Get ready to be transported to a dazzling winter wonderland at the only local light display from a public garden. That’s right, we’re talking about Winter Lights at the Gardens of The North Carolina Arboretum. Returning for its tenth year with over one million twinkling bulbs, larger-than-life seasonal displays, and shining trees, this festive celebration is sure to bring you and your loved ones a healthy dose of holiday cheer.
What we tried:
After walking through the colorful, illuminated tunnel into Rainbow Land, we made a quick (but very important) pit stop at the Cocoa Shack. We sipped on hot cocoa with the works — whipped cream and a big + pillowy marshmallow — before strolling through the gardens to take in the views of the gigantic glowing figures, including whimsical flowers, mushrooms, and galloping reindeer. Pro tip: gather your family + friends under the rainbow of lights for the perfect photo op.
What not to miss:
Be sure to spend some time overlooking the Quilt Garden. The lights dance in unison with the Tree of Light to the tune of iconic songs from Disney films, Star Wars, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Next, make your way down the stairs to the “Polar Express” themed Rocky Cove Railroad. Your childhood model trains have nothing on this setup, with the little town lit up for the holidays as the trains chug their way along the tracks.
What we’re still talking about:
You’re used to seeing beautiful botanicals at The North Carolina Arboretum — but not like this. Visit the Flower Power section to see towering blossoms that look straight out of a fairytale. Or if fabulous fungi are more your speed, make sure to ogle at the Monumental Mushrooms.
How you can experience this:
Winter Lights will be on display now through Sunday, Dec. 31, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. You can buy tickets at the gate, but since the event does sell out, purchasing online in advance is recommended.
Things to know if you go:
- Experience: Winter Lights at The North Carolina Arboretum
- Price: $35-$75 depending on vehicle size, membership, ticket type, and purchase date, with special pricing for larger cars and parties
- Website: https://www.ncarboretum.org/winter-lights/
- Address: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC
- Hours: Nov. 17-Dec. 31, 6-10 p.m.
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