2023 Summer Festivals Near the Nantahala River

by | Bryson City, Nantahala National Forest, Nantahala River

Summer is the best time of year in the mountains. The wilderness is in full bloom, wildlife is out and about, and the temperatures are just right for a cool white water rafting trip down the Nantahala River with Carolina Outfitters. It’s also a great time of year for festivals, and the Great Smoky Mountains have them in abundance. Come spend your vacation with us and explore all the festivals with white water rafting trips in between. With the 2023 summer season about to kick off in western North Carolina, now is the time to start making plans for a visit. Carolina Outfitters is here to help! Below are a few festivals coming up for your enjoyment.


Freedom Fest | Bryson City, North CarolinaJuly 4th, 2023


Freedom Fest is Bryson City, North Carolina’s 4th of July celebration. The festivities begin at 8:00 a.m. with a 5k race. The festival opens at 10:00 a.m. on Everett Street with arts, crafts, food and music. Enjoy browsing at local boutiques and galleries downtown and find art, photography, pottery, and more. The day ends with fireworks at 10:00 p.m. Dogs are welcome at the festival and fireworks, but please be mindful of their comfort and make sure they have enough water for a hot summer day.


Summer Splash | Darnell Farms – June 17, 2023


To kick off summer, Darnell Farms throws a summer splash with vendors, crafters, artists, hayrides, live music, demonstrations, special activities, and foods! Check with them to learn more as they add events. Darnell Farms is always doing something fun for all the holidays, so visit with them often to see what’s going on.


Swain County Agricultural Fair – Aug 19, 2023

The Swain County Agricultural Fair brings you home grown, handmade, and farm fresh from local farmers, artists, and crafters. There will be local food and craft vendors, old time fair games, and much more. 

Cherokee Bluegrass Festival – June 9-11, 2023


The Cherokee Bluegrass Festival is a three day musical event held at the Happy Holiday Campground in Cherokee, NC. This year’s lineup of bluegrass include The Malpass Brothers, Mo Pitney, Balsam Range, and more! If you love bluegrass, get your tickets, and come on out to enjoy some good music.

Mountain Heritage Day – September 30, 2023


Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Day brings people together for a diverse dip into Southern Appalachian mountain culture. WCU hosts a huge list of events, including Cherokee Games, Music, Singing, Clogging, Arts, Crafts and more. Be sure and check out the Andy Shaw Ford Classic Car Show, or walk\run a 5K while you’re there. This is a huge festival, and there is so much to do and see. Don’t miss it!

Cherokee Summer Carnival – June 29 – July 9, 2023

cherokee-summer- carnival photo by Tim Ball

In the mood for some carmel apples, cotton candy, and carnival rides? Cherokee is less than a 30 minute drive from the Nantahala River, and they are having their summer carnival this year at the elementary school site on Tsali Blvd from June 29 – July 9, 2023. Cherokee, NC has a lot to see and do, so pay them a visit after your awesome white water rafting trip with Carolina Outfitters


The above are just a small taste of the yearly festivals in western North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains where our heritage is actively preserved so that future generations can enjoy the rich, diverse traditions and the people who keep them alive. Carolina Outfitters is proud to be a part of that history. Come on out and enjoy the mountain life!


Margaret Marr, is a local author of paranormal, mystery, and suspense laced with romance. She has written over 15 books available on Amazon. 


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