[Updated November 9, 2023]
There’s nothing quite like celebrating the holiday season in a magical place, and many small mountain towns offer special NC Christmas Events.
So, whether you’re looking for a relaxing stroll down Main Street, a festive NC train ride through the mountains, or just some unique holiday memories, read on for our extensive guide to the best North Carolina Christmas events!
NC Christmas Events Guide
- Biltmore Virtual Tree Raising (Biltmore Estate)
- Christmas at Biltmore Daytime Celebration (Biltmore Estate)
- Candlelight Christmas Evenings (Biltmore Estate)
- National Gingerbread House Competition (Asheville)
- Winter Lights at The NC Arboretum (Asheville)
- Christmas Jam (Asheville)
- Guild Holiday Makers Sale at the Folk Art Center (Asheville)
- Apple Hill Farm Christmas Celebration (Banner Elk)
- A Small Town Christmas (Banner Elk)
- Tweetsie Christmas (Blowing Rock)
- Christmas in the Park (Blowing Rock)
- Chetola Festival of Lights (Blowing Rock)
- Aluminum Christmas Tree Museum (Brevard)
- An Appalachian Christmas (Brevard)
- The Polar Express (Bryson City)
- Light the Knights and Christmas Village (Charlotte)
- Santa on the Chimney (Chimney Rock)
- Speedway Christmas (Concord)
- Dillsboro NC Lights & Luminaries (Dillsboro)
- A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas & Charlie Brown Christmas (Flat Rock)
- Forest City Christmas Lights (Forest City)
- Winter Wonderland (Franklin)
- Winter Wonderlights (Greensboro)
- Home for the Holidays (Hendersonville)
- Peppermint Bear Scavenger Hunt (Hendersonville)
- Holidays in Highlands NC (Highlands)
- Christmastown USA (McAdenville)
- Morganton NC Drive Thru Christmas Parade (Morganton)
- A Mountain Christmas Trail of Lights (Spruce Pine)
- Shadrack’s Christmas Light Show (Tryon)
Asheville Christmas Events
1. Biltmore Virtual Tree Raising
1 Lodge Street, Asheville NC
(Virtual, Beginning Nov 3)
This year the Biltmore Estate in Asheville NC will be hosting a modern look at the classic raising and decoration of their Banquet Hall’s 35-foot-tall Fraser fir tree.
The documentary-style video will bring you along behind the scenes, watching step-by-step as the Christmas tree is installed.
The short film also gives details about the holiday transformation of the estate and the tree’s history as the Christmas centerpiece of the home.
READ MORE: The 25 Best NC Christmas Tree Farms
2. Christmas at Biltmore Daytime Celebration
1 Lodge Street, Asheville NC
(Biltmore Estate, Nov 3-Jan 7)
Biltmore Estate is hosting its annual Christmas Daytime Celebration, wherein visitors can tour the festively decorated rooms of the Biltmore House & Gardens. The event this year will be held from November 3rd, 2023 to January 7th, 2024.
Depending on the package you purchase, other activities include access to the Antler Hill Village and winery, an expert guide with special knowledge about Vanderbilt history and estate stories, and VIP access to areas that aren’t explored during the main tour.
It’s truly a must-see for anyone planning on spending Christmas in Asheville NC.
For an even more immersive experience, you can check rates for a holiday stay at The Inn on Biltmore Estate or at The Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate experiencing the grandiose beauty of the estate as an overnight guest!
3. Candlelight Christmas Evenings
1 Lodge Street, Asheville NC
(Biltmore Estate, Nov 3-Jan 6)
For a slightly different take on Christmas at Biltmore, these Candlelight Christmas Evenings show the estate in a different light, as the night is lit up by the glow of twinkling holiday lights.
As the candles and fireplaces are lit, the estate is filled with the warmth of the seasonal spirit.
Guests can explore the beautiful decorations inside the massive mansion and enjoy fine holiday dining (including complimentary handcrafted wine tastings).
Whether you’re enjoying the estate at your own pace through self-guided tours or learning all about its history from one of its expert guides, this upscale North Carolina Christmas event is one you won’t forget!
For our money, this is one of the best places to see Christmas lights in North Carolina.
READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Asheville NC
4. National Gingerbread House Competition
290 Macon Avenue, Asheville NC
(Omni Grove Park Inn, Nov 27-Jan 2)
The official competition will be held on November 27th with an awards ceremony following in the Grand Ballroom, but it is reserved for contestants and their families only.
Guests who are not staying at the North Carolina mountain resort can view the display after 4 p.m. on Sundays or anytime Monday-Thursday (excluding December 23, 24, 25, 30, 31, and January 1).
Fridays and Saturdays are reserved for registered resort guests and those who have dining reservations.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Hotels in Asheville NC to Visit
5. Winter Lights at The NC Arboretum
100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville NC
(The North Carolina Arboretum, Nov 17-Dec 31)
This year the holiday event is returning to the traditional walk-through format, so guests are welcome to explore the gardens and enjoy the lights outdoors.
The iconic 50-foot lighted tree and the Quilt Garden are also returning this year but will be decorated with all new light designs along with other new arrangements.
The magical Asheville Winter Light show will stretch one mile across the campus, and all proceeds from the event will go directly towards supporting the Arboretum’s mission-driven programming.
6. Christmas Jam
87 Haywood St, Asheville NC • 828-259-5736
If you love music and Christmas, don’t miss out on Christmas Jam 2023 at the Explore Asheville Arena on December 9. Presented by Gov’t Mule frontman Warren Haynes, it’s a fundraiser for the Asheville Area Habitat For Humanity.
Running annually since 1988, this popular music festival attracts legends like Blues Traveler, Dave Grohl, Dave Matthews, and Michael Franti. This year’s lineup is Slash & Myles Kennedy, Billy F. Gibbons, Gov’t Mule, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Event, Clutch, American Babies, Karina Rykman, and many more.
The Christmas Jam has an inspiring history of supporting Habitat For Humanity, with proceeds from the event helping to build more than 50 houses over the last 40+ years.
Keep your eyes glued to their website for updated information on the ticket information.
READ MORE: The 25 Best North Carolina Music Festivals
7. Guild Holiday Makers Sale at the Folk Art Center
382 Blue Ridge Pkwy, Asheville NC • 828-298-7928
The Folk Art Center is truly a must-see if you find yourself exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville NC at any time of year.
It’s run by the Southern Highland Craft Guild (which showcases many of its members’ work at the Center), which was founded in 1930 to promote and preserve the traditional arts and crafts of the Southern Appalachians.
Their permanent collection consists of over 250 pieces dating from the mid-1800s to the 20th century, including textiles, baskets, antique dolls, woodcarvings, and much more.
On December 2 and 9, 2023, the Folk Art Center is hosting its Holiday Seconds Sale, where you can purchase authentic Appalachian crafts from local artists. You’ll find special, one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts for everyone on your list!
Banner Elk Christmas Events
8. Apple Hill Farm Christmas Celebration
400 Apple Hill Road, Banner Elk NC
(Apple Hill Farm, Nov 17-Jan 1)
If you’re looking for a heartwarming Banner Elk Christmas event, the Apple Hill Farm Christmas Celebration is sure to bring a smile to your family’s faces.
The family-owned farm offers public tours Wednesday through Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., by reservation only.
These tours allow you to get up close and personal with the animals, most notably their adorable Alpacas!
Along with the tours, there will be Christmas ornaments (including numerous Alpaca options) and other goodies available at the farm’s Christmas Shop.
All public tours will be done in small groups to ensure that all guests get plenty of attention from both the tour guides and the animals. Private tours are available on Mondays and Tuesdays.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Banner Elk NC
9. A Small Town Christmas
(Downtown Banner Elk, Dec 1-3)
The town of Banner Elk packs in the holiday cheer throughout the first full weekend in December with the “A Small Town Christmas” holiday event.
Starting on Friday evening there will be caroling, hot chocolate, and the lighting of the official town tree.
Following the lighting, just a short walk away at the Historic Banner Elk School, Ensemble Stage will be presenting “A Banner Elk Christmas 3”.
The next day the festivities kick off with the 5K Reindeer Run at 9 a.m. in the Tate-Evens Park and are followed by Breakfast with Santa at Banner Elk Presbyterian Church from 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m., storytime with Santa at the Banner Elk Fire and Rescue Station at 10:30 am and finishes with an evening parade on Saturday night that starts at 6:00pm.
Back at Tate-Evans Park, the day’s festivities conclude at 6 p.m. with a synchronized light show, luminary-lighted train rides, karaoke, a parade, and the showing of a Christmas-themed family movie.
On the final day of the event, there will be Choose & Cut Christmas Trees at Avery County Tree Farms.
Blowing Rock NC Christmas Events
10. Tweetsie Christmas
300 Tweetsie Railroad Lane, Blowing Rock NC
(Tweetsie Railroad, Nov 24-Dec 30)
After boarding one of the historic narrow-gauge steam locomotives, you’ll be treated to a 20-minute ride through thousands of colorful Christmas lights and animated scenes in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
There’s also good old-fashioned family fun on amusement rides, or just making merry memories while roasting s’mores over the outdoor fire pit.
READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Blowing Rock NC
11. Christmas in the Park
1040 Main Street, Blowing Rock NC
(Memorial Park in Downtown Blowing Rock, Nov 24-25)
The Friday after Thanksgiving each year, Blowing Rock NC hosts their annual Christmas in the Park event which is the perfect time to kick off your seasonal celebrations.
The first day of the event includes pictures with Santa from 12 pm to 3 pm, carnival games from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm, live music from 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm, and the official Lighting of the Town at 5:30 pm.
There will also be hayrides from 2 pm to 5 pm and from 5:40 pm to 7 pm.
The following day, the Christmas parade 2023 starts at 10 am and will include tons of different fun costumes, elaborate floats, and more spreading holiday cheer throughout the town.
Since parking will be a bit difficult on the day of the parade, a complimentary shuttle service will be running from the parking lot at Tanger Outlet to Main Street from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
During Thanksgiving weekend, many nearby Boone NC Christmas Tree Farms will be open for business to kick off the holiday season!
12. Chetola Festival of Lights
185 Chetola Lake Drive, Blowing Rock NC
(Chetola Resort, Nov 25 – Jan 29)
Each year they celebrate the holiday season by decorating with thousands of displays and lights, making this one of the coziest NC Christmas events.
Beginning on November 25th, guests can enjoy watching ice skaters as they stroll about the grounds and enjoy the colorful holiday scenes of the Christmas lights.
There will also be live music to enjoy throughout December, from artists like Klee Liles and Andy Ferrell.
The holiday decorations and lights will be up until January 29th so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy their holiday splendor.
Brevard NC Christmas Events
13. Aluminum Christmas Tree Museum
189 West Main Street, Brevard NC
(Transylvania Heritage Museum, Nov 11- Jan 20, 2024 (Closed November 23))
This unique holiday event features a plethora of aesthetically decorated Christmas trees, including many examples of sustainable Christmas trees that were popular in the 1950s.
The 2022 theme was the 1970’s including Disco, the introduction of Disney World, and other funky designs. Information about this year’s theme was not available at the time of publication.
Featured in publications like Southern Living, Money Magazine, and the New York Times, this is the world’s only museum dedicated to vintage aluminum Christmas trees.
Starting Saturday, November 11th, this quirky take on the classic Christmas tradition of tree decorating will be open Wednesday through Saturday until January 20th, excluding November 23rd.
14. An Appalachian Christmas
1600 Golden Road, Lake Toxaway NC
(Earthshine Lodge, Dec 10 & 17)
As the lodge transforms into a winter wonderland, guests can try their hand at making traditional Appalachian Mountain crafts, enjoy the hot chocolate bar, cookie decorating, and s’mores around the fire.
You can enjoy all the holiday fun while soaking in the gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
You can also have a special holiday brunch with Santa on December 10th and December 17th, 2023 at 8:30 a.m., where you can get photos taken with the big man himself.
If you’re looking to stay at the lodge, weekend packages are available that include two nights at the lodge, meals, the holiday brunch with Santa, holiday movies on the big screen, and a variety of other North Carolina Christmas-related activities! Check Rates for accommodations near Lake Toxaway.
Bryson City NC Christmas Events
15. The Polar Express
45 Mitchell Street, Bryson City NC
(Bryson City Railroad Depot, Nov 9-Dec 31)
With the lively sounds of the animated film’s soundtrack in the background, guests are treated to “Hot Chocolate!” while reading along with the famous story.
The train will make a stop at the North Pole, where Santa will be waiting to board the train. There, he’ll greet each child and give them a special gift– a silver sleigh bell– just like in the story!
Joyous Christmas carols will be sung as the train ride returns to the Bryson City Depot, and the magical journey reaches its end.
READ MORE: 10 Great Train Rides in North Carolina
Charlotte NC Christmas Events
16. Light the Knights and Christmas Village
324 S. Mint Street, Charlotte NC
(Truist Field, Nov 22-Jan 1)
Home to the Charlotte Knights minor league baseball team, Truist Field is bringing back the Light The Knights this holiday season!
Every winter, the facility is transformed into one of the best Christmas events in NC, with colorful lights, a 150-foot-long snow tubing hill, and an ice skating rink.
The Holiday Walkthrough and Light show begins on November 22nd and will run until January 1st, with live music, holiday snacks, shopping, and Santa Claus visits.
Further times and ticket info are not yet ready for 2023, so keep an eye on their website for more details.
Chimney Rock NC Christmas Events
17. Santa on the Chimney
431 Main Street, Chimney Rock NC
(Chimney Rock State Park, Dec 2 & Dec 9)
For the 26th year in a row, Santa will visit Chimney Rock State Park in 2023 to practice sneaking down chimneys as he rappels down the face of the famous landmark!
On December 2nd and 9th, 2023, you can cheer jolly ol’ St. Nick on as he makes his famous rappelling descent at 11 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m.
Other fun activities at the park include guided hikes with Elves, making s’mores at the bonfire, and listening to live holiday music.
READ MORE: The 7 Best Caves & Caverns in North Carolina
Concord NC Christmas Events
18. Speedway Christmas
5555 Concord Pkwy S, Concord NC
(The Charlotte Motor Speedway, Nov 17-Jan 7)
The Charlotte Motor Speedway gets into the Christmas spirit for yet another year with its annual Speedway Christmas celebration.
Known as the largest drive-thru Christmas light display in the country with 3.75 miles of lights, this display takes over 5,000 hours to create and has over 4 million individual lights.
On top of this incredible drive-thru display, there is also the Christmas Village which has an indoor movie theater that plays holiday classics like Elf and A Christmas Story, treats, and craft vendors.
If you’re looking for things to do for Christmas in North Carolina, this event will open from November 17th to January 7th, 2023 with prices varying from $30 to $70 if you’re wanting to skip the lines.
Dillsboro NC Christmas Events
19. Dillsboro NC Lights & Luminaries
(Dillsboro NC, Dec 1, 2, 8, & 9)
As the holiday season begins, Dillsboro NC is lit up with thousands of lights and plenty of cheer as people come from miles around to experience the joy of a small-town Christmas.
From 5 to 9 p.m. each night, the town is filled with festive activities and shopping options, as live music and the songs of carolers fill the air.
Sweet holiday treats, such as hot cider and cocoa, will be available for visitors to enjoy as they stroll along the streets of the tiny Christmas town (population 245).
Those roads are lined with over 2,500 candles in white bags– a traditional symbol of Christmas from the Scandinavian custom of lighting the way for Christ.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be making a stop in Dillsboro for children to visit with or drop off their Christmas lists.
Flat Rock NC Christmas Events
20. A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas
2661 Greenville Hwy, Flat Rock NC
(Flat Rock Playhouse, Nov 24, Dec 21)
These North Carolina Christmas events are a great way to get the whole family in the holiday spirit!
From November 24th through December 21st, 2023, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., the Flat Rock Playhouse will bring back its Flat Rock Christmas Playhouse with a brand-new show.
Guests can enjoy performances from Pat’s School of Dance and the Flat Rock Playhouse Chorus. Hear all of your favorite Christmas carols and Holiday songs and be filled with the Christmas spirit.
Tickets are $52, $62, or $72 with student pricing available.
Forest City NC Christmas Events
21. Forest City Christmas Lights
(Forest City, NC, Nov 23-Jan 1)
Voted the #1 Christmas town near Asheville NC, and the #2 place to see Christmas lights in Western NC, Forest City is the place to be when Christmastime rolls around.
The celebrations begin with the Forest City Christmas lights ceremony on November 23rd where you can listen to a local gospel quartet perform a collection of old and new Christmas songs while millions of lights along Main Street are officially lit.
Throughout the month there will also be carriage rides (Dec 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, and 16) and hayrides (Dec 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, and 23) along Main Street from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. as well as ice skating and refreshments like hot chocolate, apple cider, and coffee.
READ MORE: The 15 Best VRBO Cabins in Asheville NC
Franklin NC Christmas Events
22. Winter Wonderland
(Downtown Franklin NC, Nov 25 & Dec 2)
During the first two Saturdays after Thanksgiving from 5-8 p.m., Historic Downtown Franklin NC will be transformed into a Winter Wonderland filled with sparkling lights, fun activities, and plenty of joy.
The first night of the Winter Wonderland 2023 event includes the annual tree lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. followed by a merchant-sponsored candlelight service.
It is also Small Business Saturday which is an initiative headed by American Express that puts a focus on supporting small, local businesses.
Both nights downtown merchants will be open late giving you plenty of time to get your Christmas shopping done, and there will even be free carriage rides across town!
Keep your eyes peeled because Santa will be out and about spreading holiday cheer both nights from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.!
Greensboro NC Christmas Events
23. Winter Wonderlights
4301 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro NC
(Greensboro Science Center, Nov 22-Dec 31)
Back for another year of festivities, the Greensboro Science Center will be hosting the annual Winter Wonderlights starting November 22nd until December 31st, 2023. They are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
The 11-acre property will be transformed into a holiday extravaganza with holiday music, Christmas lights, and several different holiday displays.
These different zones include the Dancing Fountains, Polar Pond, Snowball Surprise, and more! Several different walking trails are decked out with Christmas lights and arrangements, too!
Santa will also make appearances throughout the months! His schedule can be found online so that you make sure you won’t miss him.
Regular admissions from Friday through Sunday for this Christmas event are $25, with members getting in for $20. Discounted ticket prices are available for $16 Monday through Thursday nights.
Hendersonville NC Christmas Events
24. Home for the Holidays
(Downtown Hendersonville, Nov 24-Dec 31)
With the added magic afforded by colorful holiday decorations, lights, and festivities, Hendersonville‘s Main Street is especially appealing at Christmastime.
There are a variety of NC Christmas events to enjoy including the holiday tree lighting at the Historic Courthouse on Main Street (November 24), a drive-thru light show at Marked Tree Vineyard (November 25 – December 31), and the iconic Christmas Parade (December 2) that even includes an appearance from Santa Claus!
25. Peppermint Bear Scavenger Hunt
(Downtown Hendersonville, Nov 24-Dec 23)
In this unique holiday event for families with kids, Peppermint Bear needs your help to find her cubs after they go off to find Christmas decorations downtown!
As you wander throughout the historic Hendersonville downtown area, keep your eyes peeled to find one of the 3 cubs that will be hiding out somewhere among all the hustle and bustle!
If you visit at least 12 of the 26 participating businesses during your search for the cubs, you’ll be eligible for an array of prizes!
A staff member at each business will punch your brochure if you spot the bear in their location. Then you can drop the brochure in Peppermint’s mailbox, located in front of the Visitor Center by Dec 23rd.
Be sure to get a jump on this event to better your chances of helping Peppermint Bear find her cubs and scoring some fun holiday prizes!
READ MORE: The 20 Best North Carolina Hiking Trails
Highlands NC Christmas Events
26. Holidays in Highlands NC
(Highlands NC, Nov 25- Dec 31)
Located in the Nantahala National Forest, Highlands NC is a beautiful Blue Ridge mountain town that only becomes more charming around Christmastime.
Their annual Trim Our Town event will take place on November 26th which is a storefront decorating contest. Even if you aren’t competing, just by participating as a voter you have the chance to win a $200 gift card.
Photo opportunities and letters to Santa will also be available at Kelsey Hutchinson Park each Saturday in December.
On Saturday, Dec 2, the Highlands Christmas Parade takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., where you can see creative floats, camels, llamas, and marching bands make their way through town!
27. Christmastown USA
(McAdenville, NC, Dec 1 – 26)
Now in its 68th year, the town is widely regarded as the perfect Hallmark Christmas town and hosts several events to celebrate the season.
For starters, there is a 1.3-mile-long route filled with thousands of twinkling lights and Christmas displays you can drive through that is open throughout December.
There is also the Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 1st at 5 p.m., and the Yule Log Ceremony on December 14th at 5 p.m. which is followed by a parade that ends with the lighting of the Yule Log.
28. Morganton NC Drive Thru Christmas Parade
(Downtown Morganton, Dec 5)
This year the classic Downtown Morganton NC parade is planning on returning to a traditional parade event!
On December 5th, 2023 from 6 to 8 p.m., there will be over 100 festive decorated floats, marching bands, and characters that are particularly loved by younger viewers.
With a theme of “Sounds of the Holidays”, jubilant holiday music provides the soundtrack as you wave to the beautiful floats and see some Christmas traditions from around the world being represented in this North Carolina Christmas celebration.
29. A Mountain Christmas Trail of Lights
11 Crystal Street, Spruce Pine NC • 828-765-9033
For Christmas 2023, there will be a whopping 15 miles of holiday lights beaming from the Blue Ridge Parkway to the artists’ haven in Bakersville NC.
The Mountain Christmas Trail of Lights is a huge community effort that’s meant to bring folks together for a unique holiday experience.
Start your journey at BRP Milepost 331, just a few miles north of Little Switzerland NC. Then travel through Spruce Pine and on to Bakersville, enjoying the twinkling illuminations along the way.
This Christmas light display will begin the day after Thanksgiving and run through New Year’s Eve. There are also other festive holiday events happening in the area, including Small Business Saturday on November 26.
There you can partake in the Ugliest Sweater Contest, send Letters to Santa, enjoy the Festival of Wreaths, and watch the Annual Tree Lighting. They’ll also have a Christmas parade at 6 p.m.
30. Shadrack’s Christmas Light Show
25 International Boulevard, Mill Spring NC
(Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort, Nov 16-Jan 1)
This drive-thru show at the International Equestrian Center in Tryon NC features thousands of dazzling Christmas lights guiding your way as you listen to holiday music in the comfort of your car.
Along with Shadrack’s Light Show, the 2023 Winterfest Village will be open at Legends Plaza from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
There, you can enjoy a meal in one of the on-site restaurants or visit some of the shops as you explore and enjoy live music, s’mores, storytelling, and more.
There is also an ice-skating rink and a Christmas Market open on Nov 24th -26th. Lodging packages are also available if you want to stay overnight and take in more of the festive fun! –by Christina Maggitas