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Try This: Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum

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How’s this for a winter wonderland? | Photo by the AVLtoday team

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Did you hear the news? Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville’s ultimate winter wonderland experience, is back to its traditional walk-through format. This year, the grounds are brimming with one million light bulbs’ worth of familiar favorites, plus a flourish of “Forest and Garden Whimsy”-themed displays.

Come along with us to find out how you can #TryThis through Jan. 1, 2022.

What we tried (with pricing):

We signed up for a flex ticket, which allows visitors to enter the grounds anytime from 6-9 p.m. on a preselected night. There are three tiers of admission pricing ranging from $30-60 per regular-sized vehicle. The flex ticket, which allows guests to change their date or time when needed, is $75.

Once you park, there are several entrances to choose from, which keeps foot traffic from collecting at any one spot. You’re able to roam freely among perennial favorites such as the giant caterpillar, 50-ft Tree of Light, and Magical Maples, plus spy fun surprises like gnomes, mushrooms, and more.

What not to miss:

The Cocoa Shack. Tucked away in a garden among luminescent unicorns and disco ball trees, this little shack serves up a rich and smooth hot cocoa that comes topped with handcrafted mint marshmallows. Also on the menu: warm cider, local draft beer, and wine. It’s a great way to warm up while enjoying the flavors of the winter.

Bonus: The Bent Creek Bistro also has refreshments and s’mores kits to enjoy around the fire.


Santa’s elves hard at work in the Cocoa Shack | Photo by the AVLtoday team

What we’re still talking about:

The whimsy. Every turn you take will leave you oohing and aahing — whether it’s waterfall light fixtures, animatronic butterflies + elks, or tiny, bright salamanders poking out of bushes. Not to mention the array of adorable garden gnomes woven throughout the landscape.

Don’t you just wanna boop this gnomey nose? | Gif by the AVLtoday team

How you can experience this:

Buy your ticket online and select the date + time you want to visit.


It’s impossible not to smile when looking at this critter | Photo by the AVLtoday team

Things to know if you go:

  • Experience: Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum
  • Price: Three tiers of admission options starting at $30 per car pre-sale and $40 at the gate; Arboretum Society members get $5 off pre-sale tickets
  • Website: https://www.ncarboretum.org/winter-lights/
  • Address: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806
  • Hours: Nightly from 6–10 p.m. (Note: The gatehouse closes promptly at 9 p.m.)
  • Social: Facebook I Instagram I Twitter*

Even better than a pot of gold | Photo by the AVLtoday team

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