Originating from an ancient Scottish dialect, Bele Chere (pronounced Bell Cher) translates as beautiful living. Beautiful living is what you'll find on any given day here in Asheville but especially so during the festival, which celebrates the arts and the beauty they bring to everyday life.
Slated as the largest free street festival in the Southeast, festival goers enjoy complete immersion in the arts accompanied by great local fare and some of the best brews around.
This year's festival begins on Friday, July 27 from noon to 10p.m., continues on Saturday, July 28 from 10a.m. to 10p.m., and concludes on Sunday, July 29 running from noon to 6p.m.
Beginning in 1979, the Bele Chere Festival was born as a collaboration among the merchants of downtown Asheville as they envisioned a necessary revitalization of their downtown business district. Thirty-four years later, the festival continues to draw large crowds centered around the local restaurants, art galleries, retail stores, theatres, and art exhibitions.
Asheville's vibrance and creativity shine during this festival which showcases both local and national artistry.
The Arts Park exhibits jewelry, photography, pottery, woodwork, paintings, and metalwork all of which are handmade. Artists that are not featured in the Arts Park exhibit their works throughout the festival grounds. Many local merchants are on-hand offering unique and hard-to-find items.
Performing arts are highlighted by interactive performances and street entertainers. The Lexington Avenue Performance Area features interactive performances throughout the weekend. Street performers can be found throughout the festival in various locations.
The 2012 Bele Chere featured artist is stone sculptor Collene Karcher, who resides in Bakersville, NC.
The festival offers a variety of music to fill the heart's desire. There is a very full venue of performances scheduled over the three days and throughout its four stages. Peruse the line up and schedule for musical performance details including performer background information, times, and locations.
In addition to all we've already mentioned, there are a variety of other activities happening during the festival.
One of the most popular events is the Purina Ultimate Air Dogs show. Cheer on these athletic dogs as they fly through the air, land in a pool, and compete for the longest leap.
The Children's Area focuses on family fun for the little ones and offers crafts, rides, performances, and so much more. Check out the Children's Area Performance Schedule for a full listing of activities and times.
Asheville's mobile art lab, the Easel Rider, is also offering free interactive activities for all ages.
Other activities include the Bele Chere 5K, karaoke, non-profit booths, and a senior oasis. There is truly something for everyone here.
Food & Drink
As a quickly rising premiere culinary destination, Asheville promotes farm-to-table fare and is actively involved in local food movements. Foodtopia takes place at the Taste of Asheville in Pack Square featuring local restaurants showcasing a sampling of Asheville's finest cuisine. Street food vendors can also be found around the perimeter of Pritchard Food Park.
Beverage booths serving water, soda, beer and more are located throughout the festival. Find out for yourself why Asheville has been voted Beer City USA for four years in a row. The region houses more than 10 breweries most of which can be found represented at the festival. Not into beer? Wine is also available for purchase.
Other Things To Know
Before we wrap things up, here are just a few final thoughts on things you should know when attending the Bele Chere Festival.
Downtown parking is very limited during the festival. Park and Ride shuttle service is available, and the shuttles run approximately every 20 minutes for a cost of $2 roundtrip.
Pets are prohibited within the festival boundaries. Leave them at home or you can leave them at the Doggy Jail (it's not as bad as it sounds...). It's a cool, clean, friendly place located in front of City Hall to leave your pet while you attend the festival.
Sunday is alcohol-free day during Bele Chere. (No, the alcohol is not free.) Alcoholic beverages cannot be sold on this day nor are they allowed to be carried on the streets.
It might be helpful to review the Festival Guide for further information. Or you can visit belecherefestival.com for complete festival information.
Well, we hope you are as excited about the Bele Chere Festival as we are.
Don't forget that there are some perfect downtown Asheville vacation rentals which can make your stay during the festival comfortable, and most of all, convenient.
Have you been to the Bele Chere Music and Arts Festival? If so, be sure to tell us about your experiences in our comment section. Cheers to celebrating and appreciating beautiful living!