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Apple Hill Farm Christmas

BANNER ELK • NOVEMBER 14-DECEMBER 26

The High Country is known for its Christmas tree farms, but it also has a reputation for being a hospitable place to raise alpacas. Apple Hill gives walking farm tours, starting every half hour, during the holiday season. Afterward, you can shop for gifts made from the fiber of the animals you’ve met.

Tours through December 13: Friday-Sunday,10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tours  after December 13: Wednesday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Admission $5-7, depending on age. (828) 963-1662. applehillfarmnc.com

Light Up the Town!

WEST JEFFERSON • NOVEMBER 21
West Jefferson is always charming, but this annual event makes it downright festive. Go for the town’s parade at 3:00 p.m., and stay for the annual Light Up the Town event at 5:30 p.m. It includes extended downtown business hours, restaurant specials, live music, and luminary displays.

5:30 p.m. Free admission. (866) 607-0093. visitwestjefferson.org.

Christmas in the Park

BLOWING ROCK • NOVEMBER 27

Christmas in the Park attracts droves of people from across the state. Enjoy music, hot drinks, hayrides, and visits with Santa in the park overlooking downtown.

2-8 p.m. Free admission. blowingrock.com.

Chetola Festival of Lights

BLOWING ROCK • NOVEMBER 27-JANUARY 31

This drive-thru light display features Rudolph catching a fish in Chetola Lake and other kid-friendly characters. The exhibit is free to the public and electrifies each evening around dusk.

5:30-9 p.m. Free admission. (828) 295-5500. chetola.com.

Beech Mountain Holiday Market

BEECH MOUNTAIN • NOVEMBER 28

This crafts market, held annually at the Buckeye Recreation Center, features local crafts, kids activities, games, and prizes.

9 a.m.-3 p.m. Free admission. (828) 387-4236. beechrecreation.org.

Parade of Lights

BANNER ELK • DECEMBER 5

Head into downtown Banner Elk for this unique night parade, which features sparkling floats and Santa in a fire truck, gliding through the darkness.

5:30 p.m. Free admission. bannerelk.org.

Boone Christmas Parade & Celebration

BOONE • DECEMBER 5

Line up along King Street to see this hometown parade, and go by the Jones House Community Center afterward for a holiday reception.

11 a.m. Free admission. downtownboonenc.com.

Yule Log Bonfire and Hayride

BEECH MOUNTAIN • DECEMBER 19

The holiday tradition of burning a Yule log can be traced back to mid-winter festivals in northern Europe. They are, as they were then, considered representations of health and productivity. This Beech Mountain rendition, held at the town sled hill, includes a resident guitarist, s’mores, hot cocoa, cider, and hayrides.

5-8 p.m. Free admission. (828) 387-3003. townofbeechmountain.com.

“Christmas in Blowing Rock”

BLOWING ROCK • DECEMBER 18-20

This Ensemble Stage holiday variety show, modeled after classic Andy Williams and Bing Crosby Christmas television specials, has become a local favorite. Join residents for singing, dancing, sketches, and holiday cheer.

Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m. Admission $9-18, depending on age. (828) 414-1844. ensemblestage.com.

New Year’s Eve Celebration at Sugar Mountain Ski Resort

SUGAR MOUNTAIN • DECEMBER 31

If you’re interested in hors d’oeuvres and champagne toasts, you should make reservations for this celebration several weeks in advance. But even spontaneous folks who decide to welcome 2016 in the High Country are invited to attend the torch light parade and watch the fireworks display that will rain over snow-covered slopes at midnight.

Torch light parade, 11:45 p.m. Indoor admission $25-80, depending on package. Parade and fireworks admission free. (828) 898-4521, x233. skisugar.com.


About High Country Host

The NC High Country encompasses Boone, Blowing Rock, Banner Elk, West Jefferson, Wilkesboro, and the small towns of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

If you need help planning your holiday getaway, contact the High Country Host Visitors Center. Travel counselors can provide you with upcoming holiday events, Choose & Cut Christmas Tree packages, and insider reviews. You can even get help finding a Choose & Cut farm that offers hayrides, hot chocolate, and a custom-sized garland!

You can reach the High Country Host at (828) 264-1299 or view detailed holiday event information and package deals at MountainsofNC.com.

This story was published on

Henion is a writer and photographer based in western North Carolina. Her essays and articles have appeared in Washington Post Magazine, Smithsonian, Oxford American, Orion, Preservation, and a variety of other publications. She has garnered a number of accolades for her work, including a Lowell Thomas Award, and her stories have been noted in three editions of The Best American Travel Writing. Her debut book – Phenomenal – was published by Penguin Press in March 2015.