22 Nov 2019
If you’ve ever seen the movie Elf, then you may have some understanding of the level of enthusiasm Asheville has for the holidays. We’re Buddy the Elf level enthused here (for those less familiar, we’re like the Grinch reforming Whos from Whoville- persistently merry and bright). Holiday visitors are sure to leave Asheville with hearts three times bigger than when they arrived.
We have small-town Christmas festivals, traditional holiday parades, gingerbread competitions, holiday light shows, Christmas concerts, and so much more. Let’s unwrap some of our favorite Asheville area holiday celebrations.
Asheville kick starts the holiday festivities with the Asheville Holiday Parade on Saturday, November 23. The parade starts at 11:00 am and runs through downtown, features floats, area groups, marching bands, and the jolly old man himself, Santa.
Marion’s Christmas themed “Winter Nights - Christmas Lights” parade takes place on Main Street in downtown on November 24 at 3:00 pm.
Hendersonville’s “Home for the Holidays” parade is a traditional Christmas parade traveling along Main Street to Caswell Street. The parade will feature local groups and merchants, fire trucks, marching bands, and Santa (of course). The parade will be held on Saturday, December 7 starting at 10:30 am.
Black Mountain’s Christmas parade begins at 4:00 pm on Saturday, December 7, starting at Flat Creek Road and running west on State Street to Cragmont Road. Immediately following the parade will be the Circle of Lights at Lake Tomahawk Park, a luminary walk around the lake. This event features live holiday music, a meet and greet with Santa, and lots of free homemade sweets from Black Mountain’s Four Sisters Bakery.
Small Town Holiday Experiences
Experience Hendersonville’s Home for the Holidays month-long celebration. Santa kicks off the festivities by lighting up Main Street at the Downtown Holiday Street Lighting on November 29. Downtown stores will be decked out with Christmas decorations and twinkling lights, competing for the honor of the best holiday window display and lighting. On December 6, shops will stay open late for the Olde Fashioned Hendersonville Christmas while visitors can marvel and vote on the displays while enjoying traditional caroling, music, and refreshments. During the month there is endless holiday entertainment to be found, including an iceless skating rink, wagon rides, holiday concerts, craft shows, Santa sightings, and more.
Black Mountain truly embraces the Christmas spirit starting the first weekend of December. The festivities kick off with Holly Jolly in downtown Black Mountain on December 6 from 5:00pm- 8:00pm. This event is exactly as holly and jolly as its name entails. Cherry Street shuts down to only allow for pedestrian traffic and Black Mountain’s charming shops stay open late to welcome visitors in with hot cider, hot chocolate, cookies, and straight-up Christmas joy. Make your way down to Sutton Avenue for live entertainment and a live Santa sighting.
Biltmore Village’s Dickens Christmas Celebration on December 6 from 5:00 pm- 8:00 pm. This celebration will give you all the holiday feels with features like the Mugs of Merriment Hot Chocolate Competition, street-lighting at sundown, a Letters to Santa and cookie decorating stations, live music and more.
On the first Friday in December, Chimney Rock Village will host its annual Holiday Chilly-Chili Cook-Off and Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. From 5:00pm -9:00pm locals and visitors will share in the holiday spirit through with food, games, and Christmas tree lighting at The Gathering Place. Chimney Rock State Park is also home to Santa’s pre-Christmas chimney training program. Visitors to the park can also catch Santa practicing his chimney dropping skills on December 7 and 14.
Weaverville’s Candlelight Stroll is Christmas perfection. Just 15 minutes north of Asheville, Weaverville showcases the spirit of small-town Christmas. Main Street is lined with luminaries and visitors are flooded with cheer with live musical performance and entertainment. There will be holiday-themed crafting and a visit from Santa for the kids, as well as cozy horse and carriage rides through town. The Candlelight Stroll will take place Friday, December 13 from 6:00pm- 9:00pm.
Family-Friendly Holiday Activities
The North Carolina Arboretum’s Winter Lights runs nightly from November 22 through January 4. The Arboretum’s gardens are transformed into a twinkling winter wonderland with over half a
million Christmas lights on display. This family-friendly tradition features crafts, interactive games, a model train exhibit, and more- including hot cocoa and smores!
The National Gingerbread House Competition display at the Omni Grove Park Inn will likely be one of your favorite activities during the holidays. Winners will be on display from November 20- January 4 (public viewing times varying so please check ahead of time). These aren’t the gingerbread houses you may have hastily built with your cousins on Christmas Eve growing up. No, these are architectural feats of gingerbread genius. Delicate and intricate works of edible art. View photos from this year’s contest here.
Shadrack Christmas Wonderland at the Tryon International Equestrian Center is over 2 magical miles of custom light displays dancing to the music playing over the radio in your car in perfect synchronization. This year’s all-new themed display is Santa’s Mountain, featuring Santa and his pals on vacation. On the weekends, TIEC also hosts the Winterfest Village and Santa’s House. Enjoy photos with Santa, stories with Mrs. Claus, smores roasting, free carousel rides, live music, and more.
Load up the car and check out Asheville’s 19th Annual Festival of Lights at Lake Julian from December 3-23. This driving-only tour around Lake Julian features dazzling and sparkling light displays throughout the park. This event gets started with a special walk-thru preview November 30- December 1 with the Lights by the Lake Stroll Nights. Saturday will feature visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with family-friendly activities. Sunday features a fire circle, snacks, and adult beverages for purchase.
No visit to Asheville would be complete without a visit to see the Biltmore Estate. This is especially true during the holidays. Biltmore House’s Candlelight Christmas Evenings are like taking a step back in time with the cozy and traditional vibes created by the beautiful glow from luminaries, flickering candles, roaring fireplaces, and thousands of twinkling lights. Biltmore’s Antler Hill Village also features carolers, along with Santa sightings through December 23.
Holiday Themed Live Performances
Flat Rock Playhouse will present an all-new production of last year’s holiday hit, “A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas” and runs from November 29- December 22. Featuring some of your favorite holiday songs from years past, as well as some new numbers, this production will become a family tradition for years to come.
Asheville’s youth division of the Montford Park Players is returning this year to deliver The Montford Moppets’ version of Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol. Shows will be held at 5:00pm Friday-Sunday from December 13-22 with a special showing on Monday, December 23. Preceding each Saturday performance will be the Montford Park Players’ Holiday Festival, featuring local food vendors, crafters, baked goods, and other family-friendly activities. All performances are free (although donations are appreciated) and held outdoors at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre. While patio heaters are provided, it’s recommended that you dress warm, bring blankets, warm beverages, and whatever you need to stay nice and toasty during the performance.
For a little non-traditional, adult only, holiday theatre, check out The Santaland Diaries at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts Theatre. This “irreverent comedy” written by David Sedaris and adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello, will have live performances the weekends of December 13-15 and December 20-22.
From magical light shows to olde fashioned, small town celebrations, the Asheville area delivers on the holiday spirit. Plan your picture-perfect holiday with Greybeard Rentals this season. During the month of December, these cabins will be decorated for the holidays, creating an unforgettable, very merry holiday in Asheville.