It’s hard to believe that we’re already thinking of the winter holidays when summer is just ending, but we’ve got to make those plans early to concoct the best strategy for seeing all the best holiday lights in the best season of the year! What a lovely idea for a romantic getaway in the late autumn and early winter – a few days at Wildberry Lodge, with evenings spent looking at the most beautiful light displays in Asheville – truly a weekend to remember. To help you on your way, we’ve provided a list of the very best holiday light displays in Asheville!
First and foremost, Biltmore Village, originally modeled after an English village, is dressed for the holidays like a Dickens novel – and especially during the Dickens in the Village festival, held each year starting the first weekend in December. The shops are decorated with lights while carolers, actors, and musicians (in costume) stroll about, and you can even get roasted chestnuts!
7 Boston Way, Asheville, NC 28803
Next – Biltmore Park Town Square is beautiful with thousands and thousands of light strings in the trees surrounding the “modern Main street town square”. Ample parking is available so you can easily walk through and enjoy. A kickoff celebration takes place each year – the date is to be announced.
One Town Square Blvd, Asheville, NC 28803
Downtown Asheville kicks off the season with the annual Holiday Parade on November 21 at 11am. See performances, dogs, dancers, musicians and more in this wonderful yearly tradition. After the parade, hang out and shop and eat until 6pm, when you can experience the lighting of the Winter Lights trees at Pack Square. Can’t make it on the 21st? No worries! The lights will stay up all through December for your enjoyment.
80 Court Plaza, Asheville, NC 28801
Now on to the paid admission sites:
You won’t want to miss the Biltmore itself – Christmas at the Biltmore Estate is a celebration for the senses. You can see the daylight decorations and take part in complementary seminars on home decor as part of your daily admission fee. If you want to experience Candlelight Christmas Evenings, you do need to purchase a separate ticket to see the trees dripping with lights, including a 55-foot Norway spruce tree in the center of the front lawn surrounded by 35 illuminated evergreens. Take the self-guided house tour, in which the dozens of fireplaces crackle with flame as you enjoy the gorgeous decorations, and don’t forget Antler Hill Village, which is decorated to the hilt as well. You must make reservations and purchase your tickets in advance.
One Lodge Street, Asheville, NC 28803 800-411-3812
November 6, 2020 – January 9, 2021 – Purchase tickets
Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum is a can’t-miss extravaganza of over half a million LED lights set up on a one-mile, drive-through experience. From the safety of your own car, be taken back to child-like wonder as you view the Arboretum’s enchanted forest. This year’s display has a nature theme, with a giant daisy garden, butterflies, wildlife and a special insect lantern exhibit – sounds amazing! Winter Lights sells out almost every night, so it is HIGHLY encouraged that you get your tickets and time reserved well in advance – don’t miss your chance to see this gorgeous set-up!
100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806 828-665-2492
November 20, 2020 – January 10, 2021, 5:30 – 10:30pm Nightly – Purchase tickets
And now one more- just outside Asheville – a special holiday treat: The Lake Julian Festival of Lights. Although the dates haven’t been announced yet, this yearly drive-through light event features over 50 lighted displays and runs through December 23. Even better – 20% of proceeds are donated to Buncombe County Special Olympics. You must arrive by 8:30pm or you won’t be admitted. Driving through takes about 10 minutes, and if you get there in time, you can drive through again for no extra charge. Check the Buncombe County Recreation Services website for dates and to buy tickets.
406 Overlook Road Ext., Arden, NC 28704