Live music is a significant element in the tourism-based economy of Asheville and the surrounding area. Seasonal festivals and numerous nightclubs and performance venues offer opportunities for visitors and locals to attend a wide variety of live entertainment events.
Asheville has a strong tradition of street performance and outdoor music, including festivals, such as Bele Chere and the Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival (LAAFF). One event is “Shindig on the Green,” which happens Saturday nights during July and August on City/County Plaza. By tradition, the Shindig starts “along about sundown” and features local bluegrass bands and dance teams on stage, and informal jam sessions under the trees surrounding the County Courthouse. The “Mountain Dance & Folk Festival” started in 1928 by Bascom Lamar Lunsford is said to be the first event ever labeled a “Folk Festival”. Another popular outdoor music event is “Downtown After 5,” a monthly concert series held from 5 pm till 9 pm that hosts popular touring musicians as well as local acts. A regular drum circle, organized by residents in Pritchard Park, is open to all and has been a popular local activity every Friday evening.
Notable architecture in Asheville includes its Art Deco Asheville City Hall, and other unique buildings in the downtown area, such as the Battery Park Hotel, the original of which was 475-feet long with numerous dormers and chimneys; the Neo-Gothic Jackson Building, the first skyscraper on Pack Square; Grove Arcade, one of America’s first indoor shopping malls; and the Basilica of St. Lawrence. The S&W Cafeteria Building is also a fine example of Art Deco architecture in Asheville. The Grove Park Inn is an important example of the architecture and design of the Arts and Crafts movement.
The Montford Area Historic District and other central areas are considered historic districts and include Victorian houses. Biltmore Village, located at the entrance to the famous estate, showcases unique architectural features. It was here that workers stayed during the construction of George Vanderbilt’s estate. The YMI Cultural Center, founded in 1892 by George Vanderbilt in the heart of downtown, is one of the nation’s oldest African-American cultural centers.