As spring turns to summer Western North Carolina rings with the sounds of old-time and bluegrass bands, ballad and shaped-note singings, dances, and the traditions of the Cherokee. Yes, it’s festival season in the mountains!
Pack your bags, load the car, and travel down the road on the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina to enjoy one of the many festivals planned this season.
Some best bets for late April through June include:
April 25-28, www.MerleFest.com, Wilkesboro, N.C.
MerleFest is a celebration of ‘traditional plus’ music, a unique mix of music based on the traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, and expanded to include Americana, country, blues, rock, and many other styles. MerleFest is an annual homecoming for many musicians and music fans.
Fiddler’s Grove Ole Time Fiddler’s & Bluegrass Festival
May 24 - 26, www.fiddlersgrove.com, Union Grove, N.C.
Fiddler’s Grove has enjoyed a long tradition of preserving old-time and bluegrass music and passing the legacy on to future generations. On-site camping and a laid-back family atmosphere allow guests to immerse themselves in the music and tradition of this festival which has been going strong since 1970.
23rd Annual Swain County Heritage Festival
May 24 - 25, www.facebook.com/Swain-County-Heritage-Festival, Bryson City, N.C.
The Swain County Heritage Festival on Memorial Day weekend features gospel music Friday night, and bluegrass music Saturday. You can enjoy mountain-style clogging, craft booths, food, beverage, ice cream, an old-time log-sawing contest, sack races for the kids, and more.
Cherokee Voices Festival
June 9, www.visitcherokeenc.com, Cherokee, N.C.
The voices of an 11,000-year-old culture invite you to come out and play. Cherokee culture speaks in its most thrilling ways through dance, music, storytelling, arts and crafts, and food.
Bluff Mountain Festival
June 15, www.madisoncountyarts.com, Marshall, N.C.
Bluff Mountain Festival hosts an all-day event with a non-stop stage full of the finest traditional musicians and dancers. Artist vendor booths feature a wide variety of art and craft and provide a one-of-a-kind shopping opportunity.
Annual Heritage Day and Wood Kiln Opening
June 29, www.traditionspottery.com, Lenoir, N.C.
Live music all day with The Dollar Brothers, Glenn Bolick, and Friends, and more. Storytelling with Fred Frawley and Orville Hicks. The wood kiln will be filled with face jugs, Rebekah pitchers, hand formed animals, teapots, vases, pitchers, and more. Arrive early for the best selection! The day includes an interactive quilting party and a Gee Haw Whimmie Diddle Contest.
From the valleys to the highest peak, you’re never far from the music of the mountains and the foothills. Visit www.BlueRidgeMusicNC.com for a full calendar of traditional music events throughout Western North Carolina. Or pick up a free copy of the 2019 Down the Road Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Guide at a visitor center in the region.
About the Blue Ridge Music Trails
The Blue Ridge Music Trails is a project of the North Carolina Arts Council and a division of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and the Blue Ridge National Heritage Areas to preserve and promote traditional music in Western North Carolina.
About the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area
The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area is the regional steward of living Appalachian traditions in North Carolina that honor our elders and invite new generations to explore music, craft, foodways, the outdoors, and the native wisdom that all have their home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.