You might celebrate Independence Day by getting up at dawn to run a 5K. Or perhaps you’re the sort who cooks veggie burgers on the grill or sips wine with fireworks exploding overhead. Whatever you’re into, we’ve got the lowdown on where to go and what to do this July Fourth. There are plenty of choices nearby and others well worth the drive.
There’s sure to be a music festival, family-friendly event, worthy benefit party or fireworks display that’s perfect for you. (All events on July 4 unless otherwise noted.)
Start off running
At 8 a.m., Brevard starts the morning with a 5K/10K Firecracker Run. Register online at www.brevardrotary.org or on event day starting at 6 a.m. Afterward, stroll the Transylvania Community Arts Council’s annual Fine Arts & Craft Showcase and browse the classic automobile show displaying 1920s to 1970s vintage vehicles. Enjoy musical entertainment all day at the courthouse gazebo. Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m. at Brevard College. Free.
Montreat kicks it off early with a 5K from its stone gate at 7 a.m.; no entry fee or registration. Parade starts at 10:30 a.m. Montreat Cottagers host a barbecue lunch at noon catered by Red Radish Catering; $10 (adults), $8 (kids 9 and younger). Annual Craft Fair Auction, 1 p.m.; old-timer’s softball, 2 p.m.; square dance, 7 p.m. Free admission. www.montreat.org.
Freedom Fest in Bryson City begins at 8 a.m. with the Rotary Club Firecracker 5K in Riverfront Park. Visit Kids’ Street to explore a rock-climbing wall, a waterslide and a train ride. Three music stages offer entertainment. There’s even a “Strut Your Mutt” canine event. Fireworks end the evening. Free admission. Info: 800-867-9246. www.greatsmokies.com/FreedomFest
Stars, Stripes and Strings benefits MANNA FoodBank at Asheville Music Hall. Admission: five cans or cash donation. Event runs 11 a.m.-4 p.m. with a yard sale/exchange, kids area, live music including John Hardy Party, and specials on beer, burgers and hot dogs. Later, local electronic musician Marley Carroll performs an evening show with sets by Elaquent and BomBassic. 10 p.m., $10/$12. ashevillemusichall.com
Picnic at Lake Julian.The park offers picnic tables, grills, a sand volleyball court, two horseshoe pits, boat rental and playground. Fireworks begin at dark. Parking at Estes Elementary School on Long Shoals Road across from the lake. From Asheville, take I-26 East to Exit 37. Turn left at the light onto Long Shoals Road. Free.
Tweetsie Railroad’s Fireworks Extravaganza. North Carolina’s first theme park celebrates its 58th season. Park opens at 9 a.m. Take a scenic, 3-mile Wild West adventure tour, pan for gold, and stay for fireworks. Buffet dinner offered in special viewing area for adults ($14.95), children 3-12 ($9.95) and children 2 and younger (free). Located on U.S. Highway 321 between Boone and Blowing Rock. Fireworks parking: $5. Day pass to park: Adults, $39; children 3-12, $26; 2 and younger, free. Info: 877.TWEETSIE (877-893-3874) Tweetsie.com
The Orchard at Altapass on Blue Ridge Parkway offers a covered-dish picnic with free live music, 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Bring a dish with plenty to share or purchase an adult meal ($12) or child’s meal ($6). The Orchard provides Southern-style barbecue, buns, tea, water, plates and utensils. Lawn chairs recommended.
Waynesville’s Stars and Stripes celebration runs 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Main Street with free live music and a sidewalk sale. Kids on Main children’s parade starts at 11 a.m. www.downtownwaynesville.com
Highlands kicks off its all-day celebration with a kids bottle-rocket launch and relay races. At 11 a.m., the Rotary Club serves lunch ($5) and drinks ($1). At 1 p.m., check out the third annual Rotary Rubber Ducky Derby at Mill Creek. Live music starts at 6 p.m. at Town Square and Pine Street Park. Free admission. Fireworks at 9 p.m. 526-2112. www.highlandschamber.org
The parade begins at 10 a.m. in downtown Franklin. Festivities include food vendors, a cornhole tournament at 3 p.m. and fireworks at dark at the Macon County Recreational Park. Free admission. www.franklin-chamber.com
Regionally recognized Family Fun on the Fourth celebration in Crossnore includestheannual craft fair, part of the Appalachian Women Entrepreneurs Program, featuring locally made wares displayed 10 a.m.-7 p.m. in the parking lot of the Blair Fraley Sales Store. Parade starts at 4 p.m., and festivities include free watermelon, kids games and live music. A street dance begins at 7 p.m., with fireworks at dusk. Free admission. www.crossnorenc.com
Maestro Kraig Alan Williams leads the Brevard Symphonic Winds in marches, patriotic songs and other favorites culminating in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with live cannons. Enjoy a picnic on the lawn before the concert, which starts at 2 p.m. Lawn ($15) and orchestra ($30-$40) seating. Tickets and info: www.brevardmusic.org/festival/performances/15766/
Downtown Asheville’s Pack Square Park hosts Ingles Independence Day Celebration. From 2-6 p.m., kids can cool off in the Splashville fountain, pop inside a bouncy house and play kid-friendly activities for a $2 wristband. The Ultimate Air Dogs will jump onstage at 2, 4, 6 and 7:30 p.m. Music begins at 4 p.m. with indie rock band Lunch Money, followed by local country artist Joe Lasher Jr. Rockabilly legend Junior Brown headlines. Known for his signature “guit steel” double-neck guitar, Brown’s music spans the range from traditional blues and Western swing, to honky-tonk and even surf rock. Bring a picnic or sample a variety of local food vendors. Beer and wine are for sale, including local brews. No outside alcohol, pets or vending permitted. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m. Free admission. www.ashevilledowntown.org
Black Mountain’s Downtown Street Dance and Fireworks starts at 5 p.m. on Sutton Avenue, with music, food vendors and games. Fireworks at dusk. Free admission. www.blackmountain.org
Stars on the Square in Burnsville offers a fireworks show at dark. Afterward, the Blue Ridge Astronomy Group will share high-powered telescopes with the public. Viewers can expect to see Mars in close conjunction with the moon. Burnsville Town Square, July 5. Free. www.blueridgeastronomygroup.com
Pack a picnic and bring blankets and chairs to the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre, where the Montford Park Players present Molière’s “Tartuffe”, still a controversial play since its inception in 1669. Shows at 7:30 p.m., July 4-26. Free admission. 254-5146. www.montfordparkplayers.org
White Horse Black Mountain offers up three bands — and a great place to watch the fireworks in Black Mountain. Young players The Moore Brothers and veteran performers Bobby and Blue Ridge Tradition play traditional and original bluegrass, while Noonday Feast dishes out Celtic folk fusion. Audience members can take in the fireworks between sets. Tickets: $15; show starts at 7:30 p.m. www.whitehorseblackmountain.com
West Asheville’s Isis Music Hall presents Brushfire Stankgrass, whose contemporary progressive bluegrass sound blends elements of world music, jazz and jam rock. Opening the show is Chattanooga’s “garage grass” band Strung Like A Horse. Tickets: $10/$12; show at 9 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. http://isisasheville.com
Enjoy all-American baseball and fireworks with the Asheville Tourists hosting the Lexington Legends at 6 p.m. at McCormick Field. A spectacular fireworks show follows. Advance tickets recommended: $7-$30, July 4 and 5. theashevilletourists.com
Want to see fireworks from the peak of Sunset Mountain? The Swannanoa Valley Museum’s 45-minute moderate-to-easy Fireworks Hike starts at 6 p.m. and includes watermelon, soft drinks, and transport of hikers’ chairs and equipment to the peak, where hikers watch the Black Mountain fireworks display in comfort. Fee: $20 (members), $35 (nonmembers). To register, call 669-9566 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fire on the Lake Music Festival in Weaverville features Grammy Award-winning David Holt and the Lightning Bolts, Brian Adam Smith with Glory on the floor, Cripps Puppets and fireworks at dusk. 5-10 p.m. Free admission. www.visitweaverville.com/events
Step out at a country barn dance at Asheville’s Toy Boat Community Art Space, 101 Fairview Road. Doors open at 8 p.m., and two-step dance instruction with Deb Swanson follows at 8:30. Asheville honky-tonk band Hearts Gone South plays at 9 p.m., followed by the pure country sound of The Longtime Goners. Includes a pie auction, cakewalk, contests and prizes. Admission: $5 or $1 if you bring a pie or cake for the auction or cakewalk. www.toyboatcommunityartspace.com/
Cherokee’s 39th annual Pow Wow Weekend begins at 5 p.m. at the Acquoni Expo Center. The Grand Entry march starts at 7 p.m., with fireworks at dusk. Two more days of festivities featuring world-champion Indian dancers follow on July 5 and 6 from noon to 6 p.m. Admission: $10/day. visitcherokeenc.com
Hendersonville’s Music On Main features Tom Brown/One Man Band from 7 to 9 p.m. Free admission. Fireworks to follow. No pets, alcohol, backpacks or coolers. historichendersonville.org
Watch fireworks from the shores of Lake Lure or take a ride on a Lake Lure tour boat ($25), departing at 7 p.m. Fireworks at 9:20 p.m. The 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa hosts an all-you-can-eat barbecue buffet 4-8 p.m. for adults ($14.95), kids 6-12 ($7.95) and younger 6 (free). http://lakelure.com
Red White & Boom, 7-11 p.m. Free admission. Fireworks at 10 p.m. at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds. http://maggievalley.org/
The town of Old Fort hosts one of the biggest fireworks extravaganzas in the area at dusk. Free admission. http://www.oldfort.org
— compiled by Toni Sherwood