Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville
By Jason Tarr
A relatively new tradition is lighting up the holidays in Asheville. The North Carolina Arboretum’s annual Winter Lights, which began in 2014, features 500,000 bright, energy-efficient LED lights throughout the nationally-known gardens. The lights illuminate the natural beauty and landscapes of the arboretum during the winter season.
In 2020, in light of social distancing guidelines, Winter Lights shifts from a walk-thru experience to a drive-thru experience.
As you drive through the Arboretum’s enchanted forest, enjoy uniquely lit displays that are like works of art. The displays and lighted landscapes help bring magic and whimsy to life throughout the one-mile tour.
You will take a dreamy ride through a one-mile stretch of the Arboretum and see unique displays and nature-themed exhibits covered in thousands of holiday lights.
A special highlight is the 50-foot animated tree that comes alive to music. Some new additions at Winter Lights this year include a colorful native butterfly display, an insect lantern exhibit and a winter wildlife display.
What to Know: Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum 2020-2021
- 2020-2021 Dates: November 20, 2020 - January 10, 2021
- The Lights are on from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. every night (incoming gate closes at 10 p.m.)
- Tickets are required for entry and can be purchased in advance or at the gate on non-sell-out nights. The tickets are date-specific. It is recommended you purchase your tickets in advance
- When you purchase your ticket, you will choose an entrance time (6 p.m., 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.). You will be able to enter any time between that specified entrance time and 10 p.m.
- Many nights will sell out, especially weekends. You are encouraged to purchase your tickets as far in advance as possible at ncwinterlights.com
- This year, Winter Lights is a drive-thru show, allowing guests to navigate a one-mile stretch of the Arboretum’s campus from the safety of your vehicle
Reserve your ticket
Ticket prices range from $25-$30 per vehicle. All sales are final unless the Arboretum closes for a weather-related emergency.
Enjoy Weekday Specials
During Winter Lights, Tuesdays are “Friends and Family” nights at the Arboretum. Visitors can purchase a discounted flat rate ticket.
Catch a Ride
The Trolley Company offers transportation from downtown Asheville to Winter Lights Thursday through Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Visitors can be picked up from the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Asheville and the Doubletree Hotel in Biltmore Village. In addition to transportation, you’ll receive a Winter Lights ticket and a cup of hot chocolate. Please note: the trolley is for transportation purposes only. The trolley does not provide a drive-through tour of the lights. Winter Lights is an outdoor, self-guided walking tour. Tickets for the trolley must be purchased in advance. For more information on the Trolley Tour rates and availability, click HERE.