Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Labor Day Holiday Highlights & Events in Asheville

Photo Submitted by Denise Knoppel
We are gearing up (and oh so ready) for the Labor Day holiday and the chance to enjoy a nice long weekend. Are you?

Have you made any travel plans yet? It's not too late to make plans to come to Western North Carolina. 

Asheville and the surrounding areas offer a plethora of fun and adventure for everyone of all ages and interests. 

This is true on any given day, but with Labor Day on the horizon there's even more to see and do.

We don't have time or space here on this blog to tell you everything (though we'd love to), but we'd like to give you some of the highlights. Here we go.

Labor Day Weekend Event Highlights for Asheville and Western NC (in no particular order):
  •  2012 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup #2 at Nantahala Outdoor Center Adventures: From Tuesday, August 28 through Thursday, August 30, world-class freestyle comes to the Pigeon River at the Grove Park Inn. The competition is fierce and visitors can see all of the action firsthand for free! Visit the website for event times.
  • Foreigner Performs on the South Terrace of the Biltmore: Sing along to your favorite hits by this epic band while taking in the stunning surroundings. Concert begins at 8p.m. on Saturday, September 1. Tickets run from $55-$70 and can be purchased in advance here. Don't forget to check out the remaining performances slated for the Biltmore Concert Series.
  • Labor Day Beach Music Weekend at the Grove Park Inn: Celebrate Labor Day on a grand scale at one of the hottest annual happenings in Asheville where music and mountains meet. In addition to live beach music, enjoy a coastal seafood buffet, dance, and all sorts of fun family activities to help bring in the Labor Day holiday with style. Join in shag dance lessons, pool games, crafts, and grilling demonstrations. Festivities run from Saturday, September 1 through Tuesday, September 4. Don't worry, you don't have to stay at the Grove Park Inn (unless you want to) to partake in the celebration. You can find other Asheville and Western NC accommodations here. Visit the event website to purchase individual event tickets. 
    Photo Submitted by Stefani Pereira
  • Shindig on the Green in Pack Square Park in Downtown Asheville: It's the last weekend for Shindig on the Green in 2012. On Saturday, September 1 bring blankets and lawn chairs (as well as some instruments) for this stage show and jam session. Be ready to experience the music and dance traditions of Southern Appalachia. The event begins near sundown, usually around 7p.m. It's free, and a lot of fun.
  • Wild Things Weekend at the Pack Place Education, Arts & Science Center in Downtown Asheville: On Saturday, September 1 from 10a.m.-5p.m. experience a one-of-a-kind family event featuring live animal shows, award-winning films, and a wide range of exhibits from local businesses, environmental educators, and conservation groups. A $5 donation per person supports Wild South's wildlife education initiatives and is greatly appreciated.
  • Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival (LAAFF) in Downtown Asheville: Lexington Avenue shuts down once a year for this large, independent street fest. Enjoy wild street performers, unique artwork, a wide variety of music, and tons of fun. LAAFF runs from Saturday, September 1 through Sunday, September 2 from 11a.m. to 10p.m.
  • CLAP! Asheville Live Arts Performance Festival in Downtown Asheville: More celebration of the arts can be found throughout various locations in downtown Asheville this weekend from Friday, August 31 through Wednesday, September 3. Some of the best of the city's arts groups are set to perform, so don't miss out. It's another free event that's sure to please. Visit the website for locations, times, and performance schedules.
  • Concert in the Park at Biltmore Park Town Square: This free concert series is open to the public and occurs from 7-9p.m. on Saturday night, September 1. The Kay Williams Trio are the featured performers for that night. Bring a blanket and some friends and enjoy the music in Cecil Park.
Photo Submitted by Kat Marcotte
We hope this helps with your planning. Don't forget that you can find a comprehensive listing of local events at the website ExploreAsheville.com.

We'd love to see you here this weekend. If you've spent the Labor Day holiday in Western NC in the past, tell us what you did, what you saw, and what was your favorite.


 If you're planning to be here this weekend, tell us about your plans. Our comment section is always open and we enjoy hearing from you. Happy Labor Day!



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Asheville Wine & Food Festival: A Real Palate-Pleaser

Asheville, North Carolina often garners a lot of attention and recognition in many aspects of travel and leisure. 

It is not surprising that Asheville was chosen as a Travelers’ Choice Food and Wine U.S. Destinations award winner last year by the world's largest travel site, TripAdvisor. (These winners were determined based on the most highly rated food and wine destinations by travelers in TripAdvisor reviews.) Also of no surprise is that Asheville was recently recognized by The Huffington Post as a one of the Top 10 Undiscovered Local Food Cities.

It only takes one visit to Asheville to discover that great local fare and spirits abound throughout the city's farm-to-table eateries and watering holes. However, visit us this weekend and you'll find a perfect combination of food and wine (along with so much more) all in one place.

Premiering in 2009 and continuing to be a local favorite, the Asheville Wine & Food Festival pleasantly pairs fine local, regional, national, and international wines (as well as craft beer and other spirits) with the extraordinary local fare of area restaurants resulting in three days of tickled taste buds. The Asheville Wine & Food Festival runs from Thursday, August 23 through Saturday, August 25. This event, recognized by the New York Post as one of the best of its kind, is held in the heart of the downtown Asheville.

Here are the highlights of each of the festival days:

Thursday, August 23
  • WNC Final Chefs' Challenge runs from 6:30-10:00p.m. where the Lexington Avenue Brewery's team of chefs vs the Inn at Biltmore Estate's group compete for top honors.
  • Ticketing information can be found here. Don't wait too long; there are only 100 seats available. Price includes a six-course meal (three from each of the teams), two adult beverages, as well as tax and gratuity.
Friday, August 24
  • SWEET presents desserts first at the festival from 7:30-10:00p.m. at the Grove Arcade. Indulge your sweet tooth as you sample locally made decadent desserts and confections as well as champagnes, specialty cocktails, and dessert wines. Enjoy elegant live music and peruse the shops of the Grove Arcade, too.
  • Ticketing information and further details can be found here.
Saturday, August 25
  • The Grand Tasting offers VIP admission from noon-5:00p.m. and general admission from 1:30-5:00p.m. This event showcases the area chefs, wineries, farmers, and artisan food producers and allows guests to sip, sample, and shop their way through its culinary delights. (It's also a great time to plan ahead for the holiday season and take advantage of the opportunity to purchase some unique gifts.)
  • Ticketing information and varying admission costs can be found here.

We hope you'll be here with us this weekend! We'd love to see you. Don't forget, there are always convenient places to stay right in downtown Asheville to make your trip even more enjoyable.

If you're planning to go to the Asheville Wine & Food Festival or have gone in the past, tell us about in our comment section. Bon App├ętit!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Laugh Your Asheville Off: The Largest Comedy Festival in the Southeast Returns to Western North Carolina

It's another great week to be vacationing (or better yet, living) in Western North Carolina. As summer begins to wind down, the fun does not. As the old saying goes: "Laughter is the best medicine." We believe that and would love for you to come on out to Asheville this week and get a full dose. It's just what the doctor ordered.

Downtown Asheville hosts the 6th Annual Laugh Your Asheville Off Comedy Festival this week from August 14 through August 18. Considered to be one of the largest and most respected stand-up comedy events in the country, the festival prides itself on focusing on pure comedy and the art (and artists) of stand-up comedyand the enjoyment of both. This festival does not focus on competition. 

The event is a big draw not only the public, but also for the top comedy producers and representatives who come to the festival to scout out fresh new comedic talent. Tickets to this event sell-out quickly, so don't wait too long to get yours.

Last Comic Standing producer Charlie Gerencer and New York Times best-selling cookbook author and stand-up comedian Greg Brown team up to produce the festival.

The comedy lineup occurs in various locations throughout downtown Asheville. Venues include the Highland Brewing Company, The Pulp at the Orange Peel, Diana Wortham Theater at Pack Square, the Altamont Theater, and the Lexington Avenue Brewery. Plan to see one or plan to see them all, the choice is yours.

Stand-up comedians featured on the lineup include Matt Fulchiron, Seaton Smith, Nate Craig, M. Dickson, Ryan Singer, Tim Northern, and Tom Simmons. You can visit the Laugh Your Asheville Off Comedy Festival website for more information. Click on the Festival Lineup tab for days, times, locations, and comedian bios. Ticketing information and pricing are also available on the website.

Plan to stay in Asheville and be close to the comedy circuit as it comes through town while also enjoying the local restaurants, coffee houses, unique shops, art museums, and all that Asheville has to offer. As you plan your stay, be sure to visit ExploreAsheville.com's events calendar to find out about all of the fun things to do while you're here.

If you've been to the Laugh Your Asheville Off Comedy Festival in the past, tell us about it in our comment section. We'd like to know who you saw, who made you laugh, and who made you laugh until you cried.

In the meantime, we'll leave you with a line from one of our favorite Southern comedians:

"I've never been jealous. Not even when my dad finished fifth grade a year before I did. " ~ Jeff Foxworthy

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Three (Free) Fun Things To Do in Western North Carolina This Weekend!

Western North Carolina welcomes its visitors to a place chock full of natural beauty, mountainous views, culturally rich festivals and events, outdoor adventure, and so much more. On any given day in the unique and diverse towns of this part of the state, endless opportunities abound for exploration, education, and adventure.

This weekend is no different. We'd like to point out a few of our local highlights you'll find in the Asheville area and beyond. We hope you get to experience one or more of them.

Here are three fun things to do this weekend in Western NC
(and don't forget, they're free!):


1. RiverFest 2012, Asheville. Come on out for some fun in, on, and around the French Broad River. This annual event occurs on Saturday, August 11 from 1-7p.m. at the French Broad River Park on Amboy Road in Asheville. A highlight of this event is the Anything That Floats Parade where groups from around Western NC put together watercraft of any and all kinds (as long as it floats) and parade them by the festival grounds. The rules area simple: they must float and must be powered by wind, solar, or strength (no motors allowed). They must also be removed from the grounds upon completion of the race. There is also live music, a ton of fun activities for the kids, and a little something for everyone. No festival would be complete without some refreshing, cold beer provided by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company... and food, lots of food. Full details including a schedule of events can be found here.

2. 35th Annual Sourwood Festival, Black Mountain. Get ready for some great fun, great mountain cooking, and great music on Saturday, August 11 and Sunday, August 12. Held every August, this festival is popular among locals and visitors alike. Gather up your friends and make a day of it. For more details, contact the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce at 828.669.2300.

3. War Comes to the Mountains, Weaverville. OK, war is not fun... but living history is. That's what you'll experience here as you embark on the adventure of everyday life as a Civil War soldier during this encampment of Company F of the 16th North Carolina Regiment. Located at the Zebulon B. Vance (North Carolina's Civil War govenor) Birthplace State Historic Site on 911 Reems Creek Road in Weaverville, visitors get to experience two days of living history at this event from 10a.m. to 4p.m. on Saturday, August 11 and Sunday, August 12. Sample some army rations, get a feel for a musket on your shoulder, or try on a knapsack. Admission is free, but donations are always welcome.

Do you need a place to stay while you're attending one or more of our events? Take a look at our interactive vacation rental location map to find the perfect place to stay convenient to where you want to go and what you want to do.

What is your favorite Western North Carolina festival, event, or activity? Tell us about it! We always love hearing from you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Great Music with Great Views at the 16th Annual Biltmore Concert Series in Asheville

Are you looking for a nice evening out during your stay in Western North Carolina? Come on out to the city of Asheville and listen to some of your favorite award-winning artists as they perform under the stars and against the gorgeous backdrop of the Biltmore and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Biltmore Estate's Summer Evening Concert Series takes the stage (actually, takes two stages) beginning in the month of August. The concerts are hosted in two venues: the South Terrace and the new Diana at Biltmore, which is a more intimate setting nestled on the vista overlooking the Biltmore House.

Big names in a variety of musical genres are slated to perform including the Steve Miller Band, Peter Frampton, Foreigner, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, KC and the Sunshine Band, the Village People, Alison Krauss & Union Station, The Gatlin Brothers, and more. See the Biltmore's Summer Evening Concert Series schedule for the full list of performers, performance dates and times, and ticketing information.

Music lovers, be sure to take note that these concerts tend to sell out quickly! At the time of the writing of this blog, the Alison Krauss & Union Station concert was already sold out. So if you're interested, don't delay.

During your visit, plan to stay awhile and check out many of the fun adventures that can be found in Asheville and the surrounding mountain towns of Western North Carolina. Choose your accommodation destination whether it be in downtown Asheville itself or set in our beautiful mountainous countryside, and let the adventure begin!

We hope to see you this summer. Have you been to the Biltmore Concert Series? Who did you see? Tell us about it in our comment section. 

In the words of Plato: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” Enjoy!