How will Cherokee affect you?

Make a special event the centerpiece of your vacation in Cherokee.

Events, festivals, fairs, and more abound in Cherokee throughout the spring, summer and fall, all of them as diverse as they are delightful. They’re a great way to have a great time, and often they provide an easy opportunity to absorb some intriguing Cherokee culture through dance, food, craftmaking, and more. But some Cherokee events are simply a fun way to spend time with your friends and family. Take a quick tour of the event lineup below, pick a few, and add them to your itinerary.

Cherokee Summer Carnival

Sunday, February 21 from 2:00 pm to Thursday, February 25 at 11:00 pm

The Cherokee Summer Carnival presents family-friendly fun with a variety of vendors, food, games, karaoke, and literally dozens of carnival rides. The carnival will be open all week for multiple days of entertainment and a summer celebration you can’t miss. This event is free to the public.


KOA Spring Fishing Tournament

Saturday, March 26 from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm

Cast your line for a chance to compete with other anglers for thousands of dollars in prizes at the Cherokee KOA Spring Fishing Tournament this March. Fishing permits, required for Cherokee streams or ponds, are $10 for each person 12 years and older. Permits are available at a variety of business entities within Cherokee or can be purchased online at FishCherokee.com. Accommodations available at KOA.com.


Cherokee’s Annual Opening Day Fishing Tournament

Saturday, March 26 to Sunday, March 27

For 2016, Cherokee is bringing back an “opening day” (March 26) to the fishing season, and offering you 20,000 reasons to get excited about it. Our new Opening Day Fishing Tournament requires just an $11 entry fee to compete for $20,000 in tagged fish. You’ll be competing in the rivers on the Qualla Boundary (excluding the 2.2 miles of catch-and-release waters). Tagged fish will be specially stocked for this event, and when you catch one, you redeem it for cash prizes ranging from $20 to $500 at Artist Row on US 441. Open to all ages and for all legal fishing methods. Register to redeem cash prizes anywhere fishing licenses are sold. 


Young Children’s Fair

Thursday, April 21 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Parents and children are welcome to come and enjoy fun, food, and family-friendly activities. Admission is free to the public.


Mother’s Day 5K

Saturday, May 7 from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm

The 2016 Mother's Day 5K Run/Walk will be held at Kituwah Mound, also known as the Mother Town. Hosted by Cherokee Choices, the event takes place on a new course that has a bit of everything: road, farm road, and trails–offering a complete review of the historic site.  The course is perfect for seasoned runners, first-timers, and walkers.

Cool shirts, great awards, and a great cause: all proceeds benefit the Cherokee Dialysis Support Group. Registration will be accessible online at RunSignup.com or by phone to Cherokee Choices. Entry fees are $10 per person and $5 for kids 12 and younger.


Strawberry Festival

Saturday, May 21 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm

Sponsored by the North American Indian Women’s Association (NAIWA), the Strawberry Festival features fresh berries, delicious recipes, strawberry products, and fun activities for the whole family. Admission is free to the public. Vendor space available.

Entertainment/Event Schedule:
9 a.m.
Opening ceremony
Concession stand opens
Strawberry Legend: adult and youth

10 a.m.–2 p.m. 
Children’s activities

11 a.m.
Community entertainment, demonstrations, and talent show

1 p.m.
Adult and youth contests
Concession stand closed

2 p.m.
Prizes awarded                       


Cherokee’s Memorial Day Trout Tournament

Friday, May 27 to Sunday, May 29

Spend the long weekend with the boys: rainbow, brook, golden, and brown. Your $11 entry fee lets you compete for $10,000 in tagged fish within the beautiful freestone streams of Cherokee (excluding the 2.2 miles of catch-and-release waters). We’ve stocked our waters with specially tagged fish that you simply redeem for cash prizes ranging from $20-$500 based on the color of the tag. Prize redemption for tags will be available at the Chamber of Commerce in Cherokee. Open to all ages and for legal fishing methods. Register for this tournament anywhere fishing permits are sold in and around Cherokee or online at FishCherokee.com.


Cherokee Bluegrass Festival

Thursday, June 2 to Saturday, June 4

Cherokee’s family bluegrass music festival takes place June 2–4, 2016 with some of the brightest stars in bluegrass music. There will be live music daily from noon to 10:30 p.m. at the Happy Holiday RV Village and Campground in Cherokee. The performance lineup includes:

Advance tickets are $35 daily or $90 per adult for all three days. Ticket prices at the gate are $40 daily or $95 per adult for all three days. Tickets can be purchased by calling 706.864.7203 or at AdamsandAndersonBluegrass.com.


The 14th Annual Cherokee Gourd Artists’ Gathering

Thursday, June 2 from 9:00 am to Sunday, June 5 at 5:00 pm

The 14th Annual Cherokee Gourd Artists’ Gathering presents the opportunity for gourd artists from across the United States and Canada to meet for one weekend a year to exchange ideas and collaborate on gourd art. Classes provided at this event include wood burning, carving, painting, and sculpting and range from beginner to advanced levels. Other activities include silent auction, live auction, and raffles throughout the event. The Gourd Artists’ Gathering is free to the public. Class sizes and fees vary and often fill up quickly.

Come on Friday or Saturday to see our wonderful displays of finished gourds for raffle, auction, and theme contest. On Sunday, there are still plenty of opportunities to shop, but our large displays will be dismantled as the display gourds will have been given to the various activity winners.


19th Annual Cherokee Voices Festival

Saturday, June 11 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

The voices of an 11,000-year-old culture are inviting you to come out and play. Cherokee culture speaks in its most thrilling ways through dance, music, storytelling, and arts and crafts. You’re invited to hear and experience it all during the Cherokee Voices Festival, now in its 19th year. It’s free of charge and held at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Sponsored by the North Carolina Arts Council and the Museum.


41st Annual 4th of July Powwow

Friday, July 1 to Sunday, July 3

It’s hard to say what’ s more explosive: The dancing, the regalia, or the fireworks.


July 4th Fireworks

Saturday, July 2 from 10:00 pm to 11:00 pm

Enjoy a brilliant display of fireworks over the Acquoni Expo Center as we celebrate Independence Day. Though admission to the 4th of July Powwow is by ticket only, viewing of the fireworks is free to the public and spectators are encouraged to watch from the parking lot.


The Tim Hill Memorial Trout Tournament

Saturday, July 16 to Sunday, July 17

In honor of Tim Hill, a longtime employee at our very own trout hatchery who sadly passed away far too soon, we’re inviting you to fish and compete in this fun and lucrative tournament in his name. A portion of your $11 entry fee will be donated to a charity (yet to be determined) to help us pay tribute to Tim. You’ll be fishing for your share of $10,000 by catching beautiful fish in rivers all across the Qualla Boundary (excluding the 2.2 miles of catch-and-release waters), which will be stocked with tagged fish. When you catch one, simply redeem it for cash prizes up to $1,000 at Artist Row on US 441. Open to all ages and for all legal fishing methods. Register to redeem cash prizes anywhere fishing licenses are sold. 


Folkmoot USA International Folk Festival

Monday, July 25 from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Attend the official North Carolina International Folk Festival in Cherokee for a day in celebration of more than 200 international folk cultures including the sovereign nation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. This year’s event will feature 22 unique performances including EBCI as well as musicians and dancers from Chile, Ecuador, Estonia, Bangladesh, French Canada, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, the US, and the Philippines. There will also be Appalachian clogging, and music by WNC bluegrass groups.

For a complete schedule of events or to purchase tickets visit FolkmootUSA.org or call 828.452.2997. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children/students. 20% discount tickets available for groups of 20 or more.

Folkmoot USA has been held since 1984 in Waynesville, North Carolina and surrounding communities. The Southeast Tourism Society has named Folkmoot USA one of its top twenty events for twenty years. As an organization built on decades of international festival experiences, Folkmoot creates opportunities for individuals and communities across the world to find a deeper sense of connection, mutual respect, and shared purpose.


Blueberry Festival

Saturday, August 13 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm

Sponsored by the North American Indian Women’s Association (NAIWA), the Blueberry Festival features fresh berries, delicious recipes, blueberry products, and fun activities for the whole family. Admission is free to the public. Vendor space available.

Entertainment/Event Schedule:
9 a.m.
Opening ceremony
​Concession stand opens
Cornhole tournament

10 a.m.–2 p.m. 
Children's activities

11 a.m. 
Community entertainment, demonstrations, and talent show

1 p.m. 
Adult and youth contests
Concession stand closed

2 p.m. 
Prizes awarded


KOA Summer Fishing Tournament

Saturday, August 20 from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm

Cast your line for a chance to compete with other anglers for thousands of dollars in prizes at the Cherokee KOA Summer Fishing Tournament this August. Fishing permits, required for Cherokee streams or ponds, are $10 for each person 12 years and older. Permits are available at a variety of business entities within Cherokee or can be purchased online at FishCherokee.com. Accommodations available at KOA.com.


Qualla Arts and Crafts Open Air Indian Art Market

Saturday, August 27 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

Where our family traditions become your family heirlooms: the Open Air Indian Art Market showcases traditional, handmade Cherokee arts and crafts. Come to shop for authentic and unique gifts but stay for the music, food, storytelling, and craft demonstrations. This outdoor event is held in the Cultural District of Cherokee next to Oconaluftee Islands Park. A traditional Cherokee meal will be for available for purchase for $10 per person by the North American Indian Women’s Association (NAIWA). General admission is free to the public.


7 Clans Rodeo

Friday, September 2 from 6:00 pm to Saturday, September 3 at 10:00 pm

Between the broncos that will be busted, the bulls that will be bucking, and the rodeo clowns looking to avoid getting stomped in the head, there will be all sorts of skills competitions and top-name riders in this SRA-sanctioned event. Gates open at 6 nightly, with the rodeo starting at 8. Located at the intersection of Highways 19/441 in Cherokee.

General admission tickets for both nights can be purchased with cash at Cherokee's Chamber of Commerce or at Alan’s Jewelry & Pawn in Cherokee and Asheville locations. Adult tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the gate. Children's (12 & under) tickets can be purchased for $6 in advance at $8 at the gate.


The Qualla Country Trout Tournament

Friday, September 2 to Sunday, September 4

It’s not too late to take home the summer’s biggest fish—and biggest purse: $20,000. That’s right: 20,000 big ones. Welcome to the tagged tournament that celebrates the land the Cherokees call home. You’ll find the beautiful rivers here (excluding the catch-and-release waters) fully stocked with tagged trout worth up to $5,000. You just fish, have fun, and redeem the tags for cash. Entry fee is $11 everywhere Cherokee fishing permits are sold. A full list of locations is available at FishCherokee.com. All ages and fishing methods are welcome.


Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon and 5K

Friday, September 30 from 4:00 pm to Saturday, October 1 at 6:00 pm

The 4th Annual Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon and 5K exists to benefit the Madison Hornbuckle Children’s Cancer Foundation. 2015 online registration for both races is now open and can be accessed at imathlete.com.  Each race is capped at 600 participants. There is a time limit of three hours to complete the half marathon.

Half Marathon Entry Fees:
January 1–April 30, 2016 - $45
May 1–September 29 - $50
September 30 - Race Day - $55

5K Entry Fees:
January 1–April 30, 2016 - $25
May 1–September29 - $30
September 30- Race Day - $35


Indian Fair Parade 2016

Tuesday, October 4 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Experience the many sights and sounds of tribal entities, tribal athletics, Cherokee High School Band, and other festive Cherokee figures at Cherokee’s annual Indian Fair Parade between Harrah’s Casino and the Ginger Lynn Welch Complex. Spectators are encouraged to bring their own chairs, as well as bags for the candy thrown from passing floats. All parking along the parade path and surrounding areas will cease 15 minutes prior to the parade and roads will not open again until the conclusion of parade festivities. Please come early before roads close at 3:45 p.m.


104th Annual Cherokee Indian Fair

Tuesday, October 4 from 10:00 am to Saturday, October 8 at 10:00 pm

It’s over a century old. It’s a cornucopia of sights and sounds—a treat for all your senses. It’s a carnival and an agriculture show. It’s an art show and a game show. There’s food, music and rides. It’s pure, unfiltered fair entertainment with that unmistakable Cherokee touch: a Ferris wheel, fireworks, and stickball.

Stickball has long been known as the “Little Brother of War,” and you’ll find thrilling demonstrations of it mixed into all the traditional fair fun and food. In fact, you’re going to find ample amounts of all sorts of authentic Cherokee culture, including archery and blowgun demonstrations, local art, dance, music, and more. Happening at the Cherokee Indian Fair Grounds, the 104th Annual Cherokee Indian Fair is October 4-8.

Tickets are available for purchase at the gate for $10 per person. Children ages 5 and under will be admitted for free. Celebrate a different emphasis each day you attend.

Tuesday: Parade Day
Wednesday: Children’s Day
Thursday: Elder’s Day
Friday: Veteran’s Day
Saturday: Community Day


KOA Fall Fishing Tournament

Saturday, October 8 from 6:00 am to 12:00 pm

Cast your line for a chance to compete with other anglers for thousands of dollars in prizes at the Cherokee KOA Fall Fishing Tournament this October. Fishing permits, required for Cherokee streams or ponds, are $10 per person 12 years and older. Permits are available at a variety of business entities within Cherokee or can be purchased online at FishCherokee.com. Accommodations available at KOA.com.


Rumble in the Rhododendron Fly Fishing Tournament

Friday, October 28 to Sunday, October 30

Are you and your best fly-fishing buddy ready to rumble with the top anglers around? Then get your $225 entry fee together for this two-person team competition held exclusively in the catch-and-release section of Cherokee’s “trophy waters” known simply as Raven Fork. This tournament offers a guaranteed payout totaling $10,000 for the top teams. To enter this tournament you must first acquire a Cherokee fishing permit (a list of permit-selling locations may be found at FishCherokee.com), then register for the event by phone or in person at the Cherokee Welcome Center. Your entry fee also includes lunch and dinner. Open to all ages.


Cruise the Smokies Fall Rod Run

Friday, November 4 from 9:00 am to Saturday, November 5 at 5:00 pm

Enjoy a vintage car show featuring hundreds of restored and enhanced vintage cars. Chat with their owners to get each car’s unique history, enjoy pristine paint jobs, and have your fill of polished chrome. This show will have food, memorabilia, and automobile parts vendors and will be hosted with music by a professional DJ for lots of old-fashioned fun. Admission is $5 per person and free for children 10 and younger.


Cherokee Lights & Legends Christmas

Friday, December 2 from 6:00 pm to Saturday, December 31 at 9:00 pm

It's a traditional Christmas celebration with all the trimmings, but with a unique Cherokee twist. Enjoy interactive displays of Cherokee legends, ice skating, a 40-ft. Christmas tree, and more.


Christmas Parade 2016

Saturday, December 10 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Experience the many sights and sounds of festive holiday entertainment between Whitewater Path Rd. and the Ginger Lynn Welch Complex at Cherokee’s annual Christmas Parade. Spectators are encouraged to bring their own chairs and bags for the candy thrown from passing floats. All parking along the parade path and surrounding areas will cease 15 minutes prior to the parade and roads will not open again until the conclusion of parade festivities. Please come early before roads close at 5:15 p.m.


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