Surrounded by beauty in the highlands of North Carolina, artists find a variety of ways to capture the sights, sounds, textures, and moods of nature in art. They make music and dance, capture images in photographs and on film, create imagery out of paint, out of words, out of stone and wood, and so much more.

Ashe, Alleghany, and Watauga counties offer regular arts festivals and outdoor entertainment free and open to the public to celebrate the work of all types of artists.

Gallery Crawl, West Jefferson, NC

Get a taste of the visual arts in Ashe, for example, during a Gallery Crawl in West Jefferson. It’s a community-wide invitation to have fun on a Friday night, once a month June through October. Galleries and shops are open extended hours, some with unique exhibits.

For example, in June the Ashe Arts Center held a reception for the artists whose imagery on the New River was chosen for the “Along the New” exhibit in its gallery.

Other open galleries include Florence Thomas School for the Arts, Originals Only Gallery, Catchlight Gallery, WSL Studio, Great Southern Gothic, and Ashe Custom Framing and Gallery.

Music on Main, Sparta, NC

In Alleghany, every first Saturday May through October, Main Street is closed off from 5-9pm for Music on Main. These community concerts offer various bands from 5-7pm and a headliner band at 7pm right in the heart of Sparta.

Saturdays in the Park & Backwoods Beat Festival, Sparta NC

Also in Sparta, May through September, hear great local music in family-friendly Crouse Park at Saturdays in the Park.

Look for more art and music outdoors on June 24 and 25 from 10am-5pm at the Backwoods Beat Festival of Music & Art. Check out the juried Art Show on Main Street and Children’s Dilly Dally Alley between Touch of Grace and the Chamber.

Local Arts Councils have even more!

These are just a few of the arts opportunities coming up in the high country this summer. Look to the Arts Councils’ websites for more.

Boonerang Music & Arts Festival (New!)

Ashe County Arts Council

Alleghany Arts Council

Watauga Arts Council

These are delightful ways to get out and mingle with friends and neighbors, building community while filling your spirit with music, art, and nature.


Featured image: “New River of Love”, fabric collage by S. Beth Taylor