guy playing banjo

Music in the Mountains 2023

By Julie Matthews

The music scene in North Carolina’s High Country is hot year-round, even when the temperatures outside are at their lowest. The hills remain alive and rockin’ with live music and performances in even its most remote areas. 

The High Country’s musical heritage dates back to its early history with its old-time Appalachian-style music with sounds of fiddles and banjos, and the area’s appreciation for music has a strong presence in its culture today. On any given day music can be heard playing all over with live musical performances a regular occurrence not only on stages around town but also in restaurants, parks, gardens, campsites, front porches and even general stores. From traditional mountain music and bluegrass to ballads, blues, country and every other musical genre, you will hear it all in North Carolina’s High Country. 

Throughout the year the High Country celebrates music and the performing arts with a number of concert series—often held in gardens and parks where folks bring their families and set up their lawn chairs—featuring regional performers and bands. It also hosts many large-scale music festivals and theatrical shows. Here are some highlights of what’s happening in the High Country in 2023.

Music Festivals and Concert Series

Music festivals are a major source of entertainment for locals and visitors in the High Country. Some upcoming festivals to consider include:

High Country Jazz Festival, June 9 through 11, offers first-rate jazz to audiences in Boone and Blowing Rock. The Appalachian Theatre in Boone will host the headline events with several other venues also holding performances.

Doc & Rosa Lee Watson MusicFest  is a long-running event showcasing musicians from all over the nation. This all-day event will be held on July 15 in Sugar Grove in honor of Grammy award-winning musician Doc Watson and will celebrate the Doc and Merle Watson Folk Art Museum’s grand opening.

The High Country also has several concert series that run regularly. Check out Music in the Valle (, Music on the Lawn at The Inn at Ragged Gardens ( and Blowing Rock Concerts in the Park (

Broadway Meets the Mountains

A variety of high-quality musical theatre performances are held in venues throughout the High Country’s communities. 

Local colleges Lees-McRae College and Appalachian State University both offer entertaining student theatre. For more than three decades, Lees-McRae Summer Theatre has been providing performances on their Banner Elk campus. During the 2023 season it will present the following shows: “Red, White, and Blue Ridge Variety Show;” “Bright Star;” and “The [W]right Sister.” The performances will be held on the Lees-McRae College campus in the Broyhill Theatre in the Hayes Auditorium.

An Appalachian Summer Festival is held annually across the campus of Appalachian State University in Boone in both indoor and outdoor venues, and provides audiences top-notch artistic programming including music, theatre, dance and much more. This year’s festival will run from June 24 through July 29.

Ensemble Stage, a 99-seat Professional Theater in Banner Elk, gives High Country residents and visitors a diverse selection of high-quality live theatrical presentations at affordable prices throughout the year.

Located in Boone, Horn in the West presents the nation’s oldest Revolutionary War dramas in a beautiful outdoor theatre. Celebrating its 71st season, it is a unique performing arts experience for audiences. The season will run June 27 through August 12.

No matter what your musical taste, the High Country has something for everybody. With an eclectic mix of music and a wide variety of theatrical performances, no doubt you will be entertained!

All dates and times are subject to change. Please call ahead or check online before attending.

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