If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting our little city of Asheville, North Carolina, Christmas is the perfect reason to start planning a “Christmas in the Mountains” getaway right now.
I’ve picked out my top three personal favorite Christmas events from the numerous offerings scheduled in Asheville throughout the entire holiday season. I think they will give you the urge to make a visit and see the winter wonderland that is Asheville during the holidays for yourself.
ASHEVILLE, THE “DARLING” OF THE TOP-10 LISTS
Most people have at least heard of Asheville, as it appears regularly on “Top 10″ lists for anything from craft beer microbreweries (we were awarded the “Beer City” moniker several years in a row) to the best place to vacation in the summer.
With the many distinctions we have the honor of being bestowed, Asheville truly lives up to its reputation as being a “boutique” Southern small-city. We have a vibrant Arts community, a mind-blowing culinary scene that any foodie should not miss, and we can boast about the many outdoor activities available in the area. In other words, we’re a “happening place”.
Let me tell you about my favorite things to do during the holiday season in Asheville:
CHRISTMAS AT THE BILTMORE ESTATE – Nov. 1, 2019 – Jan. 5, 2020
The Biltmore House and Estate’s annual Christmas decorations are certainly one of the wonders of the holiday season here in Asheville, North Carolina. The magical atmosphere begins as you enter the estate’s long winding drive and start to feel the pull of history and nature combined with a heady holiday spirit.
The estate boasts over 100 decorated trees with more than 25,000 Christmas ornaments adorning them. Then add 1.5 miles of fresh evergreen garlands, 500 wreaths and sprays, at least 2,000 poinsettias and lots of other holiday favorites, including 100 “kissing balls”! Every day this time of year is Christmas at the Biltmore Estate!
HOW MANY HAND-DECORATED TREES?
The Biltmore House is totally decked out for the season and features 55 elaborately hand-decorated trees, including a 35-foot tall live Frasier Fir in the main Banquet Hall. Many of the trees are in the bedrooms and smaller communal spaces, giving the entire house a yuletide vibe that’s utterly contagious.
During your visit you’ll be entranced with the beauty of the house while being serenaded by live music from both musical and choral groups. Bringing an extra memory card for your camera is not such a bad idea!
I can’t stress enough that if you plan to visit the Biltmore Estate during the Christmas season, you must book your dates and times well ahead. Both daytime and candlelight tours sell out well in advance on prime dates like Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas week and all Saturdays.
Christmas at the Biltmore Estate is not to be missed. Start planning today for a fabulous holiday experience.
I’ve created a great comprehensive guide for my IFAFL Email Subscriber Members to help plan a visit to the Biltmore Estate during the 2019 holiday season. Email subscribers receive the current password in my emails that gives them exclusive access to the IFAFL Email Subscribers Resource Library, which is filled with a treasure-trove of printables featured in my posts and on the website.
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WINTER LIGHTS AT THE N.C. ARBORETUM – Nov. 22, 2019 – Jan. 4, 2020
If you’ve never had the pleasure of taking in the spectacle that is more than half-a-million holiday lights covering 3 acres of both natural and cultivated landscapes, you’d better plan your visit now.
The N.C. Arboretum Winter Lights celebration transforms the gardens with amazing light displays that turn the entire arboretum into a winter wonderland that you can walk through at your leisure.
You’ll start your magical journey at the Baker Exhibit Center where you’ll be able to pick up a map to help navigate your visit. The center is featuring a really special exhibit this year called “Tree Houses”. I can’t wait to see it! Here you’ll also find holiday gifts, art and souvenirs in the Collections Gallery portion of the center. Christmas in the mountains means you’ll find wonderful regional artisan gift items everywhere you look!
WHO SEWED THAT FABULOUS QUILT?
There are lots of reason to come back year after year, and the Christmas music-synchronized light displays are just a few of them. Among the musical displays this year are an incredible Quilt Garden and a 50-foot-tall animated tree with over 8,000 lights! I so admire women who quilt, so this wonderful display is especially pleasing to me.
When you get a little chilled, stop by the Cocoa Shack to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate and maybe pick up the ingredients for s’mores to roast on one of the garden’s campfires. How cool is that? Oh, you’re right, I was talking about warming you up! Christmas in the mountains, don’t you just love it?
LOTS TO SEE AND LEARN FOR THE KIDS
Another great way to take the chill off is at the Education Center where the kids can watch the animaltronic show “Storytime in Woodland Cove”. The Education Center also offers a selection of art, souvenirs and seasonal gifts for your holiday shopping needs.
For the train lovers in your group, The Rocky Cove Railroad features G-Scale model trains on 2 different tracks chugging through the holiday light displays. They really have thought of everything!
GREEN PRINCIPLES RULE!
The N.C. Arboretum Winter Lights design team has created a show composed of energy-efficient LED lights, which use 80% less energy than conventional lights. This whole seasonal celebration is a yearly fundraiser which helps the Arboretum continue to expand its educational programs, exhibits and facilities. It takes about 12,500 hours of JUST labor to design, set up and remove the lights and manage the crowds. Holy Hannah Banana!
JUST THE FACTS, MADAM
- Advance tickets only – no tickets are sold at the gate!
- Show Hours – 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm nightly
- Adult – $18/Child – $12/Children under 4 – Free
- Discount Night Tickets (Tuesdays) Adult – $15/Child – $10
- Group tickets are available for 20 persons or more
- Pick your specific entry time for your ticket (6pm/7pm/8pm)
- Open Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day
- PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS EARLY – MANY NIGHTS ARE SOLD OUT!
- Dress for the outdoors in layers; be ready for a quick weather change, you’re in the mountains now!
- Sorry, this is NOT a pet friendly show.
- Wear comfy shoes, take your time and enjoy everything!
- Don’t forget your camera – Do you know how to take night time pictures with your phone or camera? Check your owner’s manual or Google it before you come.
- Outside food and beverages are not allowed.
OMNI GROVE PARK INN – ANNUAL NATIONAL GINGERBREAD HOUSE COMPETITION – Winners displayed Nov. 20, 2019 – Jan. 4, 2020
When you come to experience a little “Christmas in the mountains”, it only seems natural that you’d want to see some incredible, what I can only term as “gingerbread spectacles” that have been created by artisans from all over the country. Some creations are likenesses of local landmarks right here in Asheville.
My friends and I have been known to peruse the competitors as we chuckled remembering our gingerbread house failures that we had displayed with pride. So the roof was a little crooked, the edges a bit burnt and crumbly and the candies slid off the door. They are not an easy kid project, but that was before you could buy pre-baked house components that merely need assembling and decorating. Geez, now-days they think of everything, don’t they?
AND THE WINNERS ARE…
The 27th Annual National Gingerbread Competition will be held on Monday, November 18, 2019 with an awards ceremony in the Grand Ballroom, which is closed to the public.
The winning creations will be on display starting Wednesday, November 20th and will remain until January 4, 2020. That’s plenty of time to make a visit to let your eyes devour the fabulous entries that won this year’s competition.
The Omni Grove Park Inn invites guests that are not staying overnight at the resort to view the display after 3:00 pm on Sundays or anytime Monday through Thursday, based on parking availability and excluding holidays and the following dates: November 27, 28, December 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, 31 and January 1, 2020.
Public viewing on December 26 will open at 1:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays are reserved exclusively for guests staying overnight at the resort. Display access is subject to hotel capacity, including pedestrian traffic. Please note that only registered resort pets are permitted on property. No outside pets will be allowed.
THE GROVE PARK INN IS ONE OF THE “IN” PLACES TO BE – GET IT?
Take plenty of time to examine all the incredible details each of the entries showcase, and take some pictures too, but please be respectful of other guests. Inside the hotel you’ll also find the Gallery of the Mountains and several wonderful shops to pick up a lovely holiday gift.
When you’re done, why not sit awhile in the grand lobby and warm yourself by the massive stone fireplace while rocking away in one of the many chairs flanking the roaring fire. Enjoy a hot or cold libation as you show each other what you purchased during your little post-gingerbread shopping spree!
HISTORY OF THE COMPETITION
It all began with a small group of gingerbread houses built by community members in 1992 as another way to celebrate the holiday season with no plans to continue the following year. There was no possible way to know that more than two decades later The Omni Grove Park Inn National Gingerbread House Competition™ would be one of the nation’s most celebrated and competitive holiday events.
As the event grew, so did the caliber of judges and competitors. The panel of judges represents nationally renowned food, arts, and media professionals and the level of competition has attracted the highest quality of design, artistry and pastry expertise. This competition has merited broadcast coverage by ABC’s Good Morning America, the Travel Channel, and the Food Network.
The gingerbread display has grown in more than just entries; it has become a true family holiday tradition. From the very young to the very young at heart, the reaction to this magical experience is the same – one of wonder, awe and delight.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOUR VISIT
NOTE: Please note that only registered resort pets are permitted on property. No outside pets will be allowed.
A minimum $25 parking charge will be in effect for all drive-on guests (one charge per standard size vehicle, based on availability). Half of each parking charge collected this holiday season will be returned to the community in support of various local not-for-profits.
Day Valet Parking: $30
WHAT WEEKEND IS GOOD FOR YOU?
So, have I tempted you with enough fabulous wintery weekend activities to bring you to my neck of the woods? Asheville is a wonderful community to visit any time of the year. But I’m especially fond of the frosty days and nights of Winter when the street lamps are glowing against the snow encrusted downtown streets… it’s glorious my friends. Come experience a little Christmas in the mountains and see for yourself what a gem my beloved Asheville really is.
I’ve got a proposition for you. I dare you to have a picture taken of you riding our famous pig statue that resides at Pack Square in Downtown Asheville. Then post the pic over at our Facebook Group. If you show me yours, I’ll show you mine! It’s not one of my favorites, I’ll admit that right now, but a dare’s a dare! Come on gals, let’s see you ride some fatback!
Come join the gang in our Facebook group and get in on the gabfest at, The Fab Life, where we show off our triumphs and share our pursuit of “the good life” with each other all week long.
Don’t forget to grab your copy of my comprehensive BILTMORE HOUSE & ESTATE CHRISTMAS GUIDE 2019. It will help you plan your Christmas in the mountains at the Biltmore Estate. Become an IFAFL Email Subscriber to get exclusive access to the resource library of fabulous printables today!
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Photo Credits: RomanticAsheville.com