As temperatures rise and plants continue to emerge throughout Western North Carolina, so does the list of activities, events and festivals for locals and tourists to enjoy. From Mother’s Day celebrations, to recreational outings, to weekend festivities, there is a plethora of things to see, watch, explore and enjoy in Western North Carolina during the month of May. Below is a list of some of our favorites:
1.) Butterflies, Blooms and Bonsai
On Saturday, May 13, The North Carolina Arboretum will be jam-packed full of butterflies, blooms, bonsai and other outdoor fun. Members and visitors can see the opening of the Arboretum’s new Winged Wonders walk-through butterfly exhibit inside its Baker Exhibit Center Greenhouse, which features live, native adult butterflies, a butterfly nursery, and several fairy houses and gnome homes. Across the gardens inside the Arboretum’s Education Center, beautiful flowers will fill the auditorium at the Carolinas Dahlia Society’s annual Dahlia Tuber Sale. Outside, the Arboretum will display its full bonsai collection for the first time in 2017 in conjunction with World Bonsai Day. Bonsai Curator Arthur Joura will host two guided tours through the Bonsai Exhibition Garden starting at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., educate participants about the art of bonsai and the Arboretum’s Bonsai Exhibition Garden and provide “behind the scenes” information about the different specimens in the Arboretum’s bonsai collection. Looking for more? Children and families are also invited to join the Arboretum’s youth education department for its annual Nature Play Day. More information can be found here.
2.) Mother’s Day Treks and Treats
Looking for ways to show your mother or grandmother how much they mean to you? There is a variety of fun, unique ways to celebrate Mother’s Day in Asheville and Western North Carolina. Take your mom on a hike and let her enjoy the magnificent views from the top of Chimney Rock. On May 13 and 14, visitors to Chimney Rock Park can purchase one adult regular-priced ticket and get their mother/grandmother in for free. Download the coupon here and present it at the Ticket Plaza. Looking to pamper mom with a delicious meal, too? The North Carolina Arboretum’s Savory Thyme Café will be hosting its annual Mother’s Day Brunch on Sunday, May 14. Visitors can enjoy a specialty menu full of sweet and savory treats thoughtfully prepared using fresh, local ingredients. After brunch, let mom relish in the Arboretum’s beautiful gardens or take a stroll along one of its many hiking trails. Space is limited for the brunch and reservations are required. Please click here to view the full menu or to make a reservation.
3.) Celebrate the Arts
Asheville features a vibrant art scene, and May is certainly a great time to enjoy the works of Western North Carolina’s many talented artists. On May 20 and 21 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., studios in Asheville’s famous River Arts District (RAD) will open their doors to the public for the first River Arts Studio Stroll for the 2017 season. Visitors will be able to meet one of RAD’s 220+ artists and also watch live demonstrations. More information can be found here.
May also marks a celebration of the arts at The North Carolina Arboretum. In the Education Center’s upstairs gallery, visitors can enjoy the works of local photographer Camilla Calnan through her exhibit #themountainsarecalling. On May 13, Waynesville, N.C., artist Grace Cathey will unveil her new sculpture “Life of the Monarch” in the Arboretum’s Forest Meadow. This colorful, upright kaleidoscope design will feature the different stages of the monarch butterfly life cycle. At the end of the month, Bryson City-based artist Elizabeth Ellison will open up her newest exhibit, Spirit of Place, inside the Arboretum’s Baker Exhibit Center. On exhibit May 27 – September 4, Spirit of Place represents Ellison’s immersion in the natural world, particularly through the incorporation of handmade plant fiber paper into her paintings and her connection with the Southern Appalachian environment.
While these are just a few of May’s happenings, there are many other things to do in Asheville and Western North Carolina. Visit Arboretum Community Partner RomanticAsheville.com to see an extensive list of May and summer activities, including the Asheville-Blue Ridge Rose Society’s Annual Rose Exhibition on May 27 and 28, inside the Arboretum’s Education Center.