CLTure Travel Guide: Asheville in April

By Lea LeFebvre

March 31, 2016

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” ― William Shakespeare, (Sonnet XCVIII)

Warmer weather and longer days beckon winter-weary visitors looking for an April escape. There’s a resurgence of life and activity in Asheville as the winter chill gives way to flowers in bloom, bluebird skies and moderate temperatures. Visitors and locals alike emerge from hibernation to celebrate the season, reveling in one of the most beautiful times of the year. With activities and events aplenty, April is the perfect time to visit Asheville.

3rd Annual Food Truck Showdown April 2 at Asheville Masonic Temple

Free general admission, $35-$45 VIP

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The Asheville Food Truck Showdown returns to downtown Asheville on Saturday, April 2, bringing street food from around the world to foodies seeking a different type of dining experience. The third annual cooking competition will feature 15 of the area’s best food trucks, all vying for the title of Best Food Truck and/or Overall People’s Choice Awards. This year’s celebrity judges include James Beard Award nominee, Katie Button from Curate, Larry Blunt from WLOS and Stu Helm of Ashvegas.com. The event is open to the public and will include family-friendly activities, local beer from the Asheville Brewers Alliance Members, libations from Sovereign Remedies, local artist and craft booths, and live entertainment on behalf of The Temple has Talent. This year, the event will also offer VIP seating with servers at 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm and 5:00 pm, which includes a sampling of each participating truck inside the Masonic Temple. Proceeds of the event will benefit The Asheville Humane Society, The Masonic Children’s Home, Whitestone Retirement Community and Friends of the Asheville Masonic Temple.

Oskar Blues Brewery’s Loaded Up & Truckin’ on April 16 at REEB Ranch 

$30 general admission 21+, $60 judge’s ticket

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Brevard’s Oskar Blues Brewing will host the first annual Loaded Up ‘n’ Truckin’ Food Truck-Off and Aural Pleasure Festival on Saturday, April 16. The pioneers of canned craft beer are bringing an impressive lineup of live music including headliners, Shovels & Rope, 18 regional food trucks and, of course, great beer, to its 140-acre REEB Ranch venue in Transylvania County. Judge’s tickets include special samples from each food truck and a “people’s court” vote to help crown the grand champion. Food and beverages will be available for purchase on-site and tickets for tent-only and car-side camping can be purchased online prior to the event. Other performers include Athens, Georgia-based psych-rockers, Futurebirds, and jam-rock circuit veterans, Dangermuffin.

Carolina Mountain Cheese Festival April 24 at Highland Brewing 

$12 advance for adults 12+, $15 at the door

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A celebration of all things cheese is coming to the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina on Sunday, April 24. Highland Brewing of Asheville, NC will host the inaugural Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest with panel discussions and workshops spanning topics such as the process from field and farm to fork, the past, present and future of artisanal and home cheese making, the raw milk debate, cheese and wine pairing, and the costs associated with farmstead and at-home cheese making. Local and national experts will host a series of family-friendly scheduled events as well as pop-up tastings and hands-on demonstrations. Tickets can be purchased in advance and at the door. The Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest advances the mission of the WNC Cheese Trail, a non-profit organization that promotes the production and sale of local cheese, facilitates consumer education and encourages tourism to the region.$38 general admission

Alabama Shakes April 26 at the ExploreAsheville.com Arena 

$38 general admission

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Fresh off a big night at the Grammy’s, including wins for Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song and Best Alternative Music Album for their sophomore effort, Sound & Color, Alabama Shakes is embarking on a headlining world tour with plenty of stops in the southeast. While the Athens, Alabama-based quartet is no stranger to Asheville— having played The Orange Peel a handful of times in the last few years— Tuesday, April 26 will mark their debut performance at the ExploreAsheville.com Arena at the U.S. Cellular Asheville Civic Center. From Saturday Night Live to the main stage of festivals such as Bonnaroo and Glastonbury, the blues-rock phenomenon have delivered unforgettable performances to audiences of all sizes. A testament to their fervent, ever-growing fan base, the show was moved from the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium to the ExploreAsheville.com Arena after almost immediately selling out.

French Broad River Festival on April 29-May 1 at the Hot Springs Campground and Spa 

$100 general admission weekend pass with camping, $45 extra for whitewater rafting

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The French Broad River Festival has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a one-night benefit party. Today, the part-music, part-outdoor recreation three-day festival is host to the region’s largest “mass-start” whitewater rafting race as well as performances from regional and national recording artists. Just 35 minutes north of downtown Asheville, at the foot of the Appalachian Trail and cuddled along the banks of Spring Creek and the French Broad River, the Hot Springs Campground and Spa is home to those seeking a little adventure, rest and relaxation. This year the 2016 French Broad Music Festival will feature the American funk quartet, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and seven-piece soul/rock ensemble, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds. Proceeds of the event to benefit American Whitewater, The Mountain Area Child & Family Center and Hot Springs Community Learning Center.

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