Blog Entertainment Embracing the Spirit of Autumn: Celebrating Festivals in Western North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains

Embracing the Spirit of Autumn: Celebrating Festivals in Western North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains

Updated: 09/19/2023 • Bernie Gilchrist


Amidst a symphony of rustling leaves and a gentle breeze that carries the scent of nostalgia, a new chapter unfurls in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A chapter that beckons all wanderers, dreamers, and seekers of beauty to step into a world where time slows down and nature adorns itself in the finest hues. Welcome, kindred souls, to a tale of autumnal enchantment in the mystical embrace of Western North Carolina's ancient peaks.

As the emerald cloak of summer begins to gracefully slip away, the Blue Ridge Mountains undergo a transformation that can only be described as magical. The landscape becomes an artist's canvas, painted with strokes of crimson, saffron, and gold. Each tree, a storyteller weaving its own narrative, shares its tale through leaves that blush and then descend like whispered promises. It's as if the mountains themselves are preparing for a grand ball, donning their finest attire for a celebration that's been written in the stars for millennia.

In this corner of the world, fall is not merely a season; it's an invitation to explore a living story. The mountains, rich with history and steeped in the wisdom of generations, whisper secrets to those who listen closely. Ancient trails that once echoed with the footfalls of Native American tribes now guide modern adventurers to vistas that stretch into infinity. Every creak of a weathered wooden cabin, every crackling fire that dances in the heart of the night, carries with it echoes of lives lived and moments cherished.

But it's not just the landscape that makes this time of year truly extraordinary. The people of these mountains have a warmth in their hearts that rivals the most vibrant foliage. The scent of freshly baked apple pie wafts from farmhouse kitchens, and laughter rings out from harvest festivals that gather communities like old friends reuniting. Locals here know that fall isn't just a season; it's a treasure to be shared, an experience to be lived, and a story to be told.

So, dear reader, as the first leaves begin to blush and the air takes on a crisper edge, I extend an invitation to you. Come, step into the embrace of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina. Immerse yourself in a tale woven by nature herself, as ancient peaks and whispered legends entwine. Whether you're an adventurer seeking stunning vistas, a storyteller eager to capture the essence of fall's magic, or simply a soul yearning for a connection with nature, these old mountains stand ready to embrace you.

In the following chapters of this blog, we will wander through vibrant forests, taste the sweetness of freshly picked apples, and unravel the tales etched into the very fabric of these hills. Together, let's celebrate the best time of year to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains and create memories that will become part of this timeless land's ever-evolving story.

Mountain Heritage Day Festival- September 30, 2023

Embark on a journey to the heart of mountain culture, where stories intertwine with melodies and history dances with the present. On September 30th, the 48th Mountain Heritage Day festival extends its arms to embrace you, inviting you to discover the tapestry of the Southern Appalachian spirit. Set on the Western Carolina University campus from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., this celebration beckons with open doors, free admission, free parking, and a free shuttle service—a heartfelt invitation to all who seek to revel in the treasures of tradition.

As the sun rises, a sense of anticipation fills the air, each breeze carrying the promise of a day unlike any other. Chancellor Kelli Brown shares, “Mountain Heritage Day is a gift from Western Carolina University to the community, and everyone from everywhere is welcome to attend. This family-oriented festival shows how much we value this incredible, beautiful region we call home and its diverse culture and history."

At the heart of the festival lies a symphony of bluegrass and mountain music, intertwined with family laughter and the splendor of artistic expression. It's a family reunion that unites generations, a harvest festival that reaps joy, an arts and crafts gallery that comes alive, a county fair where smiles are the currency, and a musical jamboree that weaves stories through melodies. This celebration is a testament to the wonderful diversity of Southern Appalachian history and culture.

Amidst the joyous melodies, time slows down to honor those who preserve heritage. The Mountain Heritage Awards shine a spotlight on individuals and organizations that have woven their efforts into the fabric of history, creating a tapestry of lasting significance.

Under the open sky, music unfurls its wings, a call that resonates through time. The Becky Buller Band and Mountain Heart take the stage, becoming conduits of stories old and new. Each note becomes a thread in the grand narrative of the mountains.

As you navigate the festival's landscape, artisans share their talents through crafts that breathe life into history. Children revel in activities that spark curiosity, Cherokee stick ball games echo ancient traditions, and chainsaw competitions showcase skill and precision. The rhythm of wagon rides and the gleam of classic cars and trucks add layers of nostalgia.

New additions lend depth to the experience—Kevin Fountain's demonstration of corn grinding and hit-and-miss engines, the lively clogging sessions led by Simone Pace and other troupes that delight with their intricate steps.

Vendors' stalls are a treasure trove of creativity—furniture, jewelry, leather goods, and metalwork bear witness to human ingenuity. Festival foods entice with flavors that stir the senses, from fry bread to homemade ice cream, funnel cakes to barbecue.

With every note that resounds and every step that's danced, Mountain Heritage Day writes a new chapter in the saga of tradition. Rain or shine, the celebration thrives, welcoming all to gather under the sky. So, bring your stories, your laughter, your blankets, and your curiosity. Dogs on leashes are invited too, sharing in the festivity's embrace. This is an invitation to step into a world where history sings, where culture thrives, and where the mountains whisper their tales to all who listen.  For more information go to:

Apple Harvest Festival-Waynesville, NC- September 21,2023

Step into a realm of autumnal enchantment on October 21, 2023—the day of the Apple Harvest Festival. Nestled in the heart of charming downtown Waynesville, this festival has earned its place among the "10 Best Fall Harvest Festivals in the Nation," a testament to the joy it brings to all who partake.

As the leaves around the Great Smoky Mountains begin their transformation, a symphony of flavors beckons. The air carries the promises of crisp apples and the warmth of community. It's a celebration of fall, an ode to the harvest season, and a true embodiment of the spirit of the mountains.

Imagine wandering along the historic Main Street, where each step takes you closer to the heart of the festival. Vendors line the pathway, offering an array of treasures. The vibrant arts and crafts, delicate pieces of jewelry, exquisite pottery, and captivating art tell stories of skill and passion.

The festival isn't just about admiring the handcrafted wonders—it's an immersive experience. Engage in the age-old tradition of hand-cranking ice cream, feeling the anticipation build as the creamy delight takes shape. Or perhaps, immerse yourself in the creation of apple cider, watching the fruit of the harvest transform into a drink that embodies the essence of the season.

Here, in this quaint town, the crowd is abundant, and each face carries a smile. It's a small-town event that blooms with a sense of community larger than life. The Apple Harvest Festival is not just a gathering; it's a celebration of connections. Families gather for games that spark laughter, music that taps into your very soul, and dancing that sweeps you into a whirl of joy.

Children's laughter fills the air as they engage in family-friendly games, their energy a testament to the joy of the day. Meanwhile, the lively music sets a toe-tapping rhythm, inviting even the most reserved individuals to join the dance. And for those who appreciate the beauty of crafts, the festival offers a multitude of options that will leave you awe-inspired.

Admission is free, a gesture that encapsulates the spirit of giving and sharing. From 10 AM to 5 PM, the festival invites you to indulge your senses, to savor the flavors of the season, and to become part of the tapestry of autumn's magic.

So, mark your calendar for this day of enchantment and community. As the streets of Waynesville come alive with colors and laughter, remember that the Apple Harvest Festival isn't just an event; it's a celebration of fall's bounty and a reminder of the simple joys that come with the changing of the seasons. Come, be a part of this vibrant tale and celebrate the essence of autumn in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Cashiers Valley Leaf Festival- October-6-8, 2023

Embrace the magic of autumn as it paints the mountain village of Cashiers with hues of gold and amber. An invitation is extended, a tale unfolds—a celebration of transformation awaits.

Amidst this picturesque backdrop, the Cashiers Valley Leaf Festival emerges as a beacon of creativity and camaraderie. Imagine strolling through the park, where 90 artisans have gathered to showcase their masterpieces. Handcrafted wood exudes a sense of timeless beauty, while pottery whispers stories of earth and fire. Jewels glint, capturing the essence of artisans' dreams. As you wander, you find treasures that sing to your heart, each piece a testament to human ingenuity.

The air dances with melodies, laughter, and the aroma of tempting delights. Food and drink mingle, painting the atmosphere with flavors that celebrate life's simple joys. Live music weaves a tapestry of sound, the perfect backdrop to the festivities. Here, in this moment, you become part of a story that's been told for generations.

The festival takes place from Friday through Sunday, October 6th to 8th, 2023. Picture yourself stepping into this lively realm on the opening day. The village awakens with energy as the clock strikes 10, and from that moment, art, music, and connection become your companions.

As the sun dips on Friday, something extraordinary awaits—the Ingles Hometown Concert Series. The Commons Lawn transforms into a stage, lit by the glow of community. Commodore Fox, Joe Lasher Jr., and Kaitlyn Baker command the spotlight. The music is a testament to shared experiences, to voices raised in harmony under the open sky.

Saturday dawns anew, with the festival beckoning once more. As the sun reaches its zenith, melodies weave through the air. Ellie's Groove, Anya Hinkle, and Will Easter gift you moments of rhythm and reflection, each note echoing the spirit of the mountains.

Sunday unfurls gently, a finale that promises memories to hold close. Live music continues its embrace, with Shawn James offering his soulful melodies. Food trucks, elevated to an art form, serve up delights that tantalize your taste buds. Elevated Kitchen Food Truck and Chili Chomper become part of the symphony of flavors, each bite resonating with the festival's essence.

In the heart of this enchanting village, the Cashiers Valley Leaf Festival becomes a chapter in your story. The village green transforms into a canvas of inspiration, each booth a brushstroke of creativity. As you explore the myriad wonders and savor the rhythms of the days, remember that this festival isn't just an event; it's an invitation to immerse yourself in the colors, flavors, and melodies of fall's embrace. Join us, for in this celebration, the leaves may change, but the memories remain.

Oktoberfest-Asheville, NC- October 7, 2023

Transport yourself to October 7, 2023, a day when the spirit of Bavaria finds its rhythm within Asheville's heart. Feel the exhilaration as Pack Square Park metamorphoses into a sanctuary from 2-6 PM. An invitation awaits, urging you to grasp the essence of Oktoberfest—a fusion of cultures and kinship.

Secure your passage ahead of time, for this celebration is coveted. A convergence of traditions and togetherness, where laughter becomes a universal language. Imagine a canvas of 20 breweries, each brushstroke a testament to craftsmanship. Sample the elixirs they've conjured, an alchemy of flavors that dances upon your palate.

Let your senses guide you to a German culinary haven, where bratwurst sizzle, pretzels beg to be devoured, and tradition finds a new home in your taste buds. The air vibrates with the infectious rhythms of Polka, inviting you to join the jubilant dance. Your laughter harmonizes with the music, forming a chorus of delight.

And then, the games commence. The atmosphere is electrified with friendly competition—a keg toss that sends cheers skyward, a stein-hoisting challenge that embodies strength and mirth. Best dressed, a showcase of creative flair; barrel rolling, a reminder of youthful whimsy; grain sack races, weaving generations in a tapestry of heritage.

The key to this realm lies in a ticket, your passage to a world of jubilation. As you journey towards this experience, know that $40/person opens the door to local brews and a commemorative tasting stein. Designated Drivers partake for $10, ensuring everyone's part of the merriment. Bring your spirit, but leave your pets behind, for this tale belongs to the humans.

Step into October 7th, where tradition twirls with Asheville's vibrant soul. The mountains stand as witnesses, their embrace amplifying every joyous note. It's an occasion that becomes a memory, where old world charm mingles with contemporary spirit. Join us, and let's etch this day into our hearts, a mosaic of laughter, camaraderie, and echoes of the mountains' jubilation.

For more information and tickets go here:

Oktoberfest-Brevard, NC- September 30, 2023

Greetings, fellow revelers, for the King Street District unveils a tale that promises merriment beyond measure—the 3rd Annual Oktoberfest. This year, the festivities stretch across three enchanted realms: 185 King Street, Upcountry, and the Lumberyard courtyard. Imagine these spaces as stages for a symphony of flavors, laughter, and camaraderie, where tradition dances with innovation.

In this year's celebration, two biergartens unfurl their banners. At 185 King Street, the air is imbued with the essence of German beers, hailing from the world's oldest breweries. Meanwhile, Upcountry unveils a biergarten adorned with German-style elixirs, each crafted by Transylvania County's very own brewing maestros—Brevard Brewing, Ecusta Brewing, Noblebräu Brewing, Oskar Blues, and Upcountry. A choice lies before you—to savor tastings from both realms or embark on a journey of full beers as you go. From noon to 5, this tasting window awaits, a gateway to a world of flavors.

Feast your senses on more than libations alone. At 185 King Street, house-made beer-brats, pretzels, and beer cheese weave a tale of culinary delight. The Lumberyard Courtyard becomes a haven for gastronomic exploration as Smash NC presents a feast that sings of fresh, irresistible indulgence.

And what's a celebration without games that evoke laughter and friendly competition? The Lumberyard Courtyard transforms into a stage of merriment. Imagine testing your mettle in a Steinheist, tossing kegs with skill, rolling barrels in pursuit of glory, and a "best dressed" contest that rewards creativity. The schedule reveals the timeline of these spirited contests, promising an afternoon woven with challenges and camaraderie.

As the sun arcs its way across the sky, the festival finds its rhythm:

12:00 Noon heralds the commencement, the biergartens open, and tastings begin.

12:00 to 2:30 brings the soulful melodies of The Harrows to 185 King Street.

2:30 marks the start of games in the Lumberyard Courtyard, beginning with Steinheist.

3:00 sees the kegs take flight in the Keg Toss.

3:30 invites you to partake in the Barrel Roll.

4:00 crowns the "Best Dressed," with awards and prizes to celebrate creativity.

5:00 brings the tastings to a close, marking the end of the window.

But fear not, for as the sun sets, the festivities continue:

From 4:00 to 6:00, the melodies of John Trufant, Owen Grooms, and JT Linville create an enchanting backdrop at 185 King Street.

Here's your invitation—a commemorative stein, a vessel of memories, can be yours for $15. Reserve yours online today! Dive into unlimited tastings at the German Biergarten in 185 King Street or the local Biergarten in Upcountry, all within the 12-5 window, also for $15 each.

Know this, friends—no ticket is required to join the revelry. You can claim your online-reserved stein on the day, and any remaining steins will find new homes on a first-come, first-serve basis. As the event unfolds, tickets to biergarten tastings shall be available at 185 King Street and Upcountry, awaiting your eager embrace.

So, step into this tale, where each corner of King Street becomes a portal to flavor, music, and laughter. Let's raise our steins, clink them in celebration, and create a memory that will linger long after the last note fades and the last drop is savored.

Get your tickets here: 

Ah, there you have it—a glimpse into the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains' vibrant spirit as autumn paints its canvas. The hills come alive with laughter, music, and the clinking of steins, beckoning you to step into a world where every moment is a celebration.

As the stage is set for Oktoberfest, a tapestry of stories, melodies, and flavors unfurls. From the Bavarian echoes in Asheville to the enchantment of Brevard and the embrace of King Street District, the mountains come alive with festivals that speak of tradition, camaraderie, and the sheer joy of being alive.

The time has come to heed the invitation—the mountains are calling, and their celebration awaits your presence. Step away from the routine, embrace the rhythm of the season, and dive headfirst into the tapestry of autumn. Whether it's the taste of German beers, the laughter of games, the embrace of crafts, or the melodies that linger in the air, there's a world waiting to be explored.

So, gather your family, pack your curiosity, and set forth to explore the beauty and vitality of Western North Carolina this fall. Let the mountains be your guide, and the festivals be your stories. The Blue Ridge Mountains are alive with celebration, and they're waiting for you to join in the chorus. See you at the festivals—where laughter, music, and memories blend into a symphony of life well-lived.

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