Have Happier Holidays in Asheville
705 words (3 min read)
As this year is coming to a close, the holidays are back in full swing throughout Asheville and Western North Carolina. It’s a wonderful time to delight in the lights, shopping, small town holiday displays, and impressive mountain views with the whole family. The Residences at Biltmore has suites for everyone to enjoy the magic of the holidays together.
One of the most popular events of the year at the largest private home in America is its Candlelight Christmas Evenings. The lights in the house are dimmed, and candles, tree lights, and fireplaces throughout the home emit a cozy, soft glow. Twinkling lights hang about the estate and grounds, giving the enormous property an almost ethereal glow.
You can choose from three different price points for the nighttime experience. Each pricing tier includes daytime access to the gardens, grounds, Antler Hill Village, and the winery on either the day of or the day after your evening visit. This year’s nights at Biltmore are especially magnificent, as the “Van Gogh Alive” traveling exhibit is currently on display, and the cost is included with two of the admission prices for the Candlelight experience.
Reservations are required, and you must pay in advance online. Be aware that guidelines are in place to keep visitors safe from Covid-19, including wearing a face covering while indoors, and credit-only payment at all shops, restaurants, and attractions on the Estate. Candlelight visits continue through January 9.
Asheville is known for its restaurants, breweries, and outdoor activities, but it’s also home to some seriously creative people. In addition to the bustling River Arts District and its many galleries, many of the city’s artists display and sell their wares at local holiday markets and events. A few of the biggest ones follow.
The Big Crafty
More than 150 local artists are selected to participate in this big show every year. If you’re shopping for quirky, different, or uncommon presents, this is the place to go. This year, the event takes place on December 4 & 5 at Harrah’s Cherokee Center downtown from noon - 6 p.m.
Handmade Holiday Sale
Enjoy a break from corporate shopping destinations with three days of artist demonstrations and 10% off American-made gifts and merchandise at the Grovewood Gallery. December 10-12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Grovewood Village is a historical area in North Asheville with several small museums and galleries.
Winter Tree Carnival
Downtown outdoor venue Rabbit Rabbit is hosting its Winter Tree Carnival through Jan. 2. The “carnival” features trees decorated by local businesses and nonprofits, as well as holiday movie events, winter pop-up shops, a special festive drink menu, and more fun and family-friendly winter programming throughout the season. Admission to see the trees and hang out is free, unless otherwise noted for some events.
The North Carolina Arboretum’s Winter Lights display is one of the most popular winter attractions in the area. The Arboretum is decked out in thousands of lights and lighted displays for visitors to walk around and view. This year also features a singing, animatronic elk unlike any you’ve seen before. Winter Lights tickets are sold per vehicle with three tiers of admission pricing based on peak and off-peak days, and tickets are timed. Although it is possible to buy tickets at the door, purchasing them in advance is highly suggested to be sure they’re available.
The Grove Arcade in Downtown Asheville is planning a plethora of holiday activities within its walls, as well as a decorated 22-foot-tall tree at the corner of Page Avenue and Battle Square to add to the festive ambiance of downtown Asheville. Family-friendly activities, including visits with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, kids holiday ornament workshops and holiday glass blowing demonstrations will be featured. Musicians will perform for the community throughout the Winter Wonderland season, and every Saturday, an indoor snow machine will blow fake snow inside of the building to create a winter scene.
There are also numerous small towns around Asheville that create cozy scenes along their main streets with lights, special shopping hours, and tree-lighting ceremonies. Some that are especially worthwhile include Dillsboro, Hendersonville, Saluda, and Sylva.
Header photo courtesy of the NC Arboretum, photograph by Cami Calnan