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Eat, drink + be merry with our Asheville holiday preview

Take this list and check it twice — there’s plenty of festive local spirit to get you in a holiday mood.


This season at Biltmore might encourage you to get decorating.

Photo by AVLtoday

Table of Contents

It’s time to start planning for the most wonderful time of the year — Thanksgiving is coming up fast, and we’re seeing festivities begin all over the city.

We’ve made the list, so you can check it twice and start enjoying some seasonal cheer with this holiday preview.

Get festively sweaty

Does the crisp air and abundance of spirit make you want to get out and run? Well, there are holiday happenings for you too. You’ve got two Turkey Trots to choose from on Thanksgiving — one downtown and one in South Asheville. Then you can keep the training going for the Ugly Sweater Run at the Riveter.

Shop at a holiday market

Local holiday markets are the perfect way to find a unique gift and enjoy warm drinks + festive feelings while you shop — and luckily they’re popping up everywhere. Start this weekend at the Enka-Candler Tailgate Market then mark your calendar for the Uncommon Holiday Market as well as holiday market pop-ups at at Pink Dog Creative, Local Cloth, Honey & the Hive, and so many more.

Get in the spirit at a show or festival

Local stages will light up this season with classic tales like “The Nutcracker” at the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts (three different versions by three different companies) plus new favorites like “Elf the Musical” at Asheville Community Theatre. Don’t miss the Christmas Jam that’s been happening for over 30 years. The Magnetic Theatre will connect stories of holidays over the decades with “New Queer’s Eve,” and Multiverse Theatre Collective will take you back even further in time with “Christmas at Pemberley.”

And speaking of traveling back in time — if you’re looking for more interactive holiday fun, A Dickens Christmas will transform Biltmore Village with carolers, lights, performers, and a market. The Asheville Holiday Parade will take over downtown (plus, keep an eye out for details on parades in Weaverville and Black Mountain, too). Asheville Adventure Center’s Winter Wonder Walk will invite festive storybook characters to an immersive outdoor trail, or you can stop by a little earlier on Thanksgiving weekend for a special night climb on the aerial glow trail.

Admire the lights + decorations

Nothing like a little illumination and an ornament or two to get you feeling cozy. Biltmore Estate is famously done up for Christmas, with roaring fires and Christmas trees in nearly all the rooms — plus, lights and cheer a plenty in Antler Hill Village. Once the sun goes down, the NC Arboretum’s Winter Lights display is worth a visit to see the botanical brilliance. Bonus: You can grab a walking-around cocoa.

Lake Julian Festival of Lights lets you drive through an illuminated wonderland at the park, but if you grab tickets early, you can join the walk-through viewing the first weekend of December. Or stop by the Grove Arcade to see the light display — starting with the Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 25.


Grab a cozy cup during the NC Arboretum’s winter lights display.

Photo by David Lewis, via NC Arboretum

Enjoy something sweet

One of our favorite parts of the holiday season has to be dessert. At any holiday party, you can find us firmly planted next to the dessert table. If you want to help fill that table instead of just eating from it, lots of local confection experts can provide you with some sweet skills. And when you’re done in your own kitchen, bakeries and confectionaries all over the city are whipping up seasonal desserts — like peppermint bark from French Broad Chocolate or an Ice Cream Yule Log from The Hop.

And speaking of sweets, you can’t miss out on the displays from the Grove Park Inn’s National Gingerbread Competition. We try not to let the edible architecture get too intimidating when we’re at home, making a gingerbread house from the kit we got at the grocery store.

Sip the season

The days of pumpkin spice are officially behind us, and peppermint is ready to reign. Coffee shops and cafes all over the city are already whipping out their best winter flavors and filling out their drink specials.

If a frosty mug is more your speed, you won’t be left hanging. Highland Brewing is dedicating this whole weekend to the annual release of the Cold Mountain winter ale. Asheville Brewing Company is already serving up the Ninjabread Man Holiday Porter, and the Christmas Jam Session Ale is an annual collaboration with Sierra Nevada. If you’re looking for more pine notes and sticky caramel, Hi-Wire’s Elated Winter IPA is served through December.

Not enough seasonal spirit for you? Explore our events calendar for more holiday happenings, and let us know how you’ll be celebrating.

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