Every year, the holiday season heralds a bevy of festive activities across Western North Carolina. From parades to light displays to stage performances, there’s something to enchant everyone; here are a few favorites.
A Winter’s Tail
The Western North Carolina Nature Center’s annual Winter’s Tail features festive crafts, games and animal programs, as well as photos with Santa. Standard admission rates apply. Visit www.wildwnc.org for program dates and times.
Annual National Gingerbread House Competition Display
Visitors to the Omni Grove Park Hotel in Asheville can view this eagerly anticipated competition, which features breathtaking entries from all over the country, and in various age categories. Visit www.omnihotels.com/hotels/asheville-grove-park/things-to-do/upcoming-events/national-gingerbread-competition for schedule and more information.
Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland
Tryon International Equestrian Center is host to Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland, more than 2 miles of drive-through custom-made displays set to music you play over your car radio. On the weekends, visitors can also enjoy Winterfest Village, featuring photos with Santa and storytelling with Mrs. Claus, carousel rides, animal experiences and live music. Visit www.shadrackchristmas.com/tryon-nc for tickets and more information.
Winter Lights at the Arboretum
Walk through the N.C. Arboretum’s gardens and enjoy unique displays and landscapes dressed in more than a half-million holiday lights. Winter Lights includes interactive games, a model train exhibit, free crafts, a nature-themed animatronic children’s program and more. Visit www.ncarboretum.org/winter-lights/ for dates, times and admission.
Carolina Christmas Show
Staged at the Colonial Theater in Canton, this dazzling production of live music, dance and comedy features performers from Western N.C. and special guest artists presenting sacred and secular Christmas favorites. Visit www.marlumor.com/christmas-show for schedule and tickets.
The Big Crafty
A favorite art event for the past decade, the weekend-long Big Crafty, held in downtown Asheville, features 150 artisans, crafters and makers from across the region, and boasts the perfect one-stop shop for unique holiday gifts. Visit www.thebigcrafty.com for schedule and more information.
Festival of Lights
Lake Julian Park in South Asheville comes to life for this popular Christmas light show. Some 50 animated and stationary light displays shine along the half-mile drive. Go to www.lakejulianfestivaloflights.simpletix.com for schedule and tickets.
Cashiers Christmas Parade
Held annually on the second Saturday in December, the Cashiers Christmas Parade features local businesses, organizations and residents celebrating the holiday season. Chamber staff organizes parade theme, volunteers, participating lineup, awards and live broadcast of the event from the Cashiers Crossroads. Go to www.cashiers411.com/142-cashiers-christmas-parade for schedule and more information.
Santa on Chimney Rock
Visitors to this annual event can watch Santa rappel down Chimney Rock, meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, and enjoy live holiday music, free hot cocoa, cookies and kids’ activities. Visit www.chimneyrockpark.com/event/santa-on-the-chimney-dec-7 for schedule and more information.
Old World Dickens in the Village Festival
Every year on the first weekend of December (Friday and Saturday), Historic Biltmore Village is transformed into a quaint Victorian town for the Old World Dickens in the Village Festival. Visitors to this immersive holiday experience – featuring performances by strolling carolers, actors and musicians dressed in Dickensian era costumes – can enjoy live music, the Mugs of Merriment Hot Chocolate Competition, jugglers, balloon animal makers, and the Montford Park Players performing vignettes from “A Christmas Carol.” Visit www.historicbiltmorevillage.com for more information.
Montford Holiday Tour of Homes
This annual holiday tour features homes in Asheville’s Montford historic district, exquisitely decorated for the season. An expression of the rich architectural heritage and vitality of Asheville, Montford includes a variety of architectural styles, reflecting the cosmopolitan character of Asheville at the turn of the 20th century. Visit www.montfordtour.com for tickets and more information.
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