Visitors to Asheville, N.C. this holiday season can live out their Hallmark movie dreams, plus partake in unique holiday traditions, larger-than-life light displays and festive performances
ASHEVILLE, N.C., Oct. 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Movie-worthy settings and one-of-a-kind traditions transport visitors to another world in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains this holiday season. The grandeur of Biltmore making its Hallmark Channel debut and the sweet creations of the 31st Annual National Gingerbread Competition at The Omni Grove Park Inn ignite the festive spirit for travelers of all ages. Other celebrations, including immersive light displays, live music and stage performances, and local handicraft markets, pair with the area’s generally mild winter weather to create an active mountain getaway full of classic and fresh holiday adventures.
From Screen to Reality: A Hallmark-Inspired Escape at Biltmore
Biltmore takes center stage this season in “A Biltmore Christmas,” a new Hallmark Channel movie premiering on Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. ET/PT as part of its “Countdown to Christmas 2023.”
New for this year’s cherished Christmas at Biltmore, George Vanderbilt’s opulent Library will be adorned in 1940s holiday glamour – an homage to the movie’s time-travel storyline that whisks viewers back to 1947. Visitors can tour Biltmore House’s meticulously designed rooms and immerse themselves in the festive ambiance. They may even recognize nine of those rooms that were used as sets in the Hallmark movie.
- Christmas Daytime Celebration (Nov. 3 – Jan. 7) | This daytime tour of Biltmore House features 67 hand-decorated Christmas trees, along with 14,000 ornaments, 45,000 holiday lights, 250 candles, 1,000 feet of garland and 150 traditional poinsettias.
- Candlelight Christmas Evenings (Nov. 3 – Jan. 6) | Evenings when Biltmore House is decorated with thousands of twinkling lights, combined with the scent of fresh greenery, offer an experience reminiscent of a bygone era. Setting the scene is a sparkling 55-foot Norway spruce tree in the center of the front lawn, and hundreds of luminaries lining the walkways to the home.
Additionally, Hallmark fans will have the unique opportunity to view props and costumes worn by the actors, which will be displayed during the holiday season at the lodging properties and other locations around the Biltmore Estate. Exhibits include an original Carolina Herrera-designed ballgown and a glittering 1930s Czech crystal necklace.
Last January, the Hallmark cast and crew traversed the 8,000-acre estate to film “A Biltmore Christmas,” starring Bethany Joy Lenz and Kristoffer Polaha. The production team utilized 8 vintage cars, 200 yards of artificial snow, and 300 Asheville-area locals as extras in the movie. Visitors can follow in their footsteps using a location guide mapping out all Biltmore and Asheville production spots, plus other holiday must-dos, at ExploreAsheville.com.
Inn-spiring Gingerbread Creations Showcased at National Competition
Sweet-toothed visitors of all ages can spice up their holiday season at The Omni Grove Park Inn during the 31st Annual National Gingerbread Competition.
Artisans from across the nation compete in various categories with whimsical structures made entirely of candy and baked confections, all vying for coveted prizes and a moment in the national television spotlight.
From Nov. 27 – Jan. 2, visitors can view the edible works of art, or book a special package to immerse themselves more fully in this delectable world. The hotel will also present “The 12 Days of Gingerbread” highlighting the Top 12 finalists on social media.
Additional travel packages and deals are available at ExploreAsheville.com.
Light Up The Night with Dazzling Holiday Displays
Displays of twinkling lights in distinctive Asheville area neighborhoods welcome families with holiday cheer.
- Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum (Nov. 17 – Dec. 31) | Asheville’s brightest holiday tradition turns ten this year. The enchanting open-air, walk-through light show at the North Carolina Arboretum features larger-than-life illuminated displays. New features include towering flowers, brilliant butterflies and monumental mushrooms.
- Dickens in the Village Festival (Dec. 1-2) | The annual festival transforms historic Biltmore Village for a weekend, featuring shopkeepers dressed in Victorian-era garb and a main stage filled with musicians, dancers and choral groups.
- Weaverville Candlelight Stroll (Dec. 8) | The not-so-sleepy small town of Weaverville comes alive with music, live entertainment, horse drawn carriage rides and luminaries.
- Lake Julian Festival of Lights (Dec. 3-23) | This drive-thru spectacular transforms a beloved park in South Asheville. The park’s encircling road guides visitors through enchanting light tunnels adorned with 50 animated and stationary exhibits.
Unique Mountain Holiday Celebrations
From winter wonderlands and beer releases to purple buses and Appalachian Santa, no place celebrates the holidays quite like Asheville.
- Winter Wonderland at the Grove Arcade (Nov. 19 – Dec. 31) | The historic Art Deco Grove Arcade bustles with sumptuous Christmas decorations, special events, shopping specials, bar crawls, activities for kids and holiday movie screenings. It culminates with a NYE Roaring Twenties party on Dec. 31.
- Cold Mountain Beer Release (Nov. 9-12) | Highland Brewing Company celebrates the 27th annual release of Asheville’s cult-favorite spiced winter ale with five days of events, including a plated beer dinner, silent disco and a family-friendly celebration.
- Additional holiday pop-up bars include Sippin’ Santa at Tiki Easy Bar and Miracle Bar at The Golden Pineapple.
- ZeroFest (Nov. 10-11) | For those who choose to celebrate without alcohol, Devil’s Foot Beverage will host ZeroFest, Asheville’s first non-alcoholic drink festival, at their taproom The Mule.
- Deck the Trees (Dec. 1 – Jan. 2) | The public is invited to the Monte Vista Hotel in charming Black Mountain to view hand-decorated Christmas trees in the theme of “Let Heaven and Nature Sing.”
- Holly Jolly (Dec. 1) | On the same night as Deck the Trees, Black Mountain visitors can enjoy Holly Jolly, when downtown shops stay open late with refreshments and live outdoor performances.
- Appalachian Santa at Montgomery Sky Farm (Nov. 25) | Appalachian Santa – complete with cowboy hat and llama – will visit a working farm in Leicester for family photo sessions. Kids will have a chance to pet fluffy Highland cows, mini goats and sheep.
- Santa on the Chimney (Dec. 2 & 9) | On two Saturdays in early December, Santa rappels from the top of Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. Guests can have breakfast with the elves, meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus and enjoy family-friendly activities.
- Hey Asheville: Holiday Tour (Nov. 24 – Dec. 24) | This seasonal tour from LaZoom injects enough holly jolly into its purple bus sightseeing adventure to keep guests laughing all the way.
Holiday Musicals and Entertainment
From classic stories to hit music and original plays, there are live performances for all audiences to enjoy this season.
- Nutcracker Magical Christmas Ballet (Dec. 17) | Experience this classic Christmas production, performed by Ukrainian Principal Artists and an international cast, at Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville.
- The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Dec. 1-2) | A new take on this holiday tale will be performed by Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre at Wortham Center for the Performing Arts.
- Warren Haynes Christmas Jam (Dec. 9) | Curated and presented by Grammy Award-winner Warren Haynes, the Christmas Jam is a one-of-a-kind music marathon – this year featuring Slash (Guns n’ Roses), Billy F. Gibbons (ZZ Top), Govt’ Mule and more.
- A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas (Nov. 24 – Dec. 21) | Christmas carol lovers will enjoy live renditions of their favorite holiday hits at this annual show performed at the Flat Rock Playhouse, the official State Theatre of North Carolina.
- Elf: The Musical (Dec. 1-23) | This heartwarming adaptation of the beloved 2003 film at the Asheville Community Theatre is a larger-than-life extravaganza.
- Jeeves Takes a Bow (Nov. 24 – Dec. 17) | The British upper crust meets the New York mob in this witty play presented at NC Stage Company in downtown Asheville.
- Show Your Grillz Tour: A Night of Bling and Beats! (Dec. 2) | Hip-hop fans can show off their bling and dance the night away. Featuring an all-star line-up including Scotty ATL, Akeem Ali, and DJ E Sudd, the concert will take place at Franny’s Farm, a sustainable woman-owned hemp farm in Leicester.
- New Queers Eve (Dec. 1-16) | Through interconnected stories told by various queer Asheville writers, this original play at The Magnetic Theatre invites audiences to share in the joys and struggles of LGBTQIA+ life through the decades.
Handcrafted Holiday Keepsakes
Discerning patrons will appreciate one-of-a-kind treasures crafted by hundreds of working Asheville artists.
- 2nd Annual Holiday Collectors Ornament Show (Nov. 10 – Dec. 16) | This group exhibition features handmade ornaments by multiple Asheville artists at Mark Bettis Studio and Gallery in the River Arts District.
- Vessels of Merriment Exhibition (Nov. 11 – Dec. 31) | This showcase of locally made drinking vessels by American makers takes place at Grovewood Village, a hidden gem of a gallery located near The Omni Grove Park Inn.
- A Very Glassy Holiday Market (Nov. 18 – Dec. 31) | The North Carolina Glass Center exhibit space is filled with festive, hand-blown ornaments and decorations.
- For unique, handmade holiday gifts, shoppers won’t want to miss pop-up markets such as Studio Stroll in the River Arts District (Nov. 11-12), The Big Crafty at Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville (Dec. 2-3) and the Holiday Makers Sale at the Folk Art Center (Dec. 7 & 14).
- Asheville is the largest outdoor industry hub east of the Rockies. The new MADE X MTNS WNC Outdoor Gift Guide offers top-notch outdoor gear, apparel and other gift ideas in one place.
For more information on Asheville holiday travel, visit ExploreAsheville.com.
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Asheville is where unrivaled natural beauty and bold creative expression meet. Tucked away in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina, the city’s generally mild winter weather and adjacency to the tallest peaks in the East make it ideal as an active mountain getaway. For generations, Asheville has nurtured and inspired a compassionate community of artists, brewers, makers and healers. Buzzing with fresh and classic holiday traditions, Asheville is deeply rooted yet ever evolving – just like the ancient French Broad River that runs through it.
SOURCE Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau