You wouldn’t know it from the warm spring this year, but we’re still a few weeks away from the official start of summer. For many, though, Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer—a season of grilling, family-friendly events, and outdoor adventures.
To celebrate the season, communities across Western North Carolina 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 2017 Memorial Day events across WNC.
Asheville Beer Week
WHEN: Fri.–Sat., May 26–June 3, different events each day
Asheville’s annual celebration of craft beer officially kicks off at Highland Brewing Company on Friday, May 26 at 12:00pm. Events continue through the following week at breweries across the city, including Asheville Brewing Company, Catawba Brewing, Sweeten Creek Brewing, Zebulon Artisan Ales, and more. Join fellow beer lovers Saturday from 12:00–5:00pm on Roger McGuire Green on Pack Square for the 8th annual Beer City Festival, presented by GSCBA and the Asheville Brewers Alliance.
Learn more: avlbeerweek.com
Mountain Sports Festival, Carrier Park, Asheville
WHEN: Fri.–Sun., May 26–28
Now in its 17th 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 Freeway Revival, who will perform Sunday, May 28, at 4:30pm, as well as local beer and food vendors.
Learn more: mountainsportsfestival.com
White Squirrel Festival, Brevard
WHEN: Fri.–Sun., May 26–28
Brevard loves its white squirrel population! The annual White Squirrel Festival includes lots of live music, featuring Jeff Austin Band, Front Country, and the Jeff Sipe Trio; 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; 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 participate in the White Squirrel Photo Contest.
Learn more: whitesquirrelfestival.com
WHEN: Fri.–Sun., May 26–28
The 11th 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: absfest.com
Garden Jubilee, Main Street, Hendersonville
WHEN: Sat.–Sun., May 27–28, 9:00am–5:00pm each day
For more than 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.
Learn more: visithendersonvillenc.com/garden-jubilee
Kenilworth Art Studio Tour, Asheville
WHEN: Sat.–Sun., May 27–28, 10:00am–5:00pm 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 on Memorial Day weekend, some of these artists open their home studios to art lovers and shoppers alike. This year, the self-guided tour features 19 artists in 14 locations across the neighborhood.
Learn more: kenilworthartists.org
Lake Lure Arts & Crafts Festival
WHEN: Sat.–Sun., May 27–28, 10:00am–6:00pm; Mon., May 29, 10:00am–4:00pm
The 2017 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 80+ artisan vendors, as well as great music, dancing, and treats from 12 food and refreshment vendors. Held twice annually, the festival has been a Lake Lure tradition since the 1980s.
Learn more: lakelureartsandcraftsfestivals.com
Family Fun at Chimney Rock
WHEN: Sat.–Mon., May 27–29, 11:00am–3:00pm
Chimney Rock is the perfect place for you and your family to connect with nature this Memorial Day. Meet some of Chimney Rock’s residents at the Family Animal Encounters, 2:00pm Saturday–Monday. Then, take a hike along the park’s Great Woodland Adventure trail with 12 interactive education stations. Round out your day of family fun by testing your skills on the 32-foot Climbing Tower, open 11:00am–4:00pm.
Learn more: chimneyrockpark.com
Rockin’ BLOCK PARTY, Main Street, Waynesville
WHEN: Sat., May 27, 7:00–10:00pm
Who can say no to live music and dancing on Main Street? Waynesville’s annual Block Party features three bands: Andrew Scotchie and the River Rats, the Flying Saucers, and the Blue Ridge Big Band. Eats and treats will be available at the Police S.W.A.T. BBQ and FUN Stand, and local restaurants will be open throughout the event. Block Party is prefaced by the “Kids on Main” activity hour from 6:00–7:00pm.
Learn more: downtownwaynesville.com
Asheville Community Band Concert, Folk Art Center, Blue Ridge Parkway
WHEN: Sun., May 28, 3:00–5:00pm
This fun-filled, family friendly, all-American free concert features 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.
Learn more: facebook.com/AshevilleCommunityBand
Carl Sandburg Folk Music Festival, Flat Rock
WHEN: Mon., May 29, 11:00am–4:00pm
Join musicians from around the region for the 31st annual Folk Music Festival as they perform songs 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.
Learn more: nps.gov/carl
Photo from Asheville Beer Week 2016 Courtesy AVLBeerWeek.com.