Blog Entertainment Experience the Magic of Folkmoot: Celebration of Global Cultures in the Heart of The Blue Ridge!

Experience the Magic of Folkmoot: Celebration of Global Cultures in the Heart of The Blue Ridge!

Updated: 07/05/2024 • Bernie Gilchrist


Every July, the folks of Waynesville, North Carolina, open their arms wide and welcome the world to their doorstep for a grand celebration known as Folkmoot. This international cultural exchange festival is a dazzling display of dance, music, and artistry from all corners of the globe, bringing a vibrant patchwork of traditions to the heart of our Southern Appalachian hills.

Folkmoot, which hails from an old English term meaning “Meeting of the People,” lives up to its name by providing countless opportunities for cultural exchange. Here, you can meet performers before and after their shows, and partake in the magic of shared stories and dances that span continents. It’s a chance for us to connect with our global neighbors and revel in the rich tapestry of arts and cultures that contrast yet complement our own heritage.

Mark your calendars for July 19-20, 2024, when the world comes to Western North Carolina for the North Carolina International Folk Festival! Folkmoot USA, one of the largest and longest-running dance festivals in the world, draws thousands to Haywood County each July.

The festivities kick off with an International Evening on Friday, July 19, from 4 PM to 9 PM at Sorrell’s Park in Canton. This free event features a dance parade inspired by international and Appalachian communities, wrapping up with a live performance. And don’t miss the food trucks serving up delicious international cuisine!

On Saturday, July 20, from 10 AM to 4 PM, Main Street in Waynesville transforms into a vibrant stage for International Day. Enjoy continuous performances by Appalachian and international cultural performers on two stages, along with free kid activities and a variety of mouth-watering food options.

The story of Folkmoot began in 1983 when Dr. Clinton Border, a local surgeon from Waynesville, traveled to a folk festival in Sidmouth, England with a square dance team. Dr. Border saw the magic that happens when traditions from different cultures come together and envisioned a similar festival for Western North Carolina, a region already rich in its own heritage. The first Folkmoot festival took place in 1984, and by 2003, it was declared North Carolina’s official international festival by the General Assembly. For two decades, the Southeast Tourism Society has named Folkmoot USA one of its top twenty events.

Over the years, Folkmoot has grown beyond its summer festival. At its headquarters in the historic Hazelwood Elementary School, now the Folkmoot Friendship Center, you’ll find artist and community organization studios, lifelong learning classes, artist-led workshops, and performances in the 265-seat Queen Auditorium.

Here’s what you can look forward to this year:

Folkmoot USA Summer Soirée: On July 11, 2024, from 7-9 PM, step into the historic Hazelwood school building and embark on a global journey. Explore rooms representing different cultures, enjoy live music, taste international foods, and participate in an online auction supporting year-round cultural and educational programs. The evening closes with a stunning performance by a classical Indian dancer.

Folkmoot USA International Evening: Join the festivities on July 19, 2024, from 4-9 PM in downtown Canton. Experience a multicultural parade, local artisans, live music, and delicious food. Dress to represent your own heritage and enjoy the vibrant community atmosphere.

Folkmoot USA International Day: On July 20, 2024, from 10 AM to 4 PM, Main Street in Waynesville will be alive with cultural exchange. Enjoy performances by groups like the Trinity Irish Dance Ensemble, West African Yeli Ensemble, Ballet Folklórico, and many more. International Day is a feast for the senses, with concerts, dances, a parade, and storytellers from around the world.

Folkmoot LIVE! offers outstanding culturally inspired performances throughout the year in Western North Carolina, supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Haywood County Arts Council. To learn more go here: 

As Folkmoot celebrates its 41st anniversary, it stands tall as a shining beacon of cultural identity for Western North Carolina. This festival brings together artists and audiences from far and wide to revel in the rich tapestry of our world's diverse traditions. So, mark your calendars for July 19 and 20, and prepare to be swept off your feet by the magic of Folkmoot. It's a grand celebration of many cultures, all coming together to enrich our community with their vibrant music, dances, and stories.

I want to encourage you to load up the car with your family and friends and head on over to Waynesville to join me in celebrating Folkmoot this year. Let's come together and enjoy the spectacular festivities, the joyous music, and the captivating dances from around the world. Y'all won't want to miss this—it's going to be an unforgettable experience that will leave you grinning from ear to ear!

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