Spring’s in full swing here in Asheville, and it's always this time of year that I’m reminded of how lucky I am to live in the mountains. Fair weather, stunning scenery, and more cultural events and happenings than you can shake a stick at.
Yes, it seems everyone and everything’s fully out of hibernation by now, from the bears to the breweries. I myself have been so immersed in Asheville’s myriad delights, hikes, special occasions and extraordinary eateries that I reckon I would forget where I’ve been and what I’ve done, if it wasn’t my professional duty to keep track of it all.
Speaking of which, if you have the good fortune of visiting Asheville this glorious time of year, I happen to have some suggestions. Simply read on to discover some of the best spring events in Asheville.
Did you know Asheville has the second most breweries per capita in the entire nation? That's second to Portland, Oregon. Those perfidious interlopers. It’s a close gap. I reckon with just a couple more breweries, we’ll take the lead. I propose that every Ashevillean man, woman, and child learns how to home-brew for this very purpose. It’s a matter of local pride.
All that aside, if you fancy yourself something of a cold-one connoisseur, then there’s no better spring event in Asheville for you than Asheville’s Beer Week. Held in late May, this celebration of my hometown’s signature beverage features day after day of live music, trivia, open mics, culinary extravaganzas, and of course, beer tasting provided by the city’s foremost breweries.
This year’s brewtastic curriculum even features a crawfish boil and an ice-cream social at the Hop (two separate events), which illustrate that although beer certainly takes center stage this week, there’s plenty to do for visitors of all ages and interests. That is, so long as those interests are related to food and culture.
Visit their website for an in-depth look at Beer Week’s calendar of events, plus links to discounted hotels, mainly in the downtown area.
Orchid-lovers are a strange bunch. For one thing, they're always making up words. “Epiphyte?” “Dendrophylax lindenii?” Sounds like fabrications of a fevered mind if you ask me.
Yet there’s no denying that the orchid is both a strange and beautiful flower—not to mention fragrant—and there’s no better place to see that for yourself than Asheville’s Orchid Festival, hosted at the NC Arboretum.
Usually held in early April, this two-day spring event in Asheville sees the Arboretum’s Educational Center filled to bursting with orchids grown by breeders and flower-scientists of national and even international acclaim. It’s one of the largest events of its kind in the Southeast, rounded out by classes, lectures, and vendors, allowing you to take home your very own living souvenir.
Admission is five dollars, plus the Arboretum’s usual parking fee for non-members.
A Local’s Perspective: Come for the Orchid Festival and stay for one of my favorite spots for a laid-back hike, or simple stroll through the Arboretum’s sprawling gardens.
Although not limited to just the spring, this time of year is one of the very best to enjoy the River Art’s District’s Second Saturdays. What is it? Nothing less than an up-close and personal look at some of Asheville’s finest craftspeople and artists, held, as the name suggests, on the second Saturday of every month.
Although I’d always recommend a visit to the River Arts District, especially for newcomers to Asheville, Second Saturdays represent a special opportunity to enjoy this unique part of town, ensuring access to public demonstrations, and even the occasional food or wine tasting.
Must-see stops on this tour of the RAD include the galleries at Riverview Station, the assorted studios on Riverside street and Depot street, and finally, refreshments at Ultra Coffee or District Wine Bar. Visit the River Art’s District’s website for up-to-date information on each month’s offerings.
Speaking of downtown, if you need even further excuse to visit Asheville’s epicenter of cultural activities, then drive on in on the third Friday of the month—after five PM—to catch some live music for free on North Lexington Avenue.
Acts come from across the nation, and even across the world, ensuring one of those eclectic experiences for which Asheville is known. Plus, local refection stalls offer an excellent introduction to the city’s expansive food-scene, inspiring, perhaps, a choice location for the next night’s dinner.
This event runs from April until September. That’s summer and spring both, but personally I prefer to visit earlier in the year. You just can’t beat the weather.
A Local’s Perspective: Park at the Park Square parking garage, just south of the Asheville Art Museum, for minimum hassle, and a pleasant walk through the city’s center.
Yet another downtown happening, I feel that I’ve mentioned this farmer’s market enough in recent articles that I should go ahead and provide some details. Held on Saturdays from nine AM to noon, from April until their winter hours kick in come December, the Asheville City Market abounds with fresh produce, baked goods, honey, cheeses, and jun (that is, sparkling fermented tea).
In short: everything you’d expect from a farmer’s market worth it’s salt, including fertile grounds for people-watching. There’s little I enjoy more than starting a cool spring morning in Asheville off with a visit here on downtown’s North Market Street. Namely, I’m there to hit the coffee-vendors. Otherwise, I won’t survive until noon.
Park at the HomeTrust Bank lot or the Family Justice Center across from the downtown YMCA, stroll through the market, and simply enjoy this most serene of spring events in Asheville.
A Local’s Perspective: You really should try the jun.
North Carolina Arboretum
100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806