Asheville, located in the scenic Western North Carolina mountains, is a lesser-known Christmas destination. It has a wide variety of holiday events and some of the country’s best attractions decked for Christmas in grand style.
Must-See Asheville at Christmas
While there are many holiday happenings in Asheville, there are two experiences that can’t be missed during a Christmas season visit:
- Biltmore at Christmas – Biltmore, America’s largest home built in the style of a French chateau, is a sight to behold at Christmas. It features dozens of decorated Christmas trees, and there are several things to do from candlelight tours to seminars. It is even open on Christmas Day (and is actually pretty busy that day, too).
- The Grove Park Inn & Spa Gingerbread House Competition – People compete from around the nation to create the most impressive and splendid gingerbread houses. These are not your typical houses, but range from full winter scenes to Victorian mansions and anything else one can dream to create in gingerbread. Best of all, it’s free to view (but only open to non-hotel guests on certain days and times).
Christmas and Holiday Events in Asheville
There are also many events for families during the Christmas season. They include:
- Santa Rappelling at Chimney Rock Park – Santa goes down the biggest chimney of all the first two weekends of December.
- Legendary Inns Gingerbread Tour – Stop at several of Asheville’s quaint inns and bed and breakfasts. Each one features a gingerbread house with a scene from “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…”
- Biltmore Village Dickens Festival – Biltmore Village, a charming Old English style district just outside the gates of Biltmore, this festival takes attendees back in time to the era of Charles Dickens. It’s held the first weekend of December.
Christmas Shopping in Asheville
In Asheville, there are several spotsto find unique, handcrafted, locally-made gifts that you won’t find at a local mall. The highlights include:
- Downtown Asheville – The heart of the city is pedestrian friendly and features a wide variety of boutiques and unique shops, as well as 60-plus art galleries. Stop for a bite at one of the many independent restaurants and cafes.
- Biltmore Village – This neighborhood has several quaint shops as well as a mix of retail chains stores on one side. Don’t miss the Christmas shop.
- Folk Art Center – Featuring the works of Appalachian craftspeople, this shop along the Blue Ridge Parkway is a great place to find one-of-a-kind gifts.
- The River Arts District is often overlooked by tourists, but it features dozens, perhaps hundreds, of working artist studios. The hours of each are not too predictable, but look for the yellow sandwich boards to indicate open studios. Be sure to stop for lunch at 12 Bones, a local favorite.
Asheville at Christmas provides a nice respite from the hustle of larger cities. There are several unique options when it comes to attractions, events, shopping and dining.