What are some of the best things to do in Asheville? Surrounded by lush mountains and dotted with well-maintained parks, Asheville draws countless nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts. Its food is representative of various cuisines, ranging from Appalachian to Caribbean, and celebrations throughout the year regularly pay tribute to ethnic culinary traditions.
Of course, Asheville is also known as one of the best beer cities in America – more than 30 exceptional breweries like Wicked Weed, Sierra Nevada, and New Belgium are sprinkled throughout downtown, West Asheville, and the surrounding area. No matter when you’re planning on visiting Asheville, there’s always something fun to do with family and friends. Keep reading to find the perfect festival to attend when you’re in town!
Find Things To Do In Asheville
Asheville In Bloom: Things To Do In The Spring
Spring is one of the loveliest times of year to visit Asheville, NC. While many people come to see the flowers in bloom at the Biltmore Gardens, there are many other ways to enjoy the native flora and fauna.
Biltmore Estate is a popular tourist destination in Asheville, and during the spring season, the estate comes alive with beautiful flowers and gardens. Biltmore Blooms runs from late March to late May and features more than 100,000 flowers in bloom. In 2023, visitors can also enjoy the multisensory Italian Renaissance Alive and Ciao! From Italy art exhibits. Biltmore Blooms is one of the best things to do in Asheville for people whose favorite time of year is springtime!
Asheville Herb Festival
Held annually in May, the Asheville Herb Festival is the largest herb festival in the southeast and has been growing strong for over four decades! It features over 60 vendors selling a wide variety of herbs, plants, and herbal products. In addition to shopping for herbs, plants, and garden supplies, visitors can enjoy live music and attend various workshops focused on cooking with herbs, using herbal medicine, and upkeeping sustainable gardening practices.
There are fun things to do for kids in the form of face painting, interactive gardening, and arts and crafts. The Asheville Herb Festival is one of the best things to do in Asheville for people who aren't afraid to get their green thumbs dirty!
Asheville Orchid Festival
The Asheville Orchid Festival is held annually in April and features hundreds of orchids on display, as well as workshops and seminars on orchid care and cultivation. Guests may purchase orchids for sale from Ecuadorian vendors in addition to U.S. cultivators. Expect to find rare breeds, cutting-edge hybrid orchids, and a range of educational lectures and workshops. Children age 12 and under get in for free admission! The Asheville Orchid Festival is one of the best things to do in Asheville for people with an affinity for rare plants.
Montford Music and Arts Festival
The Montford Music and Arts Festival is a free, family-friendly event held in April in the historic Montford neighborhood of Asheville. Think of this festival as a massive neighborhood block party featuring live music, local artists and craft vendors, and food trucks. The Montford Park Players, Chinese Dragon dancers, and other local troupes make regular performances throughout the day, and you can enjoy tasty ethnic cuisine while admiring the Victorian, Greek Revival, and Dutch Colonial architecture of the surrounding homes. The Montford Music and Arts Festival is one of the best things to do in Asheville for architecture buffs.
Asheville Bread Festival
A festival devoted entirely to bread – is such a thing too good to be true?! Held annually in late April, the Asheville Bread Festival is a celebration of all things bread. You can sample bread from local bakeries, attend workshops on bread making, and enjoy live music and food vendors.
Examples of 2023’s lineup include Introduction to Sourdough Pastry with Regional Flours, Cultured Butter and Yogurt, Spanish-Style Laminated Pastry, and Predicting the Microbes In Our Starters – you bread-der believe this will be a fun event for all culinary enthusiasts! The Asheville Bread Festival is one of the best things to do in Asheville for people who want to learn how to bake their own bread.
Blue Ridge Summer: Fun Things To Do In Asheville, NC
Summertime in Asheville means it’s time to get active (or at least outside)! Musical performances, flights of delicious beer, and wellness-focused events are the centerpiece of Asheville’s warmest season.
Shindig on the Green
2023 marks the 57th season of this free outdoor concert series, which takes place on select Saturday evenings in July and August in downtown Asheville. It features traditional Appalachian music and dance performances by local bluegrass bands, clog dancers, ballad singers, and storytellers.
Just a few years ago, Shindig on the Green was awarded the 2nd place prize for the best “Uniquely Asheville” summer/fall event – come and join the thousands of locals and out-of-towners who travel to Asheville each year for a celebration of mountain music and dance! Shindig on the Green is one of the best things to do in Asheville for people who love learning about Appalachian heritage and history.
Asheville Beer Week – always a favorite thing to do in Asheville
Held in May, Asheville Beer Week celebrates the city's vibrant craft beer scene with tastings, brewery tours, and other beer-related events. Taking place over several days and across some of the best breweries in Western NC, this festival includes beer dinners, educational lectures, film screenings, competitions, and meet-and-greet sessions with local brewers.
Compete at the Battle of the Breweries volleyball tournament at Highland Brewing Company or run in the Beer City 20K relay at Green Man Brewery – there are plenty of recreational activities that will pair well with a flight or two of the best beer in the Southeast! Asheville Beer Week is one of the best things to do in Asheville for people who want to try as many popular Asheville brewery selections as possible!
Mountain Dance and Folk Festival
This festival, held annually in August, showcases traditional music and dance from the southern Appalachian region. The Mountain Dance and Folk Festival is the longest-running folk festival in the country, clocking in at 96 years in the summer of 2023! Hand-clapping, toe-tapping, clogging, and story-telling are just a few examples of performances you’ll enjoy in early August, the themes of which highlight the hardships and tribulations that previous Southern Appalachian generations endured in order to survive.
This celebration of African and Caribbean culture takes place in late August in Asheville's historic Southside neighborhood. The Goombay Festival was created to honor the music and rhythm that enslaved people from Bermuda brought to America from Africa and the West Indies. A “Gombey” is a skin-covered drum, and “Gumbay” is the accompanying dance in Jamaica, where dancers don radiant costumes and elaborate feather-crested headdresses.
“Goombay” is the Jamaican translation for ‘rhythm,’ which you’ll certainly get into as you enjoy performances from drum circles, gospel choirs, and reggae bands. Savor the mouth-watering flavors of oxtail, jerk chicken, and curry goat while perusing an assortment of arts and crafts at the market.
This annual event in July features yoga classes, workshops, and other wellness activities in various locations throughout Asheville. One of the “younger” festivals in Asheville, Love.Shine.Play draws world-class speakers from all over the United States, organizes courses in health and wellness throughout the city, and includes fun activities like stand-up paddleboard yoga on the French Broad River.
When it comes to yoga, attendees can participate in over 70 offerings, ranging from Kundalini, Yin, Vinyasa, and Bhakti yoga. Love.Shine.Play is one of the best things to do in Asheville for people who want to learn more about how to improve their health and wellness while connecting with like-minded community members.
Autumn In Asheville: Fall Foliage And Fun Things To Do
Autumn is one of the best times to visit Asheville, NC. Not only do you get the chance to watch the leaves change to magnificent hues of orange and red, but the fall brings many opportunities to celebrate local heritage, produce, and craft beer.
Asheville Greek Festival
Held annually in September, the Asheville Greek Festival celebrates Greek culture with music, dance, food, and crafts. Sink your teeth into savory traditional Greek dishes like moussaka, spanakopita, souvlaki, and baklava. As you lose yourself in culinary bliss, enjoy the talent of “kalamatianos” Greek line dancing, in addition to other demonstrations of Greek culture and artwork. This family-friendly event is a fun way to experience the rich Greek culture and cuisine of the Asheville area, and proceeds benefit various local community outreach organizations.
North Carolina Apple Festival
Come have fun at one of the biggest festivals in Western NC! The NC Apple Festival takes place annually over Labor Day weekend in nearby Hendersonville, North Carolina. It features local apples, live music, arts and crafts, and a street fair atmosphere. If you’re looking for fun things to do with kids in Asheville, this is easily one of the best festivals for young visitors. Two family fun zones set up various rides and inflatables, which run all weekend long.
All apples on-site are locally-grown, freshly-picked, and available for purchase. From apple cider, apple pie, apple fritters, and apple cider donuts, you can dine on apple-based treats to your heart’s content all weekend. The North Carolina Apple Festival is one of the best things to do in Asheville for people who love any reason to bake with fruit!
The Lake Eden Arts Festival, or LEAF, is a music and arts festival held in October (and May). The fall festival features live music, dance performances, and local crafts and food vendors. Over 500,000 people from more than 100 countries have attended this community-centered festival, which additionally focused on health and wellness. For the 50th anniversary, healing arts workshops include sessions on the language of emotions, somatic self-care, and developing intimacy. Artisans from the area will peddle expertly-crafted furniture, ceramics, jewelry, and mixed media art.
This annual celebration of all things German takes place in late September in downtown Asheville. Asheville Oktoberfest features a large selection of local and regional craft breweries, as well as traditional German beer styles such as Oktoberfest and Hefeweizen. Visitors can sample rare and limited-edition brews that are not available anywhere else.
In addition to the beer, Asheville Oktoberfest features traditional German food such as bratwurst, sauerkraut, and pretzels. There are also food trucks serving festival favorites like funnel cakes, hot dogs, and barbecue. If you dare, compete in hilariously entertaining competitions like the beer stein-hoisting contest, the pretzel toss, and other fun activities that celebrate German culture.
Asheville Art in the Park
Asheville Art in the Park takes place three consecutive Saturdays in October (and June) at Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville, featuring the works of local artists and craftspeople. In addition to perusing the rows of high-quality pottery, sculptures, and paintings, guests can enjoy captivating artist demonstrations, dance to live music and indulge in kid-friendly activities like face painting, art projects, and interactive exhibits.
Spend The Holidays In Asheville: The Best Things To Do In Winter
From enthralling light displays to intense gingerbread house-building competitions, winter in Asheville brings forth a blizzard of fun activities for families, kids, and audiences of all ages.
Winter Lights at The North Carolina Arboretum
The Winter Lights at The NC Arboretum features a mile-long trail of holiday lights and displays and serves as a one-of-a-kind way to get into the holiday spirit! Running from mid-November to late December, 2023’s spectacle features a 50-foot-tall illuminated Christmas tree, a Quilt Garden, and more dazzling light displays! Wait times are busiest on the weekends, so if you can, it is a good idea to arrive later in the evening or during the week. While on-site, make sure to stop off at the Cocoa Shack for a warm winter beverage, as well as the National Geographic Photo Ark photography exhibit.
Winterfest at The Grove Park Inn
This holiday festival is a great reason to book your stay at one of the best hotels in Asheville – the Omni Grove Park Inn. At the Winterfest, you can enjoy seasonal craft cocktails, festive desserts, and live music, in addition to a massive gingerbread house display and a life-sized walk-through gingerbread house! Even Santa himself has been known to make an appearance at this popular event.
Artists will love participating in holiday cooking classes and wreath-making workshops, while more active enthusiasts will relish a chance to don their ice skates, embark on carriage rides, or sit around a crackling bonfire. Winterfest at the Grove Park Inn is one of the best things to do in Asheville for people looking to get into the holiday spirit.
Winter Wonder Walk in Pack Square Park
The Winter Wonder Walk takes place in early December and features local vendors, live music, and holiday cheer. Kids will flock to the outdoor live-action theater, which puts on various performances throughout the month, or a chance to engage in a riveting snowball fight! Jack Frost himself leads an immersive story-walk featuring live characters, holiday lights, and more. Afterward, venture through the holiday market to sip on warm beverages, nosh on tasty holiday treats, and purchase local gifts for your loved ones.
Asheville Ski and Outing Club Winter Carnival
Held annually in January, the Asheville Ski and Outing Club Winter Carnival features ski races, live music, and plenty of winter sports and activities. Much of the high-adrenaline activity takes place at Asheville ski resorts, where guests can zoom down glistening ski slopes. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding are available for those with a slightly lower thrill-seeking capacity, while non-athletic options include a chili cook-off, apres-ski party, and silent auction.
The Asheville Ski and Outing Club Winter Carnival is one of the best things to do in Asheville for people looking to take advantage of all the winter sports offerings the Blue Ridge Mountains have to offer.
Asheville Fringe Arts Festival
We’ve saved one of the most unique Asheville festivals for last! Taking place annually in January, the Asheville Fringe Arts Festival features a wide variety of unconventional and experimental performances, including theater, dance, and music. Performers are known to push the boundaries of traditional art forms, and attendees can expect to observe acts that challenge their perceptions of what constitutes real art. Interactive art installations pop up throughout the festival, and there are various opportunities to mingle with artists if you’d like to learn more about their creative processes.