The North Carolina Arboretum lights up Asheville once again with its sixth annual Winter Lights show, on display nightly through Saturday, January 4, from 6–10 p.m. The family-friendly experience features the Arboretum’s gardens dressed in more than half- a-million lights and includes interactive games and activities, live entertainment, and festive food and beverages available for purchase.
“Winter Lights has truly become a signature holiday event for Asheville and the entire WNC region,” says NC Arboretum executive director George Briggs. “It is a unique experience that visitors have enjoyed coming back to year after year.”
This year the Arboretum launches Magical Maple, a new display that showcases WNC’s native red maple tree through lights, music and art. Located alongside the Arboretum’s grassy knoll, the display illuminates four trees to musical hits from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
“Our Magical Maple display was designed for folks to take a walk down memory lane,” says the Arboretum’s senior director for mission delivery Clara Curtis. “We hope that joy and spontaneous dancing will be the response!”
Many fan favorites also return this year, including the Arboretum’s 50-foot animated tree, lighted Quilt Garden, Rocky Cove Railroad model train, Storytime at Woodland Cove animatronic children’s program and a variety of holiday-themed interactive games. Food and beverages available for purchase include hot cocoa, s’mores, wine and beer.
For visitors seeking transportation from Asheville, The Trolley Company offers its Winter Lights Holiday Tour Thursdays through Saturdays from 6–9 p.m. This chartered package includes a complimentary cup of hot cocoa, admission to Winter Lights and a scenic ride with music and merriment to and from the Arboretum.
The Arboretum has also partnered again with the City of Asheville for its Local Lights holiday displays. Residents and visitors can enjoy special pop-up light displays in Pack Square Park, Pritchard Park and Biltmore Village. “The Local Lights program brightens the holiday season for community enjoyment and aims to support area businesses by creating a festive environment for shopping, dining and entertainment,” says City of Asheville downtown specialist Dana Frankel. “The program is a great example of a collaborative partnership with the Arboretum and neighborhood sponsors—the Asheville Downtown Association and Biltmore Village Merchants Association as well as Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, who have all made the program possible.”
Winter Lights is the Arboretum’s largest fundraising event of the year, and proceeds help support its educational programs, exhibits and facilities year-round.
The North Carolina Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way in Asheville off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 393. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit NCWinterLights.com or call 828.665.2492. Visitors are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance. Tickets for The Trolley Company’s Winter Lights Holiday Tour must be purchased in advance at TheTrolleyCompany.com.