Jackson County offers festivals and special events throughout the year, opening with downtown Sylva’s Greening Up the Mountains spring festival in April.
Greening Up the Mountains takes its name from the way the spring green creeps up the mountainsides in March and April, starting in the river valleys and ending at the highest peaks. Always the last Saturday in April, Greening Up the Mountains attracts some 10,000 visitors to Sylva for its 5K race, kids’ events, arts and crafts, music and environmental information booths.
The Easter Hat Parade is sponsored by the town of Dillsboro on the Saturday before Easter. Visitors and local residents don their best hats and join the parade through town. Kids are encouraged to participate.
Cashiers Rotary Arts & Crafts Festival is held twice a year during Memorial and Labor Day weekends. Both festivals display work from more than 90 of the finest artisans from throughout the Southeast.
Dillsboro Art and Craft festivals are monthly events held in June, July and August, featuring arts and crafts vendors as well as food vendors and music.
Mountain Heritage Day, held on the last Saturday in September at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, is the county’s biggest event, typically drawing upwards of 30,000 visitors to campus. Patterned after an old-time mountain harvest festival, the daylong celebration of Appalachian arts and music includes music performances and clogging on two stages; arts, crafts and food vendors; and demonstrations and children’s activities.
ColorFest, another Dillsboro event, is held in October and features fine art for sale. The artists set up along Front Street to demonstrate their technique.
Held each year as the leaves begin to change, the Cashiers Leaf Festival welcome more than 100 artisans and merchants scattered throughout the Village Green and Commons park. Find unique handcrafted wood, pottery, jewelry and much more on display and hear live music.
WNC Pottery Festival, always the first Saturday in November, brings clay artists from across the region and across the country to Dillsboro. Highlights include a Clay Olympics to see which potter can throw the biggest bowl or tallest cylinder, and kiln firings during the event that allow visitors to purchase pots still warm from the kiln.
Festival of Lights and Luminaries is Dillsboro’s two-weekend holiday celebration. Held each year on the first two Fridays and Saturdays in December, the town takes on a festive mood as merchants stay open late and offer refreshments to the visitors who flock to town to shop and see the candle-lined streets. Highlights include horse-and-carriage rides as well as strolling musicians and carolers and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Christmas on the Green turns The Village Green into twinkling light displays and festive decorations from Thanksgiving Weekend until New Year’s Day. The Festival of Trees celebrates one of the area’s greatest industries and showcases local businesses. After the holiday season, the evergreen trees are planted in The Village Green for continued enjoyment.
Both Sylva and Cashiers hold Christmas parades each December.