Asheville – As Christmas draws near, quite a few of the traditional holiday events have already taken place. Many of you may have just seen the Nutcracker Ballet at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in downtown Asheville, gone to the ABCCM’s interactive “Return to Bethlehem” at Groce United Methodist Church earlier in the month, or possibly taken in the Brevard Philharmonic’s “Christmastime in Brevard” concert at the Porter Center. So what holiday activities are ahead?
Perhaps one should rush to catch the last shows of The Flat Rock Playhouse’s Christmas Show? The dancing and singing by the actors and actresses of the State Theatre of North Carolina is a treat to see. This show has become a Playhouse favorite, with a brand new show every year. You can participate in the merriment of sleigh bells and mistletoe, miracles and Santa Claus, and so much more. Showcasing a cast of Flat Rock favorites, the Flat Rock Playhouse Chorus, and Pat’s School of Dance, this holiday revue is a dazzling holiday celebration. Tickets range from $45 to $65 and can be purchased online at flatrockplayhouse.org or by calling (828) 693-0731.
Or how about planning to head to Bryson City to take the kids on the Polar Express train ride or to see the Smoky Mountain Christmas Light Spectacular there? The one-hour and a quarter roundtrip train excursion departs the Bryson City depot for an incredible journey, with riders enjoying warm cocoa and cookies while reliving the magical story. Santa will be waiting at the North Pole and boarding the Polar Express, where he will greet each child with a gift, just like in the story. It is a magical trip. Christmas carols are sung as the train returns to Bryson City. You can purchase your tickets online or call reservations at (800) 872-4681. Ticket prices vary by class of service.
The Great Smoky Mountains Event Park in Bryson City sparkles with giant LED displays of the 12 Days of Christmas with a comical spin on the traditional song. As you drive through the area, you’ll be surrounded by a multitude of custom-built light displays while listening to festive music on the radio in your own vehicle. Features include exhibits showcasing each of the 12 days of Christmas as well as holiday scenes. The park is open from 6:00 to 10:00 PM daily through December 31 but closed on Christmas Day. Tickets per vehicle can be purchased online or at the gate. ($20 for cars and family vans, with higher prices for larger vehicles)
Seeing the incredible Christmas displays here in Buncombe County is always exhilarating. In an earlier article, issue 47, dated November 24th, I wrote about Winter Lights at the Arboretum. However, one can take a shorter ride through the Christmas Festival of Lights exhibit at Lake Julian on Overlook Road in Asheville (near Biltmore Park) through December 23 from 6 to 9 PM. The wonderfully colored outline of fish, trees, and sailboats can be seen as you drive through in your car for an admission fee of $10–larger vehicles cost more– which must be purchased ahead of time online at: https://bit.ly/3BQnz7n
There has been a bit of a revival of the chic sustainable Christmas tree of the 1950s: the aluminum (tinsel) tree. They are becoming increasingly common in stores and homes. The Transylvania Heritage Museum at 189 West Main Street in Brevard has an unusual exhibit of these vintage trees. This is their third year exhibiting them with approximately two dozen aluminum trees being shown this year. Some might even say these trees are outrageous and tacky with their shimmering bright balls of color hanging from a silver or gold artificial limb. A light show is often provided by a color wheel. Nevertheless, one will undoubtedly be forced to smile at these crazy, funky, delightful trees. The exhibit is free with a request for a donation. For more information and hours of operation, call the museum at 828-884-2347.
With this in mind, it is amusing to think that the 78-foot-tall Christmas Tree for the West Front Lawn of the U.S. Capitol this year is from the Pisgah National Forest here in western North Carolina—and thus Brevard. It is a red spruce (nicknamed “Ruby”) that was harvested on November 2 for a two-week journey to the nation’s capital. It was decorated as per tradition with handmade ornaments from residents of North Carolina. The lighting ceremony was held on November 29th. The Christmas Tree Lighter this year was a 4th-grader Catcuce “Coche” Micco Tiger, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians located in western North Carolina. Following that, the tree will be lit from dusk through 11:00 PM each night through January 1, 2023.