Last Updated on October 31, 2023
Visitors to magnificent Asheville, N.C. this holiday season can live out their Hallmark movie dreams, plus partake in unique holiday traditions, larger-than-life light displays, and festive performances.
Movie-worthy settings and one-of-a-kind traditions transport visitors to another world in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains including the grandeur of Biltmore making its Hallmark Channel debut. The movie, “A Biltmore Christmas,” will premiere on November 26 at 8 pm ET/PT as part of its “Countdown to Christmas 2023.”
Omni Grove Park Inn ignites the festive spirit for travelers of all ages with its 31st Annual National Gingerbread Competition.
Other celebrations, including immersive light displays, live music and stage performances, and local handicraft markets, pair with the area’s generally mild winter weather to create an active mountain getaway full of classic and fresh holiday adventures.
Christmas at Biltmore
New for this year’s cherished Christmas at Biltmore, George Vanderbilt’s opulent library will be adorned in 1940s holiday glamour – an homage to the movie’s time-travel storyline that whisks viewers back to 1947.
Visitors can tour Biltmore House’s meticulously designed rooms and immerse themselves in the festive ambiance. They may even recognize nine of those rooms used as sets in the Hallmark movie.
Christmas Daytime Celebration (November 3 – January 7) will feature a daytime tour of Biltmore House featuring 67 hand-decorated Christmas trees, along with 14,000 ornaments, 45,000-holiday lights, 250 candles, 1,000 feet of garland and 150 traditional poinsettias.
Candlelight Christmas Evenings (November 3 – January 6) offer an experience reminiscent of a bygone era as Biltmore House is decorated with thousands of twinkling lights, combined with the scent of fresh greenery.
A sparkling 55-foot Norway spruce tree in the center of the front lawn sets a magical scene as hundreds of luminaries line the walkways to the home.
Additionally, Hallmark fans will have the unique opportunity to view props and costumes worn by the actors, which will be displayed during the holiday season at the lodging properties and other locations around the Biltmore Estate. Exhibits include an original Carolina Herrera-designed ballgown and a glittering 1930s Czech crystal necklace.
Last January, the Hallmark cast and crew traversed the 8,000-acre estate to film “A Biltmore Christmas,” starring Bethany Joy Lenz and Kristoffer Polaha. The production team utilized eight vintage cars, 200 yards of artificial snow, and 300 Asheville-area locals as extras in the movie. Visitors can follow in their footsteps using a location guide mapping out all Biltmore and Asheville production spots, plus other holiday must-dos, at ExploreAsheville.com.
National Gingerbread Competition
Sweet-tooth lovers of all ages can spice up their holiday season at The Omni Grove Park Inn during the 31st Annual National Gingerbread Competition.
Artisans from across the nation compete in various categories with whimsical structures made entirely of candy and baked confections, all vying for coveted prizes and a moment in the national television spotlight.
From November 27 – January 2, visitors can view the edible works of art, or book a special package to immerse themselves more fully in this delectable world. The hotel will also present “The 12 Days of Gingerbread” highlighting the Top 12 finalists on social media.
Lighting Up the Night with Dazzling Holiday Displays
Distinctive Asheville area neighborhoods welcome families with holiday cheer and magnificent displays of twinkling lights.
Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum (November 17 – December 31), Asheville’s brightest holiday tradition turns 10 this year. The enchanting open-air, walk-through light show at the North Carolina Arboretum features larger-than-life illuminated displays with towering flowers, brilliant butterflies and monumental mushrooms.
Dickens in the Village Festival (December 1-2) transforms the historic Biltmore Village for a weekend, featuring shopkeepers dressed in Victorian-era garb and a main stage filled with musicians, dancers and choral groups.
Weaverville Candlelight Stroll (December 8) brings the not-so-sleepy small town of Weaverville alive with music, live entertainment, horse-drawn carriage rides and luminaries.
Lake Julian Festival of Lights (December 3-23) features a drive-thru spectacular that transforms a beloved park in South Asheville. The park’s encircling road guides visitors through enchanting light tunnels adorned with 50 animated and stationary exhibits.
Unique Mountain Holiday Celebrations
From winter wonderlands and beer releases to purple buses and Appalachian Santa, no place celebrates the holidays quite like Asheville.
Winter Wonderland at the Grove Arcade (November 19 – December 31) bustles with sumptuous Christmas decorations, special events, shopping specials, bar crawls, activities for kids and holiday movie screenings. It culminates with a NYE Roaring Twenties party on December 31.
Head for the Cold Mountain Beer Release (November 9-12) when Highland Brewing Company celebrates the 27th annual release of Asheville’s cult-favorite spiced winter ale with five days of events, including a plated beer dinner, silent disco and a family-friendly celebration.
Additional holiday pop-up bars include Sippin’ Santa at Tiki Easy Bar and Miracle Bar at The Golden Pineapple.
For those who choose to celebrate without alcohol, Devil’s Foot Beverage will host ZeroFest (November 10-11), Asheville’s first non-alcoholic drink festival, at their taproom The Mule.
Deck the Trees (December 1 – January 2) will be held at the Monte Vista Hotel in charming Black Mountain to view hand-decorated Christmas trees with the theme of “Let Heaven and Nature Sing.”
Holly Jolly (December 1) happens on the same night as Deck the Trees as Black Mountain visitors can enjoy downtown shops staying open late with refreshments and live outdoor performances.
Appalachian Santa at Montgomery Sky Farm (November 25) features a Santa complete with a cowboy hat and a llama at a working farm in Leicester for family photo sessions. Kids will have a chance to pet fluffy Highland cows, mini goats and sheep.
Two Saturdays in early December, Santa on the Chimney (December 2 & 9) will have Santa rappelling from the top of Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. Guests can have breakfast with the elves, meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus and enjoy family-friendly activities.
Hey Asheville: Holiday Tour (November 24 – December 24) from LaZoom injects enough holly jolly into its purple bus fun sightseeing adventure to keep guests ‘laughing all the way.’
Holiday Musicals and Entertainment
From classic stories to hit music and original plays, Asheville offers live performances for all audiences to enjoy this season.
Nutcracker Magical Christmas Ballet (December 17) is a classic Christmas production, performed by Ukrainian Principal Artists and an international cast at Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville.
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (December 1-2) offers a new take on this holiday tale performed by the Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre at Wortham Center for the Performing Arts.
Warren Haynes Christmas Jam (December 9) is curated and presented by Grammy Award-winner Warren Haynes. The Christmas Jam one-of-a-kind music marathon this year features Slash (Guns n’ Roses), Billy F. Gibbons (ZZ Top), Govt’ Mule and more.
At A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas (November 24 – December 21), Christmas carol lovers will enjoy live renditions of their favorite holiday hits at this annual show performed at the Flat Rock Playhouse, the official State Theatre of North Carolina.
Elf: The Musical (December 1-23) presents a heartwarming adaptation of the beloved 2003 film at the Asheville Community Theatre in a larger-than-life extravaganza.
Jeeves Takes a Bow (November 24 – December 17) as the British upper crust meets the New York mob in this witty play presented at NC Stage Company in downtown Asheville.
At Show Your Grillz Tour: A Night of Bling and Beats! (December 2), hip-hop fans can show off their bling and dance the night away. Featuring an all-star line-up including Scotty ATL, Akeem Ali, and DJ E Sudd, the concert will take place at Franny’s Farm, a sustainable woman-owned hemp farm in Leicester.
New Queers Eve (December 1-16) features interconnected stories told by various queer Asheville writers in this original play at The Magnetic Theatre. Audiences and invited to share in the joys and struggles of LGBTQIA+ life through the decades.
Handcrafted Holiday Keepsakes
Patrons will appreciate one-of-a-kind treasures crafted by hundreds of working Asheville artists.
The 2nd Annual Holiday Collectors Ornament Show group exhibition (November 10 – December 16) features handmade ornaments by multiple Asheville artists at Mark Bettis Studio and Gallery in the River Arts District.
Vessels of Merriment Exhibition (November 11 – December 31) showcases locally made drinking vessels by American makers at Grovewood Village, a hidden gem of a gallery located near The Omni Grove Park Inn.
A Very Glassy Holiday Market (November 18 – December 31) where The North Carolina Glass Center exhibit space is filled with festive, hand-blown ornaments and decorations.
For unique, handmade holiday gifts, shoppers won’t want to miss pop-up markets such as Studio Stroll in the River Arts District (November 11-12), The Big Crafty at Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville (December 2-3) and the Holiday Makers Sale at the Folk Art Center (December 7 & 14).