Thursday, February 23, 2012

First Annual Tattoo Fest Asheville NC March 15 - 18 2012

The first annual Tattoo Fest in Asheville, NC, March 16-18, 2012, will be held at the downtown Renaissance Hotel.  I confess, I know very little about tattoos and don't even have a tattoo, but this sounds like lots and lots of fun and bound to be totally amazing.

The Tattoo Fest officially opens on Thursday March 15 at 8:00 pm in the extraordinary "Top of the Plaza" at the top of the Renaissance Hotel, just after early set-up for the Artists and Vendors.  The Festival will continue daily thereafter at the Renaissance from 11 am to midnight, Friday March 16, Saturday March 17, and Sunday March18th.

The hotel itself has wonderful conference facilities and is within walking distance to bars, nightclubs, restaurants, shopping and art galleries.

Tattooing will be in two rooms of the hotel - the Grand Ballroom and the Windsor Ballroom; there will be live tattooing by top artists from around the world, live music, seminars, competitions, prizes, not to mention, Custom Car and Bike Show (in the Renaissance Parking  Lot), The Cut Throat Freak Show, Scavenger Hunt, After Parties, Art Walk, live celebrity appearances, children's activities, and much more!  Several of the seminars are free and open to the public, so be sure and check the schedule.

Tattoo contest's begin at 4:00 pm daily during the conference.  Register to enter a tattoo contest of your choice and liking! $10 per category - tattoo contests are open to anyone.  Categories include, Best in Show, Best overall Male/Female, Best Irish (in honor of St. Patricks Day!), Large/Small Color, Best back piece, Best Traditional, Large/Small Black and Gray, Best Color Portrait and many, many more!

The VIP Weekend Pass for March 16 through 18 is $40 each pass; one day passes are available for $20.  For  more information about tickets, list of artists and schedule of events, visit the official First Annual Asheville Tattoo Fest Website.

If you're looking for alternate accommodations, check with our local Asheville Bed and Breakfast, Asheville Cabin or Vacation Rental in the Asheville area, Reservation offices, 828 994-2627,  Hope to see you here in Asheville for this bound-to-be-amazing weekend!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Biltmore Estate in Winter in Asheville NC

There are many fantastic reasons to visit The Biltmore Estate anytime of the year and while winter might not seem like the best time, we beg to differ.  If you enjoy discounted prices, incredible views that only winter can offer, low crowds and time to take in the stories and history, winter is one of the best times to visit The Biltmore Estate in Asheville NC and the Western NC Mountains.

Plan your visit at least 7 days in advance and buy your tickets online, saving $10 off the $45 winter ticket price (Biltmore daytime passes the rest of the year are $60 and up).

Or, for an even better bargain, stay in a nearby partner bed and breakfast or Asheville Vacation Rental and get your winter daytime tickets for $39 each, good for two consecutive days of entry.  Additionally, all winter through March 31st, add an Audio Tour to your walk through the House for free (usually $10 each audio tour) and soak up the history and stories of the sights as you see them - and without bustling crowds pushing you through the house.  Youth 10 to 16 are also free during the winter season, usually $30 each youth ticket (children 9 and younger free year-round).

The Estate lies on 8,000 acres at the confluence of the Swanannoa and French Broad rivers, with many stunning westerly views of Mount Pisgah (an Asheville, NC landmark) and the Western NC Mountains, just off I-40 at exit 50, bordering historic Biltmore Village of Asheville and just 3 miles south of Asheville's historic downtown. 

A best kept secret, in my opinion, are the trails in and around the 8,000 acres.  I love to park in the parking area behind the Conservatory, just below the House (*hint* this parking lot can look full when it isn't, as it expands further back into a larger graveled parking area past the paved area).

Step into the warmth of the Conservatory on a cold winter day!  The Orchid Room is a favorite spot.  The outdoor gardens in front of the conservatory are often grey and empty as they are getting prepared for the Festival of Flowers that begins in early April every year.  But walking is so enjoyable even in the dormancy of the gardens.  The trails around the Bass Pond are easy to find from the Conservatory.  Additionally, one of my favorite trails is the Deer Park Trail.  Walk up to the back veranda of the Biltmore House and go out the gate at the far end to find a trail map and hook up to the Deer Park Trail for hours of walking and sights and scenes that most other guests choose not to see.  And, you won't find safer trails to hike on in Western NC.

The Winery and Antler Hill Village are always fun, interesting, and yes even relaxing, with low key activities for the whole family, and easy places to stop, rest and relax.  All of the Antlert Hill farm, barn and village and the winery are included in your ticket price and a basic wine tasting is free (they have grapejuice for kids, too!).  If you wish, you can upgrade your wine tasting for a broader wine tasting experience and souvenir.  The Bistro restaurant and a wonderful gift shop are attached to the Winery for your shopping and dining pleasure. 

Antler Hill Village, farm and animal barn are a newer addition to the estate.  Shops encircle a "square" at Antler Hill Village and most weekends a small band will be playing in the Gazebo on the green.  Cedric's Restaurant is on the square.  A few steps away is the Barn, often (esp on weekends) with turn of the century demonstrations of farm type activities, such as blacksmithing, butter making, ice-cream making, spinning wool, and so forth.  Arts and crafts activities and "old timey" games are also often available, making the grassy area in the middle of the old barn an extremely relaxing place to take the kids.  The open animal barn is further afield, but not too far, and worth the visit to see and touch farm animals.  The chickens and rabbits are always a favorite of mine.  Professional docents are often available to demonstrate and explain various uses of the animals on a farm of the turn of the 20th century.

This winter, take advantage, get your one or two day pass and "explore George Vanderbilt’s extraordinary home, beautiful gardens, and Antler Hill Village & Winery, nestled on 8,000 acres in the mountains of Asheville, NC."

Contact the Biltmore Estate directly for tickets and more information about special events, hours of visitation, dining and lodging needs on the Estate grounds.  Or, call Vacation In Asheville for reservations with nearby area lodging that offer discounted and extended day passes, 828 994 2627.