Art on the Greene transforms the grounds of the Historic Banner Elk School into an art gallery four times each summer. These popular shows take place Memorial Day weekend, July Fourth weekend, the first weekend in August and Labor Day weekend.
Each show highlights works from local and regional artists, and allows shoppers to add to their art collections while supporting historic preservation at the same time. Booth rental proceeds are donated to the Town of Banner Elk for ongoing efforts to transform the historic school into a center for visual and performing arts.
In 2020, the show dates are: May 23-24, July 4-5, Aug. 1-2 and Sept. 5-6.
“I hope attendees find our town to be a place they want to return and tell other people about,” says Kimberly Tufts, show director. “I also hope they leave with something tangible, that they find a new piece of artwork and build a relationship with an artist that enriches their life.”
The number of artists exhibiting at each show range from 40 to 60. They represent a variety of media, such as metal, glass, ceramics, wood, watercolor, acrylics and oil.
“The focus is on embracing our Appalachian heritage and really highlighting things in the hand-crafted Appalachian tradition,” Tufts says.
As a resort town perched at 3,701 feet in elevation in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Banner Elk is an ideal location for summertime art shows. High temperatures average in the upper 70s, with lots of sunny days.
“We have a rich heritage that makes us special, and I think people feel that when they’re here,” Tufts says. “Banner Elk is also a very friendly town in a beautiful location. We have wonderful restaurants and so many things to do outdoors, which make this place a destination.”
While attending the shows, folks are invited to check out the Historic Banner Elk School. The 1939 rock building was built as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project during the Great Depression. The school is home to the B.E. Artists Gallery, Ensemble Stage professional theater, Banner Elk Book Exchange and the editorial offices of a local lifestyle magazine.
Art on the Greene has no admission fee. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Food vendors are on hand, complementing the offerings at downtown restaurants within easy walking distance.
For additional information, call the show director at 828-387-0581.
Looking for fun and affordable summer cabin vacation? Look no further than a Banner Elk cabin says one of the world’s largest travel websites.
TripAdvisor.com, with more than 375 million unique visitors monthly, named Banner Elk to its list of 15 Affordable Summer Cabin Getaways Across America. Trip Advisor analyzed user ratings for all U.S. towns that have rental properties available on its website. It then calculated the average cost of a one-week stay in July in a two-bedroom cabin rental in those cities and towns.
Banner Elk made the top five for having an average weekly cabin rental of $768, while offering “no shortage of challenging hikes and spectacular overlooks.”
TripAdvisor further commented on Banner Elk’s convenient location: “This Blue Ridge Mountain getaway is close to major attractions like Grandfather Mountain, Blowing Rock, and the Appalachian Trail.” It also noted, “the wine and beer scene won’t disappoint, either, with Banner Elk Winery, Grandfather Vineyard, and Flat Top Brewing Company offering delicious grapes and suds.”
“Trip Advisor is the top website in the U.S. for consumer-rated travel. It’s a big deal when a site of that magnitude recognizes Banner Elk,” says Nancy Owen, representative of the Banner Elk Tourism Development Authority. “This exposes Banner Elk to millions of people throughout North America and paints us in a very positive light. It also lets people know that, even though we have very nice accommodations, we are also reasonably priced.”
For more info on Banner Elk lodging options, go to the lodging section of this website. To read the full TripAdvisor article, click here.
For a town with less than 1,500 residents, Banner Elk has an amazing culinary scene. So amazing, in fact, that Banner Elk is known as the culinary hot spot of the NC High Country.
An impressive array of locally-owned independent restaurants has made this resort town a dining destination. Whether you’re in search of a fine-dining white tablecloth experience, an upscale bistro, ethnic cuisine or a satisfying sandwich from a tasty deli, this town’s thriving food scene covers the spectrum.
Artisanal restaurant is the pinnacle of Banner Elk’s culinary offerings, a fine dining restaurant twice named among the Top 100 Restaurants in America by Open Table. Meanwhile, a new name on the Banner Elk dining scene is Chef’s Table, a farm-to-table eatery serving the freshest local ingredients in the High Country.
Speaking of the High Country, if you want a taste of the mountains, don’t leave without ordering fresh trout. Have it for dinner at long-time favorite Banner Elk Cafe & Lodge. Banner Elk Cafe is unique because its two kitchens offer a wide selection of lunches and dinners from two menus.
After a morning or afternoon cruising the slopes of the nearby ski resorts on Sugar and Beech mountains, stop into Dunn’s Deli to refuel. This New York-style deli serves mile-high clubs, tuna melts and cheese-steak sandwiches. Wash it all down with a cold draft.
Sample authentic Cajun cuisine at Louisiana Purchase Food & Spirits or Bayou Smokehouse and Grill. Warm up with gumbo, jambalaya or blackened mountain trout. Bayou has a variety of craft beers on tap, and Louisiana Purchase has received the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine.
Since 1985, Stonewalls Restaurant has been a destination for locals and visitors. Now under new ownership, the restaurant has upgraded to a chef-driven menu with plenty of culinary creations. Of course, Stonewalls remains the place for juicy steaks, slow-roasted prime rib and its well-known salad bar.
For international fare, be sure to stop by Puerto Nuevo (Mexican), Sorrento’s Bistro (Italian) and Cam Ranh Bay (Vietnamese).
And don’t skip breakfast while you’re here. Bella’s serves Belgian waffles, stuffed crepes and scratch-made biscuits.
Still hungry? Click here for a full list of Banner Elk restaurants.
Looking for a romantic getaway? Book a Banner Elk theater package and escape to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
A pair of Banner Elk accommodations have teamed up with Ensemble Stage to offer theater packages that start at just $119. Each package includes one night of lodging for two, a pair of tickets to an Ensemble Stage performance, discount dining coupons for Banner Elk Café & Lodge, and breakfast at your lodging the next morning.
The packages are centered around Ensemble Stage, a professional theater group that performs year-round in an intimate setting in the renovated auditorium of the Historic Banner Elk School in the heart of town. Shows range from comedies to dramas to murder mysteries.
Lodging options for the packages are the Best Western Mountain Lodge and Perry House Bed & Breakfast. The Perry House is walking distance to the theater and restaurants. The Best Western is located just 1.3 miles from the theater.
Booking a package involves two easy steps. First, go to the theater package page to pick the date of the show you wish to attend. Then, contact your choice from the lodging options and request a Banner Elk Theater Package. Once the package is booked, your accommodation will set aside two show tickets to be presented to you at check-in. Your hosts prefer at least a week’s advance notice, but will make every effort to accommodate shorter lead times.
All package info is available here.
Every autumn during the third weekend of October, the Blue Ridge Mountain town of Banner Elk becomes the woolly worm racing capital. That’s when this resort town welcomes visitors from near and far for the world famous Woolly Worm Festival.
The festival features two days of racing woolly worms, aka woollybear caterpillars, with crowds cheering on their favorites. The 2020 festival takes place Oct. 17-18.
Races are held throughout the day Saturday and Sunday at Historic Banner Elk School in the heart of downtown. The overall winner of Saturday’s races earns a $1,000 grand prize and the honor of predicting the winter weather for North Carolina’s High Country.
While Sunday’s races don’t involve forecasting privileges, participants still vie for prestige, along with a $500 prize.
“It’s really an all-American small town at its best,” says Mary Jo Brubaker, festival chairperson. “As a society, we go to such extremes to entertain people these days, but the down-home simplicity of this festival is wonderfully refreshing.”
The quirky weather-forecasting tradition comes from mountain lore that says the 13 segments of a woollybear caterpillar represent the 13 weeks of winter. Black bands mean cold, snowy weeks, while brown bands indicate warmer conditions. However, each woolly worm sports a different color pattern, so the festival was started in 1978 to determine which worm provides the official forecast.
All attendees are welcome to race a woolly worm. They may bring their own or purchase one from the local PTO. Races take place in heats of 25 contestants. Each worm inches its way up a string as its owner coaxes and cheers. The first to the finish line advances to the next round.
“We have families that have come year after year, and they wear family team T-shirts, like they’re a NASCAR racing team,” Brubaker says. “It’s so much fun to watch people racing the worms, and everyone’s laughing and cheering.”
In addition to races, the festival includes food, craft vendors and live entertainment.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Those interested in racing a worm must register and are encouraged to do so by 1 p.m. each day. Daily admission is $6 for adults, $4 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and younger.
Lodging options are available here and be sure to check out Banner Elk’s award-winning culinary scene.
For details festival information, go to www.WoollyWorm.com or call 828-898-5605.
There’s no tubing like snow tubing, and the Banner Elk area is home to four of the best places to snow tube in the North Carolina mountains.
Snow tubing is among the easiest — and most fun — winter sports because it requires little preparation, equipment or skill. Just hop on a tube and whoosh your way down the hill.
Visitors to Banner Elk have a quartet of options. Within a few minutes of downtown are snow tubing parks at Sugar Mountain Resort and Beech Mountain Resort. About 25 minutes from town is Hawksnest Snow Tubing at the former Hawksnest ski resort. And, 30 minutes from Banner Elk is Jonas Ridge Snow Tubing.
All of these tubing parks provide 100% snowmaking to help with snow conditions when Mother Nature is taking a break, and they are considered the cream of the crop for snow tubing in North Carolina. But as far as which one is the best depends on what you’re looking for.
Hawksnest Snow Tubing is the biggest. It converted from a ski resort to snow tubing in 2008, giving it plenty of space. There are more than 30 runs in four sections, all connected by conveyor carpet lifts. The runs range in length from 400 to 1,000 feet.
Hawksnest also offers a winter zipline tour that soars above the tubing lanes. Because its elevation is not as high as Sugar Mountain or Beech Mountain, it occasionally encounters slightly warmer temperatures that create challenges in snowmaking.
The snow tubing park at Beech Mountain Resort is the newest. This state-of-the-art facility opened in winter of 2015-16 in the Alpine Village at the base of the ski slopes. The eight runs are extra-long and punctuated by small moguls known as rollers. It is lighted and surrounded by high-tech snow guns and a sound system. A Magic Carpet conveyor whisks tubers quickly back to the top.
Customers can buy tickets right there in the Beech Mountain ski village and enjoy other activities in the village, including ice skating and shopping, when finished with snowtubing.
Sugar Mountain Resort has the closest snow tubing park to Banner Elk. Sugar Mountain is known for strong snowmaking capabilities on the ski slopes and that goes the same for its snow tubing runs. Six runs are served by a conveyor carpet lift and Sugar probably stays open the most days each winter. The tubing runs are adjacent to the skating rink and both are easy to access because they have their own parking lot before you get further up the mountain to the ski resort.
Jonas Ridge is a smaller operation that has been in business since 2004. It has five lanes and recently replaced its rope tow with a conveyor carpet lift. Photographers take pictures as you tube and the photos are available for purchase on the spot, or later online. There is a small, cozy lodge with a fireplace and an observation deck.
Although snow tubing is easy and no lessons are needed, there are a few things you can do to maximize your adventure:
- First, wear warm socks and waterproof or water-resistant winter boots. Otherwise, your shoes will get soggy, wet and/or ruined, and your feet will be cold the entire time.
- Second, wear a winter jacket that is either waterproof or water-resistant for all those same reasons. You will be on ground level and encountering snow and slush.
- Third, pay attention to your pants. If you don’t have waterproof/water-resistant pants, make sure to wear thermal underwear or some other layer underneath your pants (jeans are okay, but they are 100% cotton and absorb a lot of water).
- Fourth, wear a ski cap (or beanie, tobaggon, whatever you call it) and an old pair of sunglasses. Your head and face will encounter wind as you whoosh down the tubing runs!
Finally, when the day of fun is done, head to your choice of lodging in Banner Elk and then check out the amazing culinary scene. Better yet, stay a couple nights and visit all four tubing parks in one trip!