Lighting displays set the mood for the holiday season, filling us with wonder as we take in the spectacle alongside loved ones. If you look forward to this special tradition, you’ll be thrilled by the wide range of viewing opportunities available in and around Asheville. These lighting displays amplify the region’s already beautiful scenery.
If you’re lucky, you’ll enjoy Asheville’s loveliest lights alongside the occasional dusting of snow that graces the area in December. Otherwise, local lights ensure that the city still looks lovely without snow. No matter the weather, you’ll want to set aside time to check out the lights at these top Asheville destinations:
1. Lake Julian Festival of Lights
Witness the beauty of holiday lights from the comfort of your vehicle during the Lake Julian Festival of Lights. Every December, this beloved tradition brings twinkling lights to Lake Julian Park. Entrance fees are charged per vehicle, but they’re more than reasonable if you pack your car with attendees. Best of all, your journey supports a great cause: the Buncombe County Special Olympics.
If you prefer to view Lake Julian’s holiday lights on foot, you’re in luck: before the driving tour kicks off, you can head to the park for one of two Lights by the Lake Stroll Nights. During the holiday season, there are few better incentives for moving your body and working off those delicious cookies.
2. The Biltmore Estate
Bring a sophisticated edge to your light viewing experience at the Biltmore Estate, where a soft glow will make an already gorgeous setting that much more appealing. The Biltmore’s annual Candlelight Christmas Evenings provide a true visual feast, complete with the estate’s signature decor, plus glittering ornaments perfectly illuminated by a cascade of lights.
Live choir music complements the Biltmore Estate’s majestic Christmas experience, granting the mansion an almost ethereal atmosphere that you and your loved ones won’t quickly forget. Opportunities abound for checking out this amazing spectacle, with holiday decor on display through January 5th.
3. Biltmore Village and Dickens Festival
Situated near the Biltmore mansion, historic Biltmore Village consistently impresses visitors with its quaint stone streets and charming boutiques. Recently, however, this already inviting holiday destination upped its game with an enhanced lighting display featuring beautiful angels and stars.
Christmas visuals bring further delight to the annual Dickens Festival when Biltmore Village’s shopkeepers dress up in period costume to deliver undeniable Victorian charm. Beyond the lighting and costumes, you’ll enjoy live music and dance during this highly-anticipated event. Don’t worry if you can’t stop by during the Dickens Festival; you’ll still love checking out the lights before you visit the wonderful shops and restaurants of Biltmore Village.
4. Biltmore Park Town Square
Joining the Biltmore holiday light lineup is the beautiful Biltmore Park Town Square, where you’ll be only too eager to complete your seasonal shopping once you’ve caught a glimpse of the jaw-dropping display.
As an impressive reimagining of the traditional Main Street, this urban destination comes alive on November 30th with a kickoff event known as Holiday Magic and Memories. Beyond the tree lighting at 6 pm, you can enjoy a quaint carriage ride and a quick visit with Santa. After the kickoff, the lights will continue to welcome you and other shoppers as you head for Biltmore Park Town Square’s many stores and restaurants.
5. North Carolina Arboretum
Situated just south of Asheville, the North Carolina Arboretum is home to several acres of gorgeously cultivated trails and displays. These are a wonderful sight to behold throughout the year, but they take on a special holiday charm between late November and early January, when the arboretum is decked out in hundreds of thousands of LEDs.
The attraction’s entire display is impressive, of course, but you and your companions will be especially astounded by the fifty-foot tree, which comes alive to the infectious sound of holiday music. Other highlights include a model train exhibit and a nature display meant for kids but capable of entertaining visitors of all ages.
6. Downtown Asheville
Downtown Asheville may be your go-to destination for trendy restaurants and bars, but you’ll definitely want to build in some time for a stroll before you hit up your favorite establishments. Along the way, you’ll observe a stunning collection of holiday lights, made possible by the artistic geniuses behind the North Carolina Arboretum’s iconic display.
The fun begins on November 23rd, with a lighting ceremony to follow the Asheville Holiday Parade. As Pack Square Park grows dark, a sudden infusion of glowing lights will bring the beloved park and its surroundings alive with holiday splendor. These lights continue to bring joy to Asheville’s downtown district throughout the remainder of the holiday season.
7. Omni Grove Park Inn
Celebrate a mountain Christmas like no other at the Omni Grove Park Inn, where holiday traditions have delighted generations of visitors from near and far. This getaway has long been known for its cozy atmosphere, but it becomes that much more welcoming during the holidays when beautifully decorated trees adorn its hallways. Beyond the lights on the trees, you’ll find the ultimate source of light and warmth within the inn’s dozens of majestic fireplaces.
At the Omni Grove Park Inn, Christmas cheer goes beyond lights alone. Stop in to check out the impressive creations on display for the National Gingerbread House Competition, where you’ll find a variety of beautiful and sophisticated works that look far too good to eat. If you’re lucky, you’ll also spot Santa in his yuletide garb, spreading cheer as only Kris Kringle can.
No matter your budget or your schedule, you’ll want to set aside time to visit at least one lighting display in the Asheville area. Just a few minutes of observing Asheville’s beautiful lights, and you will be fully immersed in the spirit of the season.