There’s nothing quite like celebrating the holiday season in a magical place, and many of Western North Carolina’s small towns offer something special for Christmas lovers to experience.
From parades and shopping to dazzling Christmas lights and meetings with Santa, these Blue Ridge mountain towns are the perfect place to celebrate and get into the holiday spirit.
With pandemic concerns still on many people’s minds, a lot of these holiday happenings have adapted their approach in order to comply with social distancing guidelines.
Some of these events have completely altered their format in order to allow people to celebrate the season while also ensuring everyone’s safety.
So whether you’re looking for a relaxing stroll down Main Street, a festive train ride through the mountains, or just some unique holiday memories with your family, read on for our extensive guide to the best Western North Carolina Christmas events!
Western NC Christmas Events Guide
- Biltmore Estate Christmas Events
- Hendersonville NC Christmas Events
- Brevard NC Christmas Events
- Bryson City NC Christmas Events
- Blowing Rock NC Christmas Events
- Banner Elk/Beech Mountain NC Christmas Events
- Asheville NC Christmas Events
- Small Town NC Christmas Events (Chimney Rock, Highlands, etc)
Biltmore Estate Christmas Events
(Virtual, Beginning Nov 4)
This year the Biltmore Estate 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.
The video will premiere on November 4th at 5 pm, and can be streamed anytime via their YouTube channel and Facebook page.
(Biltmore Estate, Nov 6-Jan 10)
Christmas Eve of 2020 will be the 125th anniversary of when George Vanderbilt first welcomed friends and family to the Biltmore House, America’s largest home.
To honor the occasion, the Biltmore Estate is hosting its annual Christmas Daytime Celebration, wherein visitors can tour the festively decorated rooms of the Biltmore House & Gardens.
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.
For an even more immersive experience, you can book a holiday stay at one of the estate’s hotels and experience the grandiose beauty of the estate as an overnight guest!
Face coverings are required for guests over 2 years old, and guest areas have been adapted to comply with all social distancing guidelines.
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(Biltmore Estate, Nov 6-Jan 9; Unavailable Nov 26 & Dec 24-25)
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 their expert guides, this classy Christmas event is one you won’t forget!
Safety guidelines for this event are the same as the Daytime Celebration, with further safety information listed on their website.
READ MORE: The Best Things to Do in Asheville NC
Hendersonville NC Christmas Events
(Downtown Hendersonville, Dec 11-12)
A charming town just south of Asheville, Hendersonville is known for its historic downtown area, which combines a traditional rural feel with the modern appeal of a bustling Main Street.
With the added magic afforded by colorful holiday decorations, lights, and festivities, Hendersonville’s Main Street is especially appealing at Christmastime.
Holiday Hayrides are a classic Christmas tradition. Families can cruise around the charming town, boarding a tractor-drawn wagon at the Hendersonville Visitor Center and riding down Main Street.
As you slowly pass the historic buildings and twinkling Christmas lights, the joy of being with family and friends is sure to give you that warm, fuzzy holiday feeling!
(Downtown Hendersonville, Nov 27-Dec 23)
In this unique holiday event for families with kids, Peppermint Bear needs your help to find her cubs after they went 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 27 participating businesses djuring 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.
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!
Brevard NC Christmas Events
(Transylvania Heritage Museum, Nov 12 – Dec 24; Unavailable Nov 23-25th)
This unique holiday event features a plethora of aesthetically decorated Christmas trees, including many examples of the sustainable Christmas trees that were popular in the 1950s.
Some of the more creative trees include a Marilyn Monroe-themed tree and an Elvis-themed tree decorated with cutouts of the beloved rock ‘n’ roll legend.
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, Nov 12, this quirky take on the classic Christmas tradition of tree decorating will be open Wednesday through Saturday until Dec 24, excluding Nov 23-25.
(Earthshine Lodge, Dec 1-22)
Throughout the month of December, the Earthshine Lodge in Brevard NC is hosting a variety of holiday festivities that give you an opportunity to experience an authentic Appalachian Christmas.
As the lodge transforms into a winter wonderland, guests can try their hand at making traditional Appalachian 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, who will pose for photos with the fam.
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 Christmas-related activities!
Bryson City Christmas Events
(Bryson City Railroad Depot, Nov 6-Dec 31)
One of the most iconic of all Western North Carolina Christmas events, the Polar Express train in Bryson City takes you on a 1 1/4 hour round-trip journey through gorgeous mountain wilderness.
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.
Special precautions will be taken in order to properly sanitize the train in between trips, and all seating will be socially distanced, with reduced capacity. Guests will also be expected to wear a mask while on board the Polar Express train.
Blowing Rock Christmas Events
(Tweetsie Railroad, Nov 13-Dec 31)
All aboard the Tweetsie Railroad as they transform the train for a festive holiday adventure through a winter wonderland in the Blue Ridge Mountains!
After boarding one of the historic narrow-gauge steam locomotives, you’ll be treated to a 40-minute ride through thousands of colorful Christmas lights and animated scenes.
In addition to the magical train ride, you can also visit Santa in his own Gingerbread house, which is decorated with candy furnishings.
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.
The Tweetsie Railroad will be managing reduced park capacity in light of current health concerns, and is enhancing strict cleaning protocols. All employees and guests over the age of 5 are required to wear a face mask for the duration of their visit.
READ MORE: Pisgah National Forest: A Beginner’s Guide
Banner Elk/Beech Mountain Christmas Events
(Apple Hill Farm, Nov 20-Jan 3; Closed Dec 25 & 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 am to 2:00 pm, by reservation only. These tours allow you to get up close and personal with the animals, most notably adorable Alpacas!
Along with the tours, there will be tabletop Xmas trees, hand-tied wreaths, Christmas ornaments (including numerous Alpaca options), and other goodies available at the farm’s Christmas Shop.
Tours will be done in small groups in order to comply with social distancing guidelines, as well as to ensure that all guests get plenty of attention from both tour guides and animals!
Asheville Christmas Events
(The North Carolina Arboretum, Nov 20-Jan 10)
Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum is truly a sight to see, as thousands of shimmering Christmas lights make up shining displays along their wooded edge and gardens.
This year there are several new nature-themed displays, including a giant daisy “garden,” winter wildlife and colorful butterflies displays, and an insect lantern exhibit.
Also new this year, in light of health concerns, the Arboretum has converted the event into a drive-thru show. This will allow guests to experience the magical lights from the comfort of their cars.
The magical 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.
Small Town Christmas Events
(Dillsboro NC, Dec 4, 5, 11, 12)
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 pm 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 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 list. Note that all interactions with Santa will be socially distanced for safety!
(Downtown Morganton, Dec 1)
This year the classic Downtown Morganton NC parade will look a little different, as it will be a drive- thru parade!
On December 1st from 6 to 8 pm, the festively decorated floats will remain stationary while visitors drive down the street. This way they can eliminate the inherent dangers of large crowds while still allowing a fun holiday tradition to endure.
The drive-thru parade will start just past the Fairfield Inn & Suites, at the intersection Patterson Street and Bouchelle Street. It will continue on until ending at the intersection of Concord Street and Bouchelle Street.
Jubilant holiday music provides the soundtrack as you pass the beautiful floats, making this a great and safe way to experience a wholesome Christmas event!
(Highlands NC, Nov 28-Jan 1)
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 Nov 28, with the Lighting The Park Celebration signifying the beginning of the holiday season and the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Photo ops and letters to Santa will be available at Kelsey Hutchinson Park. You can also shop at festively decorated stores, go ice skating, and watch a drive-up showing of the Xmas classic, Elf.
On Saturday Dec 5, the Olde Mountain Christmas Drive Through Festival takes place. There will be floats and antique cars lining Main Street for you to explore while listening to live music from the Curtis Blackwell Band, Dean English Band, and Bagpipers!
READ MORE: The Best North Georgia Christmas Events
(Chimney Rock State Park, Dec 5 & 12)
For the 23rd year in a row, Santa will visit Chimney Rock State Park in 2020 to practice sneaking down chimneys as he rappels down the face of the famous landmark!
At the top of every hour on December 5th and 12th, from 11am to 2 pm, you can cheer jolly ol’ St. Nick on as he makes his famous descent.
This year Santa won’t be able to pose for individual photos, for obvious reasons. But local poet Eddie Cabbage will be at the event to help kids write their Christmas wish lists on his vintage typewriter and parchment paper.
Other fun activities at the park include guided hikes with Elves, making s’mores at the bonfire, and listening to live holiday music performed by dulcimer player John Mason.
(Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort, Nov 20-Jan 3)
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 the light show, on select nights there will also be live performances from some of the most beloved Christmas characters, including the Grinch, Charlie Brown, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
There will also be a live Nativity and plenty of restaurants for guests to enjoy, plus lodging packages available if you want to stay overnight and take in more of the festive fun! –by Christina Maggitas