A flurry of festive events makes Asheville the ideal destination this holiday season. From lively parades, to twinkling town light displays, to Old World celebrations, there’s a holiday affair sure to please everyone.
Annual Asheville Holiday Parade
The Asheville Downtown Association hosts this free holiday staple the Saturday before Thanksgiving beginning at 11 a.m. The parade features around 100 entries, from marching bands, floats and street performers to animals, pageant queens and, of course, Santa. The parade begins on Biltmore Avenue at Charlotte Street and concludes on Patton Avenue at S. French Broad. Don’t forget to check out the store windows decked out for the season as part of the downtown association’s annual Holiday Windows Contest. https://www.ashevilledowntown.org/holidays
Christmas at Biltmore
From Nov. 3, 2018, to Jan. 6, 2019, visitors to the Biltmore Estate can enjoy a rich, magical experience for the senses: holiday décor featuring wreaths, garlands and the sparkle of thousands of ornaments on more than 55 stunning Christmas trees fill the house. The celebration continues across the estate, including colorful holiday blooms in the Conservatory, commemorative Christmas wine at the Winery, and Antler Hill Village's evening illumination display. “Candlelight Christmas Evenings” (additional ticketed event) envelops the estate in a soft glow of candlelight, firelight and twinkle lights. Live performances of Christmas music add to the self-guided evening visit. https://www.biltmore.com/events/christmas-at-biltmore-daytime-celebration-1
Winter Lights at The North Carolina Arboretum
From Nov. 16 to Dec. 31, 2018, 6-10 nightly, visitors to the arboretum can experience an outdoor winter wonderland and enjoy unique displays and landscapes composed of more than 500,000 holiday lights. Listen to the sounds of holiday music favorites and enjoy a cup of holiday-inspired cocoa, cider or beer. https://www.ncarboretum.org/exhibits-events/winter-lights/
Annual National Gingerbread House Competition
Come to the Omni Grove Park Inn Nov. 25, 2018, to Jan. 4, 2019, to take in all the amazing creations that populate this stunning event, in its 26th year.
Except for the base, the gingerbread house entries are constructed entirely of edible materials. While guests with hotel, spa or restaurant reservations may view the display at any time, others are invited to see the winners on Sundays after 3 p.m. and Monday-Thursday anytime (except Dec. 23-Jan. 1). Admission is free, but there is a $20 per car parking fee. https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/asheville-grove-park/things-to-do/upcoming-events/national-gingerbread-competition
An Old-Fashioned Dickens of a Christmas Festival at Biltmore Village
Historic Biltmore Village transforms into a quaint Victorian village on the first Friday night and Saturday of December. Enjoy concerts, refreshments, horse-drawn carriage rides and strolling vocalists and instrumentalists in costumes of the period. At nightfall, the glowing white lights outlining the historic buildings enhance the ambiance. Shops will stay open late, with many of the shopkeepers dressed in Victorian-era garb. Free admission. Friday starts at 6 p.m. with a tree lighting, Saturday 11-5 p.m.
Asheville’s Downtown Local Lights
The City of Asheville, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville Downtown Association and Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority are partnering for Downtown Local Lights, an artistic holiday light display at Pack Square, and new this year, expanded to Pritchard Park. Downtown Local Lights will kick off Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. at Pack Square with free photos with Santa, hot chocolate from French Broad Chocolate Lounge and holiday carols from The Gay Men’s Chorus. The official lighting ceremony will be at 6:30 pm. https://www.ashevilledowntown.org/downtown-local-lights-ceremony-free-photos-w-santa
"Come Home for the Holidays" Hendersonville
From Nov. 23, 2018, to Jan. 1, 2019, Hendersonville offers a range of festive happenings along with a magical Main Street, decked out in thousands of lights. Events include a Christmas Parade Dec. 1 and a Holiday Tour of Historic Inns Dec. 9, along with Flat Rock Playhouse productions, carriage rides, concerts and an “iceless” ice skating rink. https://www.visithendersonvillenc.org/home-for-the-holidays
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