Touted as the “First Peak of the Blue Ridge,” Polk County has long welcomed flatlanders to a higher altitude. Thousands of visitors flock to the area’s foothills each season to enjoy the rich history, culture, crafts, vast natural areas, and unique culinary traditions.
If you’ve never been to any annual community events in Polk County, make 2023 your year! Here is a list of our ten favorite annual festivals and events in Polk County.
Winterfest Village at TIEC
Mid-November 2023–Mid-February, 2024 | TIEC
Drive through hundreds of thousands of lights animated to music at the nightly Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland show (mid-November through January 1). Winterfest Village, the highlight of Tryon Resort Winterfest, takes place Thursdays–Sundays starting December 1. Winterfest Village is free to attend and features live performances, concessions and shopping, dining, an evening parade, and more. Buy tickets to enjoy the giant ice slide, carousel rides, bounce house, bucking horse rides, and visits with Santa. An ice skating rink in the famed Tryon Stadium is fun for the whole family and open from Thanksgiving through the end of the season.
Learn more: tryon.com/page/winterfest
Gardening for Life Celebration
March 4, 2023 @ 1:00 PM | Polk County High School
Celebrate nature in the Carolina Foothills and beyond. This free community event features educational exhibits, resources, and organizations promoting healthy habitats. Learn how every one of us can make a difference to improve, protect, and preserve healthy habitats. It all begins right in our own yards. Dr. Doug Tallamy, New York Times bestselling author of Bringing Nature Home and Nature’s Best Hope gives this year’s keynote speech.
Learn more: gardeningforlifeproject.org
Tryon Super Saturday
March 18, 2023 | Tryon
Also known as the Children’s Theater Festival, Tryon Super Saturday is a one-day festival of “lively arts” for children. Kids can enjoy eight to ten different performances, encompassing dance, mime, music, puppetry, storytelling, theater, and more.
Learn more: tryonsupersaturday.com
18th Annual Saluda Arts Festival
May 2023 | Downtown Saluda
One of the city’s premier community events, the Saluda Arts Festival draws thousands of area residents and visitors to shop and enjoy a spring day in the mountains. This small-town festival offers big-time fun, with an outdoor market of arts and crafts vendors, demonstrations, and live music. Come out to see approximately 90 artists from the Carolinas and Tennessee. You can also enjoy children’s activities and live music.
Learn more: saluda.com/saluda-arts-festival
24th Annual Summer Tracks Concert Series
June–August 2023 @ 7:00–9:00 PM | Rogers Park Amphitheater, Tryon
Summer Tracks is a free community concert series, although a voluntary donation at the gate is encouraged. The popular and well-attended series attracts people from all over the region. Last year, the concerts drew an estimated 2,000 people to Downtown Tryon. Local vendors often have food available for purchase. In case of rain, the events move indoors to the Tryon Fire Department across the street from the park entrance.
Learn more: summertracks.com
Top of the Grade Concert Series
Fourth Fridays, June–August 2023 @ 7:00–9:00 PM | Saluda
Bring your own chairs or blankets to the Ella Grace Mintz Stage in McCreery Park for this free public concert series! No food will be available at the park, but you are allowed to bring food, soft drinks, beer and wine, and coolers. And all of Saluda’s restaurants will be open, serving everything from hamburgers and pizzas to gourmet meals. Events are rain or shine, so bring an umbrella if rain is in the forecast. In some cases, rain events may move to the park’s Pavilion.
Learn more: saluda.com/top-of-the-grade-concert-series
NC Foothills Farm Tour
Mid-October 2023 | Polk and Rutherford Counties
The NC Foothills Farm Tour is an educationally intensive session that’s open to everyone. Bring everyone in the family to support local food producers and community builders. At four locations in Polk and Rutherford Counties, visitors spend some time with the farmers themselves and really get a close-up view of how their farm operations work. $5.
Learn more: ncfoothillsfarmtour.com
12th Annual Tryon Beer Fest
November 4–5, 2023 | Historic Tryon Depot
Tap into Tryon’s craft beer scene! Enjoy an array of local and regional craft beers, along with authentic German food, delicious BBQ, pretzels, sweet treats, fun games, and more. Two live bands provide continuous music for your listening and dancing pleasure! Admission tickets get you unlimited beer and wine samples. All proceeds from this event will go to projects to improve downtown Tryon, with a portion also going to a local charity.
Learn more: tryonbeerfest.wordpress.com
Tryon Christmas Stroll
December 1, 2023 @ 5:00–8:00 PM | Tryon
Come out to eat, play, and shop in Downtown Tryon as the town prepares for the most wonderful time of the year! Enjoy holiday performers and shopping. And don’t miss Tryon Traditions: the lighting of the downtown Christmas tree and the placing of the wreath on Morris the Horse!
Learn more: downtowntryon.org/events
Saluda Hometown Christmas
December 2023 | Downtown Saluda
Everyone is invited to Saluda’s annual free Hometown Christmas! The main event in McCreery Park features music and entertainment provided by local talent. Park visitors can also enjoy laser lights, a campfire for roasting s’mores, a toy donation box, and a Christmas carol sing-along. Elf stations will be located along Main Street providing free goodies and hot beverages for strollers. And keep an eye out for Santa—he always drops by! Following the stroll, Saluda churches present an ecumenical service in the park.
Learn more: saluda.com/hometown-christmas
Live Abundantly in Polk County
Polk County has a history as rich as its entertainment scene. But locals also appreciate it for its outstanding natural features and proximity to iconic destinations. The county has elevations ranging from just under 800 feet at the Green and Broad Rivers to over 3,200 feet on Tryon Peak and Wildcat Spur. Most of Polk’s 20,000 residents cluster near the county’s three main towns of Saluda, Tryon, and Columbus. Tryon International Equestrian Center, a sprawling, $100-million equestrian center and luxury resort, operates nearby in Mill Spring.
Does that sound like the perfect lifestyle for you? Find your dream home in Polk County now!