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FREE things to do Memorial Day in Asheville

With the big Memorial Day holiday weekend approaching, Asheville is a great place to be, full of possibilities. You’ll find there’s plenty of fun to be had for free in the Asheville area. Who doesn’t like free? At Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our affordable Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, we keep you posted about free and ticketed activities all year. Check out some FREE things to do around Memorial Day:

Mountain Sports Festival

The Asheville area has lots of sports events each year, and the Mountain Sports Festival is one of the most comprehensive. Held May 27-29 at Asheville’s Carrier Park on the French Broad River, the festival offers live music all weekend, demonstrations, clinics and competitions in a wide range of activities: skateboarding, running, ultimate Frisbee, cyclocross, disc golf, triathlon, rock climbing, dodgeball (who knew?) and more. Most competitive events have same-day registration (and a fee to enter), and spectators can show up at any time, of course, and have fun for free.

Blue Ridge Parkway

We’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating year-round, holidays and not. The parkway is one of the best entertainment bargains going in Asheville. The scenic road cuts right through the city (and goes much farther to points north and south of Asheville), and it’s just down the street, literally, from Lovers’ Loop Retreat. Think of the possibilities: you can hike, bike, photograph, go wildflower hunting, identify trees, practice your yodeling and more. For free!

Play it again

Go back in time to when records really meant actual vinyl records that had album covers with cool artwork and photos of your favorite bands. Several record stores operate in Asheville. Harvest Records, in West Asheville just outside downtown, has new and used vinyl, CDs and DVDs. Karmasonics, Static Age Records and Voltage Records also stock new and used vinyl and CDs. It’s as if you’re at a music museum. You may be tempted to buy something, but browsing is free, right?

Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’

Browsing at Bruisin’ Ales is free, too. Here’s your chance to go global in a beer store. The retailer, in downtown Asheville, claims to stock more than 900 beers from around the world. They have a mix of seasonal and rare beers as well as American craft beers and lots more. It’s interesting to look around.

Art galleries in Asheville

So many to choose from! Our favorites include Blue Spiral downtown, Grovewood Gallery beside the Grove Park Inn just north of downtown, and New Morning Gallery, in Biltmore Village south of downtown. Walk around downtown and explore the many galleries there, and find your own favorites. There’s a lot of creative variety. It doesn’t cost anything to look.

Asheville drum circle

If you’re in town Friday evening, May 27, go to Pritchard Park downtown, and hang out at the weekly drum circle. It’s a great event for people-watching. Or bring your own drum and pound along. The drum circle is nearly year-round each Friday night. Pritchard Park is a happening place to be at other times, too. It’s in the middle of downtown, and you can play a free game of chess at the permanent chessboards, do some hula hooping, listen to random live music and watch street performers.

At Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our affordable Asheville vacation rental, you’re close to all of these freebies. Contact us at 828-545-2950 or loversloop(at)gmail(dot)com.

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Free and Fun and Outdoors in Asheville

Asheville has some great outdoor entertainment events each year, and many of them are FREE things to do in Asheville. Movies, live music, live theater — there’s a lot to choose from while you’re in town.

Asheville breweries              

When you stay at our Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an affordable Asheville vacation rental, you’re an easy drive from the Wedge brewery in the River Arts District just outside downtown. The Wedge offers a FREE outdoor film series every Saturday night from May through September. The first movie in this year’s series will be “Harold and Maude,” which will be shown today, May 7. Most of the movies are classics, from the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin and Hitchcock to Walt Disney, Woody Allen and the Talking Heads. Throw in some James Bond, Monty Python and Mel Brooks among others, of course. Bring a chair, and enjoy a beverage or picnic.

Downtown After Five lowdown 

One of the more popular events is Downtown After Five, a FREE street festival on Lexington Avenue the third Friday evening of each month. Live music, happy people, food and beer, and some of the funky shops stay open late. The first concert this year will be May 20 featuring the Asheville Horns and Bayou Diesel, and a mix of music follows during the series. Beer sales help local nonprofits. Other concerts will be June 17, July 15, Aug. 19 and Sept. 16.

Theater in Asheville

You don’t have to be a drama queen to dig the Montford Park Players, Asheville’s longtime Shakespeare troupe that performs for FREE from June through August in an amphitheater just outside downtown. The stage under the stars is a peaceful setting as sunset creeps in. The Players’ take on Shakespeare is lively, inventive and casual, no stuffy stuff. Their free performances of comedies, tragedies, romances and everything in between start June 3.

Shindig on the Green

Everyone loves Shindig, an Asheville tradition since 1967. The FREE music series, held at a downtown park, starts July 2 and continues most Saturday nights through Sept. 3. It’s a mix of bluegrass, mountain and old-time music and dance. Expect string bands, clogging, ballads, storytelling. Bring your own instrument — you may not be able to resist some jamming. Add a blanket or chair, a picnic and you’re there.

At Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our affordable Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, you’re close to all of these freebies. Contact us at 828-545-2950 or loversloop(at)gmail(dot)com.

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Asheville’s All Go West Festival

The second annual All Go West Festival is coming up soon, this Saturday, April 23. It’s a diverse, daylong celebration of music and arts that makes for a great and funky day. Did we mention that it’s FREE? Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our affordable Asheville vacation rental, is close to the festivities.

The event, in West Asheville outside downtown, will feature lots of music and arts. You’ll also find refreshments in locally-brewed beer and barbecue (not free). The festival will include exhibits related to green and sustainable living. The music medley will include the genres of folk, pop, rock, Americana, acoustic, electronic/dance and more. Two stages will feature music from noon to 10 p.m. There’s no way you won’t be dancing!

Earth Day in Asheville

All Go West is in the early lineup of Asheville’s seasonal festivals, which represent lots of opportunities for fun. Last weekend, we went to the annual Earth Day event downtown, and it was huge, with music all day and night and a variety of vendors, from a food cooperative and Transition-Town group to a green moving company and a tree-planting nonprofit.

Asheville Festivals

We can keep track of the seasons by the festivals. Biltmore estate’s dazzling Festival of Flowers in April and May, Actionfest movie extravaganza and Hatch creative arts festival in April, Artisan Bread Bakers Festival in April, the herb festival in April and May, the Jewish film festival in April, Edible Book Festival in April, Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF) in nearby Black Mountain in May and October, Asheville Wordfest in May, Mountain Sports Festival and Montford Music and Arts Festival in May, Beer City Festival in June, Bele Chere street festival in July, Goombay African and Caribbean fest and Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in August.

There’s also the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival (LAAFF) and Organicfest in September, gay pride and Latino festivals in October, Hard Lox Jewish festival in October, and other beer festivals in October and January. Whew! We’re dizzy, and we haven’t mentioned all of them. All of these events are on our website during the year, so we’ll keep you updated.

Contact your festival clearinghouse, Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our affordable Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, at 828-545-2950 or loversloop(at)gmail(dot)com.

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Get your Celtic on at Asheville’s Jack of the Wood

We ate supper Sunday at the popular Asheville downtown pub, Jack of the Wood. You’ll find some of the best free music in the city there. (And to get there, you’ll probably pass, as we did, many street musicians playing for free, too.)

At Jack of the Wood, you can enjoy a Green Man beer (the pub’s own beer), brewed at the Green Man brewery downtown, while you listen to the Sunday evening (5-8 p.m.) Celtic jam session. Musicians come and go during the jam, and although most are probably amateur musicians, they sound as if they’ve been playing together forever. On the Sunday we went, the group included violins, flutes, a harp, penny whistles, a banjo and mandolin. It’s a random, improvised Irish orchestra, and there’s no cover charge.

Jack of the Wood offers traditional Irish pub fare, much of it made with locally-produced ingredients. The menu includes such trademark Irish dishes as bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and Irish beef and Guinness stew.

More Celtic music in Asheville

At Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our affordable Asheville vacation rental, you’re an easy 10-minute drive to Jack of the Wood and all of downtown Asheville, where the Diana Wortham Theatre is located. Diana Wortham has a Celtic music series each year with internationally-known bands.

De Danann is coming up in the series on May 27.

For your Celtic thrills, contact Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our affordable Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, at 828-545-2950 or loversloop(at)gmail(dot)com.

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Find the luck of the Irish in Asheville

St. Patrick’s Day in Asheville

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Asheville, you have some choices. Plenty of pubs and restaurants around the city will host revelers and offer live music, Irish food and special suds. And you’ll probably see some funky sights if you stroll around downtown, maybe people in costume for the occasion, street musicians and other free entertainment.

Irish pubs in Asheville

Jack of the Wood downtown is one of the city’s most popular hangouts year-round and especially on St. Patrick’s Day. The pub will serve such Irish specialties as bangers and mash, Guinness stew, and, of course, corned beef and cabbage. Live music, too. Hannah Flanagan’s downtown will feature a bagpipe player with a special Irish menu. In West Asheville just outside downtown, Tolliver’s Crossing will offer live music, Irish drafts and outdoor seating. When you stay at our Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an affordable Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, you’re close to all the action on St. Patrick’s Day and for any occasion.

Asheville St. Patrick’s Day parties

The taprooms in town will be ready with special beers, holiday glassware and music to mark the day. Pack’s Tavern downtown will have a new stout available. The newest of the breweries in Asheville, Altamont Brewing, will be hopping. Asheville’s oldest and biggest brewery, Highland Brewing, will offer a new ale with food and live music. Craggie Brewing downtown will have two bands that evening.

Irish music in Asheville

It’s not hard to find Irish music in Asheville year-round. Jack of the Wood hosts an Irish jam session every Sunday afternoon and night. Anyone may join in with an instrument. It’s a lively scene. The Diana Wortham Theatre downtown has a Celtic music series each year. Next up in the series is Dervish, playing traditional Irish music, on March 24. Stay tuned to our website for entertainment listings.

Come to Asheville for some green — Irish style, that is. Contact Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our affordable Asheville vacation rental, at 828-545-2950 or loversloop(at)gmail(dot)com.

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Fodor’s ranks Asheville in top 21 destinations

Asheville makes so many national and international best-of lists, it’s head-spinning. The area has garnered praise as a place to retire, a place for cycling and other outdoor recreation, a groovy food and microbrewery scene, a good spot for organic and vegetarian fare, a great place to start an independent business, a top location for visual arts and other accolades.

Fodor’s travel guide destinations include Asheville

This year, the travel guidebook publisher Fodor’s lists Asheville in the top 21 destinations in the world for 2011! Asheville beat Morocco and other exotic locales to be ranked equally with the coast of Italy, Hawaii, Mozambique, Tokyo, Toronto, New York City and other destinations. Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our affordable Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, is right here in the middle of the action.

Asheville, NC, attractions

We’ve hosted many guests over the years who are wowed by Asheville. Our guests come for music concerts, for visual arts, for the lively and diverse dance scene, for hiking and biking, for motorcycling, for the Biltmore estate and the Blue Ridge Parkway, for the Bele Chere street festival, for free bluegrass jams, for creative beers and a tantalizing diversity of restaurants, for workshops —the list of attractions in and around Asheville is long and delicious.

Asheville, NC, microbreweries

A Fodor spokeswoman told the local newspaper that Asheville and the other 20 destinations listed for 2011 always are great places to visit. We knew that. She said one reason Asheville came to Fodor’s attention is its recent designation as Beer City USA, a tribute to the hopping—yeah, we said it—microbrewery scene here. The city has about a dozen microbreweries.

Asheville, NC, vacation

Asheville has received other travel-related acclaim. The New York Times travel section featured Asheville in October 2010. And travel guidebook publisher Frommer’s listed Asheville in its top 12 destinations in 2007.

At Lovers’ Loop Retreat, we’re happy to host guests for whatever reasons they come to Asheville. Contact Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our affordable Asheville vacation rental, at 828-545-2950 or loversloop(at)gmail(dot)com.

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Make a resolution to visit Highland Brewery’s new tasting room in Asheville

Asheville’s oldest brewery now has the biggest tasting room of breweries in the area. Highland Brewery, with its towering, silver tanks that are used to make its beers, is the largest craft brewer in North Carolina and among the biggest in the Southeast. The brewery is right around the corner from our Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an affordable Asheville bed and breakfast alternative.

The tasting room, which debuted last fall, is open every Friday. While you choose among Gaelic Ale, Kashmir IPA, Black Mocha Stout and other Highland taps, you can tap your toes to free live music in the tasting room each week. Local food vendors set up tables, too, for those who want dinner.

Highland Brewery tasting room expands hours

It’s such a popular spot, the brewery will expand its tasting room hours to Thursday through Saturday starting Feb. 3. As you sip the suds, you can watch brewers at work in an adjoining room.

Oteil Brubridge and the Lee Boys concert

Although most music has no cover charge at Highland Brewing, the brewery’s grand opening for the tasting room will feature Grammy-winning bassist Oteil Brubridge and the Lee Boys on Jan. 29. Tickets are $10 in advance. Should be a good show.

Brewery tours in Asheville

When you stay at our Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an affordable Asheville vacation rental, consider taking a free tour of Highland Brewing. Tours are offered Monday through Friday at 4 p.m. You can taste grains they use for their beers, hear how the beer is made and see large bags of malt, the automated bottling line and cases of beer stacked in a cold-storage room. And, of course, the tour includes beer samples.

The brewery, which opened in 1994, distributes its beers in multiple states. The brewery claims there are more taps with its Gaelic Ale than Budweiser taps at bars and restaurants in Asheville.

Contact Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our affordable Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, at 828-545-2950 or loversloop(at)gmail(dot)com.

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