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Music, Performing Arts and Festivals

Asheville is home to many live music venues and events that draw local talent and top national performers. On any given night, these venues offer up a diverse musical mix – from folk, bluegrass and mountain music to experimental jazz and rock.

Musical Venues

  • The Orange Peel: This concert hall in the heart of downtown Asheville has earned an international reputation as one of the best live music venues in the country. 

  • Thomas Wolfe Auditorium: This venue is located inside Harrah’s Cherokee Center, but don’t be fooled by the name. Visitors won’t find any casinos here. They will find the Asheville Symphony and a host of other opera, ballet, dance, concerts and sports events. 

  • The Grey Eagle features live music performances by a wide range of locally, regionally and nationally touring bluegrass, rockabilly, jazz, rock, indie-rock, folk and blues artists. 

  • Wortham Center for the Performing Arts: This is a three-venue complex comprising Diana Wortham Theatre, Tina McGuire Theatre and Henry LaBrun Studio.

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Image by Jens Thekkeveettil

Musical Events

  • Shindig on the Green (Summer only): Every Saturday in summer, this free event features  bluegrass music, and dance. Locals and visitors alike gather on blankets and lawn chairs at approximately 7 p.m. to hear the music true to the traditions of Southern Appalachia.

  • Friday after Five (Summer only): Every third Friday beginning in May through September, Downtown After Five provides free live music and entertainment on the street in downtown Asheville. 

  • The Drum Circle: In a not to be missed experience, every Friday night – spring through fall – Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville hosts a Drum Circle. This tradition goes back to 2001 and you’ll find locals dancing and playing music. Bring a percussive instrument, and join the fun!

Fun Festivals - Year-Round!

No matter the time of year, Asheville has a festival to celebrate every season. Some focus on music and food, while others cater to sports and innovation. They’re all dedicated to bringing you joy. Below are some favorites:

Asheville Winter Fests

Asheville Spring Fests

  • Biltmore Blooms: From daffodils and azaleas to tulips and orchids, flowers are clearly the star of the show this time of year. Come see the flower carpet. It’s truly a sight to behold. 

  • Asheville Amadeus Festival: This 10-day festival bringing together some of Asheville’s most talented musicians, artists, brewers and entertainers for a schedule of performances, education programs, collaborations and social events. 

  • GRINDFest: This free, three-day festival celebrates black businesses and entrepreneurship. 

  • Get in GEAR: This fest takes place right along the French Broad River and features a variety of outdoor gear vendors from bikes and hammocks to paddleboards and kayaks. And there are food trucks and music too.

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Image by Taylor

Asheville Summer Fests

  • Asheville IDEAs Fest: It’s basically a four-day intellectually-focused vacation paired with amazing music, outdoor recreation, great food and craft beers.

  • Mountain Dance and Folk Festival: In its 97th year, this festival was created as a way for people to share and understand the beauty and dignity of the Southern Appalachian music and dance traditions that have been handed down through generations. There’s clogging, bluegrass, storytelling and more. 

  • AVL Fest: Music and the arts fill 20+ area concert halls, clubs, and outdoor venues with an exceptional multi-genre lineup of local, regional and national talent. 

  • Brevard Music Center Summer Festival: This is one of the top music festivals in the country. Hundreds of musical events take place over a 10-week period.

Asheville Fall Fests

  • Goombay Festival: Created in 1982, this festival was created to celebrate Asheville’s African American community. 

  • Blue Ridge Pride Festival: This festival promotes equality, safety, and quality of life for western North Carolina’s LGBTQ and allied communities. 

  • Cider Fest NC: Love apples? This is the festival for you. This event showcases a delightful array of local and regional hard ciders, mead, apple wine, and seltzers. 

  • LEAF Festival: One of the cherished traditions for folks across the southeast and beyond this festival takes place during one a weekend in both October and May. It’s well known for its multi-cultural music, dance, arts, and outdoor adventures.

  • Asheville Fringe Arts festival: An annual multiple venue show that has a main goal to develop and showcase emerging and experienced local artists. Most shows have to do with exploring new medias and forms of expressions – outside the mainstream.  

  • Brewgrass Festival: This is Asheville’s original brew fest and features more than 50 breweries as well as national and regional bluegrass musicians.

Performing Arts and Cinema

If its performing arts you’re interested in, Asheville and the surrounding area has many theaters from which to choose. 

Live Theatre 

  • Flat Rock Playhouse which presents the best of Broadway musicals, comedy and drama from May through December. 

  • The Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville is a 500-seat theater hosting more than 150 performances annually by professional touring artists and local arts organizations. 

  • Asheville Community Theatre, the longest running community theater group in Asheville features outstanding productions of dramas, comedies, and musicals. 

  • NC Stage: A small black box theater in downtown Asheville, NC Stage is dedicated to providing an authentic shared human experience.

Cinema

  • Fine Arts Theatre is a magnificently renovated older movie house in downtown dedicated to first-run and independent films. 

  • Grail Moviehouse: Located in the heart of the River Arts District, movie goers are in for a real treat at this independent, locally-owned movie theater that screens art and independent films.

There are new events and festivals being added all the time, so make sure to check Romantic Asheville or Explore Asheville for the most up-to-date information. Of course, your Asheville bed and breakfast innkeepers will also be happy to let you know what’s happening during your stay. 

Image by Jake Hills
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