‘Tis the Season in the Blue Ridge Mountains: Asheville Shines Bright with Classic Holiday Traditions and Fresh Festivities
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 8, 2022) – Historic holiday celebrations, extravagant light displays, festive events, and specialty pop-up markets infuse yuletide magic throughout Asheville, N.C. Visitors and locals come together this season to celebrate with both timeless traditions and revived artful experiences that offer something for everyone.
Countdown to Christmas with Candlelit Evenings and Indoor Winter Landscapes
Biltmore decks the halls of America’s Largest Home, a tradition that began in 1895 when George Vanderbilt opened Biltmore House to family and friends for the first time. This year’s “Winter Landscapes” theme brings the outdoors inside, inspired by the 200th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted, the estate’s famed landscape architect. Guests can expect magical wintry scenes and dramatic landscapes reminiscent of iconic Olmsted designs.
- Christmas at Biltmore daytime celebration, Nov. 4, 2022 – Jan. 8, 2023
This beloved tradition includes a daytime tour of Biltmore House adorned with 67 hand-decorated Christmas trees, more than 14,000 ornaments, 45,000 holiday lights, 250 candles, 1,000 feet of garland, and 150 traditional poinsettias.
- Candlelight Christmas Evenings, Nov. 4, 2022 – Jan. 7, 2023
Biltmore House glows with candlelight and crackling fireplaces during this nighttime tour.
NEW: “Countdown to Christmas at Biltmore 2022” is a short documentary that goes behind-the-scenes on what it takes for Biltmore’s team to deliver its Christmas at Biltmore. The film is now streaming on Biltmore’s Youtube channel and Facebook page.
One Million Lights Shine Across a Winter Wonderland
An enchanting open-air, walk-through light show returns to the North Carolina Arboretum this holiday season. The Winter Lights exhibit enhances the natural beauty of the Arboretum's manicured grounds, which were inspired by the designs of Frederick Law Olmsted. Special highlights include a 50-foot animated tree that comes alive to music, and an outdoor firepit and s’more station.
Further south, a drive-thru light show takes place nightly at a popular Buncombe County park. The Lake Julian Festival of Lights illuminates the road circling the park creating a magical journey through tunnels of dazzling lights with 50 animated and stationary light displays.
- Winter Lights, Nov. 18 – Dec. 31, 2022
- Lake Julian Festival of Lights, Dec. 4 – 23, 2022
Visions of Gingerbread Dance at The Omni Grove Park Inn
A spicy holiday favorite gets the royal treatment during the 30th Annual National Gingerbread Competition. Whimsical cabins of candy, gumdrop-adorned castles, and sugar spun landscapes in the hundreds are on display at this historic inn – and across Asheville – throughout the Christmas season. Contestants from around the country have been entering this judged competition for over two decades in the hopes of winning prizes and a moment of fame on national television.
Visitors have an opportunity to see hundreds of edible works of art up close, and guests can book a special package to stay even closer to the action. The hotel will also present “The 12 Days of Gingerbread” showing one of the Top 12 finalists, per day, on the hotel’s social media channels.
- National Gingerbread Competition Exhibit, Nov. 28, 2022 – Jan. 2, 2023
Straight Out of a Dickens Novel
Just outside Biltmore sits the historic Biltmore Village, with its stone streets, quaint boutiques, and inviting restaurants. For two days in early December, the Village transforms for the annual Dickens in the Village Festival. Shopkeepers dress in Victorian-era garb, and the main stage fills with musicians, choral groups, singers and dancers.
- Dickens in the Village Festival, Dec. 2 – 3, 2022
Rock Climbing Santa Claus
Onlookers watch Santa practice for the big night -- on one of the biggest chimneys in the world. On two Saturdays in early December, Santa rappels from the top of Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. Guest can meet the man in red, as well as Mrs. Claus, while enjoying family-friendly holiday activities and music.
- 25th Annual Santa on the Chimney, Dec. 3 & 10, 2022
Other Fun and Festive Holiday Traditions
Asheville’s neighborhoods light up at special happenings throughout the season.
- The Holiday Tree Lighting at Biltmore Park, Dec. 3, 2022
Visitors gaze as the Town Square Christmas tree lights up, plus enjoy kid-friendly crafts and activities, stilt-walkers, hula-hooping elves, a wandering magician, a photo booth, and of course, visits with Santa.
- LaZoom Hey Asheville: Holiday Tour, Nov. 25 – Dec. 24, 2022
Asheville’s original comedy tour injects enough holly jolly into their sightseeing adventure to keep you laughing all the way.
- Winter Wonderland and New Year’s Eve Celebration at Grove Arcade, Nov. 19 – Dec. 31, 2022
Throughout the holiday season, Grove Arcade will feature unique and gorgeous Christmas decorations, weekly events, holiday gift shopping specials, bar crawls, activities for kids, holiday movie screenings. It culminates with a New Year’s Eve Roaring Twenties party on December 31, 2022.
Brilliant Glassblown and Ceramic Collectables
Asheville’s creative spirit is on display this season with work from hundreds of makers that call it home. Visitors can view and shop one-of-a-kind, handmade glass and ceramic treasures for their holiday collections.
- The First Annual Holiday Collectors Ornament Show, Nov. 11 – Dec. 27, 2022
NEW: This group exhibition features handmade ornaments by 16 Asheville artists at Mark Bettis Studio and Gallery in the River Arts District.
- Fourth Annual Vessels of Merriment Exhibition, Nov. 12 – Dec. 31, 2022
This showcase of handcrafted drinking vessels by American makers takes place at Grovewood Gallery.
- A Very Glassy Holiday Market, Nov. 18 – Dec. 31, 2022
The North Carolina Glass Center exhibit space gets filled with fun and festive ornaments and decorations.
Holiday Gift Guide
The Asheville 2022 Handmade Holiday Gift Guide brings mountain-made gifts from across Western North Carolina together for an easy, one-stop shopping experience online. Goods include East Fork pottery and crockery, made from regional clays found in the Blue Ridge Mountains; Nine Mile Signature Salad Dressings, produced by Asheville’s famous local Caribbean-inspired eatery; and handmade quilted items like tote bags, wall hangings and baby blankets from SimplyHandmadeinNC.
Pop-Up Markets & Events
Holiday shoppers can make a gift list and check it twice while in town with special pop-up markets and seasonal events.
- Studio Stroll in the River Arts District, Nov. 12 – 13, 2022
- The Big Crafty at Harrahs Cherokee Center Asheville, Dec. 3 – 4, 2002
- Holiday Makers Sale at The Folk Art Center, Dec. 7 & 14, 2022
- Holiday Sip & Shop at Grovewood Gallery, Dec. 9 – 11, 2022
- Holiday Craft Market at Local Cloth, Dec. 10 – 22, 2022
- Holiday Makers Market at Citizen Vinyl, Dec. 10 – 11, 2022
- Holiday Makers Market at 12 Bones Brewing, Dec. 11, 2022
- Sip and Shop Jewelry Jubilee at The Magnetic Theatre, Dec. 12, 2022
Holiday Musicals and Entertainment
Live performances give new life to classic stories, including some unexpected twists.
- Elf The Musical, Dec. 2 - 18, 2022
A heartwarming tale, Elf The Musical is a larger-than-life extravaganza of holiday cheer based on the beloved film.
- Nutcracker and the Mouse King, Dec. 2 - 3, 2022
The 11th annual presentation of this classic tale performed by Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre at the Wortham Center for Performing Arts.
- Caroling by Gaslight, Dec. 2 - 17, 2022
Viewers will find out what really happened to Ebenezer Scrooge that fateful night in this hilariously devious retelling of the Charles Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol.
Lit-Up Craft Beverage Celebrations
This month, Highland Brewing Company celebrates the return of Cold Mountain, Asheville’s cult-favorite spiced winter ale, with a weekend of festivities featuring exclusive drafts including a new Chocolate Hazelnut Cold Mountain. NEW: In conjunction with the beer release this year, Poppy Hand-Crafted Popcorn will launch a special limited-edition Cold Mountain Spiced Popcorn.
The Montford will host Sippin’ Santa, an annual holiday tiki pop-up with craft cocktails and holiday vibes on the scenic rooftop bar of the Doubletree by Hilton Asheville Downtown.
Across town in West Asheville, The Golden Pineapple is hosting Miracle Bar, a Christmas-themed pop-up cocktail bar, serving holiday cocktails in a festive setting with kitschy holiday décor and professionally-developed cocktails.
- Cold Mountain Release, Nov. 11 – 13, 2022
- Sippin’ Santa, Nov. 21 – Dec. 31, 2022
- Miracle Bar, Nov. 21 – Dec. 31, 2022
Asheville provides the perfect backdrop for a cozy holiday getaway, from boutique hotels just steps away from independent shops, to gorgeous and historic bed and breakfasts.
- Blue Ridge New Year’s Eve Package, Dec. 26, 2022 – Jan. 2, 2023
The Omni Grove Park Inn is throwing a New Year’s Party. Enjoy two nights of accommodations, a New Year’s Eve dinner, and admission to the New Year’s Eve Party, “All That Glitters Is Grove Park,” a celebration of the Golden-Hollywood-age. Includes two tickets to the Sunday night Comedy Show.
- Pinecrest Bed & Breakfast, Stay S’more and Save through Nov. 23, 2022
The beautifully restored all en-suite inn offers guests complimentary s’mores to enjoy over the firepit, dining gift cards and credits off each reservation based on length of stay over two nights.
Activities Around the Mountains
Holiday celebrations will delight throughout the charming Blue Ridge Mountain towns surrounding Asheville.
- Deck the Trees, Dec. 1, 2022 – Jan. 2, 2023
The public is invited to the Monte Vista Hotel in Black Mountain to view beautiful and unique hand-decorated Christmas trees in the theme of “Let Heaven and Nature Sing.”
- Appalachian Santa Experience at Montgomery Sky Farm, Dec. 1 - 9, 2022
Appalachian Santa will visit a farm in Leicester for family photo sessions. Kids will have a chance to see Highland cows, mini goats and sheep.
- Weaverville Candlelight Stroll, Dec. 9, 2022
Weaverville N.C.’s Main Street, community center, and Lake Louise come alive with music, live entertainment, horse drawn carriage rides, and luminaries.
For more information on holiday events, new offerings and ideas for visitors to play, indulge and revel in this winter travel season in Asheville, visit ExploreAsheville.com/holidays. For the perfect holiday gift idea, stocking stuffer or present for a loved one, visit the 2022 Handmade Holiday Gift Guide.