Asheville… THE place to be for the Holidays!
We’re sure you’ve heard that Asheville is quickly becoming one of the nation’s top destinations, both to visit and to live. One of the latest pieces on our “City of Sin” was in The Wall Street Journal’s article “Asheville: The South’s Insider Destination” <read article>. They called Asheville “One of America’s oldest holiday towns.”
10 things to do in Asheville over the Holidays.
For locals and tourists alike, Asheville is a wonderful place to spend the holidays! There are always fun things to do and great places to see, and our list of things to do is really just the tip of the iceberg. So if you’re looking to spend time here, be sure to get out to our local stores, eateries and breweries that have come to make Asheville such a fantastic place to visit!
Be sure to bring a camera… You’ll never know what you might find when you visit Asheville!
1. LaZoom Bus Tours (City, Haunted or Beer & Band)
2. Christmas at the Biltmore
The Biltmore House is all decked out for the holidays. This year’s design draws inspiration from the theme “A Gilded Age Christmas” that incorporates details of the Vanderbilt’s own Christmas stories. See elaborate hand-decorated Christmas trees, thousands of poinsettias, miles of garland and lights, live music and inspirational holiday demonstrations and the Biltmore house in all of her glory!
Daytime Celebration: November 6, 2015–January 10, 2016
Candlelight Christmas Evenings: November 6, 2015–January 2, 2016
Tickets include tours of Biltmore House, the gardens and Antler Hill Village. The village is home to the Winery, where you may take a guided tour and enjoy a complimentary wine tasting.
3. Gingerbread display at The Omni Grove Park Inn
November 18, 2015-January 3, 2016
The 23rd Annual National Gingerbread House Competition at The Omni Grove Park Inn. Except for the base, the entries are constructed entirely of edible materials. Judging will take place on November 16 and the awards ceremony is open free to the public.
Guests of hotel, spa or folks with restaurant reservations may view the display at any time, others can stop by to view entries starting on November 18 on Sunday-Thursday, 9 AM until 9 PM (excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day). While there is no admission charge to view the gingerbread creations, there is a $10 per car parking fee. Half of this fee goes to local non-profits and the other half covers the extra expenses to accommodate the big crowds.
4. River Arts District
The River Arts District (RAD) in West Asheville is a great place to visit local artists who love to show you the process of making their stunning works of art. There is something in every price range and you are sure to find that gift that you’ll never get a chain store. RAD is now home to more than 185 artists in 25 buildings.
You’ll find many new studios, galleries and restaurants that have been added this past year. Artists are located in converted warehouses and industrial buildings along the French Broad River just a few miles from downtown Asheville, Biltmore Village and Biltmore Estate.
5. Down Town Stores and Restaurants
Asheville’s lively downtown has wonderful architecture, locally-owned stores, a huge variety of restaurants, museums and so much more. Downtown has over 200 locally-owned stores and boutiques where you can find something for everyone and every budget. It is easy to spend the day going from one shop to the next as you visit the myriad of antique stores, book shops and art galleries. Asheville has over 40 galleries that showcases the work of hundreds of local artists.
If you want great food, look no further! From Southern Soul Food to Mediterranean or Organic Hamburgers, Asheville is home to some of the best cuisine in the world. Just walk the downtown streets and you are sure to find something to suit any pallet. With over 250 independent restaurants, you’ll find it hard not to embrace the local food movement.
6. Thomas Wolfe Memorial
This home was Thomas Wolfe’s mother’s 29-room boardinghouse. Named “Old Kentucky Home” by a previous owner, Wolfe immortalized the rambling Victorian structure as “Dixieland” in his epic autobiographical novel, Look Homeward, Angel. A classic of American literature, Look Homeward, Angel has never gone out of print since its 1929 publication, keeping interest in Wolfe alive and attracting visitors to the setting for this great novel.
The house will be decorated for the holiday season from November 24th through January 2nd.
7. Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum
November 20, 2015-January 2, 2016
The North Carolina Arboretum’s elaborate Winter Lights show, transforming the gardens into a nighttime wonderland. Stroll through spectacular lighted displays and see the gardens in a completely new way. Designed with an artistic aesthetic, The Winter Lights show enhances the natural beauty of the gardens as you celebrate the holidays.
8. ACDT’s The Nutcracker & The Mouse King
Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre shocked and surprised audiences last year with their original version of The Nutcracker. Though The Nutcracker might be the world’s most famous ballet, if it is being performed by ACDT you can guarantee it is something you haven’t seen before. Their version couldn’t be farther from Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet. It is based on the original and much darker story written in 1816 by German author E.T.A. Hoffmann.
December 4th at 7:30 pm
December 5th at 2:00 pm & 7:30 pm
9. Asheville Downtown Gallery Art Walk
The Downtown Asheville Art District (DAAD) invites you to visit the more than 23 galleries that contribute to Asheville’s reputation as vibrant arts community and “The Paris of the South.” Within a half-mile radius of Pack Square and the city’s center, you’ll find unparalleled diversity….from fine studio crafts, to glass, photography, folk art and contemporary painting, metalwork, textiles, jewelry and more by local, regional, national and international artists.
Asheville and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains have inspired artists for generations. That legacy is alive and well in Asheville’s galleries, and it’s one of the reasons why the city is consistently ranked as a top travel destination. You’ll find a complete listing of DAAD galleries, including a map with locations and contact information, in the Downtown Gallery Guide, available at each participating gallery, the Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Pack Place.
Gallery Walk December 4, from 5-8 p.m.
10. Craggy Mountain Line Train Rides
Ride the rails just 5 miles north of downtown Asheville on the historic Craggy Mountain Line. The 3.5-mile section of railroad in the small town of Woodfin (near Weaverville) has been preserved by a hard-working group of volunteers. This small non-profit has acquired and restored historic train cars and trolleys for you to enjoy. Future plans for this railroad museum include a regular train excursion, more equipment, depot, and much more.
In December, the ride is about two miles roundtrip. Summer rides are seven miles roundtrip with a stop at a park.
The Jingle Bell Trolley Train Ride on Saturdays, 11 AM-7 PM. The train leaves on the hour. After the 30-minute ride, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies along with visiting Santa and Mrs Claus. It’s fun for all ages.