By Natasha Anderson
The North Carolina Arboretum’s 4th annual Winter Lights exhibit will be on display nightly from 6–10 p.m. Friday, November 17, through December 31. This year’s show will include more lights, new interactive displays and lower, more family-friendly pricing. “Winter Lights is an overall magical experience with big surprises and beautiful little moments,” says the Arboretum’s chief financial and operations officer Drake Fowler. “Many folks love seeing the numerous creative changes to the displays each year and often find themselves in friendly conversation at one of our many outdoor fire pits.”
In addition to motion sensor games and light activities suitable for all ages, the Arboretum has added music and nature-themed displays throughout the garden areas. Visitor favorites, including a 50-foot animated Tree of Light, a lighted Quilt Garden, Rocky Cove Railroad and the animatronic children’s program, Storytime at Woodland Cove, will also return. Hot cocoa, cider, s’mores, wine, beer and other food and beverages will be available for purchase along with a special dinner buffet at the Arboretum’s Savory Thyme Café.
Transportation to the Arboretum from Asheville and Hendersonville will be available through The Trolley Company’s Winter Lights Holiday Tour every Friday and Saturday night from 5:30–8:30 p.m. Tickets are $28.50 per person and include hot cocoa, scenic rides with music and admission to Winter Lights.
Winter Lights Downtown, a partnership between NC Arboretum and the City of Asheville, will also return, beginning with a lighting ceremony on Saturday, November 18, at 6 p.m., and remaining on display nightly through mid-January. The artistic holiday light display, located in Asheville’s Pack Square Park between the Vance Monument and the Hoss Haley Fountain, will be expanded, with more lighted trees and other décor.
“This display is designed to reflect the friendly, eclectic culture of Asheville,” says Fowler. “City leadership has put more emphasis on making our downtown area look great during the holiday season and we are proud to be a part of this initiative.” The Arboretum is also collaborating with the city to refurbish 115 of Asheville’s holiday wreaths.
The North Carolina Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville. Tickets to Winter Lights are $18 for adults and $12 for children ages 5–11. Children ages four and under are admitted free. NC Arboretum Society members receive a $2 discount per ticket. During Friends and Family Night each Tuesday, Winter Lights tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children. NC Arboretum Society member discounts apply. Group tickets are available for $15 per person, minimum 20 people. Reservations are required for the Savory Thyme Café’s Winter Lights buffet. Details on dates and seating times, as well as general information about Winter Lights, are available at ncwinterlights.com.