Free for All: Arts & Culture at No (or Low) Cost in Asheville


Free for All: Arts & Culture at No (or Low) Cost in Asheville

  • Carol Anderz

    Since 2006, I have been delight-fully retired from my condo/commuter life in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Like many who have come to AVL, I, too, have my own story of serendipity that brought me here...

River Arts District. Source: nschouterden (Flickr)

Greetings Dear Reader! Want to do stuff for FREE? Want to do something strange for a change? For Free? Here are some of my fav FREE FOR ALL options in AVL:

  1. Visual Art! Art Galleries, Artist Studio Tours and Art Walks are in abundance in AVL. Check and for details
  2. Live Local Music! Many Downtown Bars offer free entertainment, no cover or minimum. My best bets: 5 Walnut, a wine bar with outstanding local talent every day. Music starts around 6 pm. Barley's on Thur. & Sun hosts JAZZ that starts around 8 pm. Find more listings in your favorite local news source or online at each venue. 
  3. Free Movie Classics! Every Friday at 8 pm, Flood Fine Arts Center hosts its Foreign Film Series at 2160 US 70 Hwy. in Swannanoa. The Wedge hosts Classic Movie Night on the first Monday of month at Wedge @ Foundation at 5 Foundy St. at 7 pm. Bonus: Almost free ( $3) movies show at Asheville Brewing Company on Merrimon, which offers movies a few months after their first run.
  4. Free Concerts! Summer Time: Downtown After Five, LEAF Downtown, Shindig on the Green, Montford Music & Arts Festival, LAFF, & outdoor concerts in Black Mtn, Swannanoa, other communities. And don’t forget the iconic Drum Circle in Pritchard Park.
  5. History Tour! Self Guided Walking Tour: Asheville Urban Trail, a 1.7 trip, get maps at Thomas Wolfe house or online. Check out the History Boards all around town.
  6. Go to College! UNCA hosts frequent FREE public lectures and events. Go to for run down. They are Amazing!!!
  7. Listen & Learn! Malaprop's Book Store hosts daily author readings, poetry readings, and other literary events. Meet other smart people for free! 
  8. Free Live Theatre! During the summer months, Montford Park Players offer Shakespeare in the Park. At Christmastime, catch Dickens-themed events and indoor theatre. Events are mostly FREE (donations are requested but no one is turned away). And, as recently posted by another blogger, call NC Stage, Asheville Community Theatre, or other local theatre companies to ask if they need volunteers or ushers and see plays for free in exchange for helping.
  9. Breweries offer more than Brews! Most of our breweries offer free concerts & shows featuring top notch talent more often than not for FREE. Parking is usually a non-issue and they tend to be family friendly! I've had some great experiences at Sierra Nevada & Pisgah Breweries.
  10. Walk Around AVL! See and Be Seen! Love the Buskers. The LaZoom tour and Pub Cycle folks like to wave and yell at us or vice a versa. AVL is very photogenic, so take some marvelous artistic photos.
  11. Farmers Markets and ART Fairs! Oh what fun to peruse the people, the produce, the merchandise. And you usually can have tasty treats for reasonable prices.

Now there is a cautionary tale here. There are many opportunities in AVL that state “FREE” but ask for donations. My take is GIVE IF: a. you support the group, b. you can spare a few dollars, c. your donation is equal to or less than a ticket, d. you were moved by the cause/event or e. others are watching. But, Do NOT be intimidated to make a donation, if it was clear that none was required for entry. Sometimes you just can’t. If it was an A+ experience, be grateful, speak well of the experience! My theory is you never know how you may influence others to take action. If it was a negative experience, you can warn others, but be fair and state your reasons.