Fun & Free Holiday Events in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Named by Frommer's as one of the world's top 10 must-see destinations for the blend of cultural and natural allure, Asheville's mild winter weather offers scenic snow-capped mountains while downtown remains navigable and festive for holiday visitors. Below are some of the season's best local traditions and FREE holiday events for 2008.
Holiday Traditions
  • Santa Climbs Chimney Rock: Before he climbs down Santa Repelling at Chimney Rockmillions of chimneys around the world, Santa practices on 315-foot Chimney Rock. Soak in the park's 75-mile views as Santa rappels down this famous Blue Ridge Mountain monolith. Dec. 6 & 13
  • America's Castle by Candlelight: Lit by candles, firelight and twinkling Christmas trees, George W. Vanderbilt's Biltmore House glows during the holidays. America's largest home dazzles with dozens of Christmas trees; hundreds of wreaths, bows and poinsettias; miles of evergreen garland; thousands of ornaments, tinsel and beading; and a magnificent 35-foot Fraser fir. Nov. 7 - Jan. 4
  • All Aboard! The Polar Express: The Polar Express comes to life when the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad departs Bryson City for a journey to the North Pole. Read along with the magical story, meet Santa and enjoy holiday caroling, hot cocoa and a special present for Santa's believers. Nov. 7 - Dec. 23
Free Events
  • National Gingerbread House Competition: The National Gingerbread Competition at Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa attracts competitors from around the country who create colorful confectionary and architectural wonders. Delight in the imagination shown in these creations from sugar-and-spice castles to gum-drop covered chimneys. Nov. 17 - Jan. 11
  • Giant Puppets on Parade & Singing Santa: Asheville gets decked out for the holidays with a family-friendly parade where giant locally-crafted puppets will march the downtown streets. Lisa Sturtz of Red Herring Puppets has also created larger-than-life creatures for the likes of Disney, Jim Henson Productions and The Ice Capades. After the parade, Singing Santa will croon and greet children before collecting his mail from the North Pole Express Mail Box at Prichard Park. Nov. 22 at 11 a.m.
  • Dickens in the Village: Historic Biltmore Village transforms into a quaint Victorian village on the first weekend of December. Horse-drawn carriages will trot along decorated streets as carolers, storytellers and instrumentalists stroll the village in period costumes. Watch live excerpts from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol performed by the Montford Park Players while enjoying fresh roasted chestnuts. Dec. 5 - 7
  • Big Deals on Appalachian Crafts: Bargain shoppers receive the ultimate gift at the annual Southern Highland Craft Guild's Holiday Seconds Sale held at the Folk Art Center. Just before the gift-giving season, Appalachian crafters from across the region place overrun, discontinued stock and studio seconds on sale for one day of festive holiday savings. Get up to 50% off pottery, jewelry, woodwork, glass art, furniture and more from some the region's finest artisans. Dec. 6

Plan a holiday getaway to Asheville: Visit for holiday travel deals, decorating tips from America's largest home, seasonal recipes, do-it-yourself crafts, shopping guides and insider travel tips. Click here to view a complete listing of Asheville's holiday festivities.