Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum (11/17-12/31) is a family-friendly event that features a stunning display of over 500,000 lights, all enhancing the natural beauty of the gardens. Don’t miss the quilt garden (amazing in all seasons but even more so decorated with lights!) as well as the 50 foot tall tree of lights. I highly recommend the optional 3-D glasses for an even more unique experience. Also special: Buy the s’mores ingredients and cook them over an open campfire–sure to make for a memorable holiday family experience for the entire family. Visit www.ncarboretum.org for more tickets and even more details.
Christmas Tree Shopping at the WNC Farmer’s Market: This tradition dates back to the first year my husband and I were married. Not necessarily wanting to go to “Walmart” for our tree, we ventured out to find our perfect tree at the Farmer’s Market. We had a lovely conversation with the family who grew our beautiful (too big of a tree) who were nice enough to mail us a coupon out the next year (and every year after), and now it has turned into a mini reunion of sorts as we catch up yearly with them, updating them on new additions to our family, changes and exciting things going on with us. We love supporting a local tree farm and have come to look forward to the tradition each year. Insider tip: Ask them to save some clippings from the trimming and you can use them as decor around the house for free!
Christmas at Biltmore: (11/3-1/7): One of our area’s most popular displays of holiday decor can be enjoyed at what happens to be America’s largest home. Here you’ll find beautiful wreaths, garlands, and the sparkle of thousands of lights on over 55 Christmas trees. The restaurants will feature various holiday specials and the winery will sample and serve several Christmas Biltmore wines. Insider Tip: The Santa in Antler Village is the absolute best. He looks like a vintage Stanta, and there is never a line for kids to sit on his lap. You can purchase the official pictures the photographer takes or they don’t mind if you actually take your own, which would make great last minute Christmas card pictures if you find yourself scrambling to put those together last minute.
Polar Express in Bryson City, NC :(11/10-12/31) If you ‘re new to the area and have young ones, here is your chance to experience the magic of the movie/book The Polar Express. The Great Smokey Mountain Railroad is an hour and a half away, making it an easy day trip, but I do suggest going at night. The scenery along the train ride leaves a lot to be desired and is better left to the cover of darkness. That said, it is a memorable time for the family and you will be right at home if you choose to wear your pajamas-yes, even adults walk around in them! Be ready to sing Christmas carols and bring your own copy of the book, as they will read it during the train ride and it’s fun to have a copy in front of you. Bonus: Santa boards the train and gives each child his/her own silver sleigh bell as a souvenir that can also be used as an ornament.
National Gingerbread House Competition at the Omni Grovepark Inn (11/26-1/4) The winning creations from the 25th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition on November 20th will be on display at the resort . Starting out as a small scale competition in 1992 with no plans for continuing, this event has grown in size and scope, consisting of judges who represent nationally renowned food, arts, and media professionals. The resort asks that if you are not a guest staying on the grounds, that your visit be confined to after 3pm on Sundays or anytime Monday through Thursday. There is a $20 parking fee, half of which will be returned to various local non profits in the area during this holiday season.
Best Christmas Pageant Ever at the ACT Theatre: (12/1-12/17) If you’re like me, then you love a good play, and Asheville Community Theatre preforms several amazing shows throughout the year. One of their most popular holiday performances is this classic–which could be a fun family afternoon when the weather isn’t cooperating and some warm and cozy inside time is much appreciated. Catch some local food downtown before or after the show and skip cooking dinner and cleaning up afterwards for an added bonus to the afternoon. http://www.ashevilletheatre.org
Pack Square Lights: If you’re around downtown Asheville at night anytime this holiday season, be sure to check out the festive lights in Pack Square. It’s the perfect background for that holiday selfie and it’s FREE! But while you’re there, why not grab a dessert or a hot chocolate at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge to complete the perfect night out? Your tastebuds will thank you, I promise.
Isis Music Hall’s Ho-Ho-Holiday Rewind: (December 9, 8:30) Join Christine Garvin Dance + Transform as they present a holiday inspired show that includes dance, theatrical performances and remixes of popular Christmas tunes at Isis Music Hall off Haywood Road in West Asheville. Bonus: Eat downstairs in their unique dining room before the show! Visit http://www.isisasheville.com to find out more about this event as well as their full line up of upcoming events.