Where can you see Christmas lights in Asheville, NC? Find both drive-through and festival events for the best Asheville Christmas lights.
Nothing beats a magical Christmas in Asheville. The city glows from those vibrant purple and hot pink mountain sunsets amidst gentle snow flurries.
Many iconic establishments go all out with Biltmore’s Christmas lights topping the charts.
Candlelight Christmas Evenings and their warm fireplaces surrounded by twinkling lights will have you daydreaming of curling up in George Vanderbilt’s library.
The North Carolina Arboretum hosts its annual Winter Lights Festival in the gardens. Sip peppermint hot chocolate while perusing nature-themed light displays.
Asheville’s drive-through Christmas lights include Lake Julian’s Festival Of Lights and Shadrick’s Christmas Wonderland.
Stay warm in your vehicle with holiday music as you drive past animated and stationary features.
So, if you are visiting Western North Carolina this winter, what are the best places to see Christmas lights in Asheville, NC?
Below and as AVL locals, we are sharing just a few of the most highly recommended spots for Asheville Christmas lights to enjoy holiday music, dancing displays, parades, Christmas cookies, shopping, and so much more.
Let’s get started!
Read more about spending Christmas in Asheville, NC.
6 Best Places For Christmas Lights In Asheville, NC
1. Winter Lights At The NC Arboretum
As members and locals, we just love The North Carolina Arboretum located in South Asheville near the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Winters Lights Festival is by far one of the best places to see Christmas lights in Asheville.
Sip peppermint hot chocolate or local craft beer as you walk through the vibrantly lit gardens. Of course, there are Christmas cookies and wine too!
Encounter nature-themed light displays and a pop-up holiday shop. Every year is a little different than the last. Spy cute garden gnomes, unicorns, a giant caterpillar, and so much more.
Listen to live holiday music at the Bent Creek Bistro, and find a wishing tree.
Make s’mores by a fire pit (weather permitting) and watch as lights dance on the Arboretum’s iconic Christmas tree.
The Asheville Arboretum’s Christmas lights are an annual holiday tradition for our family. For us, Winter Lights kicks off winter in Asheville.
2. Lake Julian Festival Of Lights
Starting on December 1st, for Asheville drive-through Christmas Lights, head to Lake Julian.
This is a county park located in South Asheville (Arden) and one of Asheville’s popular recreational lakes.
You’ll find over 50 holiday light displays and decorated trees surrounding the lake. We love the dragon and dinosaurs.
Nothing beats the glow of Christmas lights over the water as you listen to Christmas music from the warmth of your car.
This Asheville holiday lights display is about a 10-minute drive-through experience.
It’s a bit smaller/quicker than the other Asheville Christmas light displays and most fitting for families with young children. They also sell popcorn along the way.
Advanced tickets must be purchased online and are for any date (but always double-check in case this changes).
A standard-sized personal vehicle costs $10. Twenty percent of the proceeds benefit Special Olympics Buncombe County.
The Festival of Lights at Lake Julian runs from December 2nd to December 23, 2022 from 6 PM to 9 PM.
The walk-through event is on December 2 and 3, and the drive-thru portion is from December 4th through December 23.
Updates are also on the Buncombe County Recreation Services Facebook page.
Lake Julian Park | 37 Lake Julian Road, Arden, North Carolina, 28704
3. Christmas At Biltmore
Biltmore Christmas lights are a must. No one decorates better for the holidays than this iconic giant.
Picture Martha Stewart descending upon all of the rooms with arms full of Christmas decorations and tossing them into the air.
America’s largest home, Biltmore Estate is the former residence of George and Edith Vanderbilt. Fredrick Law Olmstead designed the gorgeous gardens and Richard Morris Hunt the home.
At Christmastime, there are more than 100 decorated trees, 10,000 ornaments, and 100,000 holiday lights across the Estate, including Antler Hill Village.
Many of the 65 fireplaces blaze during Candlelight Christmas Evenings to live holiday music in the common rooms.
You can experience Christmas at Biltmore in two ways: a Daytime Celebration or Candlelight Christmas Evenings.
We recommend the evening visit to truly see the best Christmas lights in Asheville.
Listen to an audio guide tour to teach you more about the history of the home as well as the Vanderbilts’ role in Asheville.
Afterward, enjoy an on-site meal at one of Biltmore’s delicious restaurants like Stable Cafe or Cedric’s Tavern.
Wine taste in the winery, and shop in Antler Hill Village. If you are traveling with the family, don’t miss these kid-friendly Biltmore activities too.
Explore all of our Biltmore Guides.
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4. Shadrick’s Christmas Wonderland
For Christmas lights near Asheville, head to Tryon, which is about an hour+ drive from the city.
Shadrick’s Christmas Wonderland is a great spot for Asheville drive-through Christmas lights.
Find two miles of holiday light displays that dance to music. The drive-thru light show runs from November 17th, 2022 to January 1st, 2023, typically from 6:00 to 10:00 PM (11:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays).
Be sure to check out their WinterFest Village and Christmas Market.
Tryon Foothills also has some fantastic wineries like Parker-Binns, Overmountain, and Mountain Brook.
5. Forest City Christmas
Forest City has been voted the #1 Christmas town around WNC as well as one of the best places to see Christmas lights in Asheville.
You will have to drive about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there.
You won’t want to miss Forest City’s Hometown Holiday Festivities. This holiday event features a lighting ceremony, hayrides, ice skating, carriage rides, and a Christmas parade.
Lights stay on every night from 5:00 until 11:30 PM from November 24, 2022 to January 1st, 2023. It’s free to see the lights.
Forest City Christmas | Around Main Street, Forest City 28043
6. Asheville’s Unique Neighborhoods
Each Asheville neighborhood is full of character. These areas are always decorated for the holidays and perfect for shopping.
Of course, The Omni Grove Park Inn also hosts its annual Gingerbread House Competition where you can grab hot chocolate, seasonal cocktails, and tour their gorgeous decorations.
Sit by a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace and catch a vibrant Blue Ridge Mountain sunset from the Grove’s terrace.
Save These Top Spots For Asheville Christmas Lights For Later
Asheville, NC Hotels
Hotels and B&Bs tend to book up fast in Asheville, especially in the fall, spring, and around holidays. Make dinner reservations wherever you can, too. A few hotels to consider that either we, our friends, or others highly recommend include:
Near The Asheville Outlets/Biltmore
Hampton Inn And Suites Asheville Biltmore Area *Our second favorite pick. We stayed here before we moved.
DoubleTree By Hilton Biltmore/Asheville
Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville
The Omni Grove Park Inn *We frequently stop by the Grove Park Inn for sunsets, drinks, and food.
1900 Inn On Montford
Don’t miss our Top Asheville Hotel, Resort & B&B Picks Here.
Where do you love to see Christmas lights near Asheville?
What are your favorite places for Asheville drive-through Christmas lights? How about Asheville Christmas light displays and events? Let us know in the comments.
If you are in Asheville for the holidays, you may also enjoy:
Read more about the best things to do In Asheville.
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 their 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.
Christine has a BA in English and History from Smith College, her MLIS from USF-Tampa, and is a former U.S. Fulbright Scholar - Indonesia. She also owns The Uncorked Librarian LLC with books and movies to inspire travel.