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  • Thanksgiving week magic to kick off the holiday season

    Saturday, November 19, 2022   /   by Amy Brown

    Thanksgiving week magic to kick off the holiday season

    The mountains are a magical time for the holidays and Asheville does not disappoint by creating a winter wonderland full of light and warmth to bring the family together.

    These are some of my favorite things to do around this special time of year:

    1. The Asheville Holiday Parade


    It's TODAY! The parade starts at 11am so many of the downtown streets will be closed. The parade route runs for 1 mile traveling up Biltmore Avenue from Charlotte Street towards Pack Square. Pack Square is the only performance area, the location for WLOS TV cameras and judges. The parade then turns left on Patton Avenue and ends on French Broad Street. Come early to find a place to park.

    2. The Polar Express

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    The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad had already achieved stardom by the time The Polar Expresscame out, but the animated film added to the luster with an annual excursion booked by thousands of passengers. The read-along ride features Chris Van Allsburg’s 1985 book, clips from the movie soundtrack, warm cocoa and a treat as the train of pajama-clad children clacks to the North Pole, where Santa awaits with a gift. Christmas carols will be sung as they return back to the Bryson City Depot. Book as early as possible, tickets sell out quickly.


    3. Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum



    Experience this 3-acre nightly tour of the arboretum's nationally known gardens, including its Quilt Garden and Bonsai Exhibition Garden. Designed to showcase the natural landscape, the displays feature colorful native butterflies and winter wildlife with a special insect-themed lantern exhibit on view.




    4. The National Gingerbread House Competition at the Grove Park Inn




    It all began with a small group of gingerbread houses built by community members in 1992 as another way to celebrate the holiday season with no plans to continue the following year. There was no possible way to know that more than two decades later The Omni Grove Park Inn National Gingerbread House Competition™ would be one of the nation's most celebrated and competitive holiday events. Our panel of judges represents nationally renowned food, arts, and media professionals and the level of competition has attracted the highest quality of design, artistry and pastry expertise. The competition has merited broadcast coverage by NBC’s TODAY Show, ABC's Good Morning America, the Travel Channel, and the Food Network. The Gingerbread Display has grown in more than just entries; it has become a true family holiday tradition. From the very young to the very young at heart, the reaction to this magical experience is the same - one of wonder, awe and delight. The display can be seen nightly November 28-January 2nd.


    5. Candlelight Christmas Tour at the Biltmore Estate


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    A majestic Norway spruce and pathway luminaries welcome you to America’s Largest Home®. Inside, thousands of ornaments reflect the soft glow of candles, fireplaces, and twinkle lights. The magic continues in Antler Hill Village, which is festooned with a glittering cascade of lights, ornaments, and displays.