23rd Annual French Broad River Festival

get more from BRO

It’s part outdoor adventure, part music festival with whitewater rafting, biking, hiking, kid’s village, camping, great music, and much more. If you’ve been there you know . . . what better way to enjoy spring in these mountains?


The festival takes place at the Hot Springs Campground & Spa, located at the intersection of the French Broad River and the Appalachian Trail in historic Hot Springs, NC.

Truly a special, historic place for a spring festival!

Music / Entertainment

French Broad River Festival, Hot Springs, NC. ©Joshua Timmermans & Noble Visions.

Town Mountain, John Stickley Trio, The CommonHeart, Empire Strikes Bass, Sol Driven Train, Snake Oil Medicine Show, Hipgnostic, Brushfire Stankgrass, The Snozzberries, Savannah Smith & Southern Soul, Lover’s Leap, Copperhead, Bald Mountain Boys, Ska City, The Skrillbilliesand more! (artists subject to change).  See lineup details on website.

The Whitewater Raft Race

The biggest mass start whitewater raft race in the southeast!  Paddle hard with your guide or just relax and enjoy the scenery on this 8 mile stretch with fun class 2-3 rapids dispersed throughout and an exciting class IV near the takeout at the festival. Trained guides are provided by French Broad Rafting & Ziplines. See website for details and to pre-register.  Teams and/or individuals are welcome.

French Broad River Cleanup

Hosted on Thursday, May 1st. 

Take a guided half day raft trip on popular Section 9, have lunch, and pick up some trash along the way. Organized by FBRF with support from Nantahala Outdoor Center, Sierra Nevada, Riverlink, and Valley Waste. Volunteers receive awesome swag and discount passes to the festival (or a rebate if tickets already purchased).  It’s a win-win-win-win and a great time with good folks!  Details and sign up.


Kid’s bike “parade” on Saturday around the campground, in addition to adult group mountain and road rides.  Check social media for updates.

Bring the Kids!

Kids 12 and under are free, and The Kids’ Village has a terrific lineup of fun activities including Boffering, a climbing wall, face painting and Becky the Balloon Lady making costumes and fun balloon shapes for the annual FBRF Kids’ Parade.  Becky brings an entourage of fun folks that juggle, play with fire, and love to create an entertaining atmosphere for kids of all ages!  Kids’ parade on Saturday led by Sol Driven Train and Empire Strikes Brass (before and after kid’s show)

Food, Prizes and More!

There are plenty of food vendors or you can dine out in one of Hot Springs’ restaurants.  See lots of outdoor gear and win some of it in the raffle and silent auction.  Kid’s area. Climbing wall. Spa. River. Mountains. Sleeping is optional.

Good Cause

Over the years, The French Broad River Festival has donated over $200,000 to designated local charities such as Manna Food Bank, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of WNC, Eliada Home, Homeward Bound of Asheville, and American Whitewater.  Proceeds in 2019 will be donated to the Hot Springs Community Learning Center, Homeward Bound and American Whitewater.

Spring Outdoor in Hot Springs

  • Hiking:  Hot Springs is a favorite with hikers on the Appalachian Trail (AT), which runs through town and right by the festival grounds.  Lovers Leap Rock , one of the most popular AT side hikes in the area, offers a grand view of the French Broad River and the festival 500 feet below!
  • Biking:  Join a group ride or take a leisurely ride.  Follow the French Broad about 7 miles down River Road to Paint Rock or head up to the Mills Ridge BikeTrail for singletrack.
  • Whitewater:  It is a River Festival, and Section 9 from Barnard to Hot Springs is what the Cherokee called “Tahkeyostee” or “where they race”.  For a much calmer float but still very scenic, put in at the festival grounds and float to Paint Rock (Section 10).  Check out French Broad Rafting in Hot Springs for a private guided trip
  • Ziplining:  French Broad Rafting & Ziplines offers stunning mountain views
  • Fishing:  The French Broad River has great Smallmouth Bass fishing, or catch Trout in nearby Spring Creek or The Laurel River.
  • Spa / Hot Tubs:  The Hot Springs Spa, located across from the festival grounds, features modern Jacuzzi style hot tubs, positioned outside along the tranquil banks of Spring Creek and the French Broad River; the tubs are supplied with a continuous flow of World Famous Natural Hot Mineral Water. They have a nationally certified & state licensed staff of massage therapists on hand to compliment your soaks or for separate service altogether.  For reservations go to www.nchotsprings.com or call 828-622-7676.

For more details or for shuttle services, check out Bluff Mtn Outfitters (http://www.bluffmountain.com/) in downtown Hot Springs.

What They’re Saying…

“Wow! You guys really put on a show! First class music all weekend! My favorite lineup of many FBRF”

“Best weekend ever! Loved Sirius B and loved the Thursday Station Underground…. I also loved the river cleanup with NOC.”

“Favorite part? Geeez, that’s like eating an ice cream cone during the heat of the day and trying to determine which lick is the most satisfying!! 👅 😂. It was ALL SO DAMN GOOD!!! Just love seeing old friends, making new ones, and getting to hang out with some of the coolest musicians on the planet!!”

“Really enjoyed the raft race. Second place was heavily contested all the way down the river. We hung on for second but it took everything we had…”

“First time! Loved every minute!! ❤️💕💃🏿🔥💥🙋🏽”

“Had so much fun Saturday. Our son loved it,and had a blast. Can’t wait til next year.”

“Had a blast! Always our favorite festival!”

“I cannot wait to get to this next year!”

“Billy Strings Rocked my Face Off!”

“It was our first time, and what a wonderful time it was! Already looking forward to next year!”

“All the fun!!! I keep remembering moments and cracking up or smiling big. That really was a magical one. 😊”

“That ruled for sure! Thank you all…”

“Thank you for all the effort putting all that together! Awesome memories!”

“We had an amazing time volunteering this year, thanks for giving us the opportunity to do our part and help out in preparation for this amazing festival!”


in case you missed it

South Carolina’s Old 96 District Is an Unexpected Wonder for Nature Lovers

The weather is cooling off, and many nature lovers are of two minds. On one hand, the beautiful orange leaves also mark...

What’s New This Fall at Virginia State Parks

Special Bulletin: Leaf Reports It’s leaf peeping season! Fall foliage hikes, rides and paddles are well underway. If you’ve...

Go Outside and Play in Loudon County, Tenn.

In a state full of fall color and made for road trips, Loudon County, in east Tennessee, is golden. With the Smoky...

A Hiking Getaway to Madison County, VA

As we head into fall, what better place to get outside and experience the changing leaves than Madison County, Va. Rich in...