Celebrating 26 years!
Connecting Cultures & Creating Community Through World Music & Arts
“As peoples from different geographical locations, we so often have been separated by borders and countries, that we forget that we are part of a much larger family…humanity!! Willful to this notion, we bring to you our theme for our Fall festival: “The Global Citizen!!” LEAF is your passport to experience rich cultural music and traditions, to remind us of our glorious diversity, but with the purpose of bringing us closer together. From stellar acts like Tito Puente Jr. and Las Cafeteras, to the world orchestra of Ethno Camp with young artists from 10 countries and Just added to the lineup is Afghani Musician Quraishi Roya. It is so important for us to hear voices of the Afghani tradition during this time that music is being outlawed in their country. , we will bring you beautiful music, dance and culture in typical LEAF fashion. Time to pack your bags & get ready for a World tour. Time to be a “Global Citizen!!” – Otto Vazquez, Artistic Director
Since 1995, LEAF Festival has become one of the best traditions of coming together to celebrate world music, art, creativity, and culture. Family and friends alike take time to relax, discover and reconnect. Resting within hundreds of acres of beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain country, LEAF Festival features a variety of performance stages, family adventure village, handcraft and folk art vendors, culinary artists, performing artists from a vast array of genres and cultures, and a magical outdoor camp and retreat setting awaiting your exploration!
LEAF is a WONDERFUL way to experience the BEST of LIFE & CULTURES. Travel the world through MUSIC. This unique form of “gathering” transcends elements that DIVIDES. FESTIVALS, BRIDGE cultures & BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER in a relatively LOW-COST HIGH-IMPACT manner. COLLABORATION is key. LEAF was imagined for families & friends to be able to travel across the world through music and arts and explore arts while having great times at the beautiful Lake Eden setting. LEAF events size is limited – this is part of the magic.
Each May & October an intergenerational family of 12,000 people (less during 2021) join together upon the beautiful Lake Eden grounds to experience the power music, art and culture has to transform lives, strengthen community, and foster unity. LEAF Festival takes place on the site of the old Historic Black Mountain College with a stunning array of rolling hills, lakes, streams, and mountain beauty on hundreds of acres of comfortable camping grounds. LEAF scours the globe for artists, musicians, performers and facilitators that are not only masters of their craft, but who also care deeply for the power of arts education and family engagement.
LEAF Global Arts is a non-profit organization in which all memberships and donations support cultural arts education programming locally and globally! Since 2004, LEAF Schools & Streets has served over 85,000 local youth. LEAF International features cultural preservation programs in 10 countries worldwide. Your attendance at LEAF not only provides you with an amazing weekend experience with friends and family, but provides a platform for fostering the growth of our youth into great global citizens and creative leaders in their communities worldwide.
The 1st LEAF Festival premiered Fall 1996, and has become a tradition twice a year, May and October. The original (no longer used since 2013) name Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF) was chosen to honor the lake and the former Lake Eden Inn & Resort. “Arts” embraces a broad creative palate and of course it was to be a “festival”. In envisioning LEAF, we sought to embrace world cultures, reflect the creativity of the Asheville area, and to complement the stunning landscape. The location and size, attendance is limited to max. 6,000 people on site per day, makes LEAF Festival one of the best small festivals in the world. The right place, the right size.
The place, now Camp Rockmont & Lake Eden Events, was the site of the historic Black Mountain College in the 1940’s-50’s, one of the main arts & education happenings of the 1900’s. Many of the century’s most celebrated artists and thinkers attended the college as teachers or students: Albert Einstein, Rauschenberg, Joseph & Annie Albers, Merce Cunningham, Rothko, and Buckminster Fuller (who designed the 1st geodesic dome here). The Barns were built by BMC students. Prior to BMC, E.W. Grove (of Grove Park Inn & Grove Arcade) developed the land and constructed some wonderful buildings with his trademark native stone fireplaces. For a short time during the BMC era, The Lake Eden Inn & Resort offered a getaway for people seeking its healing waters and refreshing air.
In the 80’s & 90’s, Black Mountain Folk Festival took place on these grounds. In 1995 through a series of unusual life events, Jennifer Pickering, LEAF’s Founder, was encouraged to start a new event. “Having grown up on this amazing land, it was a gift to come back and create a way for others to enjoy this special place while bringing the world to our community”. To dispel a few myths…LEAF does not own Camp Rockmont- we are grateful to be able to rent the facilities twice a year from Rockmont. A portion of the festival grounds are Lake Eden Events where many LEAFers have had their weddings & Barn parties. Lets all take care of this beautiful place together.
LEAF ReTreat focuses on being in a beautiful secluded place in which you can relax, rejuvenate, and get away from it all. It’s less than 1/5 the attendee size of Festival while maintaining the same footprint size which gives you the feeling of having the place to yourself, creating more small groups and connecting you with nature and the outdoors as an essential part of the experience. Stages are open air, smaller, more intimate with meet and greets and a focus on local and regional artists several of whom are helping to design the weekend. Retreats focus on LEAF’s community, specifically honoring Members and fulfilling our mission of building more connections.
LEAF Festival is a spirited celebration our local and global community. Stages are more elaborate with headline performers and global artists. This is the fun filled weekend with activities bursting at the seams that our community has come to know and love. In October 2021, we plan to return to a smaller 49.5th festival scaled right for the time. October 2022 will be our grand 50th Festival.
Virtual-LEAFs (V-LEAF) created new opportunities, access, and engagement, and continue to be a part of LEAF in the future.
Each experience is exciting and unique, offering you an escape to focus on reconnecting, building new connections, learning about the world and being the best of yourself. LEAF Love!