Close this search box.

Find Your Festival

A guide to the Blue Ridge’s best outdoor events celebrating music and adventure 

Festival season is in bloom. Starting this month, the South gets packed with a full schedule of fun outdoor parties, featuring loads of live music, local food and craft beer, and opportunities to play in the mountains. From river gatherings to bluegrass bashes, here’s an extended calendar of the region’s best fests. 

Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance

Pittsboro, N.C. 

May 2-5

This longstanding family-friendly fest takes place on a scenic 75-acre farm near the main cities of the North Carolina Triangle. Headliners include Donna the Buffalo, Watchhouse, Jupiter & Okweiss, and the Sam Grisman Project.

Cheat River Festival

Albright, W.Va. 

May 3-4

Now 30 years old, this waterfront party is a regional favorite, filled with arts, boating, bluegrass, food, and fun, all to support the Cheat River watershed. Paddle in the Downriver Race, run a 5K, and catch tunes by Cris Jacobs and the Sweet Lillies.

Many forms of artistic expression will be on display at Leaf Retreat in Western North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Leaf Global Arts.

LEAF Global Arts Retreat

Black Mountain, N.C.

May 9-12

LEAF Retreat is an intimate, smaller spinoff of the longstanding LEAF festival that features an eclectic roster of roots music acts, as well as a variety of healing arts workshops, taking place on the scenic grounds of Lake Eden. Acts performing at the family friendly event include CIMAFUNK, Black Opry, and Gangstagrass. The companion LEAF Global Arts Festival takes place in the fall, October 17-20.

Trail Days

Damascus, Va.

May 17-19

Trail Days is the Appalachian Trail hiking community’s biggest party. Hosted since 1987, it turns the tiny but vibrant mountain town of Damascus into a festive family reunion for A.T. thru-hikers from different generations, who come together to trade boot-worn stories by bonfire, dress up in crazy costumes and march in a parade, check out a variety of gear and food vendor booths, and get rowdy at the campgrounds in the evenings. 

Music and adventure come together at Riverrock in Richmond. Photo courtesy of Dominion Energy Riverrock.

Dominion Riverrock

Richmond, Va.

May 17-19

Celebrating the abundance of recreation opportunities along the James River in downtown Richmond, Riverrock is a huge mountain sports and music festival featuring a long weekend of outdoor activities. Run the James River Scramble 10K, ride the MTB Enduro, go for a paddle, and catch sets by Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Eggy, and the Stews.


Cumberland, Md.

May 23-26

DelFest honors living bluegrass legend Del McCoury—once a member of genre founder Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys—who turned 85 this year. Del and his band headline the festival in the scenic Potomac River Valley of western Maryland with help from a generation-spanning line-up of top-notch bluegrass all-stars, including Greensky Bluegrass, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Sierra Ferrell. Plus, catch a special set from Lukas Nelson performing with Del’s sons in the Travelin’ McCourys. 

Scenes from Rooster Walk. Photo by Ryan Guite.

Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival

Axton, Va.

May 23-26

Rooster Walk has an impressive slate of bands on tap for year 14, featuring sets from Emmylou Harris, Cory Wong, North Mississippi Allstars, and Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country. The family friendly festival takes place at Pop’s Farm, a scenic property located just outside of Martinsville that offers an ideal setting for four days of music on multiple lakeside stages, wooded camping, and plenty of kids’ activities. 

Scenes from Rooster Walk. Photos by Roger Gupta.

Mountain Music Festival

Oak Hill, W.Va.

May 30 – June 1

ACE Adventure Resort hosts this big outdoor party that mixes music and adventure, pairing a deep roster of jam bands with access to world-class whitewater and a top-notch trail network in the scenic New River Gorge. Ride, paddle, and listen to sounds from a stacked line-up that includes Beats Antique, Monophonics, and Big Something.

NC Trail Days

Elkin, N.C.

May 30 – June 2 

Elkin, located in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley, sits at the confluence of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, and the Yadkin River Paddle Trail. Accordingly, this four-day event celebrates the bounty of recreation opportunities in the area with live tunes, outdoor vendors, guided hikes, mountain bike clinics, and an adventure film festival. 

Railbird Festival

Lexington. Ky.

June 1-2

This Kentucky music bash at the Infield at Red Mile has become a high-profile favorite among Americana fans in the South. The deep lineup features Noah Kahan, Chris Stapleton, Hozier, and Turnpike Troubadours. 

The Beach Music Festival

Stuart, Va.

June 6-8

Vibes normally found by the sand and sea are brought to the Virginia mountains at this event celebrating music at Wayside Park. Over three days, catch sets by EnVision, the Pizazz Band, and Jim Quick and the Coastline.

Bushels & Barrels Local Food, Wine & Beer Festival at Reynold’s Homestead

Critz, Va.

June 14-15

Local food, brews, and live tunes are all part of the programming at this two-day event at Virginia Tech’s Reynold’s Homestead. Regional acts featured include the Jared Stout Band and Lua Flora, and the fest also features a farm-to-table dinner and homebrew competition. 

Loudon Appalachian Trail Festival

Hillsboro, Va.

June 8

A day-long celebration of the Appalachian Trail returns to Round Hill. The festival includes trail talks and workshops, an A.T.-inspired art show, and tunes from Short Hill Mountain Boys, Justin Trawick & the Common Good, and Frank Solivan & Jillian Lea. 

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

Manchester, Tenn.

June 13-16

Bonnaroo rolls on as the South’s preeminent multi-genre mega fest. Taking place on a 700-acre farm in the middle of Tennessee, the event has big things planned for this summer, with top billing going to Post Malone and Red Hot Chili Peppers. The undercard is quite impressive, too, featuring Brittany Howard, Khruangbin, Faye Webster, and Goth Babe. Beyond the music, the fest has plenty to explore, with a parade, village market, 5K run, and Ferris Wheel. And when the heat inevitably gets too stifling, head over to the inflatable waterslide.

Charlie Poole Festival

Wentworth, N.C.

June 14-15

Influential old-time music great Charlie Poole is honored at this annual festival set to take place at Rockingham Community College. In an addition to an impressive roster of roots music acts, the event features local vendors and music competitions and workshops for both adults and kids.


Owensboro, Ky.

June 26-29

The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame puts on this picker’s paradise at the scenic Yellow Creek Park. Serious string work will be on display over four days, including sets by Marty Stuart, Dierks Bentley, and Molly Tuttle.

Back Home Festival

New Martinsville, W.Va.

June 28-30

This free festival in downtown New Martinsville always books a top-notch lineup of jam and roots acts, including the Wailers, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Keller Williams, and Sierra Hull.

Red Wing Roots Music Festival

Mount Solon, Va.

June 21-23

Virginia string band the Steel Wheels host this annual gathering at Natural Chimneys Park in the Shenandoah Valley. The line-up is always impressive, featuring a full slate of Americana and bluegrass heroes, and the atmosphere is intimate, scenic, and friendly for music fans of all ages. This year’s lineup includes Bonny Light Horseman, Kurt Vile & the Violators, Sierra Hull, and Brent Cobb. 

4848 Festival

Snowshoe, W.Va.

July 18-20

To reach this festival, head to the high elevation (4,848 feet to be exact) of West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort. Acts on the bill at this growing event include Greensky Bluegrass, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, and Molly Tuttle & Golden. The Flaming Lips will also perform their landmark indie album “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.”

Master Musicians Festival

Somerset, Ky.

July 18-20

This Kentucky roots music summit—blending Americana, bluegrass, country, and indie folk—has become a regional mainstay in its 25 years in existence. Lineup includes the Wallflowers and Sundy Best.

Shenandoah Valley Music Festival

Orkney Springs, Va.

July 19 – September 1

This longstanding concert series takes place on the scenic grounds of Shrine Mont in the Shenandoah Valley. Acts confirmed include Marty Stuart on July 19, Mavis Staples on August 31, and an Americana Minifest with Steve Earle on September 1, with more to be announced soon.

Bike Bash West Virginia

Bruceton Mills, W.Va.

July 19-21 

Mountain bikers get their fill of fat tire fun at this big bash offering plenty of opportunities to ride some of West Virginia’s finest singletrack. In addition to access to 50 miles of trails at the Big Bear Lake Trail center, the fest also features a bike expo, skills clinics, group rides, and live music.


Check, Va.

July 24-28 

This summer FloydFest gets to unveil its new home in Floyd County, hosting a massive line-up of roots music on seven stages over five days. Headliners include Charley Crockett, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Black Pumas, and Sierra Ferrell. Beyond the tunes the event will feature craft brews, wilderness workshops, bike rides, and local vendor booths.

Old Fiddlers’ Convention

Galax, Va.

August 5-10

An essential event for old-time and bluegrass fans, the renowned Old Fiddlers’ Convention is the world’s oldest and largest of its kind. Approaching its 88th year, the festival in Galax features some of the Appalachian’s best string pickers squaring off in a range of instrument competitions, including banjo, fiddle, guitar, and mandolin.

Meet the Mountains Festival

Johnson City, Tenn.

August 9-10

Meet the Mountains is a festival dedicated to making the outdoors accessible to everyone and that includes exploring the best of northeast Tennessee by boat, bike, or boot. Activities and entertainment take place at Winged Deer Park in Johnson City, as well as in the surrounding mountains.

Smith River Fest

Axton, Va.

August 24

Experience the best of the Smith River with a full day of paddling, fishing, running, and biking, along with vendor booths, live music, and fun for the whole family. The fest takes place at the Smith River Sports Complex near Martinsville. 

Front Porch Fest

Stuart, Va.

August 29 – September 1

Fifteen years running, this family-friendly music and camping fest takes place in a scenic stretch of the Blue Ridge on the picturesque Spirit Haven Farm in Patrick County. Line-up: Larry Keel’s Electric Larry Land, Big Daddy Love, Afrobeta and Erin & the Wildfire.

Scenes from Earl Scruggs Music Festival in North Carolina. Photo by Cora Wagoner/courtesy of Victory Lap Media.

Earl Scruggs Music Festival

Mill Spring, N.C.

August 30 – September 1

A packed line-up of pickers will pay tribute to the late bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs at the Tryon International Equestrian Center. Catch sets from Tanya Tucker, Old Crow Medicine Show, Yonder Mountain String Band, and the Steeldrivers.

Scenes from Earl Scruggs Music Festival in North Carolina. Photo by Cora Wagoner/courtesy of Victory Lap Media.

Mountain Song Festival

Brevard, N.C.

September 6-7

Hosted by hometown favorites the Steep Canyon Rangers, this festival features a weekend of top acts in roots music at the Brevard Music Center’s open-air auditorium.

Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion

Bristol, Tenn./Va.

September 13-15

Bands play right on the Tennessee/Virginia border, as Bristol celebrates its roots as the Birthplace of Country Music with a lively street fest that incorporates artists from many generations. This annual gala features a range of acts from national headliners to down home Appalachian pickers playing along the bustling main drag of State Street on more than 20 stages. This year the festival will feature sets from 49 Winchester, Ashley McBryde, the Wallflowers, and the Red Clay Strays.

Gauley Fest

Summersville, W.Va.

September 19-22

Started back in the early 80s to celebrate the derailment of a dam project that would have disrupted flows of the mighty Gauley, this event brings together class V whitewater runs, live music, and gear booths, as the largest paddling festival in the world.

Go Outside Festival

Roanoke, Va.

October 18-20

Located near the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway and full of active explorers, Roanoke is one of the most adventure-friendly towns in the Blue Ridge. This fall fest spotlights the area’s abundance of mountain sports action with three days of fun events around downtown and in Elmwood Park. In addition to running races, bike rides, and boat demos, you can learn to cast a fly rod, sip local craft beer, and catch some live tunes.

Cover photo: Photo courtesy of Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival

Share this post:

Discover more in the Blue Ridge:

Join our newsletter!

Subscribe to receive the latest from Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine sent directly to your inbox.