12 Signature Events & Special Places
For more than 60 years, Burnsville has hosted the Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair every year on the first Friday and Saturday in August. With more than 200 vendors, musicians and performers, and thousands of fairgoers, the Crafts Fair is one of the most popular summer events in the mountains. With bluegrass and acoustic music on stage, and one-of-a-kind handmade arts and crafts available, people love to stroll around Town Square. The event also has traditional craft demonstrations, and food & snack vendors.
Every year in early September, people who love reading & writing come together in Burnsville to celebrate the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival. The event begins on Thursday and continues through Saturday night’s keynote address, and features more than two dozen authors. Live music, workshops and discussion groups are held on Friday and Saturday.
On the last Saturday in April, cyclists from across the region come to town to take part in The Burnsville Metric, a 60.7 mile ride through the scenic backroads of Yancey and Mitchell Counties. There’s also a 43-mile loop. The course starts and finishes at Burnsville Town Square.
For more than 70 years, Parkway Playhouse has been entertaining audiences in Burnsville. With a troupe of professional actors and talented amateurs, the cast performs six new plays each year between May and October.
The Toe River Arts area is home to hundreds of professional artists and craftspeople. Twice a year — early June & early December — many of these artists open their doors for the weekend and welcome visitors into their studios. It’s a fun, friendly way to buy art.
Fireworks over Burnsville is a festive way to celebrate the nation’s birthday and enjoy summer in the mountains. With lightning bugs still glowing in the evening twilight and music floating in the air, it’s the perfect place to be on a July night.
Just opened in the summer of 2017, the Bare Dark Sky Observatory features a telescope with a 34 inch mirror, one of the largest Dark Sky telescopes in the Southeast. The telescope is housed inside a building with a roll-off roof for 360-degree access to the night sky.
Each September Burnsville celebrates the Old Timey Fall Festival on Town Square with live bluegrass music and mountain dancing, apple-butter-making and other foods and crafts, old-time games for kids, and vintage cars, trucks and tractors.
Lesley Riddle was born in Burnsville in 1905. He was a talented musician with an uncanny ability to memorize melodies and songs, often after hearing a tune only one time. In the late 1920s, he teamed up with the legendary A.P. Carter to travel around the mountain backroads looking for songs. A.P. would write down the lyrics, Lesley would learn the melody and tune on guitar. Riddlefest celebrates the life and musical achievement of Lesley Riddle with a concert and a music workshop.
The Burnsville Town Center is the main venue for concerts, weddings, parties, workshops, seminars and other large gatherings. Throughout the year, the Town Center hosts a wide range of performances and community events. Homeplace Brewery is also located inside the building.
The Christmas Parade takes place on the first Saturday in December with floats, marching bands, and Santa Claus riding on a firetruck. On Friday, the day before the parade, Santa Claus hosts kids at the Burnsville Town Center.
Mount Mitchell is North Carolina’s first state park — more than 100 years old — and the highest mountain East of the Mississippi River. Visitors come to the park to feel the cool summer breeze, eat lunch at the highest restaurant in Eastern America, and enjoy life at the top of the mountain.