Hendersonville.com’s family friendly calendar is a community hub for all types of kid and family-friendly events and activities in Hendersonville, NC.

Saturday, May 15, 2021
CONSERVATORY Rising 8th – 12th Grades Scholarship Available
May 15 all-day
Online w/ Flat Rock Playhouse
One young woman singing on stage with three young men. HCPS Teens. Flat Rock Playhouse announces a new summer scholarship for teens in Henderson County Public Schools.

Announcing an all-new scholarship for exemplary performing arts teens in Henderson County! Selected students will be invited to attend the following Studio 52 summer program with a full scholarship:


Rising 8th – 12th Grades

July 5 – 16, M-F, 9 AM – 2 PM

Learn from industry professionals in this two-week, pre-professional program blending acting & music theatre training as teens hone their skills and find their voice.

Qualified Student Nominees Must:

– Be enrolled in HCPS as a rising 8th-12th grade student for the 2021-2022 school year.

– Exhibit a passion for theatre, music, or dance.

– Serve as a leader within their drama, dance, or music classes at school.

– Provide the name and contact of a HCPS teacher who can serve as a reference.

Need-based scholarships are still available for all Studio 52 Summer Camps. Applications for need-based scholarships can be found on the Studio 52 website. All scholarship applications are due June 1.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Free Books for Children ages 0-5
May 15 all-day
Online w/ Smart Start Partnership for Children


A FREE book mailed to your child, every month!

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails an age-appropriate book monthly to enrolled children ages 0-5. Do you live in Henderson County and have a child younger than 5? Register today and your child can receive a free book in the mail each month until his/her fifth birthday!

How Do I Enroll My Child?

Enrolling your child is easy! You can register your child electronically (click for online registration) or call us at 828-693-1580 and we will mail you a hard copy of the registration form to complete and return to us.

When does the first book arrive?

If you enroll your child in person, we will give your child his/her first book. If not, your child will begin receiving books through the U.S. Postal Services six-eight weeks after the registration form has been received. If you move, please contact Smart Start at 828-693-1580 to notify us of your change in address so your child can continue receiving books.

Is there ever a cost to me?

NO!  Through the generous support of the NC General Assembly and donations and grants from individuals and businesses in our community, this is a FREE program.

Annual Survey

Annually, some parents will be asked to complete a short survey. The survey will only take a few  minutes to complete. Results will be used to make sure the program is getting results for families. If asked, please consider completing the short questionnaire. Thank you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Henderson County? Check out the Frequently Asked Questions here. If you still have questions, feel free to contact Smart Start Partnership for Children using the contact information below.

LEAF 2021 announces a few key dates
May 15 all-day

Spring LEAF Retreat May 13-16 at Lake Eden
LEAF Downtown/ Reimagine August 27-28
Fall LEAF Festival October 14-17 at Lake Eden 
(Size TBD*)

These events will be limited in size but will retain all the LEAF Love. LEAF Members will have priority and at times exclusive access to these events. Please note that Spring LEAF Retreat will be members-only and tickets will be made available on January 4th, 2021. Members have kept LEAF Mission alive and at work in this wild year of 2020! Your membership empowered LEAF to maintain our support of LEAF International Culture Keepers in the 10 countries and local LEAF Schools & Streets Artists. When you support culture, artists and teachers you are investing in the community and young people’s future. Interested in becoming a member? Join membership today!

All $250+ memberships will receive the 2021 LEAF Calendar hot off the press and its going to be a great year!

Nantahala River Rafting Fully Guided
May 15 all-day
Nantahala Outdoor Center

guests rafting on the Nantahala River Raft & Duck Rentals in North Carolina trip

A guided whitewater rafting trip is one of the best ways to experience the Nantahala Gorge. The crystal-clear Nantahala River is the perfect family-friendly river where experienced river guides will help you navigate through splashy Class II-III rapids and bouncy waves, with occasional calmer waters where you can enjoy the spectacular mountain scenery. The fully guided rafting trip the most popular adventure at NOC, with thousands of families returning year after year.

New Off-leash Dog Park: help us compete for a $25,000 PetSafe® Bark for Your Park™ grant through a letter of support.
May 15 all-day
online w/ Buncombe County Parks and Rec


As part of the $12 million Enka Recreation Destination project, a new off-leash dog park will be constructed near the entrance of Buncombe County Sports Park. Join the fun and help us compete for a $25,000 PetSafe® Bark for Your Park™ grant through a letter of support.

You can send your support to [email protected] or Buncombe County Recreation Services’ physical address on 46 Valley Street, Asheville, NC 28801. Make sure to let us know why the next amazing dog park in our community should be at Buncombe County Sports Park. Let us know if you live or own a business nearby and how often you visit the park. Any special requests? This is a great opportunity to include those, too.

According to a recent poll conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), 9 in 10 (91 percent) Americans believe dog parks provide benefits to the communities they serve. More than half (55 percent) of park and recreation agencies currently have at least one dog park. This will be the first dog park in the Buncombe County Recreation Services system.

Americans list the top three benefits a dog park can have on a community as:

  • Gives dogs a safe space to exercise and roam around freely (60 percent)
  • Allows dogs to socialize with other dogs (39 percent)
  • Allows owners a chance to be physically active with their pet (36 percent)

Availability of dog parks is especially popular among Millennials (94 percent) and Gen Xers (92 percent) followed by Boomers (89 percent).

To receive the I Heart Parks monthly newsletter, sign up online. Follow Buncombe County Recreation on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.

Private Caboose Party
May 15 all-day
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Ride in style on the historic Great Smoky Mountains Railroad aboard your very own restored Caboose. These are great for family reunions, birthday parties, private meetings, corporate field trips or just any time!

Our cabooses accommodate up to 15 people with seating on the main level and in the cupola. (And, remember, babies are people, too!) The cabooses feature heat, private bathrooms, windows that can be opened, and open air vestibules at each end for unobstructed views. Advanced reservations are required and availability of caboose rentals are limited.

A platter of cheese and crackers, and an assortment of 15 bottled Coca-Cola products are included. Plus, the caboose is the only place where you can bring your own food and drink (please, no alcohol) in picnic baskets or coolers.

You can charter the caboose on:

Best value for small groups and private parties up to 15 passengers. Available by phone only. Book now by calling 800-872-4681.

May 15 all-day
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad


Available April – October with the morning departure of the Nantahala Gorge Excursion departing Bryson City, NC. Train seating in Open Air Gondola. Booking available by phone only: 1-800-872-4681.

Convenient, Inclusive, and Simple!

  • Adult (13 years and older) $109
    Child (Minimum of 7 years old or 60 pounds) $92

A Fully-Guided Experience

The original Raft & Rail© since 1988: enjoy the two best adventures in the region in one day, great for families. Southern Living Magazine calls this “an ideal adventure for families, first-timers, young or old.” This full-day guided adventure starts with a Wildwater staff member greeting you at the train depot, followed by a scenic train trip, deli lunch with all the fixings, and a Nantahala River whitewater trip with a guide in every boat. Hot showers and a photo show follow immediately after your 8 mile Nantahala River trip. All transportation is included to and from the Bryson City Train Depot.

Available by phone only. Book now by calling 800-872-4681.

Rail + Trail
May 15 all-day
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Enjoy this trip combining the Great Smoky Mountains Railroads trip with the Waterfall Jeep® tour. You’ll begin your trip in Bryson City, NC, with a 2 hour (approximate) railroad excursion over Fontana Lake and into the Nantahala Gorge. As you travel on the train, watch paddlers challenge the rapids. At the top of the line, disembark from the train and climb aboard Wildwater’s customized Jeep® for a 2-hour (approximate) personal exploration up the mountain, past waterfalls and lakes, up to the Appalachian Trail and back. A delicious deli lunch is included.

Available by phone only. Book now by calling 800-872-4681.

* Children 40 – 80 lbs. are required to sit in the front passenger seat with the airbag disengaged using a child booster seat. Children 80 lbs. or greater will sit in the back using a lap seat belt. If there is more than one child in the 40 – 80 lb. range, the second child will sit in the back using a lap belt.

Tarzan Train
May 15 all-day
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Tarzan Train


Our train and canopy combo trip will start in Bryson City at the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad train depot. You will ride through the Smoky Mountains, along Fontana Lake and up into the Nantahala Gorge. On your 2 hour train ride, watch paddlers challenge the rapids on the Nantahala River. A delicious Deli Sandwich lunch is included. At the top-of-the-line, you will disembark the train and travel a short distance to Wildwater’s Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tours.

The original zipline canopy tour in Western North Carolina, Wildwater’s Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tours offers 13 different zip lines and 8 sky bridges. Our two highest platforms have unbelievable views of Clingman’s Dome, Fontana Lake and waterfalls. This gliding experience, naturally fueled by a gradual elevation change, takes you through multiple ecosystems, past hemlocks, into hardwoods and through a deciduous forest packed with native flowering plants. All Canopy Tour Rangers are trained to – and all courses are built and inspected to – ACCT Standards to provide for your well-being and fun. This is a great experience for families.

After enjoying the fully guided zip line tour, check out your photos and buy a t-shirt in Wildwater’s store. Your adventure will end later in the afternoon back at your car in Bryson City, NC. All transportation is included.

Members of your party who can’t – or don’t want to – go on the canopy tour can ride the train round trip. You’ll all meet up shortly after the train’s return in Bryson City, NC.

Wild and Furry Animals Book Donates to Help Wildlife
May 15 all-day
Online w/ Appalachian Wildlife Refuge

Appalachian Wildlife Refuge is a registered non-profit rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing orphaned and injured wildlife, and serving 18 counties across WNC. They provide conservation education to the community, support the wildlife rehabilitation network, and offer a Wildlife Emergency Hotline to the public.  For help with wildlife in need, call 828-633-6364 ext 1 and leave a message or email [email protected], and a member of the hotline team will reach out right away. To learn more and support their cause, visit www.appalachianwild.org

Kids Fishing Tournament
May 15 @ 8:00 am – 11:00 am
Lake Julian Park

This event is open to all youth 15 and under. Competitors will be divided into age groups with prizes in each for Biggest Fish, Smallest Fish, and Most Fish Caught. The grand prize for Biggest (Longest) Fish regardless of age is a Moken Lite kayak and 15% off accessories from Waterways and Feelfree Kayaks.

This is a catch and release tournament. After each fish has been weighed and measured, they will be released back into the lake. Your $10 registration fee includes a bucket, bait, and snacks and drinks. Competitors bring their own poles and current health guidelines must be observed.

No fishing license is required for residents under 16 years old. No boat fishing is allowed by competitors. All competitors must be accompanied by an adult.

Pre-registration is recommended. Fishing begins at 8:30 and ends promptly at 11:30.

All competitors will receive a reusable water bottle, pen, stickers, snacks and drinks, and a discount at local kayak fishing and paddlesports retailer Waterways.

  • Current public health guidance to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives must be observed.
  • Your $10 registration includes a bucket and bait, but competitors must bring their own poles.
  • This is a competition for kids and youth. Parents are allowed to help younger kids cast their poles. In the spirit of sportsmanship, any competitor receiving excessive assistance from an adult will be disqualified.

If you have any additional questions, please email [email protected].

Wild Art Sculpture Showcase
May 15 @ 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
NC Arboretum

The North Carolina Arboretum is going wild for art and nature in 2021 with Wild Art! On view April 1 through September 26, this outdoor sculpture exhibition features works by 17 local and national artists drawing inspiration from the natural environment. Situated throughout the Arboretum’s spacious, open-air gardens, the show offers guests a doorway into the wild world from the comfort and safety of cultivated landscapes transformed by art.

The 18 sculptures on display represent a variety of approaches to the theme of “wild art,” from the literal to the abstract, and are crafted from a diverse array of materials that will delight and inspire. Let your imagination take you on a wild journey into the world of plants and animals near and far with Wild Art at The North Carolina Arboretum.

The exhibit is available to all guests during normal Arboretum hours, and there is no admission cost to view the sculptures beyond our usual parking fee of $16 per personal vehicle.

Grab Brunch at River’s End
May 15 @ 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
River’s End Restaurant

River's End Restaurant exterior

River’s End Restaurant is an iconic spot for locals and visitors to Bryson City. Enjoy spectacular views of the gorge, with paddlers passing through as they complete their Nantahala River Rafting trip. Stop in for year-round lunch and dinner, with weekend brunch during the summer season, and choose from a wide range of appetizing entrees, burgers, salads, pizza, and sandwiches. Hang out for a while and enjoy a large selection of signature cocktails, wine, and beer, including local favorites.

In River’s End Restaurant, every seat has a view of the river! Enjoy music by the river and views of paddlers passing through as they complete their Nantahala River Rafting trip. Join our waitlist online to reserve a table or order online and grab your meal to go, for a sunny lunch right by the river!

Biltmore Gardens Railway
May 15 @ 9:30 am – 6:00 pm

Included with admission

Our fun-for-all-ages botanical model train displays invite you to experience our grounds in an engaging new way. Located in the Conservatory in the Walled Garden, the displays feature replicas of structures connected with Biltmore and its founder George Vanderbilt. Each beautifully executed piece was handcrafted from such natural elements as leaves, bark, and twigs.

In compliance with state and local mandates related to COVID-19, all guests must enter the Conservatory via the ADA entrance in the back and follow a one-way route.

Spring Girl Scout Day +Campout
May 15 @ 9:30 am – May 16 @ 9:00 am
Chimney Rock State Park

Calling troops of all ages for annual Spring Girl Scout Day! Your scouts will love the hands-on morning programs, adventurous afternoon activities and the incredible opportunity to camp overnight in the Park.

Click here for detailed program information. Call (828) 625-9611 ext. 1837 to reserve your troop today!

A $30 non-refundable reservation fee will be applied to your final total amount. Registration closes on May 6, 2021 or when we reach our limit of scouts.

Early Bird Yoga
May 15 @ 9:45 am – 10:30 am
Asheville Art Museum 

Small-group/in-person class
Early Bird Yoga is back inside the Museum! Join us in our spacious Windgate Foundation Atrium for family-friendly yoga and mindfulness. All ages and abilities are welcome; recommended for visitors aged 5+ (children must be accompanied by an adult). Space is limited. Preregistration is required; more info at ashevilleart.org/events.

Aston Park Tennis Center
May 15 @ 10:00 am – 7:30 pm
Aston Park Tennis Center
people playing on the courts at aston park tennis center


Asheville Parks & Recreation is pleased to announce the opening of Aston Park Tennis Center on April 1 for the 2021 season.  The tennis facility will be open seven days a week with two sessions of court availability — a morning session from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and an afternoon session from 3 to 7:30 p.m. with a one-hour break for midday cleaning.

Visitors can expect some changes to typical operations to meet current state and local health guidelines including enhanced cleaning, social distancing and mandatory mask wearing except while actively engaged in tennis activity on the court.  The Pro Shop will remain closed to foot traffic, however basic tennis supplies, drinks, and racquet drop-off for restringing will be available at the window.  Court fees will also be accepted at the window by credit card only and water fountains and showers will not be available.


Tennis Center prices are the same as they were in 2019, with hourly rates beginning at $6 and $7 and season passes starting at $299 and $399 for City of Asheville residents.  For more information and to purchase a season pass, visit the City’s Parks & Recreation website at www.ashevillenc.gov/parks.


The Aston Park Tennis Center, 336 Hilliard Ave.,  is one of the finest public clay tennis court facilities in the US.  The complex is open from April through November and offers 12 lighted courts for play.


The City of Asheville Parks & Recreation Department is committed to providing quality facilities and programs in a safe environment for everyone in our community.  For more information about everything Asheville Parks & Recreation offers, visit the website at www.ashevillenc.gov/parks,  Facebook page at www.facebook.com/APRCA or call 828-259-5800.

LEAF ReTreat: May 13-16th
May 15 @ 10:00 am – May 16 @ 3:00 pm
Lake Eden

LEAF Retreat is created to Rejuvenate the soul and Replenish our inspiration in this beautiful secluded place, Lake Eden, in which you can relax and get away.

It’s less than 1/5 the attendee size of Festival while maintaining the same footprint which gives you the feeling of having the place to yourself. Connecting with the outdoors is an essential part of the experience. Stages are smaller, more intimate with meet and greets and a focus on local and regional artists.

Great music in open air settings, special featured performances with LatinX artists, along with workshops, panel discussions and activities to recharge your spirits. Prepare for a time of reflection, reconnection, healing, friendship and fun in a safe healthy beautiful setting.

*Please note: This is a private event for LEAF members only.*
Not a member? Don’t worry! You can easily become a member for as little as $50 a year. Simply visit this link to join: https://theleaf.org/give-to-leaf/

Sand Hill Community Garden Workdays
May 15 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Sand Hill Community Garden

Volunteers at Sand Hill Community Garden

Looking to get involved, stay active, and meet some new friends? Sand Hill Community Garden workdays take place on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-noon at Buncombe County Sports Park. The garden is located on 16 Apac Dr. in West Asheville/Enka-Candler.

Join friends and neighbors as they come together on common ground to raise fresh, organic vegetables and fruits for the Enka community.

Expect to wear a mask and maintain social distance throughout. Tools and hand sanitizer are available, but any gloves, loppers, pruners, or gardening tools you can bring will decrease the amount of contact between volunteers. Please wear work clothes to get dirty and closed-toe shoes. Sunscreen, water, and a hat are also handy items to have on hand.

Sand Hill Community Garden has been growing fresh produce since 2011 and raised over 1,200 lbs. of organic produce last year.

NOTE: Community workdays are weather dependent. Please join the community garden email list (send your info to [email protected]) to stay up on workday tasks and other garden news.

To receive the I Heart Parks monthly newsletter, sign up online. Follow Buncombe County Recreation on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.