An Artsy August in Asheville

Jul 19, 2021 | Last Updated Jul 20, 2021
681 words (3 min read)

Asheville is known for a lot of things: The beautiful mountains that provide a backdrop to the city, the world-renowned cuisine and breweries, and of course the Biltmore Estate. But Asheville is especially well-known for its vibrant artistic community.

In addition to the sprawling, mile-long River Arts District (RAD) that flows along with the French Broad River, this town is full of art galleries, art installations (like “Wake” by Mel Chin), and public art. Plus, the Asheville Art Museum has recently opened after a complete remodel. And it’s not just visual art that you’ll find here - there are a plethora of creative and performing arts venues, shows, and festivals. This month is no exception - August is bursting with arts festivals in and around Asheville. You’re never more than a quick drive away from exciting, new, and unique artistic treasures.


The River Arts District holds a “Second Saturday” gallery walk every month in the summer. Patrons are welcome to wander the 22 buildings and works of more than 200 artists over the mile-long district. There are demonstrations by the artists, workshops, food vendors, crafts, live music, and much more. The August event is on the 14th, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Get more info on the RAD website.


LEAF Downtown is an extension of the popular LEAF Festival that takes place twice a year in Black Mountain. Billed as a__ world cultural arts festival__, LEAF has every creative art you could think of, from international dancing and music, to art workshops, diverse food and drinks, dramatic arts, and much more. It’s a family-friendly event that places an emphasis on incorporating local artists and talents. It takes place in Pack Square Park downtown on Aug. 27 and 28 this year. Friday’s hours are 3-10 p.m., and Saturday’s times are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Speaking of Black Mountain, one of the “sweetest” festivals in Western North Carolina is the Sourwood Festival. It takes place in the charming small town August 13-14 to celebrate the local bees and their sourwood honey. Aside from all the honey, there are more than 200 vendors with plenty of foods, crafts, and more along Black Mountain’s side streets. The numerous art galleries in town remain open, as do restaurants and stores, so there is plenty to see, do, and buy. The festival starts at 9 a.m. both days, and ends at 8 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.


Another Asheville tradition is Shindig on the Green, a celebration of mountain heritage that incorporates the music and dancing of the Appalachian mountain culture. The whole shebang is produced by the Folk Heritage Committee to support the preservation of the music, dance and storytelling of the Appalachian people. Plenty of food and drinks are available to buy, but all you really need is a blanket or some chairs to enjoy the tunes - or join in with your own instruments or clogging feet. It all goes down “along about sundown” (7 p.m. or so) at the Roger McGuire Green at Pack Square Park, August 14 and 21.


Grovewood Village, located in North Asheville, opens the studios of its 10 resident artists for visitors to see them at work on August 21 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The studios are adjacent to Grovewood Gallery, which showcases the work of the studio artists as well as artists throughout the country.


Nearby Leicester is hosting its annual “Come to Leicester Studio Tour” on August 21 and 22. With more than 20 studios and shops, you’re bound to find something unique and handmade by local artists.


Another charming small town in the mountains is historic Sylva. Each year The Greening Up the Mountains Festival takes place annually here in the spring to celebrate its beginning, but they’ve changed things up a bit in 2021. This year, the event will take place on August 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will feature traditional and modern Appalachian art, music, and food. In addition, its Main Street shops and restaurants will be open for business.


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