LEAF Festival is an inter-generational celebration of world culture that uses music, arts, and creativity to champion artistic expression, instill cultural competency, and build a diverse & welcoming community.
How is LEAF so special? Here directly from longtime LEAF Festival performers & family: Rising Appalachia.
49th LEAF Festival Full Lineup
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“Of all the forces in our universe, few things captivate more inspiration, awe and wonder… than the stars. No matter where we stand upon this beautiful Earth, up above is a celestial blanket beckoning our vision to higher possibilities. For the 49th LEAF Festival, the artists selected transcend expectation, defy all convention, and capture the essence of what it means to embrace one’s fullest potential. From the shores of Benin, to the mountains of Colorado, to the forests of Ireland, to the city streets of LA… this Fall, over 15 nations will unite at Lake Eden to share a vision of who we are when we release all expectations, dive deep into our creative passions, and #ReachfortheStars. Join us this October for a Global Gathering filled with music, magic and infinite possibility… And prepare for the journey of a lifetime!” ~ Ehren Cruz, Artistic Director
Mark your calendars for future LEAF Festivals!
2020: May 14-17 & October 22-25
2021: May 13-16 & October 21-24
2022: May 12-15 & October 20-23
For 24 years, each May & October an intergenerational family of 12,000 people join together upon the beautiful Lake Eden grounds to experience the power music, art and culture has to transform lives, strengthen community, and foster unity. LEAF Festival takes place on the site of the old Historic Black Mountain College with a stunning array of rolling hills, lakes, streams, and mountain beauty on hundreds of acres of comfortable camping grounds. LEAF scours the globe for artists, musicians, performers and facilitators that are not only masters of their craft, but who also care deeply for the power of arts education and family engagement.
LEAF Event Data: Fall 1995 – May 2019
# of LEAFers (Patrons) at Events: 474,000
2018 LEAF Festivals & Events
# of Countries Represented: 22
LEAF Community Arts is a non-profit organization in which all donations and festival proceeds supports cultural arts education programming locally and globally! Since 2004, LEAF Schools & Streets has served over 55,000 youth with programs in over 20 Western North Carolina locations. LEAF International features cultural preservation programs in 10 countries worldwide. Your attendance at LEAF not only provides you with an amazing weekend experience with friends and family, but provides a platform for fostering the growth of our youth into creative leaders in their communities worldwide.
Explore LEAF Festival's Historical Site
LEAF Festival sits below Mt. Mitchell with mountain lakes and rolling hills with 600 stunning acres featuring rustic cabins, large camping fields with mountain views, hiking trails, barns, streams, and lakes for canoeing, swimming, and the zooming zipline. This enchanting land offers lots of outdoors adventures for the whole family!
The 1st LEAF Festival premiered Fall 1996, and has become a tradition twice a year, May and October. The name Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF) was chosen to honor the lake and the former Lake Eden Inn & Resort. “Arts” embraces a broad creative palate and of course it was to be a “festival”. In envisioning LEAF, we sought to embrace world cultures, reflect the creativity of the Asheville area, and to complement the stunning landscape. The location and size, attendance is limited to 6,000 people on site per day, makes LEAF Festival one of the best small festivals in the world. The right place, the right size.
LEAF Site History
The place, now Camp Rockmont & Lake Eden Events, was the site of the historic Black Mountain College in the 1940's-50's, one of the main arts & education happenings of the 1900’s. Many of the century's most celebrated artists and thinkers attended the college as teachers or students: Albert Einstein, Rauschenberg, Joseph & Annie Albers, Merce Cunningham, Rothko, and Buckminster Fuller (who designed the 1st geodesic dome here). The Barns were built by BMC students. Prior to BMC, E.W. Grove (of Grove Park Inn & Grove Arcade) developed the land and constructed some wonderful buildings with his trademark native stone fireplaces. For a short time during the BMC era, The Lake Eden Inn & Resort offered a getaway for people seeking its healing waters and refreshing air.
In the 80’s & 90’s, Black Mountain Folk Festival took place on these grounds. In 1995 through a series of unusual life events, Jennifer Pickering, LEAF’s Founder, was encouraged to start a new event. “Having grown up on this amazing land, it was a gift to come back and create a way for others to enjoy this special place”. To dispel a few myths...LEAF does not own Camp Rockmont- we are grateful to be able to rent the facilities twice a year from Rockmont. A portion of the festival grounds are Lake Eden Events where many LEAFers have had their weddings & Barn parties. Lets all take care of this beautiful place together.