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Springtime Festivals in the Great Smoky Mountains

Greening up the Mountains festival. Downtown Sylva.

Oh, spring! Who doesn’t love the new flowers blooming and the trees budding back into a season of pure lushness? After the long winter, who doesn’t crave temperatures that feel almost too pleasant to be true? If spring in general doesn’t get your motor revving, plan a visit to the Smokies and you are sure to be inspired by the weather, the natural beauty and the many traditional and eclectic spring festivals in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina.

2024 Smoky Mountain Special Events Calendar

April 8, 2024: 2024 Eclipse party 

Not a festival per say, but definitely a noteworthy occurrence and event!  This Monday event at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, NC, runs from 1 – 5 p.m. Plan a trip, zin, and sip to celebrate. That is to say, a rafting trip, a zipline adventure, and a great big ‘ol sip at Big Wesser’s and Rivers End Restaurant. All three are being offered as fun ways to watch this total solar eclipse. While we’re not in the totality, you still may want to consider this one because your next opportunity for an East coast eclipse won’t be until 2045.

April 27, 2024: May Day Parade and Maypole Dance

The John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, in Clay County, NC, offers year-round weeklong and weekend classes for adults in craft, art, music, dance and more and on April 27th, they will host the annual May Day Parade and Maypole Dance on their beautiful campus. This celebration of Spring is free and open to the public. The May Day Parade begins at 11:45 a.m. and starts the day of costuming, puppets, ribbon dances and general merrymaking.

April 27, 2024: Greening Up the Mountains Festival

Sylva, NC, is known for its historic charm, its plentiful restaurants, famed WNC fly fishing, and also for its annual Greening Up the Mountains Festival. This heritage arts festival takes over Historic Downtown Sylva from 10a-4p on Saturday April 27th highlighting the arrival of Spring through traditional and contemporary forms of Appalachian art, live music, local and regional vendors, plus food and beverages.

a Scottish group in a parade.

May 3-5, 2024: 2024 Thunder in the Smokies Spring Motorcycle Rally 

Head over to the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds in Maggie Valley, NC. This motorcycle rally is the  largest of its kind in Maggie Valley. Enjoy a weekend of Thunder in the Smokies, which will knock your winter socks off with the tour rides, a bike show, games, vendors, nightly live music and more! 

May 11, 2024: The Whole Bloomin’ Thing Spring Festival

This fun fest takes place in the Historic Frog Level District in Waynesville. It’s a full day of fun and flowers! You can shop local growers and artisans and their large selections of plants, handmade goods and garden-inspired products.  Plus live music, more shopping, food, and bevs just down the block in the Historic Frog Level Shopping District. The festival runs from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

May 11, 2024: Murphy Spring Festival

Murphy, NC, the county seat of Cherokee County, NC, celebrates Spring in its own way at this Saturday fest. Tennessee Street and Valley River Avenue will be blocked off for a proper street festival full of unique vendors and crafters, kids’ activities, live stage performances throughout the day, dancing, art, food, shopping and fun at the beer garden. It takes place from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

May 11-12, 2024: Bear Shadow Festival

If music happens to be your favorite jam, check out the amazing line-up at the Bear Shadow Festival taking place at the Highlands Cashiers Plateau in Highlands, N.C.  Since 2021, this festival has brought world-class acts to the Plateau for some mind-blowing music, Blue Ridge mountains views and spring revelry. 

May 18-19, 2024: 20th Annual Strawberry Jam Festival.  

The good folks at Darnell Farms in Bryson City, NC, have fun all year through, but at this special festival they really create some special Springtime magic. This two-day celebration guarantees loads of treats for all the senses with arts, crafts, inflatables, live music, pie-eating contests, u-pick strawberries and more. Kicking it off is a 5K and Half Marathon on Saturday May 18th. 

June 6-8, 2024: Cherokee Bluegrass Festival

American bluegrass music originated in Southern Appalachia and that old time sound can still be heard throughout the hills and hollers of the Smokies. Pay tribute to this musical tradition during a three-day,  jam-packed event filled with the sounds of live bluegrass music at the Happy Holiday RV Village in Cherokee, NC. Bring your own chairs, kids are welcome and camping is optional. This is one of our favorite spring festivals in the great smoky mountains.

Header image courtesy of Jackson County TDA.