The best part of a long Labor Day weekend is not laboring over anything—except maybe getting that old grill going. Labor Day marks the unofficial end to the summer season, and your last significant respite before after-school activities crank up, tourists rush in to see our beautiful fall colors, and (gasp!—already?) end-of-year holiday plans begin taking shape.
So why not end the season with a celebration? Whether you want to stay close to home or venture farther afield while the weather is nice, there are many entertainment options throughout our mountain towns. Here is a list of Labor Day weekend events in Asheville and WNC.
USEA American Eventing Championships at TIEC
WHEN: Wed, August 30 at 8:00am – Sun, September 3 at 5:00pm
Have you visited the Tryon International Equestrian Center yet? Here’s a great opportunity to see the equestrian triathlon, which tests a rider’s skill more than any other competition. Phases of the competition include dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. See the crowning of the national titles in several levels. Also this weekend is Gladiator Polo on Friday at 8:00pm. Championship and other events for Saturday Night Lights start at 6:00pm. Free admission.
Learn more: tryon.coth.com
71st Annual North Carolina Apple Festival in Hendersonville
WHEN: Fri–Mon, September 1–4, all day
The North Carolina Apple Festival is held annually over Labor Day weekend in Hendersonville. It has been Western North Carolina’s premier family-friendly festival for more than 70 years. Enjoy four days of fun, including one of the most best known street fairs in the Carolinas. There will be freshly picked apples, arts and crafts, festival food, and free entertainment at the Historic Courthouse on Hendersonville’s beautiful Main Street. Don’t miss the King Apple Parade on Labor Day afternoon.
Learn more: ncapplefestival.org
47th Annual Smoky Mountain Folk Festival in Lake Junaluska
WHEN: Fri–Sat, September 1–2, 5:00pm each day
Enjoy two nights of the finest Southern Appalachian traditional music and dance at the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival. The main shows begin at 6:30pm both Friday and Saturday on the grand stage of Stuart Auditorium at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. Both nights will include a rich variety of the region’s finest ballad singers, banjo players, buck dancers, fiddlers, string bands, and square dance teams, as well as the marvelous sounds of bagpipes, dulcimer, harmonica, jew’s harp, saws, spoons, and folk ensembles.
Learn more: lakejunaluska.com
Asheville Tourists vs. Greenville Drive
WHEN: Fri–Mon, September 1–4, game times vary
The Asheville Tourists will be playing at home all Labor Day weekend! See them battle the Greenville Drive, with special promotions each night. Friday is Small Business Night, with $1 hot dogs all night and post-game fireworks. On Saturday, the first 1,000 fans through the gate will receive a gray jersey, courtesy of Aaron’s. Watch the post-game fireworks from your seat or bring a blanket and watch from the field on Sunday. On Labor Day Monday, kids 12 and under eat free during an afternoon game (2:05pm).
Learn more: milb.com/schedule
26th Annual Maggie Valley Arts & Crafts Festival
WHEN: Sat–Sun, September 2–3, 9:00am–4:00pm each day
Artisans from all over the Southeast will be in attendance at Maggie Valley’s largest annual arts and crafts fest. Seasonal items, yard art, paintings, photography, pottery, wooden bowls, furniture, jewelry, goat milk soaps, and more will be featured at the event. Shop a variety of handmade treasures, enjoy chainsaw art demonstrations, and partake of lots of festival food. Free admission and parking.
Learn more: maggievalley.org
Emerald Village Rock Fest
WHEN: Sat–Sun, September 2–3, 9:00am–6:00pm each day
Head out to Little Switzerland for a rocking good time. Activities include gem mining, gold panning, door prizes, exhibits, and special sales. Delicious food will be offered by the Switzerland Cafe. A free kid’s treasure hunt will be held on each day, as well as special guided hikes to a hidden mine, and a Black-Light Mine Tour on Saturday night.
Learn more: emeraldvillage.com
10th Annual Cashiers Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair
WHEN: Sat–Sun, September 2–3, 10:00am–5:00pm each day
The Rotary Club of Cashiers Valley presents ART FOR A CAUSE: two arts and crafts fairs that take place in the spring over Memorial Day weekend and in the fall over Labor Day weekend. Both events showcase some of the finest craftsmen and artisans from the Southeast, displaying pottery, artwork, furniture, quilts, jewelry, clothing, homemade jams and relishes and more. 100% of proceeds from the suggested entrance donation of $3–5 benefits the Cashiers Rotary Club Charities fund. To date, the club has distributed more than $1 million to area charities, schools, and nonprofits.
Learn more: cashiersrotary.org
Labor Day Weekend Family Fun at Chimney Rock
WHEN: Sat–Mon, September 2–4, 11:00am–4:00pm each day
Meet live woodland friends, including possibly a Red-tailed Hawk and Great Horned Owl, during the Family Animal Encounters program at 2:00pm each day. Hear about each animal’s role in the ecosystem, how they came to live at the park, and lessons on what you can do to help protect wildlife. Defy gravity on the Climbing Tower (open 11:00am–4:00pm), then round out the day by enjoying a hike along the Great Woodland Adventure trail with 12 interactive education stations. Cost included with park admission.
Learn more: chimneyrockpark.com
51st Annual Shindig on the Green
WHEN: Sat, September 2, 7:00–10:00pm
Bring your instruments, families, friends, lawn chairs, and blankets to the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Stage in Pack Square Park. Shindig on the Green features a stage show and informal jam sessions around the park. Locals and visitors alike come together downtown “along about sundown” until 10:00pm. Experience the beautiful music and dance traditions of Southern Appalachia on a summer evening in the mountains. Labor Day weekend closes out their 51st season. Free to participate. Concessions available.
Learn more: folkheritage.org/shindigonthegreen
Labor Day Weekend Rummage Sale at CBI
WHEN: Sun–Mon, September 3–4, 8:00am–4:00pm
Come early to this wonderful opportunity to purchase great recycled household merchandise at super prices. The Congregation Beth Israel rummage sale is one of the oldest and biggest sales around. Their treasures amaze customers every year, including art, books, clothes, garden stuff, kids items, and much more. Free parking. Located off Merrimon Avenue near Weaver Park and UNC Asheville.
14th Annual LAAF: Living Asheville Arts Festival
WHEN: Sun, September 3, 11:00am–9:00pm
Asheville, this free, family-friendly festival is for you. LAAF, Living Asheville Arts Festival, is held on Lexington Avenue from the corner of College Street to the intersection at I-240. Celebrate Asheville and all of the city’s unique qualities with local art vendors, fun activities, local food, and a kid’s space. Three stages will be packed with music from Asheville-based bands and performances from Asheville dance, theater, buskers, and more.
Learn more: facebook.com/events
111th Canton Labor Day Festival
WHEN: Sun, September 3, 12:00–9:30pm, and Mon, September 4, 10:00am–9:00pm
Since 1906, the Canton Labor Day Festival has offered food, fun, and entertainment in Sorrells Parks Park in downtown Canton. Billed as the oldest festival of its kind in the South, the festival draws up to 15,000 music lovers over the weekend. Headlining the event this year are the popular bluegrass acts Balsam Range (Mon. 5:45pm) and Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder (Mon. 7:30pm). Additional acts include Joe Lasher Jr., Sam Bush, David Holt, and Chatham County Line. There is also a gospel showcase at 2:00pm on Sunday at the Historic Colonial Theatre, the Papertown Kid’s Village, a vintage car show, and the Labor Day parade at 10:00am on Monday.
Learn more: cantonlaborday.com
Know of additional Labor Day events around Asheville and WNC? Share them with us in the comments.