When you think of Western North Carolina, you may think of hiking, biking, and all things outdoors. But during the holiday season, much of our cozy little corner turns into an array of holiday festivities for you and your family. These are our top picks for making the most of WNC’s holiday season.
Christmas at Biltmore
Perhaps the most notorious Christmas event in WNC, Christmas at Biltmore offers a variety of events this holiday season, both inside the house and on the grounds of the estate. By day, visit the Daytime Celebration to see America’s largest home decked out in holiday attire. By night, head over to Antler Village for Candlelight Christmas Evenings (and perhaps a glass of seasonal wine?).
Nov. 6, 2020 – Jan. 10, 2021
Starting at $94
Nov. 6, 2020 – Jan. 9, 2021
Starting at $114
NC Arboretum Winter Lights
Known as North Carolina’s brightest holiday tradition, Winter Lights has embraced social distancing for the season by converting to a drive-thru show. This one-mile stretch of bedazzled, enchanted forest is also the NC Arboretum’s largest fundraising event of the year and directly impacts their mission-driven programming.
Nov. 20, 2020 – Jan. 10, 2021
5:30 PM – 10:30 PM
Starting at $20 per vehicle
Gingerbread House Competition at the Omni Grove Park Inn
You usually have to make a trip to the Omni Grove Park Inn to experience this event, but not this year! The 28th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition has gone virtual. A renowned group of food professionals—including professional chef Carla Hall of Food Network—will formally judge the handmade gingerbread houses during the 12 Days of Gingerbread (Dec. 1–12). The Omni Grove Park Inn will also be hosting fun virtual events, like a Gingerbread Making Class Series.
12 Days of Gingerbread
Dec. 1, 2020 – Dec. 12, 2020
Tune in via Facebook and Instagram
Lake Julian Festival of Lights
If you and your roommates need to get out of the house this December (like most of us), visit the 20th Annual Lake Julian Festival of Lights for a drive-thru show. This is the longest drive-thru decorative holiday display in the area and it features thousands of twinkling lights. And, this event supports the community; 20% of proceeds are donated to Buncombe County Special Olympics.
Dec. 1, 2020 – Dec. 23, 2020
6 PM – 9 PM
Starting at $10 per vehicle
A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas
Flat Rock Playhouse has been putting on their Christmas Special for the past four years; this year, the magic continues, just a little differently. This locally renowned performance, which was filmed both on stage and out on the streets, presents carols which are sung through a virtually connected chorus. Don’t forget to join the virtual cast party after finishing the play from the comfort of your couch!
Christmas Special Virtual Production
Nov. 30, 2020 – Dec. 20, 2020
Video link is $53.38
Virtual Cast Party
Dec. 3, 2020
7:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Zoom link $25
Hendersonville’s Home For the Holidays
Downtown Hendersonville gets down with the holiday spirit during Home For the Holidays. The shops along Main Street will put on their best holiday decor, which you can see from the seat of a hayride while you sip on hot cocoa. Don’t miss out on family events such as the Peppermint Scavenger Bear Hunt, and reserve a reservation using their 2020 Holiday Dining Guide.
Nov. 1, 2020 – Jan. 1, 2021
Santa on the Chimney
What better place is there for Santa to practice the extreme sport of climbing chimneys than at Chimney Rock State Park? At Santa on the Chimney, he’ll do just that. Watch Santa rappel down this 315-foot granite outcropping while you relax. There will also be other family fun activities, such as live music, taking photos on Santa’s sleigh, and getting your Christmas list typed up on a professional typewriter.
Dec. 5, 2020 & Dec. 12, 2020
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Regular park admission applies
Tweetsie Railroad transforms into a winter wonderland during Tweetsie Christmas. Hop aboard the old-timey steam locomotive for a 3-mile train ride through an enchanted lights show in the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can also enjoy the countless amusement rides or tell Santa what you want for Christmas at Santa’s Gingerbread House.
Nov. 13, 2020 – Dec. 31, 2020 (select dates)
Park opens at 5 PM
Adults $44, Children $38, Under 2 is free
Tickets are limited, call 1-877-TWEETSIE to purchase
Bryson City Polar Express
This is the closest that you’ll ever get to riding the Polar Express in real life. Great Smoky Mountain Railroad’s Polar Express Train Ride was a hit with 90,000 guests in 2019, but capacity will be limited in 2020. The train departs Bryson City Depot for a 1.25 hour train ride through the wilderness for a visit to the North Pole. Santa will board the train to greet children and gift them with their very own silver bell. Caroling, drinking hot cocoa, and holiday spirit will round out this event.
Nov. 6, 2020 – Dec. 31, 2020
5:45 PM and 7:45 PM departures
Starting at $43 for adults, $29 for children
Forest City’s Hometown Holidays
See over 1 million Christmas lights lined along Main Street during Forest City Hometown Holidays. This month-long event features reservations for private horse-drawn carriages, an ice skating rink, and a 14-foot Christmas tree at POPS. Don’t forget to visit Forest City’s local restaurants and shops for your holiday treats.
Dec. 4, 2020 – Jan. 3, 2020
5 PM – 11:30 PM