Eat chocolate and dance: Open your heart at Asheville’s first chocolate and arts festival

photo: French Broad Chocolate Lounge

It's a food festival, a dance, fashion and music throw-down, and a holiday artist market. It’s a little bit of everything and a lot of chocolate.

The inaugural Asheville Chocolate and Arts festival brings together more than a dozen local chocolate purveyors, a gospel choir, Bollywood-style dancers, Cherokee storytellers, West African drummers and more.

Organizer Heather Cohen says the festival was inspired by her travels coupled with the abundance of artisan chocolates in Asheville. “I've lived in South America, and they have a lot of cacao ceremonies there, where they use the raw cacao — it's not like a drug; it's just cacao — they use it for heart-opening ceremonies,” she says. “I kind of like that combination: the sweet, the heart opening and really getting people in a space to create community.”

Chocolate will be abundant for heart-opening purposes and otherwise. There's even a chocolate-making demonstration from the folks at French Broad Chocolate Lounge. “Everyone has different tastes, so some of the chocolates are really raw and herbal and super-healthy, and then some of them are a little more rich,” Cohen says. “There's something for everyone. My hope is, too, that people will cultivate their taste in chocolate.”

Other chocolate vendors include UliMana Raw Chocolate, Raw Shakti Chocolate, World’s Best Carrot Cake, Sinless Raw Chocolate, Choffy cacao drinks out of Flat Rock, raw herbal chocolates by Ashley Pool, Everyday Gourmet, True Confections, Kilwins, Silver Moon Chocolates and Nourish & Flourish.

Kids at Work!, one of the beneficiaries of the festival's proceeds, will make chocolate molé sauce. Twenty percent of the festival's profits will go to charities, which also include the Odyssey Community School and The Urban Arts Institute.

The festival takes place on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the U.S. Cellular Center, from noon to 7 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $8 for students. Children under 10 get in for free. Performances, fashion shows and workshops run throughout the day, so re-entry is permitted.

For a full list of performances and events, visit Tickets can be purchased in advance at the U.S. Cellular Center box office, Nourish & Flourish, West Village Market and


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