The trees are budding, the sun is shining, rain is falling (plus a few snowflakes, too!), and spring ephemerals are starting to peek out on the forest floor. It is spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains! Some sections of the Parkway may still be closed due to winter weather at high elevations, but check out all these amazing spring activities that you can enjoy without needing to access the Parkway!
Winchester-Frederick County, VA
Winchester’s signature event, the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, will be held April 22 – May 1, 2022.
Nelson County, VA
Nelson County is one of six localities in Virginia selected to host the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street travelling exhibit, Crossroads: Changes in Rural America. The exhibit, housed in the Nelson Memorial Library from March 12 – April 17, will focus on the changes in rural Nelson County over the past century. The exhibit focuses on a diverse rural landscape that has transformed as a result of changes in the economy, industries and natural disasters. The community has been revitalized by focusing on the wonderful qualities associated with small-town, rural living: natural beauty, people, and strengths. www.nelsoncounty.com
Lexington & Rockbridge County, VA
Lexington, Virginia is a bustling hub of activity around Independence Day with Balloons Over Rockbridge hot air flights, multiple concerts, and the Freedom Food Festival. Celebrations begin July 1 and continue through the fireworks finale on July 4. Enjoy a movie at Hull’s Drive-In or a night under the stars at Natural Bridge State Park, an International Dark Sky Park. Plan your Independence Day weekend adventure at www.LexingtonVirginia.com.
Plateau Region (Milepost 106-217)
Roanoke in Virginia’s Blue Ridge
Kick off festival season in the Roanoke Valley in Virginia’s Blue Ridge! Compete or cheer on runners from around the world at the Blue Ridge Marathon (4/16) or Carilion Clinic IRONMAN 70.3 (6/5). Enjoy sweet treats at the Strawberry Festival (5/6 – 5/7). Celebrate international culture with food, dancing and music at Local Colors Festival (5/21) and bring the family to the entertainment of the Salem Fair (6/29 – 7/10), the largest free-gate fair in Virginia. Bring something unique home from the 64th Taubman Museum of Art Sidewalk Art Show (6/4 – 6/5). Plan your metro mountain adventure at www.visitvbr.com!
Montgomery County, VA
Two Easter events on April 16, 2022 to choose from: the Great Easter Egg Hunt is available for children ages 12 and under. Children bring their own baskets to Kiwanis Park in Christiansburg to search for surprises the Easter Bunny has left behind. Children are divided into age groups for the hunts (10 a.m. ages 3-5; 10:15 a.m. ages 6-8; 10:30 a.m. ages 9-12; 10:45 a.m. ages under 3). You can only hunt in your age group, you cannot go up or down an age group. Be sure to bring your camera! The Riner Easter Egg Hunt will occur at the Auburn High School Football Stadium on April 16. Children 10 years old and younger can hunt for eggs at this location (10 a.m. ages 3 and under; 10:30 a.m ages 4-6; 11 a.m. ages 7-10). https://www.christiansburg.org
Highlands Region (Milepost 217-340)
NC High Country
Located two hours from Charlotte, three hours from Raleigh and scattered along the parkway, the small towns of Beech Mountain, Blowing Rock, Boone, Sparta, Sugar Mountain, West Jefferson and Wilkesboro are the perfect place for a spring getaway! Top spring activities include: Heritage Trout Waters fishing, spring wildflower hikes and attending outdoor festivals such as Merlefest Music Festival in Wilkesboro, Boonerang Music & Arts Festival in Boone and Beech Bloomin’ Craft Festival atop Beech Mountain! Order free regional maps and travel guides at 828-264-1299. https://highcountryhost.com
Blowing Rock, NC
Blowing Rock is directly on the Blue Ridge Parkway about halfway between Asheville and Fancy Gap, VA. Spring is welcomed with a Trout Derby and the opening of several seasonal attractions in April. Art and music series start in May with Art in the Park, Concert in the Park, and the opening of Artists in Residence at Edgewood Cottage. Info and calendar at https://blowingrock.com.
Banner Elk, NC
Enjoy an art gallery framed by the Blue Ridge Mountains four times each year in the resort town of Banner Elk. Art on the Greene showcases works from local and regional artists on the lawn of Historic Banner Elk School. The two-day shows take place Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July weekend, the first weekend in August and Labor Day weekend. Each show features a variety of media, including ceramics, glass, metal, wood, watercolor, acrylics and oil. The mission is to highlight hand-crafted items made in the Appalachian tradition. Lodging packages are available that include tickets to nearby Grandfather Mountain. www.BannerElk.com
Mount Airy, NC
Celebrate the start of a new Yadkin Valley vintage with the 12th Budbreak Wine and Craft Beer Festival on Saturday, May 7. After schedule adjustments due to the pandemic, the festival returns to its original spring timeframe. Taste wine and beer from some of the region’s top producers. Local restaurant 13 Bones serves barbecue, and Craig Southern & The Phoenixx entertain festivalgoers. Hours are noon-6 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate. Non-tasting tickets are $5. Hampton Inn offers packages with lodging, two tickets, festival transportation, and a bottle of wine. www.visitmayberry.com
Surry County, NC
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival returns to Elkin, NC on Saturday, May 21. This popular festival combines tastings from many of North Carolina’s premier wineries with live music in a family-friendly setting at Elkin Municipal Park. Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or chairs. Popular beach music band The Castaways will perform. Hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets are $22 in advance and $30 at the gate. Non-tasting tickets are $5. VIP tickets, including preferred parking, food and a T-shirt, are $100. Shuttles available to and from hotels. www.yadkinvalleync.com
Join us June 2-5 for the annual NC Trail Days in Elkin, NC. Nestled between two state parks, Stone Mountain and Pilot Mountain, Elkin is the perfect place to bring your bikes, boats and boots to explore the many area trails. Spend the weekend in Elkin and enjoy guided and self-guided hikes, Yadkin River excursions, outdoor exhibitors, live music, art and more! From the Mountains-To-Sea Trail, Overmountain Victory Trail, and Yadkin River State Paddle Trail to the Yadkin Valley Wine Trail, Downtown Elkin Mural Trail or even the Surry County Sonker Trail… there is a trail for everyone! www.exploreelkin.com
Pisgah Region (Milepost 340-469)
The Burnsville area is home to one of the largest per-capita concentrations of artists anywhere in America. Artists are drawn to the region by the Penland School of Crafts and its national reputation. Most artists welcome visitors to their studios and galleries year-round. To get a look inside studios that are rarely open to the public, check out the Toe River Arts Spring Studio Tour weekend, June 3-5. www.ExploreBurnsville.com
Hendersonville’s beloved Garden Jubilee once again transforms Main Street into a gardener’s paradise Memorial Day weekend. On Saturday, May 28, and Sunday, May 29, the serpentine sidewalks of downtown Hendersonville play host to all things plant-related. Local and regional nurseries sell thousands of annuals and perennials, as well as fruit, vegetable and herb plants. Crafters feature garden art, furniture, planters, birdhouses and outdoor decor. Gardening experts will be on hand to provide tips and tricks for your best season yet. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.org or (800) 828-4244.
Jackson County, NC
Now in its 25th year, the Greening up the Mountains festival returns to historic downtown Sylva on April 23 to celebrate the arrival of spring. Held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the event is sponsored by both the Town of Sylva and the Main Street Sylva Association to honor the mountain community’s local artisans through Appalachian art, music, food, and beverage. Attendees can also enjoy a 5k run, youth talent contest, live music throughout the day on two stages, and much more. www.discoverjacksonnc.com
Festivals and events kick off the arrival of spring in Brevard and Transylvania County. Arts in March celebrates local artists and makers in downtown Brevard from Saturday, March 26, to Sunday, March 27, with live music, open houses, and artists’ demonstrations. This year’s event will also feature the outdoor creator’s market, Made Brevard. In April and May, the Brevard Music Center hosts a series of unforgettable performances. Vocal ensembles, violinists, and more will light the stage in the brand new, state-of-the-art Parker Concert Hall. Discover upcoming events on our Festivals & Events page at www.explorebrevard.com.
Biltmore Estate–Asheville, NC
This spring, enjoy the wonders of our historic gardens and grounds, plus an exclusive Audio Guide to enhance the spacious halls of America’s Largest Home®️. From March 9 to July 10, discover Monet & Friends, the second of three separate multi-sensory, immersive exhibitions in our Legends of Art & Innovation series. Created and produced by Grande Experiences, these events are hosted at Amherst at Deerpark®️. www.biltmore.com
Great Smokies Region
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad–Bryson City, NC
The Bunny Hopper Express Easter Train on April 15 & 16 is a 4 1/2 hour round trip special event train departing the historic Bryson City Depot at 10:30 am that will travel along the Nantahala Gorge River to our picturesque layover destination. Passengers will be on the lookout for those train-hopping bunnies who have snuck on to take a free ride! Festivities include an Easter egg hunt with prizes, a give-away bag with activities to enjoy during the train ride, and a yummy Easter treat for our junior railroaders to enjoy at the layover. There will also be plenty of opportunities for pictures with our bunny hoppers, so don’t forget your camera! www.gsmr.com
Sevierville’s Bloomin’ BBQ Music & Food Festival is back May 20-21, 2022! Catch free, live performances from Dan Tyminski, Leftover Salmon, and 20 other great bands – plus enjoy championship BBQ, crafts, and kids’ activities. https://visitsevierville.com