When it gets to be August and we start to feel down about the summer heat, there’s only one place to go…up. More specifically, up one of NC’s many mountains where both hot events and cool breezes await. With food & wine festivals, total solar eclipses and multiple cultural extravaganzas to look forward to, August just might be the best time to pack up the car and head west.

For The Foodies

The Asheville Wine & Food Festival is back and better than ever August 18-19. The event promises to introduce you to “all that’s worth savoring” in the North Carolina mountains and has a packed itinerary planned including two Grand Tastings sampling local fare from the area’s top chefs, wineries, breweries, and distilleries and a Sweet & Savory Saturday night tasting. Single day tickets & full weekend tickets can be purchased here. The event takes place in Pack Square Park, Downtown Asheville. Get your tickets now before they sell out! 21+ only.

If you can’t make it to Asheville’s largest culinary event of the year, head to the NC mountains the next weekend, August 24 for ASAP’s Local Food Experience. This event focuses on the sturdy relationship between good food and good farmers. The tastings take place at New Belgium Brewery near Asheville, NC. All featured foods pride themselves on being grown, raised and produced in Western North Carolina by over a dozen local chefs, artisan producers and family farms. Tickets are just $25 a person and include complementary beverages from New Belgium’s beer line up.

Charlotte Beer Enthusiasts can’t miss this year’s High Country Beer Fest taking place in Boone, NC August 26. This 100% nonprofit event features samples of craft beer, craft food, good music, and seminars educating beer lovers on beer tasting, brewing and food pairings. Support Charlotte breweries like Bird Song and Unknown Brewing while sampling new, regional picks like Appalachian Mountain Brewery and Newgrass. General Admission tickets run for $40.00.

For the Athletes

I hope you’ve been training. The Lake Lure Olympiad takes place August 11-13 as Western North Carolina’s largest 3 day sport’s festival. Events are still open for registration for those interested in the 10K Dam Run, Lake Lure Triathlon, Run to the Rock 5K, and Bike to the Rock 25 mile race. For those of us that haven’t been training, the weekend holds multiple events and entertainment for spectators including a golf tournament and pickle ball championship and raises over $300,000 for local charities.

For the Culture Enthusiasts

NC Mountains

photo via HCPress

Blowning Rock, NC hosts Art in the Park on August 12. This 55 year old event showcases Western North Carolina’s best of the best artists in an environment created for browsing. From jewelry, to pottery, to painting, Art in the Park’s 90+ artisans interact with those that choose to visit with thousands of others throughout the summer months.

Nobody puts baby in the corner. Unless they are headed to the Dirty Dancing Festival happening at Lake Lure this August 18-19. Western North Carolina hosts a celebration of 30 years since the release of this classic film with a lakeside screening of the movie at Morse Park Meadows, live entertainment, local food and beverage vendors, and an arts and crafts garden. What better place to celebrate 30 years than the home of where Dirty Dancing filming took place on Patrick Swayze’s birthday (August 18)?

If you’re looking to submerge yourself in Appalachian heritage, look no further than the Franklin Area Folk Festival August 19 in Franklin, NC. This day long celebration features over 50 live demonstrations including quilting, wood carving, civil war reenactment and canoe building. The event is free and includes a full day of activities for children and parents alike. Stay the weekend for Franklin’s downtown block party, Monday August 21 celebrating this year’s highly anticipated total solar eclipse.

Peel out fast for one of the southeast’s largest car shows, Hot Nights, Cool Rides August 18-19 in Forest City, North Carolina. Over 400 motor vehicles are featured and range from motorcycles to Hot Rods and Model T’s to Mustangs. Live music entertainment takes the stage all day Saturday while you spend your time paroosing the vehicles and enjoying the quaint, patriotic downtown Forest City.

For the Music Lovers

Enjoy a night of summer sounds, unbeatable sunsets, and the best view of the Blue Ridge the Biltmore has to offer at their Biltmore Concert Series happening every weekend this August. A full lineup of bands can be found online but some guest appearances include Kool & The Gang, The Beach Boys, Tony Bennett, and the Goo Goo Dolls just to boast a few.

For Everyone

photo via Eclipse2017.org

Prepare for illumination. This August 21, a once in a lifetime total solar eclipse will darken western North Carolina skies. Nine counties in North Carolina are in the eclipse’s total darkness path – Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Swain, and Transylvania. Many towns are hosting festivals in celebration of the eclipse. Experience astronomy talks, moonlight shopping and moonpies (duh) at Sylva’s local festival or yoga in the park, a 5K run, and photography tutorial in Highlands. Franklin is also hosting it’s own celebratory festival mentioned earlier. Even if you don’t make it into total darkness, a partial eclipse will be visible everywhere in the state.