This critically-acclaimed summer arts festival/series, presented by Appalachian State University, features a diverse mix of music, dance, theatre, visual arts and film. It is regularly recognized as one of the “Top Twenty Events in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society.
An Appalachian Summer Festival began in 1984 as a chamber music festival and has evolved over the years into one of the largest regional multi-arts festivals in the country. Its mission is to present accomplished and respected performing and visual artists who are regionally, nationally and internationally recognized, while also providing opportunities for emerging artists.
Events take place each July on and around the university campus. Past performers include: the North Carolina Symphony, Miami City Ballet, Louisville Orchestra, Willie Nelson, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Arlo Guthrie, the Beach Boys, Chicago, Maya Angelou, The Manhattan Transfer and Dierks Bentley. Annual attendance is more than 26,000 people.
For a schedule of events or ticket info, call 828-262-4046 or visit www.appsummer.org
The Banner House Museum demonstrates what life was like in the North Carolina mountains during the mid to late 1800s.
Built in 1865, the house belonged to the Banners, one of Banner Elk’s founding families: Samuel Henry Banner, his wife, Jane, and their seven children. As the Banner family grew, the area came to be known as Banner’s Elk. Eventually, the town of Banner Elk was incorporated by the N.C. General Assembly in 1911.
The Banner House Museum — purchased, restored and opened to the public in 2007 by the Greater Banner Elk Heritage Foundation — displays artifacts that illustrate the daily lives of those early settlers. Visitors encounter period furnishings, farm tools, hand-stitched quilts, vintage clothing, photographs and paintings. Rooms are arranged to depict the culture of the late 19th century, and volunteer docents lead daily tours.
The museum plays host to special events throughout the year, such as Children’s Day, a cemetery tour, and a bus tour of historic Banner Elk. The ground floor of the house is accessible to wheelchairs.
The museum is open mid-June through September. For rates and hours of operation, call 828-898-3634 or visit www.bannerhousemuseum.org.
This small museum, operated by the Beech Mountain Historical Society, seeks to preserve the history of the mountain by educating locals and visitors about its unique history.
The museum is open seasonally with rotating exhibits. Exhibit topics include: life on Beech Mountain before the ski resort; background on its earliest known visitors, the Cherokees; logging, milling and narrow gauge railroads on the mountain; the era of ownership by the Carolina Caribbean Corporation (late 1960s to 1980); early skiing; Land of Oz amusement park; and other interesting subjects.
Admission is free. For more information, call 828-387-2930 or click here.
Enjoy a taste of Broadway in the mountains with Ensemble Stage, a local theater troupe known for high-quality performances at affordable prices.
Ensemble Stage is based at the Historic Banner Elk School, where it entertains audiences with such notable titles as: “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “The Star Spangled Girl,” “Robin Hood,” “Dracula” and “Treasure Island.” The group was founded in 2009 in Blowing Rock, before relocating to Banner Elk in the spring of 2017.
Its mission is to provide visitors and residents of the High Country with a broad range of live theatrical presentations, while inspiring a greater participation in the arts.
Ensemble Stage has converted the school’s auditorium into an intimate 99-seat theater that provides every attendee with a great vantage point.
To buy tickets, or to get a listing of current performances, click here.
Founded in 1979, the FORUM summer series brings stimulating cultural programs to Banner Elk. The series is a joint effort of Lees-McRae College and community residents.
There are eight programs each year ranging in variety. They include: speakers, vocalists, big band music, chamber ensembles, pianists, dance and drama.
The selection process for performers is unique. Programs are selected as a result of personal contact between area residents and national talent agents. Recommendations are made to the program selection committee, which makes the final selections. Each year the committee considers more than 50 candidates, reviews performers, and reduces the number of candidates to 16. These are presented to a board, which eight programs for the year.
All performances are held in the evenings at in the Broyhill Theatre of Hayes Auditorium.
For tickets, a schedule of events or more information, call 828-898-8748 or click here
The Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum is home to more than two dozen exhibits on the natural history of Grandfather Mountain and the surrounding region.
Upon entering the gallery, the first thing visitors encounter is one of the finest collections of North Carolina gems and minerals available on public display. There are some 62 kinds of minerals (350 specimens in all) including crystals of the state’s famed emeralds and rubies and the largest amethyst ever found in North America. The collection also features the finest group of Tar Heel gold specimens exhibited anywhere.
Other exhibits showcase the various birds of North Carolina, as well as early explorers to the mountain, including Daniel Boone, Andre Michaux and Asa Gray. Another interesting exhibit covers Native American artifacts found on Grandfather Mountain, followed by photo exhibits about each of the animals found in the Mountain’s wildlife habitats. Weather buffs enjoy a touch-screen presentation on the weather-related science behind the Earth’s climate.
Guests also encounter life-like wax models of wildflowers, berries and mushrooms found on Grandfather. Adjacent to the museum is the Nature Museum Auditorium, which shows outstanding nature videos filmed at Grandfather Mountain. Featured selections play on loop throughout the day.
NOTE: Access to the nature museum requires the purchase of an admission ticket to Grandfather Mountain, which is open year-round, weather permitting.
For details on admission costs and hours of operation, call 828-733-1059 or visit www.grandfather.com.
Hickory Ridge Living History Museum is located on the grounds of Horn in the West, the nation’s oldest Revolutionary War drama. The museum was created in 1980 to foster a better understanding of the life of the settlers in the Horn in the West outdoor drama.
Staffed with interpreters in period clothing, the 18th century homestead gives visitors a glimpse into the daily lives of early mountain settlers. The museum also provides insight into the self sufficiency of our forefathers by showing the routines and skills they possessed such as hearthside cooking, weaving, making candles, spinning and blacksmithing.
The museum strives to recreate the atmosphere of a small mountain community around the time of the Revolutionary War when furnishings were sparse but the family was diverse with its religion, humor, and self sufficiency, creating a warm atmosphere.
Horn in the West is the nation’s oldest Revolutionary War drama. It brings to life famous frontiersman Daniel Boone and the hardy mountain settlers in their struggle to preserve their freedom during the turbulent years of the War for Independence. The drama highlights those settlers who came to the Blue Ridge Mountains seeking freedom and escape from British tyranny.
As playwright Kermit Hunter wrote in the original script “The gaze of man is westward, as if he could glimpse somewhere beyond, the golden reaches of eternity. As though he could hear, blowing in the distant sunset, a Horn of Freedom!”
A big part of the production is the outdoor amphitheatre, built in 1952 in just three months. The 2,500-seat Daniel Boone Theatre has been described as the best outdoor theatre in the East, carved from 35 acres of rugged mountain terrain, including a tree-covered ravine.
The season typically runs from early June through mid August. Cast and crew of Horn in the West are all professionals, hired through a series of combined auditions throughout the Southeast.
The performing arts department of Lees-McRae College combines with the community each summer to produce a top-notch series of theatrical productions in the Hayes Auditorium on campus.
Since 1985, summer theatre patrons have experience a wide variety of shows, ranging from classic Shakespeare to Broadway musicals to shows written by local playwrights. The casts include professional, local and student actors. This summer series typically begins in late June and runs through early August.
The quality of the productions make the Lees-McRae Summer Theatre one of the best summer theatres in the Southeast.
To purchase tickets, see a list of upcoming shows, or learn more about LMST, call 828-898-8709 or click here
Appalachian State University’s world-class visual arts center occupies a unique location in the heart of downtown Boone, yet within the physical boundaries of the campus. This makes it easily accessible by visitors and students alike.
The Turchin Center is the largest of its kind in Western North Carolina. Its exhibitions focus on a blend of new and historically-important artwork and feature the work of nationally and internationally renowned artists, as well as many of the region’s finest artists.
However, the center is not devoted solely to the viewing of art. It has multi-faceted programs to give it a dynamic, living, breathing presence in the Appalachian community. The goal is to create opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to experience the power and excitement of the visual arts.
The center’s urban location places it at the crossroads between campus and community. The building is designed to visually and physically make the arts more accessible to the community, and to serve as a gateway to the greater campus beyond the center.
A pedestrian gateway features several areas for public sculpture, including the Kay Borkowski Sculpture Garden. Visitors are able to walk through the gardens and access nearby Valborg Theatre, the Belk Library and Information Commons, and the University Bookstore.