The Holiday Season is quickly approaching and now is the time to make plans! If you’re wondering where the best family-friendly place to make Christmas memories and see holiday light displays in the Asheville and Western North Carolina is, we’ve got you covered!
One of my family’s favorite traditions to make lasting memories with family and friends is to spend an evening at the North Carolina Arboretum. Each year, the NC Arboretum dazzles with their elaborate Winter Lights exhibit, transforming the gardens into a nighttime Christmas wonderland with more than 500,000 lights.
Walk through an outdoor family-friendly winter wonderland and enjoy unique displays and landscapes made up of more than half-a-million colorful holiday lights. While you stroll, enjoy the sounds of your favorite holiday songs or grab a cup of holiday-inspired cocoa, cider or beer.
Several popular displays returning this year are synchronized to the sounds of favorite holiday tunes. You can also enjoy the 50-foot tall animated tree, lit with 8,000 lights rising high above a brilliant Quilt Garden.
The Rocky Cove Railroad features G-Scale (garden scale) model trains with two tracks sporting trains similar to those that ran in western North Carolina.
The Bent Creek Bistro is open each night during Winter Lights and offers menu items that are prepared by hand using local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible. You’ll find hearty sandwiches, scratch-made soups, and hand cut salads. There’s something for everyone to enjoy so plan to make a dinner stop at the Bistro!
Hot items will be available from 6:00 – 9:30 with snacks until 10 p.m. Live entertainment will be available next to the Bistro inside the Arboretum’s Education Center.
Along with the standard menu, choose from a great selection of daily specials, as well as high quality locally sourced treats, snacks, and sweets. Yum!
Tickets & Hours
Planning ahead is a must when visiting Winter Lights. Running November 22, 2019 through January 4, 2020, Winter Lights is open from 6 – 10 pm and you must buy tickets in advance. ($5 convenience charges applied when purchased at door on non-sell out nights.)
Advance tickets only– 2019 rates $18/adults and $12/children 5-11, plus tax & fees (so adult’s total is $21.49).
Tuesday discount nights are $15/adult and $10/children (excludes Christmas Eve and New Years Eve)
Members of The North Carolina Arboretum Society get a $2 discount on all tickets.
Group tickets are available (minimum 20 people).
Open nightly from 6 to 10 PM, including Christmas Day.
Pick your entry time (6, 7 or 8 PM) when purchasing tickets. Enter any time after.
Many nights will sell-out in advance. Click here to purchase tickets.
Winter Lights at The North Carolina Arboretum is located next to the Blue Ridge Parkway entrance ramp at Milepost 393. From I-26, take Exit 33 and follow NC 191 South for two miles to the entrance on right.
Street Address: 20 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, but don’t rely on your GPS only!
Have you attended Winter Lights, either this year or in prior years? Or perhaps you visited a similar display near where you live? What did you enjoy the most? Let us know in a comment below.