The time between the middle of April and Memorial Day doesn’t offer much time for full-blown vacations. Kids and college students are preparing for the end of the school year. There’s usually a string of deadlines at work. Those of us who garden spend most nights and weekends prepping and nurturing.

The longer and warmer days allow more chances to hit the trails at local favorites like the North Carolina Arboretum and Biltmore after work. There are also lots more chances to hit the town, as tourists are busy in their own towns doing the same things that keep us close to home. If you find yourself striving for the freedom that comes with being a weekend warrior, be sure to pencil in the dates of these spring festivals.


Blockhouse Steeplechase, May 7
The tailgating parties at this all-day fête are as legendary as the hats! Just a short drive into Polk County, this is the 70th year of the Blockhouse hosted by the nonprofit TR&HC. It includes amateur and professional races throughout the day, but there is plenty of time for good company and mint juleps. Tickets must be purchased in advance and include your entire carload.

LEAF Festival, May 12-15
Probably the family-friendliest of weekend music and camping festivals, LEAF is a twice-a-year tradition for many locals and it’s easy to see why. While this year’s festival focuses on music, arts, and culture that have “world fusion with Cuban spice,” you’re just as likely to find artists from Mali, the Ukraine, and everywhere in between. Lake Eden in Black Mountain is the perfect spot for comfortable camping with lots of access to multiple performing arts venues, healing arts tents, and trail hiking. Be sure to check out our pop-up camping store!

Downtown After 5, starts May 20 (then every third Friday of the month through September)
This one might be the closest to home, but you’ll see some of the most exotic species of all in downtown Asheville! Now in its 29th year, this monthly concert series began as a way to draw locals into a largely abandoned city center in the late 1980s. You’ll have a harder time snagging a parking space these days, but the music is out of this world for a free festival with recent acts including The Revivalists and The Suffers alongside the best of our local music scene. The May concert always signifies the unofficial start of summer and offers a chance to catch up with friends who are coming out of hibernation. Watch for a special Diamond Brand Outdoors discount on this year’s age verification bracelets.

Half Tank Getaways highlights some of our favorite places and is powered by our pals at Prestige Subaru.