French Broad River Festival

It’s Time for the 21st Annual French Broad River Festival!

May 4 – May 6, 2018

In the mountains of Western North Carolina, where the Appalachian Trail meets the French Broad River, the beautiful town of Hot Springs, North Carolina is a laid-back haven for locals, tourists, and hikers. Most of the year, the population barely hits 600 residents. But come the first weekend in May, the sleepy little town will be wide awake with the 21st annual French Broad River Festival. Thousands of excited festival goers will come to town for some Appalachia fun and lend their support for some worthy causes.

How It All Got Started

What started as a single night benefit event on the French Broad has evolved into a weekend-long festival to raise funds for American Whitewater, The Verner Center for Early Learning and Hot Springs Community Learning Center. Giving has never been so much fun! Camping, music, food, outdoor adventure, and more await against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Families, outdoor enthusiasts, and music lovers alike will find plenty of adventure and entertainment as they help support local charities and causes.

What’s Going On

This year’s festival will once again feature the Annual FBRF Mountain Bike Race for the more athletic adventurers and the Annual French Broad River Raft Race, one of the largest mass start whitewater race in the South for anyone crazy enough to join! The river raft race starts in Barnard, North Carolina, and travels down the beautiful French Broad to Hot Springs. Along the 9-mile course, competitors will find Class 1-4 whitewater thrills,  unintentional bumper boats traffic jams, and some colorful, creative paddlers.


This year’s musical performances will feature a variety of artists and genres and if last year’s musicians are any indication, this year promises plenty of get-on-up-out-of-your-seat-and-dance shows that will include:

But Wait There is Even More Fun

All those races, dancing, and loads of fun take a lot of energy, so festival-goers can find plenty of food vendors and local dining in several of Hot Springs restaurants. While this is an outdoor festival, after all, there are some pretty attractive amenities for festival- goers. Potable water, medical assistance, security, wash stations, portable toilets with toilet paper, and even hot showers will all be available! There’s plenty of room for camping and Hot Springs offers lodging within walking distance to the festival.

Voted One Of the Best

Voted one of the best festivals in North Carolina year after year, the French Broad River Festival has donated over $200,000 to designated local charities such as Manna Food Bank, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of WNC, Eliada Home, Homeward Bound of Asheville, and American Whitewater. This year promises to be the biggest, and best, festival yet.

If You Are Going

Festival gates open at 8 a.m., Friday, May 4 and tickets, camping passes, and race registration can all be purchased online.

More information is available on the festival’s website or Facebook and Got Mountain Life Events page.