Welcome to the 34th annual Bele Chere. To some, the festival translates as “beautiful living”; to others it means “leave town.” If the first applies to you, please proceed.
Lift your eyes for a moment and take in the hordes: of people, food, music, art and heat. Before you disappear into this confetti of entertainment, this blowout of bodies, beer and cheesecake, you may want to sketch out an itinerary. In this guide, we offer festival enthusiasts a day-by-day performance schedule with band profiles, a menu of Bele Chere’s food vendors, the complete roster of local-business retail booths, after-hours parties, kids’ activities and more. For the when, where and how of Bele Chere, read on.
But please, lovers, take heed: As brimming as you may be with excitement, don’t rush into the mayhem unprepared. Even bacchanals have rules.
When can I love it?
Bele Chere 2012 dates and hours: Friday, July 27, noon to 10 p.m.; Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, July 29, noon to 6 p.m.
How do I get there so I can love it?
Consider biking, walking or taking the shuttle, as the festival is quite crowded. Two festival shuttles run every 20-30 minutes from noon to 11 p.m. on Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday; and noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday. The East route starts from the back of Asheville Mall on Tunnel Road, and runs to Pack Square. The West route starts from the K-Mart Plaza on Patton Avenue, and runs to the U.S. Cellular Center. Cost is $2 roundtrip.
Asheville on Bikes will offer a bike corral on Patton Avenue between Asheland and Coxe avenues.
Can my dog, cat, iguana, toucan or python love it too?
No. Pets are strictly prohibited inside of the festival boundaries. Animal Compassion Network offers a cool, clean and friendly place to house your pet for an hourly fee, cheekily called Doggy Jail. It's in front of City Hall.
Where's the beer?
You must have a $2 wristband to carry alcohol on the streets during Bele Chere. Wristbands are available from select downtown merchants or from vendors located adjacent to beverage booths (See map). Be prepared to show your picture ID when buying alcohol, as the wristband itself is not proof of age. Wristband colors change every day. A wristband is not required to drink in downtown pubs; only on the streets. This is important: No alcohol on the streets after 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. No alcohol in the Children's Area. No alcohol will be sold (or carried) anywhere in the streets on Sunday.
The rules of the game
No coolers. No bicycles, rollerblades, rollerskates or skateboards. Go lovingly into that good festival.