10 Magical Places To See Christmas Lights In Asheville

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Sip peppermint hot chocolate while strolling nature-themed light displays. Warm up by the fire in George Vanderbilt’s library. Attend holiday parades and drive-thru winter wonderlands. From locals, get in the holiday spirit with the best places to see Christmas lights in Asheville, NC. We’ll also share a few nearby WNC events.

Rainbow, unicorn, and ball Christmas Lights in Asheville at The NC Arboretum

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Our Top Three Picks

In Western North Carolina, holiday light displays typically begin mid to late November and last until after Christmas and New Year’s Day. If we had to pick our top three holiday light displays in Asheville, we’d go with:

  • The NC Arboretum Lights ($)
  • Christmas at Biltmore ($$$)
  • Lake Julian Festival of Lights ($)
Christine and Tom, white male and female wearing winter coats and hats and taking a selfie at The NC Arboretum Winter Lights festival in Asheville, NCPin

Weather-dependent, you might need a warm coat, hat, and gloves for outside events. Buy advanced tickets online, where you can.

Best Christmas Lights In Asheville

From walkable Downtown Asheville and historic shopping centers to extravagant ticketed events, these are just a few places to spot those twinkling lights this holiday season. Kick off the season with the Asheville Holiday Parade in mid-November with performances in Pack Square.

Winter Lights at The NC Arboretum

November 17, 2023 – December 31, 2023

As Asheville locals and Arboretum members, we adore The North Carolina Arboretum in South Asheville near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Their Winters Lights festival is one of the best places to see Christmas lights in Asheville. It’s a magical experience and one of our annual winter traditions.

Sip peppermint hot chocolate or local craft beer while strolling through enchanting gardens adorned with vibrant lights. Encounter whimsical displays like garden gnomes, narwhals, and unicorns. Walk through a giant caterpillar, like you are Alice in Wonderland. Enjoy live holiday music at the Bent Creek Bistro, make s’mores by a fire pit, and witness mesmerizing dancing lights on the NC Arboretum’s iconic center-stage Christmas tree and Quilt Garden.

We buy ornaments at the pop-up holiday shop every year (I have a Blue Ridge Mountain-themed critter Christmas tree in my home office). And, don’t forget to make a wish on the wishing tree.

The North Carolina Arboretum | Winter Lights tickets | 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806

Winter Wonderland at the Grove Arcade

Why not see holiday lights while holiday shopping in Downtown Asheville? The historic Grove Arcade is a gorgeous building on Page Ave. that houses two of our favorite local indoor attractions: The Battery Park Book Exchange and Wake Foot Sanctuary. More local businesses include Mountain Made Art Gallery, Huli Sue BBQ, and Bebette’s Coffeehouse. Every year, Grove Arcade strings lights across the two-story interior and outside the building.

Grove Arcade | 1 Page Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Lake Julian Festival Of Lights

December 2 – 23, 2023

Perfect for families with young children, this Asheville Christmas lights drive-through offers 50 dazzling displays over the water, including festive trees around Lake Julian.

Enjoy the magical glow of Christmas lights from your car while listening to holiday music during this 10-minute experience. Our favorites include the dragon and dinosaurs. Purchase popcorn along the way.

Buy advance tickets online, with standard-sized personal vehicles at $10. Twenty percent of the proceeds benefit the Special Olympics of Buncombe County. The walk-through portion of the event ($5) runs December 2 and 3, while the drive-thru goes from December 4th to December 23. Updates are also listed on the Buncombe County Recreation Services Facebook page.

Lake Julian Park | 37 Lake Julian Road, Arden, North Carolina, 28704

From special events and gingerbread houses to church services, plan your Christmas in Asheville.

NC Arboretum Winter Lights Festival Asheville with orange and yellow mushroomsPin

Deck The Trees In Black Mountain

December 1 – 31, 2023

If you follow us on Facebook, you know how much we love visiting Asheville’s beautiful mountain neighbor, Black Mountain. Only 25 minutes by car, head to The Monte Vista Hotel for their annual Deck The Trees event.

The 2023 theme is “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree;” vote in-person or online for your favorite gorgeously decorated tree. Proceeds go toward the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry Fuel Fund.

The Monte Vista Hotel | 308 W State St, Black Mountain, NC 28711

Christmas At Biltmore Estate

Experience the best Christmas lights in Asheville at Biltmore Estate, America’s largest home, and Asheville’s top tourist attraction. We’ve been annual passholders since moving here and their Christmas events are one of the main selling points. Picture Martha Stewart descending upon Biltmore House, tossing Christmas decorations into the air.

Choose between Christmas Daytime Celebration and Candlelight Christmas Evenings. Admire over 100 decorated trees, 10,000 ornaments, and 100,000 lights across the Estate, including Antler Hill Village. Romantic Candlelight Christmas Evenings feature 65 blazing fireplaces and live music in common areas.

Afterward, indulge in on-site Biltmore Estate dining at Stable Cafe or Cedric’s Tavern. Enjoy a complimentary wine tasting, shop in Antler Hill Village, and discover kid-friendly Biltmore activities for a magical holiday experience.

Biltmore Estate | 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803

Biltmore Park Town Square

Another popular shopping area filled with second-location top Asheville restaurants, the best movie theater in town, and residential housing, Biltmore Park Town Square’s storefront windows, sidewalks, and trees glow each holiday season. We suggest watching a movie, seeing the lights, and dining at Luella’s or Nine Mile.

Biltmore Park Town Square | One Town Square Blvd, Asheville, NC 28803

Biltmore Village

Like Biltmore Town Park Square, Historic Biltmore Village decorates every Christmas season. Located near Biltmore Estate’s entrance gates, find boutique and nationally-recognized stores, and dine at one of Biltmore Village’s top restaurants like Andaaz or Corner Kitchen.

The Omni Grove Park Inn

November 27, 2023 to January 2, 2024

Every year, The Omni Grove Park Inn hosts the National Gingerbread House Competition featuring a hot chocolate stand, two floors of unique gingerbread houses, and gorgeous holiday decorations including lights and Christmas trees. We haven’t missed this event since moving here. It’s a must.

Sit by the blazing floor-to-ceiling stone fireplaces, and catch a vibrant Blue Ridge Mountain sunset from Sunset Terrace. We always eat at Edison (make reservations on OpenTable) and grab a coffee from their Marketplace. If you are visiting Asheville, consider overnighting at this luxury hotel. Read our complete Grove Park Inn gingerbread house guide before going.

Christmas Light Displays Near Asheville

Of course, it’s not Christmas in the North Carolina Mountains without mentioning a few more holiday events. These events are one to two hours away and make great mini-day trips from Asheville.

Winterfest at Tryon International

Mid-November 2023 through January 1, 2024

For Christmas lights near Asheville, head to Tryon Hills for Shadrick’s Christmas Wonderland, only one hour away. Drive through two miles of holiday light displays that dance to music. Winterfest also features ice skating, a Christmas market, breakfast with Santa, and performances.

Tryon International | Winterfest | 25 International Boulevard, Mill Spring, NC 28756

Forest City Christmas

November 23, 2023 – January 1, 2024

Forest City has been voted the #1 Christmas town around Western North Carolina and one of the best places to see Christmas lights near Asheville (one hour and 15 minutes by car).

Forest City’s “Hometown Holiday Festivities” features a lighting ceremony, hayrides, ice skating, carriage rides, and a Christmas parade. Main Street has a mailbox for Santa, and POPS is home to their famous Christmas ornament, perfect for photo opportunities. Consider going all out with matching family outfits.

If you want to beat the crowds and don’t care for the extra ticketed festivities, we suggest going on a Sunday night, stopping at Hillman Beer in Old Fort on the way there for dinner.

Forest City Christmas | Main Street, Forest City 28043

What Asheville light displays get you in the holiday spirit? Let us know in the comments.

Christine and Tom selfiePin

Christine Frascarelli

Christine (pronouns: she/her) is the owner and lead writer of Uncorked Asheville. After falling in love with those gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, Christine and her husband Tom decided to call Asheville, North Carolina home. When her pointy Italian nose isn’t stuck in a book, Christine is adopting all of the kitties, getting lost in the forest, and drinking an ESB. She has a BA in English and History from Smith College, her MLIS from USF-Tampa, and is a former U.S. Fulbright Scholar - Indonesia. Christine also owns The Uncorked Librarian LLC with books and movies to inspire travel.

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