Events Outdoors

Winter Lights Returns to the NC Arboretum

Photo courtesy of the NC Arboretum

By Natasha Anderson

The North Carolina Arboretum celebrates the fifth anniversary of its Winter Lights holiday light show with nightly displays from 6–10 p.m. through December 31. The outdoor walking tour features more than half- a-million holiday lights in artistically designed displays emphasizing the beauty of the nationally known gardens and WNC landscapes during the winter season. A variety of new arrangements and themes, including “fire and ice,” enhance the experience for first-time and repeat visitors.

“Our senior director for mission delivery Clara Curtis had discussed incorporating fire and ice for more than three years, and with the help of our in-house welder and electrician, we were finally able to make that happen,” says the Arboretum’s chief operating and finance officer Drake Fowler. “The result is very exciting and different from our other lighted displays.”

Many fan favorites also return, including the Arboretum’s 50-foot animated tree and lighted Quilt Garden, Rocky Cove Railroad G-scale model train with a new North Pole Express, the animatronic children’s program Storytime at Woodland Cove and a variety of interactive motion-sensored games. Food and beverages, including hot cocoa, s’mores, wine and beer will be available for purchase throughout the gardens and inside the Education Center.

The Arboretum’s Friends and Family Tuesday night promotion continues this year, offering discounted prices for adults and children. For visitors seeking transportation from Asheville, The Trolley Company offers its Winter Lights Holiday Tour Thursday through Saturday 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 to and from the Arboretum.

“Since Winter Lights’ inception, we have welcomed more than 115,000 guests from across the US as well as several foreign countries,” says the Arboretum’s executive director George Briggs. “We are thankful for the support from our community, business partners, volunteers and staff to make this event Asheville’s brightest holiday tradition.”

The Arboretum also announces the expansion of the City of Asheville’s holiday light display. Through a partnership between the Arboretum, the City of Asheville, the Asheville Downtown Association, Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority and the Historic Biltmore Village Association, the new Local Lights holiday display will be placed in Pack Square Park, as well as new locations in Pritchard Park and Biltmore Village.

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 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

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