11 festivals to catch this spring + summer near Asheville, NC

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Camping at LEAF Festival | Photo courtesy of LEAF Community Arts

Can you feel it in the air? Festival season is returning to Asheville this spring and summer, and there is a palpable sense of elation around town. Laura here, and you best believe the second I’m fully vaccinated that I will be throwing on my flowiest pair of pants + funkiest dancing shoes and diving headfirst into the festivities. To make it easy for you to join in on the fun, we rounded up a list of regional festivals that will be returning (or debuting) in the Asheville area for 2021.

Music 

LEAF Retreat | 📆 May 13 – 16 |📍Black Mountain |💸 $116+ | This iconic local camping festival, which is operating at one-fifth of its regular crowd capacity this season, features culturally diverse music, workshops, panel discussions + other activities at the magical Lake Eden campground. Note: LEAF membership is required to purchase a ticket.

SpringSkunk Music Fest | 📆 May 13 – 15 |📍Greer, SC |💸 $50+ | A camping festival nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains that features bluegrass, Americana, folk, and alt country artists such as Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters, Tyler Ramsey, Jon Stickley Trio + more. Peep the full lineup here.

Psychedelic Jam Fest | 📆 June 11 – 13 |📍Asheville, Sly Grog Lounge  |💸 $90 | Explore the educational aspects of psychedelics with music, art, dancing, and live visuals from local artists and musicians.

AsheJam Music Festival | 📆 June 25 – 27 |📍Asheville, WNC Ag Center |💸 $20+ | This 3-day festival is put on as part of the Southern Atlantic Hemp & Arts Expo and features an impressive lineup of funk, jam bands, bluegrass + Americana, including Perpetual Groove, Mad Professor, Interstellar Echoes, and more

LEAF Downtown | 📆 Aug. 27 – 28 |📍Downtown Asheville |💸Free | A joyful celebration of Asheville’s rich local music tradition that includes soul, old time, folk, hip hop, Americana, blues, Appalachian roots, and new music by up-and-coming artists. Stay tuned for the lineup drop

Photo courtesy of Folkmoot

Arts + Culture 

Memorial Day Weekend Festival of the Arts | 📆 May 29 – 30 |📍Asheville, Pack Square |💸Free | Stroll and shop a selection of jewelry, paintings, glasswork, sculpture art + more. 

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games | 📆July 8 – 12  |📍Linville |💸$15+ | Immerse yourself in the spirit of the Scottish Highlands with 4 days of bagpipes, kilts, dancing, Celtic music, traditional athletic competitions + much more. 

Folkmoot Ethnic Festival | 📆July 22 – 25 |📍Haywood County |💸Free | Celebrate dance, music, storytelling + cultural exchange at this shorter and outdoor-oriented version of this historic festival.  

Greening up the Mountains| 📆 Aug. 28 |📍Downtown Sylva |💸 Free | This annual festival celebrates Mother Earth and the changing colors of the mountains with a 5K run/walk, live music, vendors + a traditional heritage walk for crafters. 

Photo courtesy of Asheville Herb Festival

Miscellaneous

Asheville Spring Herb Festival | 📆May 1 – 2 |📍Asheville, WNC Ag Center  |💸 Free | Known as the largest herb festival in the Southeast, this event showcases plants, books, soaps, herbal crafts, medicinal herbs, dried flowers, baked goods + much more. 

Chow Chow Culinary Festival | 📆June 27 – Sept. 26 |📍Asheville |💸 $15+| This homegrown culinary extravaganza celebrates the region’s unique community of creators, and will include greats like Filipinx chef Silver Cousler, Ashleigh Shanti, and Cooking with Comedy’s Clarence Robinson. Check out our recent preview of the event here.