Our annual Outdoor Festival Guide is the harbinger of warm weather, good vibes, and great times. May is typically the time of year when it finally starts to get consistently tepid enough to think about getting back on the water for some rafting or kayaking; the water may still be frigid, but at least the sun is out to warm you back up. It’s the perfect time to hit the river, and you can kick of both festival season and paddling season in one fell swoop at the French Broad River Festival this weekend in Hot Springs, North Carolina.

For such a small town, Hot Springs sure does know how to party. At the crossroads of the Appalachian Trail and the French Broad River, the Hot Springs Campground is the perfect spot for a large festival, and this one is large. The music is the main attraction with regional and national bands like Langhorne Slim, Yarn, the Jeff Sipe Trio, Snake Oil Medicine Show and more in this year’s line-up. But great music is not the only reason to attend. The Festival also hosts many outdoor recreation activities including a mountain bike race that begins and ends on the festival grounds and is free for festival goers. There is also the Raft Race down nine miles of Class I-IV rapids which is billed as the “biggest, mass start, whitewater raft race in the Southeast.” Three time world champion Eli Helbert will be on hand teaching and instructing for the Paddle with the Pros event, and you can give back by participating in the River Cleanup. The French Broad Fest is also fun for the whole family with a Kids Village featuring crafts, games, storytelling, parade and special performance by Sol Driven Train.

The festival begins on Friday and wraps on Sunday. Proceeds from this event benefit American Whitewater and the Hot Springs Community Learning Center, so you will not only be having a blast, you’ll be helping keep our rivers and kids productive. What’s better than that?


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