From spring through fall, there is literally a festival happening every weekend in mountain towns surrounding Balsam Mountain Preserve.
One of the most popular events is Folkmoot, a two-week celebration of the world’s cultural heritage through folk music and dance in Waynesville. Waynesville is also home to the annual Haywood Apple Harvest Festival—the region’s premier juried arts and crafts event and celebration of all things apple.
Sylva’s annual Greening up the Mountains Festival features mountain music, baked goods, and games for children. Dillsboro’s Luminaries and Lights festival runs during the weekends in December, illuminating the town with thousands of lights and candles.
Shindig On The Green, Asheville’s most popular summer family happening, takes place over the weekend from July through September and features mountain dancers, bluegrass bands, and storytellers. Another favorite, the Asheville Food and Wine Festival, provides tasty offerings from local and international wineries, local and area breweries, restaurateurs and chefs, farmers, and artisan food producers.
Live theatre, symphony, ballet, and other cultural events are all just a short drive away from Balsam Mountain Preserve.
Set in a beautiful valley between the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains, The Fine and Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University combines state-of-the-art educational opportunities with an inspiring venue for world-class performers and artists.
One of the treasures of Western North Carolina, The Haywood Arts Regional Theatre (HART) in Waynesville is a volunteer-based community theatre, producing year-round plays and musicals from its home, The Performing Arts Center at the Shelton House.
About 40 minutes away in Asheville, you’ll find a symphony orchestra, the Asheville Community Theater, and the Diana Wortham Theater—a performing arts center that is home to the ballet, lyric opera, and hundreds of live theater and musical performances throughout the year.
Whether you’re planning a tour of culinary delights or seeking outdoor sport, Asheville has you covered.
Already well-known for wonderful craft breweries, Asheville chefs seem to make the semi-finalist or finalist list for James Beard Awards every year.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, a thriving arts community, and the Biltmore Estate top the list of Asheville’s best-known experiences. With its funky charm and eclectic shops, Downtown Asheville makes for an ideal day trip as do its surrounding towns and attractions. Stop by the Orange Peel or Asheville Music Hall to enjoy the music of a great local or regional band.
Seeking cultural discovery? Explore the homes of our nation’s great writers and take in the history of mountain music. Or check out UNC Asheville, one of the top small liberal arts colleges in the United States. No matter the reason for your visit, Asheville will make it one to remember.
Arts and Crafts
When the legendary George Vanderbilt built the Biltmore Estate, he brought in artisans from around the world—many of whom stayed in the region long after the estate was completed.
Today, local shops offer fine works from talented artists who bring their visions to life right here in the area. Twigs and Leaves, Studio 33 Jewelry, and Burr Studio and Gallery are a few favorite galleries in Downtown Waynesville.
The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, and many other publications have recognized Asheville as a premier arts destination. Comprised of 13 unique storefronts, Asheville’s River Arts District offers visitors the opportunity to meet and talk with artists in their studios. The Asheville Downtown Galleries Association features 24 galleries offering glass arts, sculptures, pottery, fine paintings, jewelry, and much more.
Widely recognized as one of the nation’s top recreation areas
Western North Carolina offers whitewater rafting on Class 1 through 5 rapids, mountain biking, hiking the Appalachian Trail, boating, horseback riding, snow skiing, camping, and fly fishing.
And if that’s not enough, the Blue Ridge Parkway is only four miles from Balsam Mountain Preserve. As one of the country’s national treasures, the Parkway experience is an unforgettable way to spend time admiring the awesome wonders of nature.
You’ll find several universities near Balsam Mountain Preserve, including Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.
Located about 15 minutes from the main gatehouse, this college is home to about 9,000 students, and is preparing for some major expansion projects. Haywood Community College in nearby Clyde offers over 50 curricular programs. Asheville’s Center for Creative Retirement at the University of North Carolina-Asheville offers an impressive array of continuing education programs for adults of all ages.
Health care accessibility is another major benefit for the residents of Balsam Mountain Preserve.
Harris Regional Medical Center is just five minutes from the main gatehouse. Harris Regional is an 86-bed acute care facility that has experienced strong growth in recent years, with four major expansions since the 1980s.
Just 11 miles away, Haywood Regional Medical Center is a nearly 200-bed acute care hospital with an ER, Urgent Care Center, Home Care Center, and a large 54,000 square foot Health and Wellness Center. In addition to hospital care, there are over 25 private medical practices in Waynesville.
Asheville’s Mission Hospital complex is consistently rated among the top 100 heart and orthopedic hospitals in the United States.
Located just five minutes from the Preserve’s main gatehouse, Sylva is a small town of about 2,500 residents situated amidst the Great Smoky Mountains.
Here you’ll find easy access to grocery stores, banks, shopping, and medical care. The thriving downtown area features unique restaurants and shops in quaint tree-lined streets. Stop by Lulu’s on Main for fine dining or Innovation Brewery for some delicious craft beer.
Bring your little ones to the state-of-the-art playground designed by children and built by the community. Sylva also owns a pristine tract of land, Pinnacle Park, featuring hiking trails, waterfalls, and a town view from 5,000 feet. Known for its whitewater rafting and trout fishing, the Tuckasegee River runs right through town. And of course, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is only a 30-minute drive away.
Located 10 minutes up the Expressway in Haywood County, the bustling town of Waynesville offers top-notch restaurants, shopping, and art galleries, as well as the HART Performing Arts Center, Haywood Community College, and Medwest Haywood Hospital. Balsam Mountain Preserve residents can easily meet their retail shopping needs at any one of Waynesville’s many national retailers.
With a population of nearly 10,000 residents, Waynesville combines an ideal year-round climate, beautiful mountain scenery, and warm Southern hospitality. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pisgah National Forest, and the Harmon Den Wildlife Refuge occupy nearly half of beautiful Haywood County.