Biltmore Village Annual Dickens Festival • Asheville • December 2-3
Get into the holiday spirit with this annual festival at the historic Biltmore Village. The lighting of the 25-foot Fraser fir tree kicks off festivities at 6 p.m. Friday. Enjoy carolers, hot cocoa, cookies, horse-drawn carriage rides, and roasted chestnuts. The weekend will be filled with Christmas entertainment, as Biltmore Village is transformed into a wonderland reminiscent of days long past.
Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Free admission. Learn more: historicbiltmorevillage.com.
Echoview’s 5th Annual Christmas Bazaar • Weaverville • December 2-3
Shop local artists and vendors at this two-day event at Echoview Fiber Mill in Weaverville, now in its fifth year. Browse a variety of handmade goods from around the area, get your holiday shopping done early this year — and buy yourself a little something, too.
Friday, 2-6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free admission. Learn more: (855) 693-4237 or echoviewnc.com.
Hometown Holidays • Forest City • December 2-4, 9-11, 16-18
For three weekends in December, enjoy the festivities of Forest City’s Hometown Holidays celebration. Visit Santa’s House, go ice-skating, take a fun-filled hayride on Friday nights, or an enchanting carriage ride on Saturday nights. The holiday cheer continues on Sundays, when you can share your Christmas joy with your pets by dressing them up for a picture with Santa.
Fridays, 6-9 p.m. Saturdays, 5-9:30 p.m. Sundays, 2-6 p.m. Free admission. Learn more: (828) 247-4417 or rutherfordtourism.com.
Holiday Gallery Hop • Hendersonville & Flat Rock • December 16
Art galleries in Hendersonville and Flat Rock will be open until 8 p.m. on Friday, December 16. Browse their historic downtowns to visit 15 participating galleries exhibiting fine arts and crafts by local and regional artists. Enjoy refreshments along the way, and make sure to put your name in the raffle for the chance to win something special.
Friday, 5-8 p.m. Free admission. Learn more: (828) 693-4545.
The Nutcracker Ballet • Franklin • December 16-17
This heart-warming holiday classic is perfect for the entire family. Through dreams and magic, protagonist Natasha is taken on an exciting adventure to the Snowflake Forest and Land of Sweets where she meets new friends and experiences a whirlwind of wonder. This two-act ballet is presented by A Family of Friends Productions in conjunction with Betsy’s School of Dance and is set to the music of Tchaikovsky.
Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Adults $12. Students $8. Learn more: (828) 524-1598 or greatmountainmusic.com.
Trail of Lights • Valdese • November 22-December 24
Using more than 100,000 lights, this bright and beautiful Christmas display is a unique experience. It not only showcases the traditional Christmas decorations, but also includes several displays incorporating Waldensian culture (make sure to ask the knowledgeable volunteers about Waldensian history). In its 19th year, this event continues to be a favorite. The gift shop will be open for browsing and buying, and hot chocolate will be available for your enjoyment.
Open nightly from 6-9 p.m. Free admission, donations appreciated. Learn more: (828) 874-1893 or townofvaldese.com.
Jamie Laval’s Celtic Christmas • Tryon • December 30
Former National Scottish Fiddle Champion Jamie Laval brings the Scottish Highlands to North Carolina with traditional music, dance, poetry, and storytelling. Laval’s Celtic Christmas captures the beauty and atmosphere of Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, and Iceland during the holidays. It is sure to be an entertaining and thought-provoking holiday experience for the whole family to enjoy. He also will have shows this month in Hickory (December 27), Charlotte (December 28), and Asheville (December 29).
Friday, 7:30 p.m. Adults $26. Students $16. Visit website for more ticket options. Learn more: (828) 859-8322 or tryonarts.org.
The Polar Express at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad • Bryson City • November 11, 2016-January 1, 2017
Climb aboard The Polar Express to experience a journey through the wilderness for a special visit to the North Pole. Set to the sounds of The Polar Express soundtrack, passengers will enjoy hot cocoa and a holiday snack while listening and reading along to the classic Christmas story. The reaction on children’s faces when they find Santa waiting for them at the North Pole is priceless, and they are in for a treat. At the conclusion of the round-trip excursion, which runs for an hour and 15 minutes, guests can enjoy singing Christmas carols at the Bryson City Depot.
Visit website for train times. Tickets $44-$88. Learn more: (800) 872-4681 or gsmr.com.
Winter Lights • Asheville • November 18, 2016-January 1, 2017
Experience Asheville’s brightest holiday tradition: an outdoor holiday light exhibit intertwined throughout the gardens of the North Carolina Arboretum. This winter wonderland features unique displays and landscapes composed of nearly 500,000 energy-efficient LED lights. The experience is made even more special with the sounds of your favorite holiday tunes. There will be hot cocoa, cider, and beer available to warm you up during your stroll.
Open nightly from 6-10 p.m. Adults $18. Children ages 5-11, $16. Children 4 and under, free. Learn more: (828) 665-2492 or ncwinterlights.com.
2016 National Gingerbread House Competition Display • Asheville • November 27, 2016-January 5, 2017
The Omni Grove Park Inn’s National Gingerbread House Competition has grown in more than just entries; it has become a true family holiday tradition and one of the nation’s most celebrated and competitive holiday events. The winners of this year’s competition were announced on November 21, and now you can enjoy their creations on display through the holiday season. No matter your age, the reaction to this magical experience is the same — one of wonder, awe, and delight.
Sundays through Thursdays at 3 p.m. for day visitors, excluding holidays, based on parking availability. Minimum $10 outdoor parking charge will be in effect for all drive-on guests. Learn more: (800) 413-5778 or groveparkinn.com.