Our Best Bets for Spring Events in the Communities Near the Parkway
As the weather warms, spring fever leads many of us outside and to hatching plans for some getaways. Whether an impromptu weekend getaway or looking ahead to what’s happening later this season, there’s no shortage of fun activities in the regions near the Parkway in spring.
Take a look at our Maps to navigate around any lingering weather-related closures on the roadway itself. You’ll find the Realtime Road Closure Map shows any closed sections, while the Interactive Map includes all Access Points onto and off the Parkway to create your own detour according to what you want to see and do and how you want to get there.
Read on for our breakdown of what’s going on this season in each region of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Shenandoah County, VA
Shenandoah County has been experiencing an Arts Renaissance in recent years and visitors can check out Galleries, Artisan Studios, a Film Festival, a Museum of Contemporary Art, and two Community Theatres throughout the year as well as a Mural project that encompasses the sides of many of the buildings in one historic town (Strasburg) which adds character, color and vibrancy to the town.
Every Spring at the end of April, Artisans, Shops, Garden Centers, and Wineries open up for a county-wide open house called the Shenandoah County Art Tour to showcase all that is beautiful, creative and abundant in Shenandoah County.
Massanutten Resort – McGayesville, VA
ValleyFest on Memorial Day weekend brings more than 4,000 people celebrate, dance to live music, shop for unique handmade crafts, and sample food, quality wines and microbrews of the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. All proceeds benefit the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce. www.massanuttenresort.com
Winchester-Frederick County, Virginia
In 2019, plan to attend the Curves to Cores HOG (Harley Owners Group) Motorcycle Rally, June 19-23. Thousands of motorcyclists will spend five days experiencing rides throughout the region’s scenic winding country roads, orchards, and National Parks. In addition, participants will enjoy exclusive events including concerts, history and winery tours, a parade, and more!
• Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival: April 26 – May 5
• Harley Owners Group Rally: June 19-23
Shenandoah Valley – Shenandoah National Park area of Virginia
Travelers are increasingly seeking out the nation’s last remaining dark places where they can get a clear view of the stars. While the east coast may be a concentration of cities with light pollution, the dark skies in and around the Shenandoah Valley are becoming a celebrated destination for stargazers. Learn more from amateur astronomers at monthly astronomy presentations and viewing sessions held on select Fridays at Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park. Spring dates are 5/10 and 6/7. Events cancel with inclement weather. AAA discounts available at Skyland Resort, Big Meadows Lodge, and nearby Peaks of Otter Lodge. VisitShenandoah.org
In May, join visit Art in the Park, a two day festival featuring juried fine art and crafts. visitstaunton.com
Buchanan Garden Festival May 4 – Nestled along the bank of the James River, vendors offer annuals, perennials, trees, bird houses, garden whimsies, food and more all in the shade of the historic Wilson Warehouse in downtown Buchanan, Virginia. Additional activities include Live Music, Kid’s Games, educational programs, and a Plein Air Painting Competition. www.townofbuchanan.com/event/buchanan-garden-festival
Virginia’s Blue Ridge – Roanoke, VA
Located within the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and along “America’s Favorite Drive” the Blue Ridge Parkway with Roanoke at its heart, Virginia’s Blue Ridge is a refined, authentic metro-mountain destination offering a wide variety of outdoor fun including being America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital with cultural amenities and diverse, craft food and beverage experiences that are perfect for a mountain vacation. Plan a metro-mountain adventure at VisitVBR.com
• May 4: 86th Historic Garden Week Roanoke Tour
• May 18: Local Colors Festival
National D-Day Memorial – Bedford, Virginia
June 6, 2019 marks the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. This milestone is expected to represent the last large gathering of D-Day veterans around the globe, with the youngest of D-Day vets presently in their mid-90s. To mark this milestone, the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia will observe the 75th Anniversary with six days of ceremonies, special events, displays, interviews and much more. For more information: www.dday.org
Lynchburg Launch of the James River Batteau Festival – June 15, 2019. Unique to Virginia, enthusiasts take an eight day flat boat journey on the James River from Lynchburg to Richmond in the tradition of the Batteaux, which carried goods and passengers during the 1800s. The Launch starts on Percival’s Island in Downtown Lynchburg. The eight day expedition is a program of the Virginia Canals & Navigations Society, formed to preserve and enhance Virginia’s inland waterways heritage through history, exploration, archeology, modeling, local lore, restoration, preservation, and park and trail development. For more information: www.lynchburgvirginia.org/james-river-batteau-festival
Rockbridge County, VA
Historic Garden Week. On April 27 from 10 AM-4 PM, your $25 Garden Tour includes admission to Natural Bridge State Park – one of Virginia’s newest state parks – and one of the original destinations of the first Garden Tour in 1929. Tour nearby estates Herring Hall (ca. 1812), Forest Oaks (ca. 1806) and Vineyard Hill (ca. 1774).
Now in its 26th year, the Maury River Fiddlers Convention, June 13-15, at Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista is a favorite among lovers of old time and bluegrass. Just off the BRP with three days of music. Camping available; held rain or shine. lexingtonvirginia.com
Monday at the Movies brings classic movies to the big screen once more at the historic Wayne Theater in downtown Waynesboro, VA. Held every Monday at 2:00 and 7:00 PM through June 24, catch screenings of popular classics like Funny Face, Dial M for Murder, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is a great rainy day activity or just a way to unwind after a big day of hiking. Check out their upcoming movies here.
Martinsville-Henry County, VA
VMFA ArtMobile – Piedmont Arts is thrilled to be one of the hosting cities for Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ VMFA on the Road: An Art Mobile for the 21st Century on March 21-23, 2019! The state-the-art mobile museum and education studio’s inaugural exhibition will include photography, paintings, printmaking, and more! www.piedmontarts.org
STP 500 – The Martinsville Speedway hosts the STP 500 on Sunday, March 24th, 2019. Don’t miss the high octane action as the drivers of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series roll out to take their stab at winning the famous Grandfather Clock trophy and being crowned the champion. www.MartinsvilleSpeedway.com
Summertime is so much fun, in Wytheville… There’s Only One! Festival season revs up with the Downtown Food Truck Rodeo (5/11) followed by Brews & Bands (5/18) in Withers Park. The 35th annual Chautauqua Festival (6/15-6/22) features eight days of free arts and music or discover lavender at the Lavender Thyme Festival (6/15). Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre’s classic Annie continues (5/2-6/30). Discover more at VisitWytheville.com
Birthplace of Country Music Museum – Bristol, VA
Visit the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and experience a new special exhibit called Reading Appalachia: Voices From Children’s Literature. Sporting life-size characters from Appalachian children’s books, this exhibit looks at the seminal titles from the late 1800s through the modern story of Appalachia – you’ll feel like you’re walking through the pages of a storybook. The exhibit includes representative clothes and toys from Appalachia, music, and hands-on activities that bring the subject to life for kids of all ages. The exhibit is on display until June 30, 2019. www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org
The Crooked Road
The Crooked Road’s 5th Annual Mountains of Music Homecoming is a nine-day celebration of all the communities in Southwest Virginia – their traditional music, history, cuisine, art, and outdoors. This year’s 18 Homecoming concerts feature Appalachian dance styles and performances by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Balsam Range and dozens more. Enjoy over 80 cultural events like listening to a music concert from a floating stage while you paddle around it in your canoe! Or try your hand (feet actually) at learning to square dance at one of three special culinary-based Feastival events. A classic American road trip awaits along The Crooked Road in June 7-15. www.mtnsofmusic.com
Primland – Meadows of Dan, VA
2nd Annual Big Ivy Gran Fondo Charity Bike Event, June 2 at 8:00 AM at Stables Saloon. The Big Ivy Gran Fondo is a completion of cycling routes from Meadows of Dan to Claudville, VA. 76 Miles in total. Different bike routes include: Piccilo, Classic, Medio, Grand Fondo. Post ride meal and awards are included. Prices vary from $50 in advance to $130 the day of the event. All proceeds benefit Local EMS Service. More info: primland.com/event-list/big-ivy-gran-fondo-charity-bike-ride
Patrick County, VA
The 7th Annual Bushels and Barrels Local Food, Wine & Beer Festival is held June 14-15, 2019 at the Reynolds Homestead in Critz, Va. Experience a locally sourced Farm-To-Table dinner with paired beer tastings and live Bluegrass and Americana music on Friday. Saturday starts with a variety of sustainability workshops in the first half of the day. This is followed by the main portion of the festival in the evening featuring a three-band line up and many food, wine and beer vendors onsite to indulge your tastes. www.visitpatrickcounty.org
Floyd County, VA
Join the Friday Night Jamboree at the Floyd Country Store where music spills into the streets each week – or check out music Thursday-Sunday in venues throughout the county. Our beautiful county borders near 40 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway with Floyd town easily accessible at BRP Milepost 165. AAA lodging discounts.
May 18 Tour de Floyd cycling event
May 24-25 Chantilly Farm Bluegrass
June 7-9 Floyd Artisan Trail Tour
June 15 Outdoor Gospel Music
More information: www.VisitFloydVA.com
Surry County, NC
Spring is a good time to visit the Surry County Wine Trail as the buds break on the vines and May is wine festival month in Surry County. The Budbreak Wine & Craft Beer Festival is May 4 in Mount Airy, followed by the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival on the third weekend in May in Elkin. www.YadkinValleyNC.com
North Wilkesboro, NC
Concerts on the Deck below is a warm weather live music series May through October held the third Saturday of each month at the Yadkin Valley Marketplace in downtown North Wilkesboro. Shows are free and from 6:00-10:00PM. Sponsored by Window World and the Town of North Wilkesboro
2019 Concerts on the Deck Spring Schedule:
• May 18 The Castaways
• June 15 Jim Quick & Coastline
Grandfather Mountain – Linville, NC
Nature Photography Weekend – May 31-June 2 – Visit Grandfather Mountain to attend presentations from top nature photographers, while photographing spectacular scenery and native animals before and after regular business hours. Online registration begins April 1 at grandfather.com
Animal Birthday Party – Wednesday, June 12 from 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Grandfather Mountain celebrates the birthdays of all the animals in its environmental habitats with games, contests, crafts and surprises. The mountain’s habitat staff has prepared a fun-filled day for guests, as well as programs to celebrate the park’s furry and feathered inhabitants.
Emerald Village – Little Switzerland, NC
Have a ‘Gem’ of a Day at Emerald Village’s RockFest on Saturday & Sunday, June 15th & 16th, 2019! Celebrate the gem & mineral heritage of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the spectacular home of 12 historic mines, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Little Switzerland. Fun for the whole family with food, music, guided hikes, kids’ treasure hunt, geology talks, gem mining, gold panning, free exhibits, and a special Saturday night Black Light Mine Tour! Saturday at 5:00 the Blue Ridge Brass, Pipes and Drums give a free concert of Celtic favorites like you’ve never heard! www.emeraldvillage.com
The Orchard at Altapass – Spruce Pine, NC
A non-profit 501(c)3, the orchard’s mission is to preserve the history, land, culture and traditions of the Appalachia and to educate the public about such. Bring the family, (pets welcome) and spend the entire day. Free admission. Free parking. Free music and dancing. A variety of apples are available to pick. Take an adventurous, storytelling hayride through the Orchard or walk the trails. Open weekends only in May and five days a week June-October. Adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 328.3. For a complete schedule, see altapassorchard.org
Elkin is rightly proclaimed a Trail Town, boasting a State Paddle Trail, National Park trail, mountain bike trails, and the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail. NC Trail Days is an annual festival held in Elkin on the first weekend in June. The festival features trail runs, mountain biking, paddle trails, outdoor-oriented vendors, live music, kids’ activities, and so much more to do outdoors! The event is held throughout the various Elkin Trails, on Main Street, and at the Elkin Heritage & Trails Center at 257 Standard Street, Elkin, NC 28621. Learn more at NCTrailDays.com.
Elkin also hosts North Carolina’s biggest wine festival the third weekend in May – the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival. To learn more about all events in Elkin visit www.exploreelkin.com.
Linville Falls Winery – Newland, NC
Come enjoy our live music series at Linville Falls Winery! Starting with our kick-off event April 27th, we’ll have live music every Saturday and Sunday from 3-6pm for our winery patrons to enjoy all the way through the end of October. Guests can take part in wine tastings, wine by the glass, or bottles of wine while listening to a variety of great local music, all in the midst of a beautiful mountain vineyard setting. It’s the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon! www.linvillefallswinery.com
Tweetsie Railroad – Blowing Rock, NC
All aboard for a Wild West Train Adventure at North Carolina’s original family-friendly theme park. Tweetsie Railroad is a unique attraction, featuring historic steam locomotives, live entertainment, classic amusement rides, gold panning, gem mining, and a Deer Park Zoo. 2019 Special Spring/Summer Events include the Easter Bunny! AAA Members receive $3.00 off admission. Hours vary by season, visit Tweetsie.com
NC High Country – Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga & Wilkes Counties
• Merlefest: April 25-28, Wilkesboro NC, One of the largest Americana music festivals
Order copies of the Mountain Vacation Planner @ MountainsofNC.com
Burke County, NC
A beer-vitalization offers travelers several top-flight brewery experiences in Morganton and Burke County. Catawba Brewing Co., one of NC’s larger craft breweries, has its flagship location in downtown Morganton, while Fonta Flora, the upstart that has won two gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival, is just blocks away. Fonta Flora’s new brewery at Whippoorwill Farm recently opened in a renovated farmhouse in a rural area of Burke County near Lake James State Park. On June 9th, the sixth annual State of Origin Beer Festival takes place on the square in downtown Morganton. www.DiscoverBurkeCounty.com
This Blue Ridge Mountain town just south of Asheville blends warm hospitality with a rich arts and culture scene, vibrant Main Street, and hundreds of acres of outdoor adventure. Downtown Hendersonville’s wide sidewalks adorned with flowering planters and colorful bears create a charming corridor for shoppers and alfresco diners. Each Memorial Day weekend, Garden Jubilee transforms Main Street into a lawn-and-garden oasis. And Flat Rock Playhouse, the official state theater of North Carolina, is known as the little Broadway in the mountains. To learn more, go to www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.org
The arts are an experience in Burnsville. The surrounding Toe River Valley is a haven for artists and crafters. Memorial Day weekend, May 24-26, Burnsville hosts the inaugural Mountain Acoustics Luthier Invitational with some of the most talented luthiers in the region participating in concerts, workshops and exhibits. The beloved Toe River Studio Tour returns May 31-June 2 with approximately 100 artists opening their doors to visitors. For more information, go to www.YanceyChamber.com
Spring blooms with opportunity in Transylvania County. After exploring miles of newly green trails and 250 waterfalls, enjoy the charms of historic downtown Brevard. Here you’ll find art, live music and delicious food. Come for the events and stay for the adventure
• Assault on the Carolinas (April 6)
• Opening Day Appalachian Folkways Celebration at The Cradle of Forestry (April 6)
• The Looking Glass Tour (April 27)
• Smokin’ on the River BBQ Cookoff (April 27)
• Songsmith Gathering (May 8)
• Cradle to the Grave Trail Races (May 11)
• White Squirrel Festival (May 24-26)
More info: explorebrevard.com
Asheville, North Carolina is a vibrant city with a lively downtown, 250+ independent restaurants, and a wealth of cultural experiences to explore. Heaven on earth for outdoor aficionados – you can blaze along hundreds of miles of trail through unfragmented wilderness in national forests, summit one of 40 peaks above 6,000 feet, cast for trout on a blue ribbon stream, or cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway via numerous Asheville access points. Experience a magnificent spring during Biltmore Blooms (April 1 – May 23). ExploreAsheville.com
Folk Art Center – Asheville, NC
Glass & Metal Day, Saturday, April 6, 10am-4pm See demonstrations in two of the original craft media: blacksmithing, glass blowing, knife making, bezeling, repoussé, copper etching, stained glass, forging and more.
Fiber Weekend, Saturday, May 11, 10am-4pm and Sunday, May 12, 1-4pm Southern Highland Craft Guild demonstration of fiber techniques. This free event takes place in the auditorium and outside on the hill. Annual Fiber Wearable Fashion Show is Sunday, May 12.
Clay Day, Saturday, June 8, 10am-4pm Visitors can participate in this six-hour event. Artisans and guests demonstrate their skill set behind the wheel or over a kiln.
Grovewood Village – Asheville, NC
The Antique Car Museum opens for the season April 1. This unique showroom features vintage automobiles from the romance-filled days of wooden steering wheels and polished brass headlamps. Highlights include a rare 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham and Asheville’s own 1922 American LaFrance fire truck. Monday-Saturday: 10am-5:30pm, Sunday: 11am – 5pm. www.grovewood.com/antique-car-museum
Grovewood Village History Tours. This site – listed on the National Register of Historic Places – once housed the weaving and woodworking operations of Biltmore Industries. Learn how it grew from a small craft education program to one of the largest producers of handwoven wool in the world. Tours are Wednesday-Saturday at 1pm, April- November.
The North Carolina Arboretum – Asheville, NC
The North Carolina Arboretum, a 434-acre public garden located minutes from downtown Asheville and off the Blue Ridge Parkway, will launch ArborEvenings a new after-hours social series. Held every Thursday, April – October, from 6 to 9 p.m., visitors are invited to see the Arboretum come to light after dark while sipping and strolling through the Arboretum’s beautiful gardens. Light food and beverages will be available for purchase, including beer and wine, and live music will be performed the last Thursday of the month. This event is free, however, standard non-member parking fees apply. For more information, visit ncarboretum.org
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park
Family Animal Encounters – Join one of Chimney Rock’s Park Naturalists for an informal program where your family will love meeting some of our animal ambassadors! Kids of all ages are sure to take home some fun facts and special memories. Family Animal Encounters happen daily at 2pm in June, July and August and are included with Park admission. Admission is $17 per adult and $8 per youth. AAA members save $2 per adult and $1 per youth on parties of six or less. chimneyrockpark.com
Pigeon Forge, TN
Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and youth mentor Cal Ripken, Jr., namesake of the Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge, will lead the way in this year’s Music in the Mountains Spring Parade on Friday, May 3. The parade kicks off at 6 p.m. on the Pigeon Forge Parkway with local and visiting marching bands, cold-air character balloons, local attraction and entertainment representatives and more! Make plans to attend this celebration of the city’s rich musical heritage and look for surprise music performances at several stages around town. Mypigeonforge.com/event/music-in-the-mountains-spring-parade
New lodging, attractions, dining and entertainment are all good reasons to visit Gatlinburg. Steeped in history, Gatlinburg visitors will love the new Appy Lodge. Located in the heart town, Margaritaville Resort is directly across the street from outdoor adventure park, Anakeesta. Cherokee Orchard and Stony Brook Cabins offer large cabins, perfect for family reunions. Blake Shelton’s 16,000 square foot entertainment venue, Ole Red Gatlinburg, opens March 2019. Gatlinburg Sky Lift has added the longest Sky Bridge in America to thrill visitors. And, Ripley’s Believe it or Not has recreated the museum with all new exhibits. The Mountains Are Calling. www.gatlinburg.com
Sevierville’s fifteenth annual Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass Festival is May 17-18, 2019. This family-friendly event draws barbeque cook teams from around the U.S. for Bush’s Best TN State Championship Cook Off and the great bluegrass music, arts and crafts, kids’ games, and Mountain Soul Vocal Competition honoring Sevierville’s favorite hometown girl, Dolly Parton.
Bring a lawn chair and enjoy concerts: Michael Cleveland & Flame Keeper, Balsam Range, Mountain Ruckus (presented by Dolly Parton’s Stampede), Phil Leadbetter and the All-Stars of Bluegrass, headliner The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and more. Admission is free. www.BloominBBQ.com
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad – Bryson City, NC
Join us for Uncorked – a unique experience pairing good wines with a four-course meal on an enjoyable train ride in the Smoky Mountains. A narrator presents each pour and shares knowledge of the four wines selected in an all-adult first-class car with private attendant and well-appointed seating. All trains depart from Bryson City. Purchase tickets for Great Smoky Mountains Railroad special events on their website here.