An Elevated Musical Destination

An Elevated Musical Destination

Highlands, North Carolina, hit all the right notes with this year’s Highlands Food & Wine Festival

Words by Paige Townley

Nestled in the beauty and splendor of the Appalachian Mountains, Highlands, North Carolina, has long been established as the South’s ultimate mountain retreat. The highest incorporated town east of the Rockies, Highlands easily lures visitors and soon-to-be residents alike with its inspiring natural atmosphere, unique culture, and inspired dining opportunities, but in recent years, it has added another element to its attractive lineup: music.

The longstanding Highlands Food & Wine Festival has been a sought after event for years on end, and the addition of the now annual Bear Shadow Festival earlier this year only added to the musical and culinary appeal of the mountain destination. And once again this year, Highlands Food & Festival did not disappoint. “After celebrating the launch of the inaugural Bear Shadow music festival in April, we were thrilled for the return of Highlands Food & Wine,” said Festival Director Casey Reid. “Keeping with the tradition of showcasing great chefs, beverage partners and live music, Highlands Festivals is proud to have hosted an incredible lineup of artists that helped us toast to five years of food, wine, music and mountains.”

Held November 11 through 14, Highlands Food & Wine sold out in record time, and that’s certainly thanks to the festival’s long list of events to enjoy. As guests have gotten to know and love, the festival included the popular Grand Tasting, Truckin’, Main Event, and Sunday Shindig events. Each event featured all-star rosters of local and regional restaurant partners that created world-class food and beverage menus, delicious specialty dinners, and other culinary experiences. Just a few of the culinary partners included Asheville Proper, A’Verde Cocina, Brasserie Le Blanc, INDACO, Oak Steakhouse, and O-Ku. These offerings were expertly accented by fine wines and spirit seminars that also featured local, regional, and national brands, including J. Lohr, Laurent-Perrier, Bulleit Bourbon, Joel Gott, Santa Margherita, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Lunazul, and more.

The events hosted over the course of the weekend-long festival featured fabulous musical acts as well. The Grant Tasting kicked off the weekend and included a performance by Greenville, South Carolina-based Rufus Lee and The Handful, who brought honky-tonk country with a unique rock ‘n roll edge to the mountains. Truckin’ followed next with Nashville-based American folk pop performer Erin Rae and Durham-based American folk/country rock band Hiss Golden Messenger. Saturday’s Main Event brought Diana DeMuth and her folk rock sound to the stage before the headline event featuring American singer-songwriter Amos Lee. Wrapping up the weekend at the Sunday Shindig was Nashville-based singer-songwriter and bandleader Devon Gilfilian, who also played the Bear Shadow Music Festival earlier this year.

“We couldn’t have been more excited about the stellar musical talent that joined us this year, as well as the great food and beverage partners,” Reid added. “For anyone that missed out this year, definitely start making your plans now to join us in 2022 as the festival just gets better every year.”


Tickets for the 2022 Bear Shadow festival, which is typically held in late April, will go on sale in January 2022. To learn more about the 2022 Bear Shadow festival, visit and sign up for the festival’s newsletter for early-bird access to tickets. To learn more about Highlands Food & Wine Festival, visit