June 20, 2023
Lake Junaluska’s Independence Day Celebration will be full of family-friendly fun with fireworks, floating wish lanterns, a parade, family square dance and concerts including a night of bluegrass featuring Unspoken Tradition and The Darren Nicholson Band.
Many events are free, including the fireworks show on Monday, July 3, and lodging is still available at Lake Junaluska’s hotels for guests who want to spend the entire holiday weekend at the lake relaxing and enjoying the festivities.
“Our annual Independence Day Celebration is something we look forward to every year,” said Mike Huber, general manager. “We welcome guests from near and far. For many, spending the Fourth of July here is a cherished family tradition.”
The celebration begins with a free Blue Ridge Big Band concert at the lakeside tent on Friday, June 30. Then, on Saturday, July 1, an enchanting display of Floating Wish Lanterns will cast glimmers of light on the lake. Staff and volunteers will place the lanterns on the water starting at 8:45 p.m. in honor and in memory of loved ones. The lanterns are biodegradable and will be gathered from the lake after the event as soon as conditions allow. Visit lakejunaluska.com/lanterns to learn more about how to have a loved one’s name placed on a lantern.
The festivities continue Sunday, July 2, with an outdoor worship service at 9 a.m. at the lakeside tent. The visiting preacher for the Summer Worship Series service will be the Rev. Dr. Amy Valdez Barker with music led by The Singing Soldiers vocal ensemble. Valdez Barker is visiting associate professor of religious education and mission innovation in the Candler School of Theology at Emory University and former executive director of global mission connections at the General Board of Global Ministries
Later on July 2, Unspoken Tradition and The Darren Nicholson Band take the stage at historic Stuart Auditorium at 7 p.m. for an unforgettable night of bluegrass and Americana music. The concert is an album release event for Darren Nicholson’s new album “Wanderer.” Advance tickets can be purchased online.
The celebration continues on Monday, July 3, with a morning devotion by the lake at the Harrell Center porch at 8:30 a.m. followed by a full day of friendly competition, including a Closest to the Pin Golf Competition at the Lake Junaluska Golf Course, a decorated kayak/canoe/paddleboard flotilla contest near the Colonnade and a community porch decorating contest.
Also on July 3 at 7 p.m., there will be a Reading of the Declaration of Independence by Ashley Calhoun followed by a free outdoor concert featuring The Singing Soldiers vocal ensemble at the lakeside white tent. The evening concludes with a free community fireworks display that begins at approximately 9:30 p.m. Hundreds of colorful fireworks will be shot from the dam at Lake Junaluska. A portion of the lake’s walking trail near the dam will be closed earlier on July 3 to allow for event set-up.
On Tuesday the Fourth of July, festivities include a parade at 11 a.m. The parade begins at Lambuth Inn, proceeds along North Lakeshore Drive and ends at the open-air Nanci Weldon Memorial Gym. From 12 to 2 p.m. at the gym will be food trucks and music by Whitewater Bluegrass with a family square dance.
Lake Junaluska’s Independence Day Celebration is made possible with support from Visit NC Smokies and Friends of the Lake sponsors, including our Partnership Level Sponsor, Haywood Regional Medical Center, and our Patron Level Sponsors, Smoky Mountain News, Clark & Leatherwood, Inc, Maple Tree Veterinary Hospital and RCF Construction, Inc.
The Darren Nicholson Band and Unspoken Tradition take the stage at Lake Junaluska’s historic Stuart Auditorium for an Independence Day Celebration concert on Sunday, July 2, at 7 p.m.
Floating lanterns will be set out along the water at Lake Junaluska in honor and in memory of loved ones.