Holiday Activities in Asheville NC
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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 with enough room for everyone to enjoy the magic of the holidays together.
With so much to do in Asheville in December, we’ve compiled a list of family-friendly activities and events, as well as several holiday markets and pop-up shops to visit for unique, handmade, and Asheville-inspired presents for everyone on your list.
Candlelight Christmas Evenings are one of the most popular events of the year at America's largest private home. 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.
This year’s nights at Biltmore are especially magnificent, as the multi-sensory Italian Renaissance Alive! is currently on display as part of the immersive artist shows Biltmore has hosted over the past year. Described as a “spellbinding journey across Italy … Set to a powerful operatic score, it illuminates the masterworks of such icons as Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, and Caravaggio. The cost is included with some of the admission packages for the Candlelight experience. The exhibit runs through January 7, 2024.
Online reservations are not required for Candlelight Evenings, but they are strongly suggested, as admission is timed and spots quickly sell out. Candlelight visits continue through January 7.
Shop Small in Asheville
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.
Holiday Mingle & Jingle: Holiday Craft Market
For the sixth year in a row, the Holiday Mingle & Jingle pop-up is taking over The Grey Eagle in the River Arts District. Expect handmade items, art, and plenty of food and drinks from the venue’s taqueria and bar. The show opens at 10 a.m. on December 23, and admission is free.
A Dickens Christmas
The annual event returns on December 2 and 3 in Historic Biltmore Village (within walking distance of The Residences at Biltmore!), complete with carolers, dancers, mimes, jugglers, and other outdoor performers that evoke the spirit of a Charles Dickens-era Christmas. A highlight this year will be the Cathedral Christmas Market, which will feature vendors on the All Souls Cathedral grounds from 3-7 p.m. on Friday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. For a list of all times and events, visit the website.
The Big Crafty
Every year, more than 150 local artists are selected to participate in this big show. If you’re shopping for quirky, different, or uncommon presents, this is the place to go. This year, the event takes place on December 2 & 3 at Harrah’s Cherokee Center downtown.
Uncommon Holiday Market Asheville
Another annual favorite, the Uncommon Market takes place on December 10–11 at the Mission Health AB Tech Conference Center on the campus of Asheville-Buncombe Technical College. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days, find handmade art and craft items, as well as vintage and antique items.
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 over a million lights and lighted displays for visitors to walk around and view. 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.
Winter Wonder Walk
The Adventure Center of Asheville will host the 3rd annual event on December 15-16, and 27-30. The Winter Wonder Walk follows the pages of the storybook of Winterland; guests go on a quest through the kingdom of Winterland to find Jack Frost and stop a terrible blizzard while meeting many characters along the way. It’s a live-action, immersive story-walk with lights, live characters, a holiday market, a kids’ play area, and local vendors, as well as the Treetops Adventure Park Glow Trail, with two open aerial trails illuminated by thousands of twinkle and laser lights. New this year is Asheville's Largest Snowball fight consisting of pillows, soft balls, and forts to hide behind. Watch out for the pesky Snow Sprites though! Tickets are available on the website.
If you’re a fan of The Nutcracker, this is your year! Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre will perform The Nutcracker and the Mouse King on Dec. 1 and 2. On Dec. 7-10, The Asheville Ballet will present The Nutcracker, and Dec. 14-16 features the Ballet Conservatory of Asheville with their take on The Nutcracker. All performances will take place at the Wortham Center for Performing Arts.
Holly Jolly Christmas Trolley Tour
Get the whole family to sing along to Christmas carols while you listen to holiday stories of local traditions and look at the lights of the businesses and homes throughout the city. Songbooks are provided if you’ve forgotten the words. Purchase tickets on the Gray Line Asheville website.
Small Town Christmas Celebrations
There are also numerous small towns surrounding 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, with its weekend downtown Lights and Luminaries, Dec. 1, 2, 8, and 9 from 5-9 p.m. Hendersonville’s “Home for the Holidays” will feature different events and activities through December. The Weaverville 19th annual Candlelight Stroll takes place on Dec. 8 at 6 p.m., with tree lighting, caroling, and more.