The Joy of Easter Abounds Throughout Western North Carolina - TribPapers

The Joy of Easter Abounds Throughout Western North Carolina

A glorious way to start your Easter day with a sunrise service under the cross at the Amphitheater overlooking Lake Junaluska. Photo courtesy of Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center.

Asheville – Easter is a special time for Christians; it is a time of joy and celebration. It is the holiest day of the Christian calendar. Easter is a Christian holiday that celebrates the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Throughout the world, Easter is celebrated with joy and happiness. Here in the United States, Easter lilies, colorfully decorated eggs (considered symbolism of the resurrection and new life emerging), Easter bunnies, and meals with lamb or salmon are all a part of this holiday. In Western North Carolina, there are early sunrise Easter services that many attend— at Chimney Rock Park (unfortunately, currently sold out) or under the Junaluska Cross at the Amphitheater near the Lambuth Inn at Lake Junaluska. Other festive activities on Easter Sunday, or the day before, for the whole family, are planned at many churches, businesses, and towns throughout the area.

The residents of Dillsboro have discovered a way to make Easter festive and fun. Smiles abound when one goes to Dillsboro on the Saturday before Easter. Thirty-four years ago a few Dillsboro merchants walked around town in colorful Easter bonnets, just for fun. Now this activity has expanded into a full-fledged parade and is considered one of the town’s most entertaining events. Well over 150 people participate in a yearly parade down Main Street, all wearing amazingly decorated hats—hats with colorful eggs, hats with flowers, hats with balloons, all sizes and shapes. People come from all over to take part in it—from South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. This delightful unpretentious parade starts at 2:00 pm, the Saturday before Easter. As Easter is early this year it will be March 30th. However, be sure to arrive early for the many other planned activities.

Dillsboro is a small town with a population of just over 200 residents, located just over an hour west of Asheville. Nestled in the North Carolina Smokies on the banks of the Tuckasegee River lies this charming 19th-century railroad town. The magical parade starts at the Town Hall and is led by a fleet of restored antique cars with hat bearers all following on foot. There are hand-crafted hats—with accessories and guidance freely given at Dogwood Crafters on Webster Street—hats covered with bouquets, tiny little hats, huge poofy, large hats, best-smelling hats, most outrageous hats, edible hats even pets wearing decorations. Ribbons and hand-crafted prizes (pins and brooches made by locals) are awarded. There is even a prize for the best-decorated animal hat. There are dogs, cats, and even perhaps a goat participating. A yearly visitor is Bonus, a kitty-cat who travels from Hendersonville to participate. Before the parade, there are Easter egg hunts for various ages at 10:00 am at Monteith Park. Throughout Dillsboro, one can find face painting, bouncy castles, cookie decorating, and a place for photos with Easter Bunnies and even Peanuts and Charlie Brown. This will be an Easter to enjoy, remember, and relive year after year in your memory and scrapbook. The Dillsboro Easter Parade has become a full day of fun-filled activity for all ages. Best of all it is free!

Other Easter Activities

For those visiting the Asheville area, a scavenger hunt with super-sized Easter eggs is planned at the Biltmore House. Participants must check off each egg they spot while on their hunt inside the Vanderbilt’s Mansion. Participating children ages 9 and younger will receive a treat when they turn in their scavenger paper at Antler Hill Village from 11 am – 3 pm. on March 30th or 31st. For children ages 2-9, there will be an Easter egg hunt on the front lawn of the Biltmore House on Easter Sunday. Magic shows, treats as well as photos with the Easter bunny rabbit will be there waiting for them. The cost of this is covered when accompanied by an Estate pass holder or a ticketed adult.

The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad has a Bunny Hopper Express over Easter weekend, March 29th and 30th. This 4-and-a-half-hour round trip special event train departs the historic Bryson City Depot at 11:00 am and travels through the Smoky Mountains to a picturesque layover destination for Easter-themed activities and Egg Hunt. Passengers need to be on the lookout for train-hopping bunnies who have snuck on to take a free ride! Festivities include an Easter egg hunt with prizes, a giveaway bag with activities to enjoy during the train ride, and a yummy Easter treat for junior railroaders to enjoy. Go to for more information.