With so much happening in the local art scene, it’s hard to keep up with all the things to do in Asheville. Avant-garde artisans create memorable, ground-breaking works in every medium imaginable throughout the city and beyond, and while it can be difficult to experience it all in a single visit, it’s certainly fun – and inspiring – to try!
Asheville’s enormous artist community has led the city to consistently be named among the top arts destinations in the country. The River Arts District is home to more than 280 artists, many with open studio hours. Here, Second Saturdays include gallery walks, demonstrations, live music and more. The Downtown Asheville Art District has more than 20 galleries, with First Friday Art Walks from July through November.
For works by artists from throughout Southern Appalachia, visit the Southern Highland Craft Guild’s flagship location on the Blue Ridge Parkway or one of its three galleries. Or plan a visit to the legendary Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands, held every spring and fall.
Asheville’s Music Scene
Live music in Asheville is a melting pot of musical notes. Stroll around town any evening of the week and you’ll hear tunes spilling out of one of the many music halls, restaurants, pubs or other performance spaces, or you’ll be treated to a sidewalk performance by one of downtown’s many buskers. Venues including Asheville Music Hall, The Grey Eagle, Harrah’s Cherokee Center, The Orange Peel, The Salvage Station and The Thomas Wolfe Auditorium host internationally known acts and up-and-comers alike. Meanwhile, festivals such as Downtown After FiveLEAF Downtown, LEAF Global Arts present music, food, art and more.
Several local theater companies keep the footlights warm year-round. Asheville Community Theatre, Attic Salt Theatre Company, Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective, The Magnetic Theatre, Montford Park Players, North Carolina Stage Company and many others produce a mix of plays and musicals, including classic and contemporary works as well as originals. Dance aficionados will enjoy performances by Asheville Ballet, Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre and Stewart/Owen Dance.
Asheville is one of those places that is actually deserving of the word “unique” due to its blend of creativity and forward-thinking community. The impact of the arts in the city is immense, and one that should be explored fully – even if it means you’ll have to return time and again to take it all in.