrel Festival, held annually over Memorial Day Weekend, includes lots of live music, featuring Town Mountain, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, and Sarah Siskind & Sunliner; the 4th Friday Gallery Walk; a street festival with kids activities, arts and crafts booths, and great food; the Squirrel Box Derby; the White Squirrel 5K, 10K, and Fun Run; a Veteran’s Memorial parade and wreath presentation organized by the American Legion; and special events and sales in many of the town’s downtown shops. If that’s not enough for you, festival goers can learn more about the town’s white squirrel population and adopt one to help fund area rehab efforts.
Learn more: http://whitesquirrelfestival.com/
WHEN: Fri.–Sun., May 27–29
The 10th annual Americana Burlesque & Sideshow Festival (ABSFest) celebrates the vaudeville revival through workshops and events in Asheville. Nominated for Best Show in the Mountain Xpress Readers Choice Awards, ABSFest has attracted renowned circus and burlesque artists from across the USA, as well as Scotland, Germany, and Japan. The festival offers fashion, contortion, trapeze, and tease in the true spirit of Vaudeville and an environment that nurtures creativity and empowerment.
Learn more: http://www.absfest.com/
Garden Jubilee, Main Street, Hendersonville
WHEN: Sat.–Sun., May 28–29, 9:00 am–6:00 pm each day
For over 20 years, the annual Garden Jubilee Festival has been Hendersonville’s premier lawn and garden show and one of the largest gardening shows in the Western North Carolina. The two-day, family-friendly festival features more than 260 vendors along Main Street, selling thousands of annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, and hard-to-find plants. Learn tips and tricks, and shop for locally crafted garden art, wind chimes, lawn furniture, garden tools, birdhouses, soaps, pottery, and more.
Kenilworth Art Studio Tour, Asheville
WHEN: Sat.–Sun., May 28–29, 10:00 am–5:00 pm each day
Did you know that the 5-square-mile Kenilworth neighborhood, just south of downtown, is home to more than 40 aspiring and professional artists? Each year, some of these artists open their home studios to art lovers and shoppers alike. This year, the self-guided tour also highlights the recreational and educational opportunities at the Harvest House, which has served as the neighborhood’s creative hub for 50 years.
Learn more: http://www.kenilworthartists.org/
Lake Lure Arts & Crafts Festival
WHEN: Sat.–Sun., May 28–29, 10:00 am–6:00 pm; Mon., May 30, 10:00 am–4:00 pm
The 2016 Lake Lure Spring Arts & Crafts Festival features continuous entertainment in the gorgeous mountain setting of Lake Lure, NC. Enjoy shopping for wonderful art and hand-made crafts from the festival’s more than 80 artisan vendors, as well as great music, dancing, and treats from12 food and refreshment vendors. Held twice annually, the festival has been a Lake Lure tradition since the 1980s.
Learn more: http://www.lakelureartsandcraftsfestivals.com/
Family Fun at Chimney Rock
WHEN: Sat.–Mon., May 28–30, 11:00 am–5:00 pm
Chimney Rock is the perfect place for you and your family to connect with nature. Meet some of Chimney Rock’s residents, possibly including Grady the Groundhog, a red-tailed hawk, or a great horned owl, at the Family Animal Encounters, 2:00 pm Saturday-Monday. A park naturalist will explain each animal’s role in our ecosystem, how they came to live at the park, and lessons on how to help protect wildlife. Then, grab a Track Trail brochure at Grady’s Den and take a hike along our Great Woodland Adventure trail with 12 interactive education stations. Round out your day of family fun with one free climb per person on the Climbing Tower, open 11:00 am–4:00 pm Saturday and Sunday.
Learn more: http://www.chimneyrockpark.com/events/list/
Another Rockin’ BLOCK PARTY, Main Street, Waynesville
WHEN: Sat., May 28, 7:00–10:00 pm
Who can say no to live music and dancing on Main Street? Waynesville’s annual Block Party features three bands: the Blue Ridge Big Band, 96.5 House Band, and Dirty Soul Revival. Eats and treats will be available at the Police S.W.A.T. Food and FUN Stand, and local restaurants will be open throughout the event. Block Party is prefaced by the “Kids on Main” activity hour from 6:00–7:00 pm.
Learn more: http://www.downtownwaynesville.com/calendar.html
Asheville Community Band Concert, Folk Art Center, Blue Ridge Parkway
WHEN: Sun., May 29, 3:00 pm
Michael Robinson directs this free patriotic concert, featuring military music, marches, and wind band favorites. Seating is available inside the Folk Art Center auditorium. Guests are also welcome to bring lawn chairs and picnic outside on the lawn. Blue Ridge Bones makes a special guest appearance.
Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/AshevilleCommunityBand/
Carl Sandburg Folk Music Festival, Flat Rock
WHEN: Mon., May 30, 10:00 am–4:00 pm
Join folk musicians from around the region as they perform folk music inspired by Carl Sandburg’s collection, The American Songbag. The festival’s performers each skillfully demonstrate the tradition of performing live music to tell stories while capturing the heritage of America through song. This year’s event takes on a “Chicago” theme to celebrate the centennial of Sandburg’s first book of poetry, Chicago Poems, published in 1916.