Performing Arts

Lake Junaluska: Appalachian Christmas

Photo by Mary Bates

On Friday, December 8, and Saturday, December 9, Lake Junaluska will host Appalachian Christmas, a weekend of holiday concerts and a craft fair, at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. The weekend will begin with a performance of Handel’s Messiah by the Lake Junaluska Singers on Friday in Stuart Auditorium. The singers, under the direction of Mary Huff and associate director Kathy Geyer McNeil, will act as the soloists and core chorus for the performance, but will be accompanied by local choirs and instrumentalists.

Messiah is a tradition at Lake Junaluska, so it is one of the performances our audiences look forward to during Appalachian Christmas,” says McNeil. “It puts people in the Christmas spirit. This is a place that they can come to hear quality performances with some of the most treasured music of the season.”

The Junaluska Woman’s Club has organized an Appalachian Christmas Craft Show that will take place on Saturday in the Harrell Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The show will feature handcrafted items from more than 40 artisans, and the profits will support college scholarships for Lake Junaluska staff members. “Because the Junaluska Woman’s Club is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2017, we are especially pleased that our craft show is a part of Appalachian Christmas,” says Nancy Coghill, organizer of the craft show. “It offers visitors the opportunity to select and purchase creative and handmade items directly from the artists.” Items for sale will include home and garden decorating items, jewelry, flowers, pottery and visual art.

There will also be two additional concerts on Saturday. At 2 p.m. in Stuart Auditorium, bluegrass-gospel group The Cockman Family will perform. The weekend will wrap up with the Lake Junaluska Singers’ Christmas concert at 7:30 p.m. “Some new elements for the Singers’ Christmas Concert include Appalachian-inspired Christmas music, the addition of some poignant readings and an invitation to the audience to participate during certain carols,” says Jack Ewing, executive director of Lake Junaluska. “The goal is to promote the feeling of warmth and inclusivity that authentic Appalachian hospitality is known for. A sense of genuine Appalachian hospitality is something you can’t buy and it stays with you.”

Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center is located at 20 Chapel Drive in Lake Junaluska. Concert tickets are available for $23 reserved and $18 general admission. Call 800.222.4930 or visit to buy tickets. Lodging packages are also available. For more information about Lake Junaluska, visit

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