$15 Million Approved for 2022 TPDF Investments
Buncombe County to Welcome 12 New Projects as Early as Next Year 

In addition to the two Buncombe County projects approved in August, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA) Board of Directors greenlighted over $9 million of new investment in 10 community projects last month. In addition to the $6.64 million approved for two Buncombe County projects in the BCTDA’s August meeting, Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF) investments now total more than $15.68 million in awards this year making it the most in the 20-year history of the fund.

Since the inception of the TPDF in 2001, BCTDA has now invested more than $60 million in 46 community tourism projects that benefit both residents and visitors. These transformational projects reinforce Asheville’s sense of place through the preservation of historical community assets, modernization of our cultural destinations, and enhancement of natural amenities.

View All Tourism Product Development Fund Recipients

22 Local Festivals & Cultural Events Receive Over $90,000 in Investment for 2023

The Festivals & Cultural Events Support Fund Grant Program was launched in 2016 by the BCTDA to provide financial support for local events that support and preserve the cultural identity of the community. Contributing to the financial viability and long-term sustainability of festivals and cultural events, the fund seeks to stimulate new events and expand on existing ones that are enjoyed by residents and visitors. In 2023, 22 festivals and cultural events will receive investment through this support fund. 

View 2022 Festival & Cultural Event Recipients

Quarterly Sponsorship Application Due Today

Additionally, the BCTDA offers sponsorships of professional and community development opportunities organized by Buncombe County-based nonprofits. Such opportunities must be in alignment with at least one of Explore Asheville’s Strategic Imperatives to be eligible for and receive investment. Sponsorship requests are reviewed on a quarterly basis and today, November 15, is the last opportunity to apply for sponsorship this year. 

Apply for a BCTDA Sponsorship


Show Your Business Identity Attributes
Partners can now Voluntarily Self-Identify as BIPOC, Woman, and LGBTQ+ on Explore Asheville Extranet
Asheville’s collection of BIPOC, woman, and LGBTQ+-owned businesses are what help make our town a haven for unique and meaningful experiences for everyone within the community. By self-identifying on the Explore Asheville Extranet you are promoting your business to a wider, more diverse audience of locals and visitors alike. 
Help us reach our second Strategic Imperative of Engaging & Inviting More Diverse Audiences by updating your partner listing on the Explore Asheville Extranet. Accurate and completed listings aren’t only helpful for travelers making plans, but also for the Explore Asheville team as we promote Buncombe County as a memorable place to visit. If your business is BIPOC, woman, and/or LGBTQ+ owned, be sure to indicate so under your business category.
Log In, Scroll Down, Click on Minority Designation

If you have any questions regarding self-identification, please contact our Events and Community Engagement Coordinator, McKenzie Provost


Asheville Businesses Claim Notoriety at this Year's 'Made in the South' Awards
Biscuit Head and Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn Receive Awards in this Year's Food Category

Earlier this week, two local Asheville-based companies won the Food Category's top honor and runner-up achievement at the Garden & Gun's 2022 Made in the South Awards. Since the competition started in 2009, Asheville, the creative epicenter of this year’s competition, has produced 11 honorees.

The winner of the Food Category is Biscuit Head’s Buttermilk Biscuit Mix, made locally in Asheville, NC. This biscuit mix was selected out of 60 narrowed-down submissions from restaurants and food businesses across the South. Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn was honored as a runner-up in the Food Category for their Spicewalla Chai Masala collaboration popcorn.

Makers and artisans from all over the state of North Carolina have historically accumulated more than 50 Made in the South Awards and received six nods this year in multiple categories. All winners and finalists will be featured in the December 2022 / January 2023 issue of Garden & Gun on newsstands Tuesday, November 22. 


Festivals & Cultural Events Sponsorship Applications for this quarter are due November 15. Buncombe County-based nonprofits providing professional and community development opportunities that serve the local community including tourism partners are encouraged to apply. 

The City of Asheville and Buncombe County are inviting locals working in hospitality and tourism to attend a focus group on the Future of Pack Square Plaza from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at 100 Court Plaza on Friday, Dec. 2. This is one of many opportunities to participate in that weekend. A full schedule of events is located on their project website

Festival & Cultural Events Supported by the BCTDA 

76th Annual Asheville Holiday Parade Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.: The parade’s official performance stop is located at the corner of Biltmore and Patton Avenues, but attendees will find great viewing areas all along both streets. Santa and Mrs. Claus will sit for FREE photos with families following the parade from 2 to 4 p.m. at The Grove Arcade. 

Winter Lights at the Arboretum Nov. 18-Dec. 31: This year’s show features over a million lights and mixes enchanting new displays with old favorites like the 50 ft tree and Quilt Garden. Winter Lights is a walk-through light show that includes live performances, children's activities, and food and beverage options. 

Lake Julian Festival of Lights Dec. 1-Dec. 23: Lake Julian Festival of Lights has become a tradition for many mountain families and visitors, taking place nightly from 6 to 9 p.m. New for this year, guests will be allowed to stroll on foot for two nights on December 2 and 3.


Asheville Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving Day
Where to Eat When You are Too Tired to Cook 

Thanks to our friends at the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association (AIR), we've compiled a list of local restaurants that are serving Thanksgiving Day meals in their dining rooms or for takeout. As with any holiday, we highly recommend you plan in advance by reviewing menus online, calling the restaurant to check availability, and making a reservation.

Order from a Restaurant Serving on Turkey Day

Are you a restaurant offering a Thanksgiving special that is not on our list? Let us know by emailing

Warm Welcome to our New Partners
We are Delighted to Shine a Light on Your Creativity
Reflections of Gratitude
As 2022 Comes to a Close, We are Most Grateful for You!

The staff at Explore Asheville expresses our deep gratitude for the dedicated work you do day after day to keep Asheville's creative spirit alive and thriving. Thank you for the friendly, dependable service you thoughtfully provide every season and your commitment to upholding Buncombe County as a vibrant place to live and visit. We could never take for granted the hard work you do. We see it, and we appreciate you!


Check out the TOURISM COMMUNITY UPDATE: Highlights of Buncombe County TDA Meetings

October's meeting included the presentation and approval of the 2022 Grant Cycles of the Tourism Product Development Fund and the Festivals & Cultural Events Support Fund. Check it out!

Q: Can I list my events on the Explore Asheville website?

A: You sure can! Add them a few weeks in advance to increase visibility. Click below for more info.

How to Guide

With the holidays rapidly approaching, now is the perfect time to freshen up your photos on your listing. High-quality, high-res images can lead to more clicks. 

Learn More

Each month, Explore Asheville generates a statistical report of our output, providing a snapshot of the local tourism economy month-to-month. Check out the September Destination Dashboard.

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Engage & Invite More Diverse Audiences | Promote & Support Asheville's Creative Spirit

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