Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is fun to visit in any season, but during the Christmas season it becomes a magical landscape dressed in glistening lights, with smells of gingerbread, steaming hot chocolate and warm fires to cozy up to.
The Christmas season begins in early November in this North Carolina mountain town and runs through the New Year. It’s the perfect destination for a romantic get-a-way or a family-friendly holiday celebration.
Christmas at the Biltmore
One of the top Christmas events in the entire state of North Carolina is “Christmas at the Biltmore.” From November 5th to January 9th, this 250-room French Renaissance chateau sparkles with 30,000 lights and more than 100 hand-decorated Christmas trees, including the 55-foot Fraser in the Banquet Hall. Audio guides provide interesting details about the Vanderbilt’s and the Biltmore as you tour the various rooms in the house.
In addition to Christmas house tours and evening candlelight tours, the holiday celebration continues across the 8,000 acre estate. Guests can enjoy the gardens and Conservatory with colorful holiday blooms. Antler Hill Village offers holiday wine and chocolate tastings, shopping and dining options. Onsite accommodations packages are available.
The 29th Annual Gingerbread House Competition
Kids and adults alike will have sugar plum fairies dancing in their heads when they view this year’s incredible gingerbread contest winners on display at the Omni Grove Park Inn. From whimsical to elaborate, there are gingerbread houses of every size, shape, complexity and theme to compete for more than $25,000 in prizes.
The Great Hall at Omni Grove Park Inn will also be transformed into a holiday destination, with a life-sized Gingerbread House modeled after the historic hotel. Guests can enjoy house-made hot chocolate, specialty craft brews & sweet treats by one of the iconic floor-to-ceiling stone fireplaces. Holiday packages are available, but guests not staying at the Inn can still visit the display during certain days and times from November 28, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022.
Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum
It’s called the brightest holiday tradition in Asheville. The North Carolina Arboretum’s annual Winter Lights, which began in 2014, features one million, energy-efficient LED lights throughout the nationally-known gardens. In its 8th year, this walk-through seasonal light show’s theme for 2021 is “Forest and Garden Whimsy.”
It features a 50-foot tree of light, illuminated Quilt Garden and mystical forest creatures. There is also live music from local performers, story time at Woodland Cove, the Rocky Cove Railroad decked out as the Polar Express and hot cocoa, bonfires and s’mores. Winter Lights begins November 19th and runs through January 1st.
The Omni Grove Park Inn
Enjoy a romantic stay at this AAA Four Diamond Property during the holiday season. Reserve a room with a mountain view to catch the gorgeous sunsets. Book a couple’s massage or purchase a day pass to their award-winning spa. Spend the day soaking in restorative mineral pools, inhalation rooms, saunas and steam rooms. Savor a mountain view while relaxing in the outdoor Jacuzzi with a glass of Champaign. Then cozy up with a blanket and hot beverage in front of three fireside lounges.
Sports enthusiast can take a winter hike on the Sunset Trail or play 18-holes of golf on the Donald Ross designed golf course. In the evening enjoy a romantic dinner at the Vue 1913 with its panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, or grab a craft beer and regionally-inspired food at the Edison Bar and Restaurant. Before you call it a day, grab a rocking chair in front of the massive stone fireplace in the Great Hall, sip some wine and savor your holiday memories.
DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville
Located on the grounds of the original Biltmore Farms Dairy, the hotel features several historic displays including an original dairy cart. The hotel’s location is just minutes from the entrance to the Biltmore Estate and within walking distance to the shops and restaurants in the Biltmore Village. Warm chocolate chip cookies await guests each day in the lobby. There’s an indoor pool and hot tub, exercise room and cozy lounges.
DoubleTree is also the perfect location to enjoy the annual “Dickens Christmas Festival.” The Village takes on a seasonal magic with thousands of tiny, white lights adorning buildings, colorful lighting displays, shop windows filled with whimsical exhibits and the overall feel of stepping back in time to nineteenth century Biltmore.
The celebration begins on Friday evening with a tree-lighting ceremony on the Village Green, featuring regional choral groups, excerpts from Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” and, of course, visits with St. Nicholas. There’s even an authentic chestnut roaster to demonstrate “chestnuts roasting over an open fire”(Dec. 3rd & 4th).
Thanks to The Biltmore Estate, Omni Grove Park Inn and DoubleTree by Hilton for hosting Sandra’s visit to Asheville trip. The reviews and opinions in this article are her own.
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